QuentTheSlayer's review of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link | Backloggd (2024)

This is the second review in a marathon of reviews for “The Legend of Zelda” series. If you haven’t yet, please read my previous review here. Please also check out Reyn, Phantasm, Steinco, & ptcremisi who are doing this marathon with me. They will also be posting reviews for each Zelda game in the marathon, though not all of us are playing the same games. I will also be linking specific individuals who will be playing specific Zelda games alongside us, so please check them out also! Without any further delay, let’s get right into The Legend of Zelda II: Adventure of Link.

I have only one question… What happened?! As someone who gets mild enjoyment from the first Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda II: Adventure of Link tries to do everything in its power to make it an unenjoyable experience in every facet possible. I originally played this game many years ago, but dropped it once I got to Death Mountain, an infamous area in this game where the difficulty needlessly spikes while the game feels unnecessarily unfair to the player. For this marathon, I finally decided to finish it, but the idea of dropping this game to get to A Link To The Past was very, very strong.

One of the most notable changes with Zelda 2 is that it decides to change the gameplay from a top-down adventure game, to a platformer? Granted, the overworld exploration from Zelda 1 is still here, you have a vast world to explore filled with secrets, towns, and caves for you to find. Yet it feels so stagnant and bland, exploring itself is fine, if a bit slow, but instead of enemies that you can fight in real-time, a set of three will appear randomly that can potentially run into Link and initiate a battle. Also, the Overworld itself is plain and lacking in detail, something I praised from the first game was how detailed the environments were, while here it’s all incredibly blocky and unnatural looking. Exploring the Overworld is simple enough, but it’s segmented. Usually when you enter a new segment of Hyrule in Zelda 2, you’ll be staying there for a while, the execution is always the same as well. Find a town, complete some random fetch quest for or within the town, get a new spell, maybe get a new sword technique, then head to the temple of that area. This formula gets old incredibly fast, especially when you consider the item progression in Zelda 2 being extremely weak.

In the original Legend of Zelda, every item you received within a dungeon would upgrade your capability, this included items to help you further explore Hyrule, such as the Stepladder, and the Raft. While the Raft wasn’t necessarily utilized well, the Stepladder felt like a legitimate upgrade that was continuously useful in dungeons which gave it value, it had significance far past when it was originally obtained. This is my big issue with Zelda 2’s items. In Zelda 2, you’ll get an item, it’ll have maybe one specific use in the Overworld, and then it just rots away in your inventory for the remainder of the game. Now, to be fair, items like the Boomerang and Bow in the original were probably not used extensively either, I certainly didn’t use them often. However, in Zelda 2, every item feels like this. Let’s take the boots for example. In concept, the boots are actually very interesting, allowing you to walk over water and lava in the Overworld. Unfortunately the use for this item is limited to only a few specific spots, and is never used again. It doesn’t even have a purpose within the 2D sections either, it’d be an incredible feature if these boots allowed you to walk over lava, it’d make Link feel like his items have use and that he’s becoming stronger in a tangible manner through his items rather than just being a means to reach the next temple. Other items suffer the same fate such as the Handy Glove, the Hammer, etc. They do not feel significant in the same way Zelda 1’s items did, except maybe the Candle which lights up caves, but it’s no longer a weapon you can use to dispatch enemies, it’s relegated to just one purpose, which is a shame.

The most significant manner in which the game tries to give Link progression in power is by leveling up. This to me is probably the highlight of the game. In Zelda 2, defeating certain enemies will reward you with points that contribute to your level ups. Each level up requires a specific number of points to achieve, after which a stat will be upgraded. Now unfortunately, you don’t get to choose what stat you wish to upgrade per level up, the game pre-selects one for you, which is a huge negative for me because it doesn’t allow players to tailor their builds, or prioritize a stat they deem more important in whatever specific area/scenario they’re in. This becomes especially brutal because upgrading health and magic is a free refill respectively, so utilizing that in difficult areas such as Death Mountain could’ve been incredibly helpful and made it more bearable. Now granted, you can choose to skip your level-up, which will then require you to level up again. Once you level up again, the game will allow you to choose between two stats to upgrade, doing so again gives you complete reign on which stat to upgrade. I really don’t like this idea because it makes leveling up slower and less valuable overall. Sure, you can skip your level up without the point requirement increasing to upgrade a stat you want, but from the beginning the game should allow for player freedom in how they wish to build Link for the upcoming trials ahead. The game thankfully has heart containers and magic upgrades to help alleviate these issues, but they’re incredibly well hidden on specific squares on the map that have no visual cue to tell you they’re there at all, this issue will crop up more later. So if you’re not using a guide, it’s very likely you’ll be missing out on these free level-ups essentially, which is not ideal whatsoever. Especially when you consider how valuable these resources are for fighting and progression.

