Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
|Zelda II: The Adventure of Link|
North American box art
|Series||The Legend of Zelda|
|Release date(s)||Famicom Disk System
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (リンクの冒険 Rinku no Bōken?, "Adventure of Link") is an action role-playing video game with platforming elements. The second installment in The Legend of Zelda series, it was developed and published by Nintendo for the Family Computer Disk System on January 14, 1987, less than a year after the original Legend of Zelda video game was released and seven months before the United States saw the release of the first Zelda title. The game was later released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America and PAL regions in 1988, almost two years after its initial release in Japan, converting the game from its initial Disk System format to the NES cartridge.
The Adventure of Link is a direct sequel to the original Legend of Zelda, again involving the protagonist, Link, on a quest to save Princess Zelda, who has fallen under a sleeping spell. The Adventure of Link's emphasis on side-scrolling and role-playing-style elements, however, was a significant departure from its predecessor. As of 2013[update], the game remains the only technical sequel to the original game, as all other games in the series either are prequels or take place in an alternative reality, according to the official Zelda timeline.
The game was highly successful at the time, and introduced elements such as Link's "magic meter" and the Dark Link character that would become commonplace in future Zelda games, although the role-playing elements such as experience points and the platform-style side-scrolling and multiple lives were never used again in canonical games. It was followed in 1991 by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super NES.
The Adventure of Link bears little resemblance to the first game in the series or later games in the series. The Adventure of Link features side-scrolling areas within a larger top-down world map rather than the exclusively top-down perspective of the previous title. It is more an action-RPG, much like Faxanadu (also on the FC/NES). The side-scrolling gameplay and experience system is also very similar to many games in the popular Castlevania series, especially Castlevania II: Simon's Quest also released for the FDS in 1987. The game incorporates a strategic combat system, a proximity continue system based on lives, an experience points (EXP) system, magic spells, as well as more interaction with non-player characters (NPCs). Apart from the CD-i exclusive Zelda: Wand of Gamelon and Link: Faces of Evil, no other game in the series includes a life-feature. The side angle was used again in Link's Awakening and the other Game Boy entries, but was not the main angle in those games, which relied primarily on the top-down view.
In this installment, Link gains experience points to upgrade his attack, magic, and life by defeating enemies. This feature is exclusive to Zelda II in the game series. He can raise each of these attributes to a maximum of eight levels. Raising a life level will decrease the damage Link receives when hit, raising a magic level will decrease the magic points (MP) cost of spells, and raising an attack level will strengthen his sword's offensive power. Each attribute requires a different amount of experience to level up, with the life level requiring the least number of points to level and attack requiring the most. When enough points are acquired to raise an attribute, the player may choose to level up that attribute or to cancel and continue gaining experience points towards the next level in another attribute. Once Link has raised an attribute to the maximum level of eight, further advances in that attribute will earn Link an extra life, without advancing the attribute itself. Link can acquire up to four Heart Containers and up to four Magic Containers that permanently increase his life points and magic points. Other games in The Legend of Zelda series only allow Link to increase his strength through new weapons, items, and Heart Containers. Certain enemies drain Link's experience when they attack, but he will never lose a level once raised. The game however only saves the level at which the player's experience is at and how much experience he needs for the next level, not how many experience points he currently has. So if the player has 750 experience points and the next level is 800, if the player saves and resets the console or loses all his lives, he will begin with 0 experience points and 800 for the next level.
Overworld map and side-scrolling
The Adventure of Link plays out in a two-mode dynamic. The overworld, the area where the majority of the action occurs in other The Legend of Zelda games, is still from a top-down perspective, but it now serves as a hub to the other areas. Whenever Link enters a new area such as a town, the game switches to a side-scrolling view. This mode is where most of the action takes place, and, with the exception of traveling across lava and water, it is the only mode in which Link can take damage and be killed.
