The popularity of The Legend of Zelda
on the NES prompted Nintendo to get Link right back into another adventure on the system, but the game was a major departure from the familiar overhead, dungeon-exploring environment gamers grew to adore from the first game in the series. It was the last time poor Link showed his face on the system in the US, and by his third game exploit, this design was completely abandoned for the much more successful top-down environment when Nintendo offered up A Link to the Past
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is by no means a bad game. It's just considered the bastard stepchild of the series because it's almost completely different from the game that kicked off the series. Nintendo had a knack for offering a wildly different sequel to a familiar brand...remember Super Mario Bros. 2? Zelda II is far more extreme a departure, with its focus on side-scrolling, platform-jumping in its action. It's not your usual Zelda adventure
Zelda II takes place after The Legend of Zelda, and in the quest players must send Link off to rescue Princess Zelda, who's fallen victim to Ganon's spell that's caused her to fall into an endless sleep. It's back to Hyrule to piece together the Triforce to save Zelda once again...but this time, Hyrule's overrun by creatures of the dead.
The Classic NES Series game is, of course, a perfect emulation of the NES game released back in the late 1980s, and gives players a great taste of a game design they may have skipped those many years before. Zelda II actually did have some decent ideas for the time, throwing in more RPG elements such as levelling up character progression as well as random battle encounters. This was one of the first RPG-style of games that actually allowed players to see the encounters and attempt to avoid them. And anyone familiar with IGN reviews may recall that I absolutely despise random battle encounters. They don't bother me in Zelda II
Because the game is based on the old-school Nintendo design, it's slightly clunky in getting your name entered in and saved to cartridge, but that's only because the standards for doing this in videogames were loosely established. But at the very least, you get to hear the Zelda II theme in its original context; Nintendo kept the legacy alive with a stunning orchestral version in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and it's pretty cool to hear the tune in its 8-bit glory.
Zelda II, like the original Legend of Zelda, has been available for free on the GameCube through the Zelda Collection disk, but the Classic NES Series version's the only official way to get this adventure in portable form. It's a recommended, and playable, adventure even today, but don't expect the same gameplay from the truly classic Zelda titles.
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