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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Nintendo NES) discussion [game]
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on the NES
8.36/10 from 43 user ratings

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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Nintendo NES) Review (8.0)  by  

If you ask me, The Legend of Zelda is a stone-cold classic, and fully deserves its own playthrough thread. But the second-largest game in the ambassador giveaway also has its own share of fans. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, despite being the black sheep of the series, has gotten pretty popular over the past few years and its gameplay has generally held up pretty well.

The title is notorious for its difficulty, but personally, I feel that the game is rather fair until the very final areas. While you lose your "unspent" EXP with a game over (and are returned to the starting location), you keep your levels, items, spells, and progress otherwise. And even then, you could always grind a bit to face Zelda II's challenges with greater ease.

So join us, won't you? I'd suggest finishing Zelda 1 first if you've started that, or you can do what I'm doing and run through both games more or less simultaneously--they're different enough that you shouldn't get Zelda fatigue. The appeal of Zelda II is in its challenging combat mixed with rewarding exploration, and it's not nearly as obtuse as some people feel the first title is. Instead, the additional challenge is placed on battling the enemies and surviving long enough to finish each dungeon.

A few hints before you go:

-To start, you'll notice all the caves are rather dark (until you get a special item). You don't have to go through any before you get that item except one in the northeast, above the town of Rauru. But be sure to stop by the town before you head through there, though.

-Make sure you spend your EXP on level-ups when you're getting close to a game over. It stinks losing your last life and subsequently your "loose" EXP. Level-ups, on the other hand, are permanent.

-"LIFE" level-ups increase your defense (not really your life). "MAGIC" level-ups decrease the amount of magic you spend per spell ("16" is one "block" of magic). "SWORD" level-ups increase your attack, and are probably the most valuable.

-Beating a dungeon and putting the crystal in the statue makes your EXP shoot up to the next level, regardless of where it currently is. With clever timing and strategy, you can get a ton of free EXP this way. If you want to wait, you can always jump over the statue area and come back when you want a bigger EXP boost (like if you're getting the last couple levels).

-You can choose to "cancel" level-ups if you're holding out for a different stat, so they don't have to be linear. For instance, if you get 50 EXP and want to save it for the FIGHT level-up at 200 EXP, just hit select to cancel out of the level-up window and bank the excess EXP.

-Some "tiles" on the world map lead to secret areas. Walk all over, especially on tiles that stick out or look suspicious.

Good luck, adventurers, and remember...


Good advice for life.

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09/06/11, 20:25    Edited: 09/06/11, 22:33
Why not sign up for a (free) account?
Always have your shield at his sword level, then stab, stab, stab (when you get the chance, of course. You need to then have your shield NOT at his sword. YAY! CHALLENGE!!!)
09/07/11, 07:20   
Edited: 09/07/11, 07:22
That's what I did, but he just blocks everything. Mother.
09/07/11, 07:43   
You just met your first Iron Knuckle! Play defensively and try to switch up your attacks frequently and quickly. You'll get the hang of it. Until then, the Shield spell is your friend.
09/07/11, 08:23   
Kris's Tips For Beating Zelda II: Part 1 of 1

- Relatively early in the game, find some totally boring place to grind (I suggest looking for levitating skulls), turn on some album you've been meaning to listen to for a while (preferably metal) and then listen to it while you grind, grind, grind. When the album finishes, listen to it again. And again. When you know every word to every song on the album, you will be ready to play the rest of Zelda II.
09/07/11, 09:33   
I spent the first hour grinding in the first palace. If anything just for that damned Death Mountain crawl that will be coming soon. I hate Death Mountain. Game Over'd four times because I kept screwing up the timing on Iron Knuckles. Also the best way to deal with Iron Knuckles is to jump and hit them in their heads.
09/07/11, 09:59   
@TriforceBun ...spell? Should I have spells at this point? I sure don't remember finding any.
09/07/11, 15:00   
@Zero Each town you visit will have an old man who teaches you a new spell (usually after a side quest). When you reach the first dungeon, there's only one you can have (the shield spell). It's not required, but it can be helpful. You can find it in the town near the cave that leads to the first dungeon.
09/07/11, 15:59   
Damn, this game is kicking my ass. The first area/dungeon took me a while. I couldn't even FIND it, because I didn't remember that you had to go through a blind cave and that bastard in town lied to me! And I forgot to get Shield on the way. Zelda II is fairly linear, but finding the path forward is kind of obtuse at times. (I mean, you actually have to pay attention to what people are saying!) Still, I remember why I loved it.

That sweet-ass combat. Every encounter could be your last. It's fucking INTENSE. And they throw Ironknuckles and Skeleton dudes at you in the FIRST dungeon. Those skeleton dudes aren't really tough, though. Unless you try to rush through them, whereupon they stab you in the EYE.

Yeah, I'm capitalizing. Deal with it. Shit just got real. But, seriously, is there anything more satisfying than perfectly dispatching an Ironknuckle or a Boomerang dude at the lower levels?

I really can't believe that Nintendo thought Zelda II had an acceptable amount of difficulty. In terms of progression/combat/whatever. But it's awesome. And, upon reflection, Nintendo did make pretty hard games, back in the day. Also, there are all sorts of RPG-y tricks to mitigate the difficulty... if you can figure them out. A very non-Nintendo game, in many ways. Especially since it also has some interface issues, like unspeedable text, fireballs that can hit you from the very edge of the screen, and a transition to an empty screen when you encounter enemies on the road. (Why?)

The art style is pretty unique for the series. Kind of off-putting and out-of-place at first, but it grows on you. Somehow I feel that Steampunk Zelda could work, AoL-style.

