If you’ve ever been to a Zelda forum, one topic you’ll often see is “Your favorite Zelda games”. For those thorough folks who list all their games, quite often one game is always at the bottom. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. It is quite often considered the ‘worst’ of the series. Is this an unfair assessment? Let’s take a look.
In Legend of Zelda we were introduced a bird’s eye perspective of the game, similar to games like Pac-Man before the NES. The game had a wide over world to explore and maze-like dungeons to explore. But on top of that you had to travel through these mazes using keys or tools you had collected. It was an experience like no other.
Enter The Adventure of Link. We are faced with a more familiar side scrolling feel similar to Super Mario Bros. and Metroid. While it’s true you can jump and walk around, the similarities end there. Rather than jump on a enemy or shoot it from a distance, you have to go straight to the enemy and attack. It was not simply a matter of slicing and dicing however. Often an enemy would defend itself or could only be hurt in a different manner altogether. It was not like the original Zelda in that you simply slashed the enemy from its weak point or kill it with your various tools. You were there, actually fighting the enemy.
The concept of the over world was changed in only a few ways. Instead of walking onto a screen with a group of monsters, you would instead walk around and find yourself attacked randomly. Not random like Final Fantasy, but random enough that you didn’t waste too much time off the safe dirt road where enemies would leave you alone. But battling enemies was not a complete waste. By collecting experience points, you could upgrade the power of your sword or decrease the damage you take or the amount of magic each spell uses.
It is worth noting that the magic system debuted in The Adventure of Link. In every town Link visited, there was a wise man somewhere to learn a spell from. Whether it gave him superhuman jumping abilities, the ability to throw fireballs, or turn into a fairy; there was always something new to learn. Although the game did have (extremely situational) tools, spells effectively took their place for the game.
As mentioned above, there were towns. In Legend of Zelda you could occasionally find a person in a cave who would offer cryptic advice or sell you something. The Adventure of Link established the tradition of having towns. Every village you entered had something going on, whether it be a lost child, a swordsman hiding inside a locked house, or a bridge that only people who knew a certain hermit could cross. While not nearly sophisticated as towns in later games, the towns would serve as a ‘returning point’ if you found yourself overwhelmed by the local enemies.
As great as all this was, it was not without flaws. Rather than the concept of infinite lives, you had three lives before ‘Game Over’. It was not all bad, since you could continue after the Game Over and not have to start the game over. But as much of a blessing as the three lives would have otherwise been, Game Over meant you lost all your accumulated experience that you had not spent on upgrades. Even this might not have been so bad for gamers, except it was far more difficult a game than Legend of Zelda or the games that followed.
Personally, I would hardly call those flaws. Effectively it makes the game harder in much the same way the saving system in Fire Emblem does. Sure, it can be extremely irritating, but it also forces on you to ‘perfect’ the way you explore the dungeons and how you fight. With enough work into it, the game is not impossible. Well, at least until the Great Palace at the end. Anybody who can beat the Great Palace without a map or tutorial either has a great memory or is just that awesome.
Some quotes from Miyamato about the game…
It may have been a failure, in terms of popularity, but it was not a failure as a game. Mr. Miyamoto doesn’t have to worry about doing it on Gamecube. He already did on the N64. He called it Ocarina of Time. When you fight creatures like Stalfos or Lizalfos, it’s like playing The Adventure of Link again. But even though The Adventure of Link had an awesome impact on the future of the Zelda series, I’m still hoping that the day will come when I finally get a 2D Sidescrolling Zelda game again.
What would it be like? You need look no further than Super Smash Bros. Melee. Here we see Link back in 2D form. What’s more, techniques like Upper Cut and Down Thurst return, just as we remembered them. There’s an even an Event level where you face Dark Link again. With a little modification there and some actual levels and enemies, you’d have a sequel to The Adventure of Link right there. I’m looking forward to when that day comes. Only this time I’ll show those blue Iron Knuckles what for.Follow This Entry | Read Other Posts by Masamune
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