Zelda II: The Adventure of Link


Review by · August 21, 2007

With the launch of the Wii, Nintendo’s Virtual Console service also emerged with 14 games available to purchase. As “new” games were released every Monday in North America to expand the library, it managed to reach a total of 100 games on June 4. To celebrate, Nintendo released Zelda II as its 100th game. Zelda II is the most unique of Zelda titles as it completely strays from the original, but its still fun in its own, twisted way.

After the events of the first game, Zelda winds up being cursed by a sleeping spell. In order to break the spell, Link needs to go obtain crystals from six palaces to break the seal on the seventh and obtain the triforce of courage. Meanwhile, Hyrule is still in a state of chaos as there are those who want to revive Ganon. Will Link be able to save Zelda whilst keeping Hyrule safe?

And that pretty much summarizes the entire plot, found in the prologue and game description. This was a time where story was bare-bones, but it is still pretty weak, even in comparison to other games. The main issue is that the game is extremely vague on telling you where to go. It makes the game a lot more tedious. The game incorporates NPC interaction in towns, but majority of NPCs don’t say anything interesting nor have relevance to the main plot. Seriously, the most memorable thing anyone ever said in this game was “I am error.”

The gameplay is completely different from all other Zelda titles and utilizes the most RPG elements out of all installments. Nintendo experimented with the franchise by making the game into a side-scrolling Action RPG with some mixture of platforming elements.

You spend most of the game going though a map of Hyrule, visiting towns, going through caverns and completing dungeons. The world map has several different terrains, with some having their own effects. There are random encounters in the game, but they won’t occur when Link stays on the road. If he is not on the road, 3 sets of enemies may randomly emerge on the screen and bumping onto one of them will take you to a small field. Different fields and enemies will appear depending on what terrain you are on. Occasionally, you might get lucky and a fairy might be on the map to restore your health.

Combat is straightforward as Link stabs enemies to death and he can learn downward and upward thrusts later on from trainers. He can also shoot a beam if his health is full, but that becomes useless as a lot of enemies are immune to it. There are spells in the game where you can get from Wizards in each town. In Zelda II, the shield is useful as it can block numerous projectiles. One issue with combat is how short Link’s sword is. This forces him to be right in the enemy’s face in order to hit; as a result, Link winds up getting hurt most of the time. It does not help that some enemies are extremely stubborn to fight, particularly the Iron Knuckles.

The game provides an EXP system. When you defeat enemies, you gain points and reaching a certain amount gets you to level up an attack, magic or health stat, depending on how many points required to gain a stage. You can choose to not level to keep your points to level up a stat that requires more points. Each stat is maxed at eight. You can also get point bags which provide a major amount of points. Enemies randomly drop them along with jars to restore major health/magic, and they are scattered throughout the game, but do not respawn. When you complete a dungeon, you automatically gain a level.

Like in the first game, each dungeon has a special item for Link to obtain. With the exception of a few items, they are automatically incorporated. A few are very useful throughout the game, but most of them are used merely to overcome one certain obstacle in the game. There was nothing unique to the treasures, so my excitement of obtaining them was low, compared to other Zelda games.

If you get a “game over,” you lose all the points you earned. This is a harsh and frustrating penalty. Link has 3 lives whenever the game starts, though he can find 1-ups. When you run out of lives, you get a game over and you keep restarting in the temple you start off at. It adds a lot of tedium to traveling since many places become far away later on and difficult to reach. The only exception is the final dungeon, where you can restart at the entrance. This is fortunate since reaching said entrance is a complete gauntlet.

Aside from going from dungeon to dungeon, there aren’t really any secrets. You can find hidden heart containers and potions to increase your Life and Magic, but that’s mostly it. If you beat the game, you can start over with the levels and magic you earned.

While it may be dated today, the visuals were good for back then. The overworld map is nothing to write home about, but everything else fared well. The buildings in towns look fine and each dungeon has a distinctive style in their interiors. I was most impressed by the sprites themselves. While the townsfolk look generic and Link looks weird, the monsters look neat and there is variety to how many different kinds are there, which is always nice.

The musical score in Zelda II is with mixed results as the series composer, Koji Kondo, was not involved with the composition. The dungeon and battlefield themes are good, but the rest is on the weak side, especially the town theme. Those songs have uninspiring melodies, and they have weak quality as far as 8-bit music goes.

Controls are simple and intuitive, being able to jump, slash, and thrust with ease on any control scheme you use. The hit detection can be a little weird as you might sometimes hit enemies that didn’t appear to be reachable and vice versa. There is also the strange issue of using spells by going through the menu though you already have them selected. That really felt unnecessary.

Zelda II is a unique installment in the series. It is also an unusually difficult installment, having many elements to frustrate the player while incorporating harsh punishment. It is not an amazing game, but is a game that should be tried once. For 500 Wii points, it’s worth a shot, especially if you like a crazy challenge.

Overall Score 77
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Dennis Rubinshteyn

Dennis Rubinshteyn

Dennis was part of RPGFan's reviews team from 2007-2012. During his tenure, Dennis bolstered our review offerings by lending his unique voice and critique of the world of RPGs. Being a critic can be tough work sometimes, but his steadfast work helped maintain the quality of reviews RPGFan is known for.