Link also enters this mode when attacked by wandering monsters. Whenever the player traverses the various environments of Hyrule, enemy silhouettes appear and pursue him. Of the three random creatures that appear, there are three types which correspond to the relative difficulty of the monsters in battle mode: a small, weak blob denoting easy enemies, a large, strong biped denoting harder enemies, and a Fairy, which will put Link on a single screen with a free Fairy to refill his health. This separate method of traveling and entering combat is one of many aspects adapted from the role-playing video game genre.
The Adventure of Link has a more complex combat system than its predecessor. Armed with a sword and shield, Link must alternate between standing and crouching positions in order to attack enemies and defend himself; for example, the Iron Knuckle enemy changes the height of its attack and its shield depending on Link's current stance, forcing Link to change stances until he has a chance to attack safely. Link has the ability to jump, which can be used for attacking tall or airborne enemies, and can be used for evasion. Eventually, he can learn techniques for downward and upward stabs in midair.
Magic and special items
Though Link must still collect several items in order to progress in the game (as in the previous and subsequent installments of the series), these special items grant abilities which either remain in permanent use for the rest of the game or are only activable in the overworld. In place of actively used items, The Adventure of Link features spells for Link to use during action scenes. Each spell is learned from a different wise man in towns. Link often has to complete side-quests, such as retrieving lost items, before they will teach him their spells. Some spells are necessary for advancing beyond certain points in the game; both the Jump and Fairy spells allow Link to reach the top of ledges that are otherwise too high. Also, the Life spell becomes the main means of recovering health during action scenes, since healing Fairies are only found in rare fixed spots, and only appear randomly as overworld encounters.
Like its predecessor, The Adventure of Link allows storing up to three games in the cartridge's memory. Once the game has been completed, selecting the corresponding file in the main menu allows starting a new game preserving the acquired experience levels, techniques and magic spells (but no special items, Heart and Magic containers or extra lives, which must be obtained again).
Several years after the events of The Legend of Zelda, the now-sixteen-year-old Link notices a strange mark on the back of his left hand, exactly like the crest of Hyrule. He seeks out Impa, who responds by taking Link to the North Castle, where a door has been magically sealed for generations. Impa places the back of Link's left hand on the door, and it opens, revealing a sleeping maiden. Impa tells Link that the maiden is Zelda (not the Zelda from the first game), the princess of Hyrule from long ago, and the origin of the "Legend of Zelda". Zelda's brother had tried to force her into telling their recently deceased father's secrets concerning the last of three sacred golden triangle treasures of his kingdom, known collectively as the Triforce. Princess Zelda refused to reveal its location, and the prince's wizard friend, in anger, tried to strike her down with a spell. Zelda fell under a powerful sleeping spell, but the wizard was unable to control the wildly arcing magic and was killed by it. The prince, filled with remorse and unable to reverse the spell, had his sister placed in the castle tower, in the hope that she would one day be awakened. He decreed that princesses born to the royal family from that point on would be named Zelda, in remembrance of this tragedy.
Impa says that the mark on Link's hand means that he is the hero chosen to awaken Zelda. She gives Link a chest containing six crystals and ancient writings that only a great future king of Hyrule can read. Link finds, although he's never seen the symbols before, that he can read it, and it indicates that each crystal needs to be placed in a different palace in Hyrule. This will open the way to the Great Palace, which contains the Triforce of Courage. This, combined with the other two parts, has the power to awaken the enchanted Zelda. Taking the crystals, Link sets out to restore them to their palaces. Meanwhile, the followers of Ganon are seeking to kill Link; sprinkling his blood on Ganon’s ashes would bring Ganon back to life.
Ultimately, Link restores the crystals to the six palaces, and with the crystals in place, the entrance to the Great Palace is opened. After venturing deep inside, Link is made to battle a shadowy doppelgänger of himself known as Dark Link. Link then claims the Triforce of Courage and returns to Zelda. The three triangles unite into the collective Triforce, and Link's wish awakens Zelda. The game ends as they (presumably) kiss under a falling curtain.
