Legend of Zelda II – The Adventure of Link
The Adventure of Link is a side scrolling RPG produced by Nintendo for the NES system. It was released in 1988. What makes this game interesting to fans of the Legend of Zelda franchise is that, to date, this is the only direct sequel to a previously existing game within the franchise. According to Nintendo representatives all other games feature a different Zelda and a different Link.
There are a lot of people out there who tend to berate The Adventure of Link, and personally, I think it is pretty unfair. My guess on this, is that it is the only game within the franchise that doesn't fall into the 'Action/Adventure” genre and seems to be more firmly based as a 'Side Scrolling RPG'. This turns a lot of people off of it, but I would encourage any fan of the franchise to at least give it a once over to see for themselves.
Similar to the predecessor, the Adventure of Link still includes the 'Save Game' feature which even at the time of its release was relatively uncommon, once again earning it some high marks on the technical side. It also features relatively complex (good complex, not bad complex) game-play for a game of the time period.
In the Adventure of Link you once again assume your role as everyone's favorite green clad hero (no... not Robin Hood jackass!) in an effort to wake up Princess Zelda whom has long been asleep since an evil wizard cast a sleeping spell upon her. It is worth noting that this Princess Zelda is not the SAME princess Zelda from the original game... (maybe Link has a thing for chicks named Zelda?). In order for Link to awaken her he must place a crystal into six pillars, located in each of six palaces across Hyrule. Only by doing this can Link gain entrance to the 'Great Palace' to recover the Triforce of Courage to revive the Sleeping Princess. Meanwhile Gannon, the guy you killed in the last game... his minions are trying to bring him back to life.
For those of you who didn't read the handbook... you take on the role of an elf with a stupid grin as he stabs anything that moves and talks to a bunch of idiots that really contribute nothing. You turn into a fairy from time to time and stumble into castles where you continue to stab the shit out of anything that moves. Although you aren't entirely sure why you are doing this, it probably has something to do with the lady that has passed out on the table in the room you begin the game in. It is safe to assume that if you get the triangle from the last castle that you can get laid.
Similar to the predecessor, whether you read the manual or not, this is a pretty impressive story to try to convey over the course of the game with such limited data capacity. Although I had a 'lulwut?' moment when first read the storyline ages ago... largely because I was starting do wonder just how many princesses named Zelda there were... It is unfair to hold that against it.
The graphics in the Adventure of Link are actually quite worthy of praise. The backgrounds are not confusing and you don't really have any difficulty recognizing anything.
Even more impressive is the Adventure of Link's implementation of 'Recolored' enemies. In most games recolored enemies tend to simply be harder/easier based upon the quantity of damage which they take, but in this game they really break through that barrier... and they break through it well. Not only do they inflict/endure more/less damage but they also behave differently. i.e. a Red Spider will drop down from the trees before scuttling back up... a blue spider will drop down from the trees and hop after you.
Although it doesn't effect the game much, one of the items which link collects which gives him experience (remember, this is an RPG) is a small brown bag labeled inexplicably with the letter P. Why is this bag labeled P? Well... the world may never know... although I do have my own theory...
The vast majority of the Adventure of Link is at the happy medium of challenging, yes there are a few points where the game will try to trip you up by knocking you into a pit of Lava but they aren't frequent and they aren't exceptionally hard to avoid. They are a danger yes, but no luck is required and it is largely based upon skill.
Additionally the game includes one of the most dreaded features of all games... a hidden hole in the floor (i.e. a place where you fall through the floor, even though it looks like the floor is there). This occurs in one of the palaces and while normally I call things like this cheap shots, you are actually WARNED about it by NPCs within a nearby town. Therefore I can't call this one a cheap way to drag out the game... it is actually implemented quite well.
There are a lot of enemies in the game which are tough (there is one in particular which deserves special mention but it will be listed separately) although most of the extremely difficult enemies are only found in the final palace. These enemies are actually done pretty well and with a bit of creativity can be defeated quite easily... it all depends upon your approach which I have to admire. Once again the developers have proven that they know how to implement challenges well.
