The sequel to the original NES game, The Legend of Zelda, Zelda 2 brings new features and a completely different and unique play-style to the table. Although originally released around 1989, I got to play this game much later, after I had beaten both Zelda 1 and 3! And it wasn't half as bad as I expected! Read on to find out what's hot and not-so-hot about Zelda 2.
There are two different "sections" in Zelda 2. First is the land map where you see Link in an overhead view. This "section" is made up of squares and Link moves from square to square. But these squares have been specified with different features/colors and you can identify them as lakes, forests, mountains etc. As such you have a vast land to explore. The second section is the action scene. If Link runs into one of two types of enemy symbols, enters a town etc., the land map changes to an action scene. Once in this type of scene Link can use his sword, use magic, talk to people, enter houses etc. This is generally how Zelda 2 plays.
Zelda 2's graphics are good for an NES game, and they are better than Zelda 1 (land map excluded). The towns are colorful and the palaces suit their purpose. The dark caves (before you find the candle) are quite a nice touch. Also, the palace guardians are far from childish, especially the serpent boss of the 6th palace. The land map however can get on your nerves.
The controls are very responsive but the limits of Link's jumps are a little irritating. You can jump high, but not very far. But that's what keeps the game challenging, I guess.
This game sports some very nice music. The town theme is especially attractive. The palace, cave and boss music are very suitable. The sound though appropriate, can get somewhat annoying.
This time, instead of directly saving Zelda from Ganon, you have to wake her from a sleeping spell. Also this Zelda isn't the one you saved in the first game, but for more on that you better read the manual. Not a bad story, though. Also, Ganon isn't the end boss. But if you die you get to see him for a bit, which is a nice touch.
The gameplay is solid. Link gains new sword attacks, magic spells and fights his way through the palaces, finding items on his way to get to the end-boss, which turns out to be your shadow, in a sense. The basic idea remains the same as the original, but the style is different. A bad feature is the lack of the boomerang.
All in all, Zelda 2 is an enjoyable experience. People familiar with the trademark Zelda play-style might get annoyed or not. I however, happened to enjoy the game even after I beat it the second time. (and after I beat Zelda 1 and 3!!) Make no mistake, this is a worthy game that all followers of the Zelda series should own.