Development and releases
Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the original The Legend of Zelda, intended to make Zelda II: The Adventure of Link fundamentally different from its predecessor. A different team was assembled to develop the game. However, Miyamoto (who was credited under the pseudonym "Miyahon") was the producer, and Takashi Tezuka returned to write the story and script. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was directed by Tadashi Sugiyama (credited as "Sugiyan"), for whom it was the first project at Nintendo. The game's music was composed by Akito Nakatsuka (credited as "Tsukasan").
The Adventure of Link was originally released on the Family Computer Disk System (FDS) before its worldwide release. Like its predecessor, the FDS version appears to be an earlier version of the game, with a few obvious differences. In the English release, the dungeons each have different colors, whereas in the FDS version they are all gray. Also, the two dungeon bosses Carrok and Volvagia (the latter being initially named Barba in the NES release) have different graphical appearances. The game over screen in the English version features the silhouette of Ganon from the chest up, with the text saying "Game Over/Return of Ganon", whereas the FDS game over screen is a plain black screen with the text saying "Return of Ganon/The End". There are some slight additions to the dungeons, as well as a handful of differences on the dungeons themselves. Due to an additional soundchip that the Disk System has, when Nintendo ported Zelda II over to the NES they had to eliminate some musical elements, especially from the title screen. On the main map, the icons denoting attacking monsters look different, but the most significant change is the spending of experience points, as Link's three attributes cost the same, unlike the worldwide release. Further, the game is designed to promote balanced leveling, as the saved game on the disk will only let the levels for the attributes go as high as whatever is set the lowest (e.g. if Life is at 5 and Strength is at 4, but Magic is at 1, then the saved game will reflect all as level 1), while still saving the data regarding crystals that have been placed and items that have been collected. These differences make leveling up in the game very different.
The Adventure of Link was re-released in 2003 on the The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition disc for the Nintendo GameCube, and again in 2004 as part of the “Classic NES Series” for Game Boy Advance, with changes. The intro text has been changed to read "third Triforce" rather than "No.3 Triforce" and the copyright date has been altered to read "1987- 2004". The death animation removed flashing colors in an effort to prevent seizures, replacing it with a solid red color. There were also various graphical and audio tweaks. It was released as the 100th title on the Wii's Virtual Console in Japan on January 23, 2007, in Europe and Australia on February 9, 2007 and was released in North America on June 4, 2007. The text changes weren't made in this version, but it does feature the solid red color in the death animations from the GameCube and Game Boy Advance versions.
The game was released yet again in September 2011 on Virtual Console (this time on the 3DS), bundled with its predecessor as part of a free giveaway of 10 original Nintendo Entertainment System games to 3DS owners who purchased the console before the price drop. It is now available to purchase on the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS and Wii U. The 3DS version is a direct port of the original NES release and, consequently, features the flashing color death scene and none of the text alterations of previous re-releases. Although the game features the save option, fully resetting the software currently results in the save game being deleted, meaning that the user should not do this unless that is the desired outcome.
Upon its release in North America, Zelda II became one of the most popular NES games of 1988, with many retailers reporting that the game was selling out that year. The game ultimately sold 4.38 million copies worldwide, making it the fifth best selling NES game, behind the Super Mario Bros. series and the first Legend of Zelda game.
In 1987, Famicom Tsūshin (now Famitsu) gave it a score of 36 out of 40, based on a panel of four reviewers giving it ratings of 8, 10, 9 and 9 out of 10. This made it their second highest-rated game of 1987, behind only Dragon Quest II. These were also the only two games to have received a Famitsu score of 35/40 or above up until 1987. Play magazine praised the unique gameplay, saying that "it's this combination of unique elements that creates an action-RPG experience unlike any other". Nintendo Power said that the game was "an entertaining and natural step in the franchise's evolution," and awarded it their Game of the Year Award for 1988. Zelda II was reviewed in 1992 by issue #2 of Total! magazine, where it received an 82% rating, due in great part to mediocre sub-scores for music and graphics. A 1993 review of the game was printed in issue #198 of Dragon by Sandy Petersen, in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Petersen gave the game 3 out of 5 stars.
