Adventure of Link Helmethead

The folks over at have put together another article, this time looking back at Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. A few weeks ago they looked back at the original Legend of Zelda and they had some great things to say. However, for the Adventure of Link, it’s a different story.

A lot of resentment toward the game is directed at the three lives and experience reset system, which don’t mesh well with dungeons full of life-stealing pits and deadly Iron Knuckles, but that’s more a modern complaint about the limits of late ’80s game design than anything else.

The author touches on what I think gets mis-conceived a lot about the Adventure of Link. First off, it was an 80’s game and fit in with the NES catalog. Often times one of the major complaints from fans is in regards to the difficulty of Adventure of Link. To these people I say… have you played the first Castlevania? or the first Ninja Guiden title? Or how about the dozens, if not hundreds of NES games that simply were nearly impossible to beat, whether it be because of some poor game design or some cryptic strategies or secrets that were needed to be uncovered in order to complete the game. When judging the Adventure of Link to other NES games, as opposed to other Zelda games, the game simply is not a hard game. It’s certainly beatable and also a game that can be mastered with practice.

The second common argument is in regards to its deviation from the original and its RPG qualities. It’s worth noting that this was just the second Zelda title to be released. There hadn’t been fixated standards for what a Zelda game needed to be and thus, any changes made shouldn’t be viewed as some radical change from a set formula… since there was no set formula at this point. The author of the article above briefly touches on this, but it is certainly worth emphasizing.

Lastly, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was a huge success for Nintendo. It is the 5th highest selling NES game of all time, trailing only the first 3 Mario titles and the original Legend of Zelda. It was well received and for literally years after its release, it was still often in Nintendo Power’s ‘Top 10’ NES games of the month. It seems the biggest problem with the game, is that it hasn’t aged well. Or moreover, the new Zelda gamer hasn’t accepted it as well as the older gamer. Today it is viewed as the dark horse of the series with many younger fans not willing to accept it as a class A Zelda title. However, in another way it has established somewhat of a cult following of people that absolutely admire the game as one of the only Zelda titles that gives an actual challenge to a veteran player. To others, it’s just way to hard and not worth picking up, nor will it ever be.

So what do you all think. Is Zelda II: The Adventure of Link a game that you are happy with? Looking back over 20 years later, do you think Nintendo made the right decision with the game? Would you like to see something similar in a future Zelda title? Let us know in the comments below.

Related: Adventure of Link Walkthrough

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