As one would suspect, after the smashing success of The Legend of Zelda, a sequel was not too far behind. For the follow-up, Nintendo made the bold move to creating an entirely different game. Unlike it’s predecessor, Zelda II is not presented entirely in a top-down, bird’s-eye view. Instead, this game consists of two different modes: travel mode and action mode. Travel mode resembles the familiar top-down view from the previous game. This is what you see as Link makes his way across the vast world map. However, when he encounters monsters, enters a town, or enters a palace, the game switches to a side scrolling action mode.
Link earns experience points from enemy kills that allows him to get stronger as you progress through the game. Link can also learn magic spells and combat techniques from various NPCs hidden throughout the game.
Zelda II begins not long after the end of the first title. On Link’s 16th birthday a mysterious crest resembling the triforce appears on his hand. Link visits the royal palace to inquire about its meaning. It is there that he learns not long after his victory against Ganon, princess Zelda was cursed by a sleeping spell. The only cure is the recovery of the third Triforce artifact, the Triforce of Courage. It is kept locked away in a great palace. To gain entry, Link must venture to the six lesser palaces, defeat their guardians and place a magic crystal into a hidden statue.
Zelda II is a good game in its own right, but it suffers when compared to the original. It simply doesn’t retain the magic that made the first game special. The sidescrolling action just doesn’t feel like it belongs here and the overhead view features graphics that are actually a downgrade from those in the original game. That being said, some parts of the game are indeed memorable and it still manages to maintain its status as a classic NES title.
Difficulty: Difficult – In my opinion, this title is a bit harder than the original. The side scrolling battles can be a bit awkward and clunky. Some of the bosses are pretty tough without a specific strategy in mind.This game is extremely frustrating for my 8 year old son.
Story: I’m impressed by the fact that this is not simply a “Ganon has returned from the dead!” scenario. It seems that Nintendo put a lot of thought into creating something different. When considering the Zelda series as a whole, you can really see that a rich storyline is beginning to develop for the world of Hyrule.
Originality: Nintendo definitely gets marks for trying something new with this title. Unfortunately, I feel that their efforts fell a little flat. The sidescrolling play didn’t seem to fit in well, in my opinion. But despite missing the mark a bit, it is still pretty refreshing to see a game company not afraid to try some new things.
Soundtrack: The music is quirky and catchy, but it doesn’t hold the same aura of mystique and epicness that original game did.
Fun: This game has it’s moments but overall it’s definitely not a favorite of mine. Some of the last dungeons are pretty brutal and the game has a very repetitive feel after awhile. I feel that the game overall had a lot of potential, but I think it would have benefited with a little more time and tweaking before release. Despite these criticisms, playing the game today, I find it quite enjoyable mainly for nostalgic reasons. So, I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Graphics: This is weird one. The sidescrolling parts of the game a fairly well done, but still not as good as many other games that were released at the time. The overworld map, however, looks dismal. The graphics actually feel like a step backwards.
Playcontrol: The sidescrolling combat seems clunky and at times, inaccurate. As usual, it’s even worse on the virtual console. In my opinion, the game suffers in the category.
Overall rating (out of four stars): 2 – Make no mistake, this is a classic title and I recommend it for its historical value, but I feel that overall it’s a fairly mediocre game. Which is sad being that is the sequel to one of the Nintendo’s most legendary titles.
Other Reviews In This Series:
LoZ – LoZ II – Link to the Past – Link’s Awakening – Ocarina of Time – Majora’s Mask – Oracle of Season & Ages – Wind Waker – Four Swords – Minish Cap – Twilight Princess – Phantom Hourglass – Spirit Tracks – Skyward Sword – Link Between Worlds – Breath of the Wild