There are a few 'rediculous jumps' included in this game as well. I am the first person to claim these are a cheap shot... but once again, the developers have covered their asses. One of the spells which Link can learn early in the game increases the length of his jumps. This allows you to easily clear these obstacles. In my eyes, this redeems these jumps as it allows you to approach them with various options available to you.
The enemy which I said I would discuss later... (those of you whom have played this will no doubt have already guessed) is none other than... Dark/Shadow/Douche-bag Link. This enemy doesn't have 'special attacks' like a normal boss... instead it is a pitch black version of yourself. All of the attacks you know... they know... quite honestly... this guy is a challenge if you face him head on (which I recommend as defeating him in such a way is very rewarding and a worthy challenge) but you can also go over to the left side of the screen and crouch and continue to stab as he helplessly walks into your sword again... and again... and again...
I will not lie to you and tell you that the music in the Adventure of Link is as strong as that of its predecessor, but at the same time, it still isn't bad. The music used is fitting and it doesn't make your ears bleed. Some of the music of various levels can become grating after a while, but so can anything if you listen to it repeatedly for long enough, so given the confines of an NES cartridge I can't decry that in any way.
If you are into Side Scrolling RPGs the Adventure of Link is definitely does it right. The leveling system is clean and simple and you don't have to spend time grinding to complete the game, something which some RPGs could learn a lot from in my opinion... I'm looking at you Final Fantasy.
Additionally if you are interested in the lore of the Legend of Zelda Universe, this is the first game where it really becomes noted, it also explains all those damned Zeldas that keep popping up all over the damned place.
Alright, so I have to dock the game a bit upon its programming. There has been a rumor floating around for some time which I would like to clarify a bit.
After you complete a palace and collect the quest item within the palace, the palace which you just completed turns to stone and you can no longer enter it. The rumor I am speaking of is in regards to completing a palace without recovering the quest item and then it turning to stone. I can absolutely state beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is not true... however... It is possible for the game to become unbeatable if you visit two palaces and use a key from the second palace in the first palace... and miss collecting a key in the first palace. Unlike in the original Legend of Zelda, where you could buy keys there is no manner of doing so in this game. This means that simple user error can result in you being incapable of beating the game which is a big flaw in my book.
Another important issue I found in this game revolves around the spell in which you turn into a fairy. Once you cast this spell you can not attack in any form, nor can you revert back to your previous form in any way other than moving out of your present location. During a boss fight this results in an instant defeat because you can't attack and you can't leave the room until you defeat them. Either way, your only option is to get yourself killed and try again.
Another, more humorous error (pun intended)... is a rather famous one. It is also fully possible that it is not an error in which case it really is an Error...
Despite the fact that it is often considered less worth of the franchise than its counterparts, the Adventure of Link really is a strong title, even if it isn't what you would expect from the series. I for one have played through it several times over the years and it holds a special place in my game collection.
The programming oversight which makes the game unbeatable is a HUGE negative to me, but otherwise it is very hard to find anything wrong with this game. If you decide to play it, which I encourage you to, just be careful with the keys.
Sidescroller/RPG Elements: 5Music: 4Fun: 5Graphics: 5Programming: -1Overall Score: 3.6
All games are scored on 5 categories, with possible scores ranging from -5 – 5 with 0 being indifferent -5 being extremely bad and +5 being extremely good. Games are are graded on 5 parameters: How well they pull off their genre, the quality of the music, how fun the game is, graphics being easy enough to understand (I.e you don't have a background that looks identical to a platform), and quality of the programming (i.e. are there game-breaking bugs).
NES - The Adventure of Link (1988)
Blog entry posted by meatsammich, Jul 15, 2012.
About the Author
I am a retired Marine Engineer who has played my way through numerous consoles and has collected thousands of games for my library. I am also the self titled International Grand Ghampion of capture the flag and consider myself the true reason the cold war came an end. I have no use for political correctness and never really cared whether I pissed people off... some people claim it is because I am a crazy old man, I like to think it is just because I don't give a damn.