RELEASED: January 1987
AVAILABLE ON: GBA, NES, Wii Virtual Console
Fundamentally different - some would say completely unorthodox - sequels have been made throughout history, but for some reason, my mind always returns to the most shocking sequels of the 8-bit era. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest looked the same as its excellent predecessor, but it was a completely different game - not a platformer, but an adventure game, and not a good one. The game we non-Japanese folk learned to know as Super Mario Bros. 2 was a platformer like its predecessor, but a totally different one, and still a great game. What encouraged game developers to take such drastic risks that could go both ways? In 1987, Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka presented us the sequel to one of the most innovative video games in history - Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Miyamoto once again had a strict vision of what he wanted the game to be like - and it was something completely different from Link's previous journey. Although the game is a side-scroller for the most part, which alone makes it one of a kind in this franchise, it is closest to an RPG out of all Legend of Zelda games. Oh, and it is also the sort of game that will have your balls for breakfast, self-esteem for lunch and very soul for dinner. Those expecting a pleasant, relaxing journey and perhaps a little good old dungeon-crawling on the side can turn to any other game in the franchise. This is hell, little man, and Shigeru Miyamoto is the devil.
Zelda II: The Inferno of Dante
|What this game will always be remembered for.|
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is one of the most difficult games I've ever played. Battletoads, Ninja Gaiden, Ghosts 'n Goblins, Batman, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and every other 8-bit game I might've or might've not reviewed... it's right up there with 'em. This is not how I remember it! I remember a relaxing game that was different from the first Legend of Zelda game, yes, but still relaxing, more of an journey than a really demanding, sweaty hack. It was better than the first game, too, 'cause it was a side-scroller - I already mentioned this in the previous review. Well, I must've been more patient as a kid than I thought, 'cause Zelda II is far from a relaxing game, and far from being better than the first game. I also must've not made it very far in the game. My brother disliked the game due to the remarkable differences between it and the rest of the series, but I guess he felt somewhat obliged to push forward with it, since he was a Zelda fan; I remember him specifically cursing the third palace down to the sort of depths unvisited by the big evil himself. Two decades later, I myself must admit: I cannot do it. I cannot complete the third palace out of the total of seven in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. I yield. Here are my balls. The game won.
|Yeah, and I think he's a total douche, but if |
knowing him's enough, then... lead the way!
Back to the subject: is Zelda II a bad game? I'd have to say no, it isn't, but it is a notably weaker and less enchanting game than its predecessor. It isn't just because it's so frustratingly difficult - from the very beginning, I might add - it simply isn't the genius mix of elements from different genres, or nearly as innovative as the best games in this decorated franchise. By first impression, it has a good and interesting concept, and basically I have nothing against it being totally different from The Legend of Zelda, but you don't need to play it for more than 20 to 25 minutes to see that the magic ain't all there. The proper word to describe the game? I would say "incomplete". As an RPG, it could be more diverse, more intricate, and more open-ended. As an action game, it could definitely use some better controls and even a small semblance of forgiveness. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link demands a lot more than the player can possibly offer - it's like the levels and enemy behaviour were designed by whole different people than the character of Link and his abilities.
The game starts from the North Palace, this game's "Screen H-8"; the nominal place to begin your journey. The problem is the game ALWAYS starts from the North Palace. You see, you have three lives to spend. Each time you lose a life, you start from the last checkpoint, which is the beginning of an encounter on the world map, or the last exit in the palace dungeons. When you lose all of your three lives, you are no longer taken to the beginning of the dungeon, you're taken back to the North Palace, and you have to fight your way back to wherever you died in. You might not sweat at first, since like in The Legend of Zelda, you get to keep all your items, including the items you managed to get from the dungeon before your ultimate demise. You will start to sweat when you figure out you've lost all the experience points you've accumulated since the last full level. Even if you had 1,499 out of 1,500 collected, the game simply doesn't give a shit. It's basically saying "try not to die next time, asshole". You'll sweat even more when you realize that even though you certainly don't have to replay the whole dungeon and break your neck trying to get every item again, the roads to bosses are LONG and filled with the nastiest sons of bitches you could possibly imagine - ones that respawn EVERY TIME.
|The bosses aren't that bad. Getting to 'em is.|
|Shit, must've taken a wrong turn! Simon?!|
|There comes a time for us all when we have |
to just sit back and say "Fuck it."
I can be a pretty persistent guy. I have beaten many difficult games - in the years I've written these reviews, I've actually beaten a few games I never thought I'd be able to beat. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is a game I really wanted to beat, and I thought I could do it with sheer persistence and nothing else - I thought enough level farming would do the trick. It wouldn't. I can't imagine what would. I've got to give a hand to a worthy opponent, but at the same time, I must criticize Zelda II for its actual flaws which unfortunately add to its difficulty, making it difficult for a lot of wrong reasons. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link isn't a bad game, but I'm a long way from considering it a classic.
+ An intriguing game in its remarkable difference from the rest of the series
+ I'm still finding myself a fan of side-scrolling action on the 8-bit...
- ...I just wish it would play out a little better, as the level design and combat situations don't mesh at all, resulting in regular battles that are nearly impossible to ace without a stroke of extremely good luck, the controls are a bit clumsy and the range of Link's attacks is pathetic, and doesn't match that of the enemies' at all
- The game isn't a fully functional RPG, nor it is a fully functional action game; the game is not nearly as well synchronized as the first one
- It would be great to have at least some practice before descending into hell
- The loss of EXP after death is disheartening, to say the least; always starting from the same spot is OK once you've cleared a shortcut
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