Zelda II: The Adventure of Link will forever have a love-hate relationship with Zelda fans. Some fans love the game for its unique style of gameplay, the RPG elements, its difficulty, and simply being different than most of the other Zelda titles. While on the flip side, some fans hate the Adventure of Link for those exact same reasons. Point being, it was different. The folks from Game Spite have taken a look back at the 24+ year old Zelda title to discuss its impact on the series and gaming as a whole. The writers argue that even though its genre didn’t really pick up, they label it as an enduringly influential game. Here is a tidbit from their article.

You would think that the legacy of a black sheep would stop at the game itself, but you’d be wrong in Zelda II’s case. Many of the tropes that exist in the Zelda series began life in The Adventure of Link. The RPG-like overworld ended up forming the basis for the structure of the world in A Link To The Past, setting the tone for the entire series. Where there were once NPCs tucked away in caves there are now vibrant worlds complete with towns, houses, and unique NPC types. Link’s increased versatility in battle thanks to magic and combat skills have also been expanded on, with magic meters making an appearance in many of the sequels along with a greater emphasis on useful combat alternatives in items. And though purists mourn the loss of the pure open ended design of the first game, Zelda II introduced a more focused structure that still left some room for players to decide how to tackle the world. Zelda as we know it would not exist without The Adventure of Link.

Whenever I argue on the side of Zelda II, I always try to put fans into the perspective of the video game world in the late 80’s. The original Legend of Zelda was huge, constantly making the top charts in Nintendo Power and all various gaming sources at the time. When the Adventure of Link was released, it was met with almost unanimous praise. Sure it was different than the original Legend of Zelda, but fans still ate it up. Even years after its release, it remained on Top NES lists across the board. Not only was it a critical success, but it also was a commercial success, surpassing over 4.3 million sales on the NES alone, making it the 5th highest selling title for the console. The only games that sold better on the NES were the Original Legend of Zelda and all three Supper Mario Bros titles. That certainly is great company to be included with.

So what is it about Zelda II that splits the Zelda community in pieces? Is it really the difficulty? Looking back, was it really significantly harder than the original Legend of Zelda and its Second Quest? Is it because it is so different than the rest of the series? Yet, at the time of its release there were only two Zelda titles and two different types of Zelda games. Is it because it didn’t have different items like bombs and boomerangs? True, but it did emphasize magic and sword techniques, which became the standard in Zelda titles for the next 20 years.

In my mind, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is one of the best titles ever for the NES and still stacks up as a great Zelda title even today. It’s not my favorite Zelda title, nor is it my least. It’s simply a fun game that I can even toss into my NES today and spend a few hours grazing across Hyrule. Will we ever see something exactly similar to Zelda II? I doubt it, given the advancement in technology, but I think we’ll always see elements of older Zelda games reappear in future releases.

So what are your thoughts on Zelda II? Is it treated unfairly? Do you really enjoy the game? Is it just another Zelda title that fits in right with the rest of them? Be sure to post your thoughts in the comments below.

Related: Adventure of Link Walkthrough

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