Alright, let’s talk about the worst part of the game, the enemies. I have no clue what they were thinking here designing these enemies the way they did, but let’s break it down. You have a lot of rather easy enemies like “Bots” which are basically slimes that can’t do much, you just need to crouch to hit them, nothing too mind-blowing there. My real issue are with enemies who have shields. Enemies with shields are an absolute nightmare to fight because they often just block so many attacks, it takes forever to kill them, and if your weapon bounces off, chances are you’re getting hit. That’s not even the worst of it though, the best way to deal with these enemies is to jump then attack their heads, and you’ll usually land a hit. Not only do you need to space these attacks out well, but it’s just tedious. Add onto the fact you can’t necessarily run past some of these enemies due to how they move or the level design, and it gets so much worse. I think the worst offender is definitely the Blue Darknut, a fast, shielded enemy that can shoot his own sword beams at you high and low, requiring you to react quickly, and he can throw them out ridiculously fast. If you’re not playing carefully and get reckless, you will most certainly die, and Blue Darknut is just one example. Guma’s and Doomknockers are equally annoying since they throw projectiles that you need to carefully watch before striking, while there is some satisfaction to learning enemy patterns, a lot of them can just double-hit you or throw two projectiles one after the other quickly and you’ll get hit, your shield also cannot block certain thrown projectiles, yet can block others. This inconsistency feels unfair and too specific since a player will have to learn the hard way that Oh yeah, your shield can’t block this It's awful. Dealing with projectiles is even worse since all you can really do is jump over them, but that’s not always a luxury you have due to the constraints of the level design.

If you thought Zelda 1 was cryptic, well get ready, because Zelda 2 is just as bad. One of my favorite examples is the hidden town within a forest you have to reveal by smashing the forest tile with the hammer item. While Zelda 1 was cryptic, it was at least somewhat logical, “fire burns bush” and “walls can be bombed”. Zelda 2 says to hell with logic, hammer cuts down forest I guess. There’s a hidden wall in a temple you can just walk through, there is zero indication of this, which probably left many players very lost and confused in that temple. There’s a town where you need to use a specific spell in a specific area to spawn a tower that has an item inside that would greatly benefit you to have. The list goes on, but Zelda 2 is as much, if not more of a guide game than Zelda 1 was I think. I personally used a guide for this playthrough, because for one: I was already not thrilled to be playing this game and wanted it to be over with quickly. And two: I legit would not have figured any of this out without a guide anyway, it made the already terrible experience smoother at least, but in my mind I always thought “how were you supposed to figure that out?” Again, Zelda 1 has this issue, and one thing I didn’t touch on that applies to both games are the items you get. They have no description or instruction, so you either need the instruction booklet that came with these games, or you have to be incredibly insightful to know what they did. I think Zelda 2 gets away with this more though since most items are passive and have dedicated buttons for them in the Overworld such as the hammer and flute respectively.

