Joystiq: The Overlooked Innovation of Zelda II

DaveyDecember 14th, 2012 by Davey

When you ask fans what their favorite Zelda game is, or even what the most influential title was, you’ll probably get a lot of “Ocarina of Time”, “The Wind Waker”, or “Twilight Princess”, but rarely will you hear about Zelda’s black sheep: Zelda II.

Why is this? The difficulty? The huge differences with the rest of the titles? I’m not entirely sure, but a Joystiq article seeks to talk about some of the things The Adventure of Link did well, and why it ranks number one on the author’s favorite Zelda titles. Hit the jump for more!

I feel that Zelda II is under-rated and cast aside far too often in Zelda discussions. It’s just that other NES title, you know, the one that’s different. And I understand that many people don’t like Zelda II when comparing to other Nintendo masterpieces and even in timeline discourse Zelda II has always had a concrete spot right behind The Legend of Zelda, without a single popular theory stating otherwise.

But there has always been a place in my heart containers for The Adventure of Link, and it appears that Richard Mitchell of Joystiq shares a similar fondness.

As he explains in the article, the 8-bit title decided to move towards the RPG route, with only dungeons, caves, forests, and random encounters being where the action starts. No longer was the open-world constant threat of enemies a game mechanic.

Akin to its predecessor, Zelda II gives almost no instruction in-game, and hints are sometimes obscure.

Example: “‘Goriya of Tantari stole our trophy.’ Who’s Goriya? Where is Tantari? Why is a trophy important?”

There is of course, the most important aspect of the NES title: combat. Though Skyward Sword touts an impressive combat system paired with the Wii Motion Plus, Zelda II’s fighting mechanics were very impressive and made playing both difficult and fun.

Along with some childhood nostalgia, more ways Zelda II is an excellent game are featured in the original Joystiq article. I highly encourage you read the short piece; you might just form a new love for the classic!

Source: Joystiq

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  • Irishdragon5

    I just finished re-playing it on my 3ds. I really to do love game myself, to the point where I actually want to create a game based off of it’s mechanics, (so the style of gameplay is more popular). Note: I never played any “castlevannia,” so it would be truly based of of Zelda 2.

    • Irishdragon5

      Also, I don’t think there was anything wrong with the game (outside of the difficulty) and I thought it was really fun with a save feature. Every fight was a challenge, before it was cool. It’s a game that doesn’t deserve to be a “black sheep.” It’s just different and “Nintendo Hard.” (I want to thank you guys for your walk-through on this game by the way… it was really helpful both times)

    • TheMaverickk

      Go give Adventure Time on the 3DS a try, someone’s already re-used the Zelda II template, and they did an excellent job. Also it doesn’t hurt if your a an of the cartoon

      • Linkfan99

        Love that show!

  • Crono A7X

    It is my favorite, love the exploration and large map.

  • TheMaverickk

    Not my personal favorite but it is still an amazing Zelda title, and it stands out a lot amongst the entire series.

  • Roth

    Zelda II is indispensable to the timeline/series plot; it said what the freakin’ “Legend of Zelda” was! How is Sleeping Beauty Zelda and the quest for the forgotten Triforce of Courage the kind of story you’d place on the backburner?

    • ralphpotato

      It’s story is important, but there’s almost no question as to where it goes in the timeline. As far as I’ve seen, it’s never been moved from behind the original Legend of Zelda.

      • Roth

        Ah. Well, it was the first direct sequel. I don’t think that’s so much a part of its controversial reputation as it is an effect of followup installments in general, which is another issue in itself.

  • o0o

    probably my least favorite zelda game.. (EXCLUDING CDI OF COURSE. i haven’t played it but if i did, it would suck, i mean come on NO ONE and i mean NO ONE likes it) :( BUT i’m not saying zelda 2 sucks. it’s pretty awesome!


  • Blakenator

    This game was so good! It wasn’t the greatest Zelda title, but I can still remember those screams of frustration at the second temple. I didn’t know that I could get a healing spell in the nearby town and I kept dying. Ahhh… good times.

  • Taylor

    never gave zelda 2 too much of a chance i was always way too irritated by the music to play it for very long seriously the music in that game is enough to torture someone.

  • ZeldaTeacher

    I would like to give this one a try, even though everyone says it is really hard. I rely a lot on walk throughs for the other Zelda games I have, so using one for this would be no different for me! I am sad that they don’t offer it on VC for the Wii.

    • Seabass

      Look again, it’s available on the VC for the Wii.

  • Ryan

    I never really cared for Zelda 2 until I figured out how to play it. I had been trying to play it like a traditional Zelda game and I kept dying. Then I played it like a Pokemon or other rpg game and did some grinding to level Link up before going into the first palace and I had a pretty strong Link. Then I found places where it is easy to grind and stayed there for a while leveling up. Now, I love the game and happily play the game.

    • Roth

      If you plan right, half your grinding can be accomplished through the adventure; know where the xp-heavy enemies and bonuses are, net a couple levels in something, and beat a palace after your xp resets for the next major level-up. Like any RPG, there are tricks to get ahead in the system.

      • Ryan

        Something I do is not beating the dungeon bosses until I have leveled up enough. If you get Link up to the point where you only need to level up 6 more times to be fully upgraded, then I fight the bosses. The bosses fill up your experience to the next level so it is best to save them till last when you need to get a lot of experience to get the top levels. Though, through grinidng, I normally have a maxed out Link before I leave west Hyrule.

        A good place to grind when you are early in the quest is dungeon 2. Make sure you get the life spell and get to the palace. The knight at the entrance always has a red jar hiding in it. Go into the overworld and get the blot looking enemy. you will get 5 octorocks giving you 10exp each. That adds up especially if you get a points bag.

  • Mawk

    I can’t really give an opinion on Zelda II, mainly because I can’t seem to complete the first palace.

  • Link

    When you ask fans what their favorite Zelda game is, or even what the most influential title was, you’ll probably get a lot of“Ocarina of Time”, “The Wind Waker”, or “Twilight Princess”

    who wrote this? How can there be any game that is a favourite which is not ocarina of time? The only people who prefer wind warker or twilight is people who never played ocarina and made a judgement call based on graphics comparison

  • chris

    The game wasn’t my favorite but i wish they would use the palace theme song in future zelda’s like they did in super smash bros melee, love that song

  • Alan Da Cruz Nascimento


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