Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the second in the Legend of Zelda series of games.
Emboldened by the massive, widespread success of the original Legend of Zelda, Nintendo envisioned a radically different gameplay engine when the time for a sequel came around. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was born shortly thereafter, setting off debates that continue to this day. Zelda II carries far more RPG-style elements than other titles in the series, and perhaps because of this many players are left disappointed by Nintendo's second installment, who believe that it does not live up to the first game's success.
Hyrule's hero is off on another quest to save his beloved Princess Zelda, who has fallen into an enchanted sleep. Members of Ganon's cult have cursed the princess, and Link's only chance of reviving her is retrieving the Triforce of Courage from the Great Palace. To do this he must unravel the "binding force" that protects the Great Palace by placing six crystals in other palaces around the world. This crystal theme reappears in later Zelda games, as well as the Final Fantasy series. It is an element that many latter-day RPGs seem to share.
Zelda II Title screen (NES Original)
Zelda II resembled the original very little; rather than the top-down view of the previous title, Zelda II featured side-scrolling areas within a larger world map. The game also incorporated more role-playing game elements, including an experience system, magic spells, and more interaction with non-player characters.
This time around, Link is granted the ability to gain levels, another gameplay feature more common to other RPGs than to the Zelda series. He starts at level one for attack, magic and life, and by fighting enemies to gain experience he can raise these all the way to level 8. Raising a Life level will decrease the damage Link takes each time he is hit, while raising a magic level will decrease the cost of spells, and raising an attack level will strengthen his blows. During his journey, Link can also find heart containers and magic containers that increase the amount of life/magic he can have at any given time. Although the Heart Piece theme appears in later Zeldas, Zelda II is the only game in the series that allows Link to build levels.
In games like Dragon Warrior, patient gamers can boost their levels by fighting large amounts of weaker enemies, and then wallop on whatever boss characters. Zelda II gives you that option as well, where the other Zelda games force you to rely on your skill, since there are only limited ways to raise your character's abilities.
The second Zelda also welcomes players to a two-mode world. The Overworld mode, once home to all battles, labyrinths, graveyards, etc., now serves simply as a means to get from one place to another. Whenever Link arrives at a place that can be explored, the game switches to a side view mode. The Palaces and towns are all viewed in this new way, giving Link the opportunity to access his sword and his magic, since the Overworld mode doesn't allow him to. Likewise, if Link strays from the road of the Overworld, wandering into forests, deserts and swamps, black enemy symbols chase him across the screen. If outrunning them proves too much a challenge, then a random battle ensues, and the side screen mode comes into use again. Even though the fighting is still action-oriented, not menu-based like later RPGs, the difference in battle mode and traveling mode is very characteristic of later RPGs, and is yet another point of contention.
Along the path of Link's journey are Palaces. After defeating the guardian of each palace and retrieving the special item inside, Link can place a crystal in the statue, and the Palace turns to stone when he departs. Items like the raft and the flute make a comeback, but other favorites are noticeably missing. There were some who claimed that without bombs and a boomerang, this game was not a true Zelda game, though other gamers must have reminded them that it was, after all, not the original.
Zelda II was the first in the series to feature towns. Here Link can refill his life and magic meters, and talk to the locals for advice. In addition, each town offers Link a chance to gain a magic spell or a sword technique, provided he completes a small favor. In this way, Link learns magic that allows him to jump higher, morph into a fairy to fly through keyholes in palaces, and refill his life, among other things. Swordsmen will also teach him to upward and downward thrust with his sword, which is vital to defeating certain enemies. The role of these NPCs in Link's quest is also a typical RPG element that the original Zelda lacked; however, it is especially noticeable in N64's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that NPCs are again vital to Link's quest. Long time fans might notice that certain important characters in Ocarina of Time bear the names of the towns in Zelda II: Saria, Mido, Rauru, Nabooru, Darunia, and Ruto.
Shortly after the events of The Legend of Zelda, on Link's 16th birthday (Zelda II is the only Zelda game where Link's age is explicitly referred to, and only in the manual), he learns from Impa the "Legend of Zelda." Long ago, a great king ruled Hyrule with the Triforce. When a mysterious wizard came to his court seeking to learn about the Triforce, the king refused. Enraged, he cast a powerful spell on his daughter, Zelda, putting her into an enchanted slumber from which she would never awaken, nor would she age. Grieving, the king declared that all daughters of the royal line would be named Zelda in her honour.
Impa tells Link this because they have found an old chest containing six rubies and an old message that claims that the restoration of the rubies to the six palaces in Northern Hyrule will open the path to the Triforce of Courage. Taking the rubies, Link sets out to restore them to their places, defeating powerful palace guardians and learning magic spells to aid him as he seeks to break the enchantment on the sleeping Zelda.
- Zelda II (http://www.nesfiles.com/NES/Zelda_II_The_Adventure_of_Link/Zelda_II_The_Adventure_of_Link.asp) at The NES Files
- GameFAQs entry (http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/nes/data/563487.html)