Level design in Zelda 2 is outright awful as well. Link’s jump is incredibly stiff and the apex of its height is finicky to figure out and utilize. A lot of later platforming sections demand you understand this, or else you’re taking a dive into a pit or some nice warm lava. The platforming is insufferable due to obstacles such as bubbles, enemy placement where they can hit you, or requiring specific magic spells to even overcome. Since Link gets knocked back a lot in this game, getting hit near a ledge is guaranteed death. If you need a specific magic spell such as “Jump” to reach an out of reach platform, or get over a large pit, you better have the magic for it. If you don’t, you either need to pray you get a magic potion drop, or die to fully refill it for you. There’s areas in this game where as soon as you enter a screen, an enemy will already be on top of you, so you have to react instantly or you’re getting hit or worse. There’s a specific screen near the end of the game where an enemy legit spawns on top of you and you can’t avoid the damage. So if you went in there with one health left, guess you’re just dead. There’s rooms in this game with enemies constantly spawning that will overwhelm you, and it gets so much worse when you have to platform while dealing with these enemies combined with the knockback and Link’s terrible jump. It feels very reminiscent of Castlevania actually, but I’d much rather be playing that than this game. It just amazes me a lot of this made it into the game, and this isn’t an inconsistent issue, most of this game is plagued by these problems, and it only gets worse the more demanding the game gets, on top of introducing harder enemies that hit like trucks, I legitimately don’t understand how you can beat this game without some form of rewind or save-stating. I’ll be the first to admit to using save states for this game, and I’m very glad I did. Had I not, I promise you, I wouldn’t have finished this game, it’d have stayed unfinished, and I would’ve gone straight to A Link To The Past

Now for some other miscellaneous issues. Akin to a platformer, Link now has lives. You start with 3, and there’s a bunch of secret areas in the game to collect more lives, how you’re supposed to find them without a guide, I don't know, though none of them are so overly cryptic to find really, it’s just a matter of exploring in this case. My issue is the finite resources of these extra lives. Every time you die, the game will respawn you in the beginning of the room you died in, which is very generous, I will admit. Once you lose all of your lives though? Well, regardless of where you are, with the exception of the final temple, the game will respawn you at the very beginning of the game. Which means, you will have to travel all the way back to where you need to go, this includes temples. I find it… ridiculous. In Zelda 1, when you died in a dungeon, the game was courteous enough to put you at the start of that temple. In Zelda 2, no, you’re whisked away back to the very start of the game. Not only does Zelda 2 not live up to the first, but is also just regressing in design.

Link doesn’t receive important upgrades early enough in my mind. A move like downward thrust you should get earlier since it’s such an essential move to Link’s kit. Yet in stark contrast, the upward thrust is useless because it doesn’t stay out long enough to even be usable, and there’s not many enemies at the point in the game you get it for it to be worthwhile. I think the cost of the “Life” spell should’ve been reduced, because besides towns and level ups? There are no potions in this game to refill your health, all you get is the life spell. It consumes so much magic, it may not even be worth it, especially when you consider later temples require you have a good amount of magic left to use specific spells to progress like Jump, “Fairy” and “Thunder”. I think the “Fire” spell should be the first or close to the first spell you get. The soundtrack is weaker than Zelda 1’s to me, though the Temple Theme is amazing. A lot of the environments look good in the 2D sections, temples feel a lot weaker to me though. While Zelda 1 re-used a lot of rooms, all the dungeon layouts were different and the different color palettes helped distinguish them all. Zelda 2 I’d say does a good job here as well, while it does have a lot of similar room layouts like Zelda 1, it brings back the concept of each dungeon having its own distinct color. On top of this, the material the temples seem to be made of are also different, a nice visual change to help set them apart is very welcomed. Fairies felt a little too rare in temples and the overworld to be relied on, but are helpful. Towns were a drag to go through, but broke up gameplay I guess, just wasn’t a fan of the fetch-quests just to get a spell I may never use. I hated how you had to hit items like potions, keys, and point bags with your sword to grab them. I actually missed a key by not hitting it because I thought walking over it would pick it up, like Zelda 1, so once again we’re just regressing in design here rather than progressing. My last complaint is the sound design. I don’t like how high-pitched the sword beam is, and stuff like hitting shields, or your shield getting hit doesn’t sound pleasant, really a lot of the sound design in this game sort of grated on me pretty fast, which didn’t help matters by any means.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link by all accounts was a miserable experience. I truly only found the leveling system to be the only thing I enjoyed in this game, yet the restraint it places on the player to only level up a specific stat or grind more points is tedious and badly designed. The rest of it either left me infuriated, annoyed, or bored. I had to abuse many save-states to finish this game, but I honestly don’t mind admitting that because the game doesn’t play fair, so why should I? Special shoutout to the Blue Darknut for being one of the worst enemy’s in any video game ever! I did want to quit playing several times, but I kept my word, and for the integrity of the marathon, Zelda 2 is finished. Will I ever play it again? Nope, not in a million years. I’m just glad it’s over. On a more positive note, the next game in the marathon is A Link To The Past. One of my absolute favorite Zelda games, and honestly one of my favorite games period. I hope you all enjoyed this review, I don’t normally make reviews so negative, but I really had little praise for this game. Though Link To The Past will be far more positive for sure. Until then, thank you all for reading, see you in the next one!

