Back in 1986, Zelda - Nintendoâ€™s golden game - graced the Nintendo Entertainment System. With the franchise growing in popularity, Nintendo decided to develop a sequel on the console in 1987. Even though the game was a major departure from the prequelâ€™s overhead view, puzzle solving, and dungeon crawler design, it was still a very interesting piece of software.
Now almost 14 years later, Nintendo is ready to take us back in time again, this time on the Game Boy Advance. But does the game still hold up?
The game starts as Link embarks on a quest to awaken Princess Zelda from an evil wizard's spell and save Hyrule from ruin. In order to do that, though (since he canâ€™t do it alone), he needs to find the powerful Triforce of Courage. As you may expect, obtaining the Triforce is no easy task, as Link has to defeat several powerful bosses in each of the worldâ€™s six Great Palaces.
Sound familiar? It should. It features a premise thatâ€™s very comparable to the one set in the original Legend of Zelda title. But interestingly, thatâ€™s where the similarities end. Zelda II: Adventure of Link is actually quite different from every other Zelda game, and while that may sound like trouble, rest assured, itâ€™s not. Itâ€™s just, wellâ€¦ different.
First of all, say good bye to the original's overhead view. You will now control Link from a side-scrolling perspective most of the time. The only time when youâ€™ll see an overhead view is when youâ€™re travelling through the â€śoverworldâ€ť looking for the next town or dungeon. One of the differences in Zelda II are the subtle RPG mechanics. For instance, in the overworld you will see little blobs like the ones you can find on most RPG games. When you touch one, the screen changes into a side-scrolling screen where you will battle several enemies. When you defeat the enemies, a number will appear indicating the number of experience points Link has gained from defeating that particular foe. The battles are avoidable, which makes Zelda II one of the first games that allowed random encounters to be prevented. A plus in my book.
And yes - before you ask - experience is another RPG mechanic that this game offers. For instance, you will need a number of experience points to increase your abilities: health, magic, and attack power. With this system, defeating the several enemies won't become as tedious, as you will want to power up for the upcoming battles. Trust me on this one - they are hard. Try not to ignore all the enemies, because if you do, your low power and experience will result in many unwanted deaths.
A very interesting fact is that Zelda II: Adventure of Link was the first game in the series to include towns where Link could talk with other Hyruleans and ask for hints and information regarding his quest. Since this is a straight port, the translation is exactly the same. Youâ€™ll still giggle when you encounter townsfolk like the infamous â€śError,â€ť and other memorable people in the world. Reading most of these lines will certainly set off nostalgic feelings for old-school gamers and thatâ€™s definitely a reason to replay this game. Zelda fans will also notice that most of the towns in the game have been named after many characters in other Zelda games, which I wonâ€™t mention for spoiler reasons.
As with most of the Classic NES carts, this port is perfect. The graphics look exactly like they did back in the day, and they emulate each of the originalâ€™s details in perfect form. And because the game is a port of a 14 year old title, you canâ€™t really blame it for looking â€śdated.â€ť It still looks good.
The same thing could be said about the gameâ€™s sound and music effects. Theyâ€™re exactly like the ones we heard in the original Zelda II, and while that music wasnâ€™t as flashy as most of the newer GBA tunes, it still holds up to this day. Itâ€™s pretty cool to listen to music that has been remixed many times in the series and even in games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, proving that great music design always stands out through the years. Even people who are new to the Zelda NES games will think: â€śOoooh, thatâ€™s where itâ€™s from.â€ť
With spot-on control mechanics and extras like accessing the menu by pressing L and R and sleep mode, the gameâ€™s controls are simple, yet effective. Because of this, gamers can enjoy the original control set-up and also benefit from the new additions.
Zelda II, like the original Legend of Zelda, has already been released on the Nintendo GameCube via the Zelda: Collectorâ€™s Edition bonus disc. Yes, as weird as it sounds, Nintendo is charging $40 for a game that was already released for free. But since the only way you can officially play this game in portable form is by getting the Classic NES game, I would definitely recommend it as it is still one of the few NES games which still impresses after all these years.