Zelda II The Adventure of Link

Ugh, ok... so this is the game that made me hold off on doing this series playthrough for a long time.  This is the main game that made me make this a "lite" version of a series playthrough and made me give myself permission to not actually finish all the games.

I do not like this game.

I know it has it's fans and I know it's technically a main Zelda game... but it's just not.  It doesn't feel like a Zelda game should.  This is mostly a side-scrolling beat-em-up with Zelda trappings.  It doesn't have the freedom and open exploration of the original and it definitely doesn't feel like any other Zelda game out there.

I wish I liked this game enough to actually finish it once.  But, I don't.  This is one of the few Zelda games that I've never finished.  At this point I've come to the realization that I never will and I'm ok with that.

So please forgive how much I'm glossing over this one.  If you're a fan of it let me know.  I'd love to hear from the perspective of someone who really likes this game.

But there's no question in my mind that this is the odd one out for the Zelda series.


  1. You will have my sword in this battle. Coming off the success of the first Zelda, the second installment was a hurricane of buildup through Nintendo Power(Issue #4 if I remember correctly). Their coverage and cartoon-ish diagrams sold me. My early teenage being HAD to get this game.

    After acquiring many currency from parental units and purchasing this through our local Sears store, my entire neighborhood smashed into my family room and 14 of us watched me fire this game up around a massive 20" tv. No one spoke for like 20 minutes, we were in awe.

    Right off the bat, without reading the instructions, it was hard. It punished you for taking wrong turns. The whole concept of forcing you to walk through a dark cave, just to get to the first palace to get the candle... seriously wtf Nintendo?

    As kids peeled off one a time and left we all agreed it was awesome but needed lots of grinding. All the great RPG-esk games out then were like that. It rewarded long term persistence over brutal reaction skill.

    Looking back, even with the extensive coverage by Nintendo Power I still felt like this Zelda was more hard core adventure-like. The obscurity added to the ruggedness. Even the crappy jump mechanic and animation to this day fit the whole game. The fact that link could not only stab outward, but learn to downward slice as well as upward slice actually gave the player a feeling like there was a little "sword play fineness" that is lacking in every Zelda game since. Seriously, the jumping, dodging, and sword strikes actually had tactics and skill. Jump ahead to the 3d Zeldas, and now you are forced to use camera lock on tactics just to pull off silly animated combos.

    Zelda 2 sort of has a Dark Souls aspect to it. It was brutal and mean, but I rarely felt like I was cheated out of a death. The rare case being those stupid floating skulls, F those bastards!

    After the SNES dropped and Zelda "3" came out, I was sort of saddened that they went back to the top down 2d aspect again. I cannot ever fault people for loving Zelda 3 more than 2. A link to the past is a masterpiece. Given the power of the NES, they could not have pulled it off.

    Some obvious downsides of Zelda 2 is that it strayed too far from the "bag of tools and gadgets" concept that made every Zelda game fun. You collected tools thru-out the game but never really equipped them via an item screen. Instead it introduced a magic system that was awesome but not very well implemented in the gui. If I remember correctly, every time you wanted to fire off a spell you had to take your thumbs off the A/B buttons and stretch it over to the select button, which sucked balls on that old original controller. Still, they used magic in later Zeldas but not to the extent that you had in Zelda 2.

    I did beat this game, once and only once without a Game Genie. That was enough. I got my badge of honor.

    Side story: another game very similar to Zelda 2 on NES was The Battle of Olympus by Broderbund. It too had a similar side scrolling world, item screens with tools, and complicated pathing, like Castlevania: Simon's Quest

    Fun fact that will crush your soul: Zelda 2 in Japan was the same exact game but didn't have a save ability in the cartridge. Imagine trying to level up and beat all 8-9 palaces in one sitting. Japan is down right cruel.

    1. Omg I love this differing opinion. I respect you so much for powering through this game and liking it. That's amazing.

  2. DJ's points are really interesting. I agree that the swordplay is probably one of the most compelling aspects of the game. In some ways it reminds me of the sword duels in the original Prince of Persia. The type of sword mechanics in Zelda 2 are sort of revisited in Skyward Sword, but using motion controls. Similar to Void, this is the only single-player Zelda game I've never beaten. I've been hoping this game would get an AM2R-esque remake so that I could go back to it in a more enjoyable format.

  3. Although I am not as pros-y as DJ, as I mentioned on Twitter, this ranks as one of my favourite Zelda games. I do know that a lot of it is likely the nostalgia, but I have played it in the last few years and I think it is still good.

    I remember the first time I played it, I got through the first two temples and then got stuck. For about 6 months, I could not get the bridge to drop to access Death Mountain and get the hammer to progress. Finally (thanks to Nintendo Power) I managed to find the dude who lets you get accross (Error of Ruto?)

    The jump slash mechanics were fun, and when you got the downthrust - it was fun to bounce on mobs like Scrooge McDuck in Ducktales.

    And it was hard. 3 lives (or 6 if you were smart and didn't pick up the 3 free men until the end) to get to and beat the boss(es) at the end.

    Two things many people forget about this one

    1) Dark Link's first appearance...and he was HARD.
    2) The music - the temple theme is still one of my favourite pieces of NES music ever

    1. Also - fun fact - the towns in Zelda 2 are all characters in Ocarina of time - Mido, Saria, Nabooru, Rauru, Darunia, Ruto


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