And the music is decent. It's cool how it begins with a bar of the overworld theme before transitioning to the new one. The best track is the palace theme, which really does amplify the creepiness and tension.

Overall, I'm enjoying the piss out of this game. Great stuff. Great, sloppy stuff. It reminds me of what it is to feel. I mean, I barely made it to the next town, and I was one-shotted by a fucking villager who turned into a bat! I had to laugh.

After hurling my 3DS into the wall, I mean.
09/07/11, 17:33   
Edited: 09/07/11, 17:57
A question before I start: is there a way to screw yourself over by not levelling up the right things?
09/07/11, 17:48   
@Guillaume I'm pretty sure that if you skip the opportunity to level up, you get the chance when you reach that number again. So you can skip something to level up something else, and no, you shouldn't screw yourself over.
09/07/11, 17:52   
I don't see how so I'd say no. I think you can end up maxing everything anyway as long as you get enough experience.
09/07/11, 17:52   
Couple things that I forgot to cover: The 3DS D-Pad/Start button - awful.

And does anyone think that if Zelda II was easier and more straightforward, gamers would have universally enjoyed it?

(Who directed this game, btw? It doesn't feel very Miyamoto.)

Nah. And all of the stats are pretty important, too (with the possible exception of magic), so you don't have to worry about optimization. One thing to note is that finishing a palace will jump you to the next available level, so try to game the system and get hundreds of exp at once.

Good luck!
09/07/11, 17:56   
Edited: 09/07/11, 18:01
I would have liked to join this adventure, but I actually just played through this one (and beat it!) recently thanks to the Zelda Collection on Gamecube.

Excellent little game, and has some pretty cool, unique content. I want another Zelda game where Link doesn't really have tools, but magic spells instead!


Miyamoto is listed only as a "producer" for this game, while Takashi "Ten Ten" Tezuka is noted as the writer. The developer is EAD, but I think in this case, (for a game so old) "writer" would be the equivalent to "director."
09/07/11, 19:35   
Edited: 09/07/11, 19:37
Anand said:
Couple things that I forgot to cover: The 3DS D-Pad/Start button - awful.

Just use the circle pad. So much better.

And everyone should note that while the Start and Select buttons suck, you can use Y for the select button. It helps particularly in this game since you do use select on a pretty regular basis. (Start still sucks though.)
09/07/11, 19:52   
That's good to know about the Select button. And, yeah, the Circle Pad feels pretty good, but, on the other hand, it feels so wrong. I might just start using that, instead, though. 3DS Lite, ahoy!

Tezuka is a fucking beast.
09/07/11, 20:07   
Edited: 09/07/11, 20:09

The team was also apparently newly-assembled specifically to make this game. It's not the same team that made the original, which is probably obvious now that I think about it.


I do think the game would be more highly regarded if it was easier and more straightforward. There are multiple areas where the team seems to have deliberately decided not to give the player a break (losing XP progress when you die, difficulty spike of the early game, sending you back to the palace when you die, enemy HP, relentless battle mechanic, obliqueness of some of the necessary secrets, etc.) I wouldn't want a Zelda II that dials back all of these things, but they could have cut the player some slack on a couple of them. In a word, balance. This game don't have it, yo. I like a solid challenge, but Zelda II is really pretty perverse with it. There were some fantastic moments in that game, but by the time I was done, I wasn't smiling anymore. I was just happy to stomp the little bastard into the ground and be done with it.

It's Zelda's very own "Lost Levels".
09/07/11, 20:31   
Yeah, I was also reminded of Lost Levels in the brutality and bizarrely uncompromising nature of even some of the early stuff. Like forcing you to go through a pitch black cave WITH an enemy in it. Which might make you brave enough to try another one of the unlit caves. Whereupon you will die.

Sending you back to the palace when you die is just jerky.

Hearts are pretty hard to come by, too. There are times when you'd sell your arm for a fairy, but it just flits you away, leaving you with a Bugbear in its place.

I mean, multiple Iron Knuckles in the FIRST DUNGEON. Where they take, like, 10 hits. Brutal.

It is definitely unbalanced, and it's kind of a big, sloppy mess, with the random experience bags, the obscure clues, and the implementation of the magic system that allows you to circumvent quite a bit of stuff (like flying through keyholes as a fairy??), but I kind of love it that way. You have to learn to bend the game to your will. There's something to be said for a smooth, well-balanced difficulty curve, but nothing challenges you or unnerves you quite like a nice big spike. In your eye.

All of that said, there are a lot of parts of the game that are quite refreshing and amazingly deep. Particularly the combat. And even the platforming is pretty fun. Which is why the whole 'black sheep' thing always kind of puzzled me. Playing through again, it's definitely a difficult game to love, but that almost sort of enhances its charm for me, like an initially impenetrable album that becomes one of your favorites.
09/07/11, 21:25   
Edited: 09/07/11, 21:36
Nice to see some Zelda II love! I've had countless playthroughs of this game over the years. Best piece of advice I can give everyone new to the game, as someone previously mentioned, is pick a spot to grind and level up early. If all 3 of your stats are at level 4 by the time you get to the 3rd palace, you're in good shape. Personally, I tend to grind on the Iron Knuckle statues that come to life at the entrance of every palace (except the 1st); I find that works quickest and best for me. Sometimes, defeating them will earn you a nice 200pt exp bag too!
09/07/11, 21:32   
I just got to the final boss (well the second to last boss)! But I'm out of magic. Which is required for this battle.

Fortunately I didn't die, so I still have three extra lives (there's a Link doll in the Great Palace). I'm gonna kick this game's ass.
09/07/11, 21:40   

Next time we do one of these threads it has to be for a game you won't have time to finish before most people has started...

Plans FFVI thread
09/07/11, 21:44   
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