Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES) Third Opinion Review

By Carrick Puckett 14.01.2017

Review for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on NES

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was first released for the Nintendo Famicom Disk System on January 14, 1987. North America and PAL regions would see it released on the Nintendo Entertainment System the following year. At the time of writing, Zelda II is the only "true" sequel to the original game; every other game in the series thus far, according to the official timeline released by Nintendo, is either a prequel or takes place in another reality. On its thirtieth birthday, Cubed3 revisits the adventure.

In Zelda II, players assume control of Link, the hero of the previous game. The instruction manual originally packaged with the game provides insight into the "Legend of Zelda": Long ago, the first Princess Zelda was put into a deep enchanted sleep by a wizard. Her brother, the Prince, beside himself with grief, had her placed in Hyrule's North Castle, where she would lay until the spell could be broken. Link's quest will take him across the width and breadth of Hyrule as he seeks out six palaces, and each palace has a statue deep within it where a crystal can be placed; with all six crystals placed, they open the way to the Great Temple, where the mythical Triforce rests. The power of the combined pieces of the Triforce is the only thing that can break the enchantment over the sleeping princess. All the while, the followers of the evil Ganon, the antagonist of the first game, seek to destroy Link, for the only way to revive their fell lord is to sprinkle his blood on Ganon's remains.

Zelda II is widely considered to be the black sheep of the series for several reasons. First, the only time Link is seen from the top-down perspective commonly seen in series is when he is travelling from place to place. Whenever Link enters a city, arrives at a palace, or encounters a wandering monster, he is placed in a side-scrolling perspective, and it is here that most of the action occurs.

Screenshot for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on NES

Zelda II's combat system is a great deal more complex than that of the previous game; Link can jump about freely, switch between high and low sword attacks to attack enemies, and stand or crouch to defend against incoming attacks. Furthermore, many of the more intelligent enemies also have access to Link's basic abilities, so they can also jump and attack and defend high or low, making combat less about poking enemies until someone gives up and more about precision striking and knowing when and how to block.

Second, Zelda II uses several mechanics commonly used in RPGs, such as experience points and levels, that are not seen in any other Zelda game to date. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however; it gives the player a sense of progression, as even if they haven't arrived or completed a step toward their goal, they can earn a sense of accomplishment from developing Link's abilities, whether it be making him stronger, tougher, or more capable with magic. Speaking of which…

Screenshot for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on NES

Zelda II is the first game in the series to introduce magic and a Magic Meter. As Link travels across the land, he can learn spells with a variety of effects. One allows him to jump higher, another allows him to shoot blasts of fire from his sword, and still another allows him to assume the form of a fairy, allowing him to slip through locked doors without the use of a key. Each spell costs Link a portion of his Magic Meter, and a player who develops Link's magical abilities will be able to cast more spells before the meter is emptied.

As Link explores the six palaces, he will encounter unique palace guardians. These guardians typically appear in the penultimate chamber, just before the shrine where Link must place a crystal. The circumstances in which Link encounters each guardian is unique, as is the means of defeating them. One is only vulnerable to strikes to the head, and Link must leap up to reach it. Another can only be defeated by turning its magical attacks against it. A third guardian lurks in lava, and rises from one of several vents to attack Link.

Screenshot for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on NES

After placing crystals in each palace, the way to the Great Palace opens. Deep within the Great Palace rests the Triforce, the mythical artefact of divine origin and the only thing powerful enough to break the sleeping spell cast upon Princess Zelda. Guarding the Triforce is an old man, and he presents Link with one final challenge in the form of Link's own shadow. Link's shadow may not be able to use any magic or special techniques the original possesses, but it is a capable adversary worthy of a final boss fight.

After defeating his shadow and claiming the Triforce, Link makes the trip back to the North Castle to at last wake the princess from her long slumber. She wakes, approaches Link, proclaims him a "true hero," and the game ends, but not before we see what is assumed to be a kiss from the princess as the curtain falls.

Screenshot for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on NES

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Zelda II is a finely-crafted game. It is far from being easy, however; players must search everywhere to find the things they need to have even the smallest chance of success, and mastering the game's complex combat mechanics is a must if they wish to get very far at all. It may indeed be the black sheep of the series, but don't pass it up based solely upon that, for you will be hard-pressed to find a game in the series with as much polish as this one.






Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (5 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Comments are currently disabled

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?

There are 1 members online at the moment.