Reyn’s Zelda 2 review - PT’s Zelda 2 review - Steinco’s Zelda 2 review

QuentTheSlayer's review of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link | Backloggd (2024)

FAQs

How hard is the adventure of Link? ›

It's harder than The Legend Of Zelda (NES), however it is less confusing. So if you prefer action over puzzles, then you should enjoy the game throughout, albeit the infuriatingly difficult moments *looks at Blue Birdknight* (you'll understand later, trust me) Anywho, have fun.

What is Zelda II The Adventure of Link called in Japanese? ›

The title logo is different and reads "THE LEGEND OF ZELDA 2" (in English) with a larger "RINKU NO BOUKEN" ("Adventure of Link", written in Japanese). Additionally, there is a "PRESS START" message under the logo. The title screen music has an additional sound layer and is of greater quality than the English version.

How do you save in Zelda 2 The Adventure of Link? ›

Fast Save. If you want to save without dying do this: press START on Controller 1, and then press UP+START on Controller 2. The save screen will appear, and you can then either Save or Continue.

Has Link ever been a girl? ›

Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma quashed those rumours in an interview with Time, asserting that Link is 'definitely a male', but that Breath of the Wild marked a return to the character's original 'gender-neutral' design in the Ocarina of Time period: 'I wanted Link to be gender neutral […]

Why is Zelda 2 so hard? ›

If it's your first time playing, chances are you'll find it hard. Maybe mostly because of the memory limited, and therefore heavily cryptic, clues. The combat still throws some people too, I think. This was my first Zelda way way back in 1988.

How old is Link at his oldest? ›

It's safe to say that Link is generally on the younger side and under the age of 18, regardless of his incarnation. Hyrule Historia says that Link is 10 years old in the first game, The Legend of Zelda. In Adventure of Link, the hero is age 16. In an interview, Eiji Aonuma said the Link in Twilight Princess is 17.

Is Link A Boy or a girl? ›

Although Link is a male character, Aonuma said that he wanted him to be gender neutral in Ocarina of Time: "I wanted the player to think 'Maybe Link is a boy or a girl'. If you saw Link as a guy, he'd have more of a feminine touch.

Did Zelda have a crush on Link? ›

In some games, like The Adventure of Link and Oracle of Ages, Zelda and Link are undeniably in love, with moments like sharing a kiss or going on dates. The future of Zelda and Link's relationship is uncertain, but they are bound to each other, whether as friends or something more.

Can you save in Zelda without dying? ›

The option to save from The Legend of Zelda appears after losing all Life energy. This same menu can also be accessed by pressing Up on the Control Pad and the A Button simultaneously on the second controller while the game is paused (doing so will warp Link back to the starting screen).

Is Link trying to save Zelda? ›

Usually, Link is attempting to save Princess Zelda and take down a major foe, such as Ganondorf, and this formula has worked for a long time and continued to produce fantastic games in the series.

How do you skip a story in Zelda? ›

How to skip cutscenes in The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom. Although you cannot skip the cutscenes the first time around, if you were to replay the area and see the same cutscene, you would be able to skip it. In order to do that, all you need to do is press the "+" button on your Nintendo Switch.

Is The Legend of Zelda 2 hard? ›

The myth of Zelda II being so insanely hard has to do with its bogus black sheep myth that cropped up in the past 10 years and Zelda games being easier in general than other game franchises, so it just seems harder by comparison. Make no bones (Stalfos?) about it, it isn't an easy game, but it's not extremely hard.

How long is Zelda DLC? ›

When focusing on the main objectives, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - The Champions' Ballad is about 10 Hours in length.

How long is Tears of the Kingdom? ›

When focusing on the main objectives, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is about 59 Hours in length. If you're a gamer that strives to see all aspects of the game, you are likely to spend around 240 Hours to obtain 100% completion.

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