Ah, Zelda II. First recognized as a major success, its stature has diminished over the years. Not because the game is considered bad or that it has aged poorly, but if you ask anyone what their favourite Zelda game is, almost no one will say “Zelda II: Adventure of Link”. It is also another Zelda game that I had never played when it was first released, but thanks to Nintendo Switch Online, I now have an opportunity to try the game for myself.
Without a doubt, you can instantly see that Zelda II: Adventure of Link dared to be different from its predecessor and introduce new mechanics and play-styles. Where the first game was mainly played from a top-down perspective, Zelda II featured both a top-down perspective for its overworld and changed to 2D side-scrolling when in combat, visiting towns or navigating dungeons. It also added an experience points system that could be used to upgrade your attack, health, and magic.
While experience points have since disappeared from the Zelda franchise, the ability to upgrade health, magic and attacks have become a mainstay for the series. Be that with Heart Containers and Heart pieces, or visiting Great Fairies to extend your magic meter.
I always find it an interesting experience to dive into a retro game like Zelda II for the first time. When playing video games back in the day, you took them as they were and youplayed them. You would get frustrated at how hard they were and cheer triumphantly when you have beaten them. You never thought about how simple or basic they looked because we never had anything to compare them to. Not really.
Playing a retro game now for the first time these days gives you a newfound respect. For the game itself, the developers who created them and the gamers that played them. The design of the games looked simple but the gameplay is challenging. There was little in the way of Auto Saves to fall back on either. Losing all lives would mean a game over and having to start all over again from the beginning or from the last point where you saved manually.
Zelda II: Adventure of Link is certainly living proof of just how much things can change from one video game to the next. How innovation and introducing new gameplay mechanics offer new experiences while still feeling somehow familiar to the original game. Though I can’t say that it is my now all-time favourite Zelda game, I can say that it is an eye-opener into how the series evolved and continues to evolve over the years.
Zelda II: Adventure of Link Review:
Initial Release: September 18, 2018
Pricing: Free with Nintendo Switch Online Subscription
Category: Action, Adventure
Players: 1 player
Zelda II: Adventure of Link is another one of those games that you have to try at least once. It does a lot of things different from the original game and introduces some mechanics that have since become series staples. The gameplay is more linear than that of the first game but you are given more direction by NPCs as to where you need to go next.