Zelda II was rated the 110th best game made on a Nintendo System in Nintendo Power 's Top 200 Games list. In August 2008, Nintendo Power listed it as the 12th best Nintendo Entertainment System video game, describing it as a radical and refreshing departure from its predecessor.
IGN said that the game is a "recommended and playable adventure" but also said "don't expect the same gameplay from the truly classic Zelda titles." 1UP.com praised the game's length, citing that "you can certainly find plenty here to keep you busy for some time." The game also received some criticism. GameSpot said that while the game is "decent enough to make it worth the $5 price [on the Wii's Virtual Console]", it features "questionable design decision[s]" and can get confusing if players don't have the help of walkthroughs. The GBA version of the game had an aggregated score of 73 on Metacritic. and an aggregated score of 68.88 on Gamerankings, making it the game of the series with the lowest score in both websites.
Many elements first introduced in this game have remained in the series. For instance, non-player characters (NPCs) were present in The Legend of Zelda, but their role was rather limited. Starting with The Adventure of Link, Zelda games have prominently featured a variety of NPCs who play pivotal roles in Link's quests. Zelda II was also one of the first games where NPCs walked around and seemingly had their own agendas, giving the world a life of its own rather than being a simple stage for the story to unfold. The use of metered magic and spells has also carried over into other Zelda games. The Triforce of Courage makes its first appearance in The Adventure of Link and plays an important role in later Zelda games, as it is strongly associated with Link. Dark Link is a version of Link's Shadow which appears in Ocarina of Time, a similar Link clone called Shadow Link appears in Four Swords Adventures, and yet another appears in Spirit Tracks, as well as in A Link Between Worlds.
Additionally, The Adventure of Link was one of the first games to combine role-playing video game and platforming elements to a considerable degree. Over the next few years, a number of Japanese-made games appeared with a similar format; major titles such as Cadash (1989) closely resemble The Adventure of Link, with side-scrolling platform stages supplemented by RPG-like statistical systems, weapons, armor, magic spells, and so forth.
Most of the sages in Ocarina of Time bear the same names as towns from The Adventure of Link (Rauru, Ruto, Saria, Nabooru, and Darunia; excluding Impa). Another town, Mido, is also the name of a character in Kokiri Forest. However, in the in-game chronology, the towns were named after the characters. The Adventure of Link is also the only Zelda game of the main English releases not to use "The Legend of Zelda" in its title, the only Zelda game to feature "lives" counting down, and therefore the only game in the series to include 1-up dolls. The next Zelda game released after The Adventure of Link was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Famicom in 1991, which follows new Link and Zelda characters and returns to the top-down style of the original. It is officially considered a prequel to the NES games, and as of 2013[update] there has been no technical plot sequel to The Adventure of Link, with each Zelda game being either a prequel or a "sequel to a prequel".
There are a small number of side scrolling areas in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening; these areas were mainly underground tunnels and caves. The series broke away from the top-down style again in 1998 when Ocarina of Time was released on the Nintendo 64, with 3D graphics. A new version of the composition "Temple", arranged by Shogo Sakai, is featured in Super Smash Bros. Melee, where it is played during the "Hyrule Temple" stage and the "Underground Maze" level. A variation of the track, as well as a new version of the 'Grand Palace' level song, also appears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The track was later once again updated and appeared twice, as the "Streetpass Battle Theme" as well as a slower version for the "Battle Victory" music, in the Nintendo 3DS Zelda game A Link Between Worlds, making it the only subsequent Zelda game to include theme music that originated in The Adventure of Link. The Streetpass battle mode is itself inspired by the final boss fight of Zelda 2, and Streetpass fights occur between the player as Link, and the other player as Shadow/Dark Link.
The 3DS title Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!, developed by WayForward Technologies was intended to play like Zelda II and pays homage to it. It features very similar gameplay and references to the The Legend of Zelda series of video games.
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