Nintendo knew they had a legend in the making with the release of the first Legend of Zelda game; sales were high and, of course, a sequel was in demand. To quench the mass desire for more Link, Nintendo wisely decided to continue the saga. A year after the release of the original Legend of Zelda they released Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The game came with the expected new features and a darker story to boot. It took turns for the better as the overhead view from the first game was abandoned in favor of a side scrolling approach, and a new feature appeared that allowed Link to use magic. New enemies were introduced and Link soon found himself battling bravely against dangling spiders, slimy blobs and scary shadow warriors – all in a side scrolling RPG style. The most important aspect of the Zelda series became the intriguing storyline, which attracted gamers to the adventure like Link to Red Fairies. This time around we discovered that Princess Zelda had been magically put to sleep and only the legendary Tri-force could awaken her. Link promptly embarked on his new quest to save her, and at the same time attempted to avoid the hordes of evil forces hunting him to use his blood for the resurrection of the evil Ganon. In order to remind you of this ominous threat, every time Link would die in battle a black screen with red lettering would arise and inform the defeated gamer that Ganon had returned.
The gameplay format of the game changed dramatically with the shift to a side scrolling view. Link was now able to jump and duck oncoming enemy attacks, he could also shoot magic from his sword, block with a shield, throw a boomerang, and use a giant hammer to clear his path. Indeed, they added a lot to the game and helped establish it as more than a mere sequel of re-hashed ideas. The most prominent new feature was the addition of magic spells; Link was now able to jump higher from platform to platform, as well as use fire and thunder to defeat his enemies. These fresh features coupled with the compelling story changed the meaning of action RPG forever. The sequel was far from being a clone of the first game and fans welcomed the changes that set Zelda II apart from the original – after all, if gamers wanted to play a Zelda clone there were plenty on the store shelves from other publishers eager to cash in on the RPG gravy train. From attacking enemies to conversing with townspeople, the control system worked well throughout, and the crosshairs responded to every required positional movement. The controls were tight, certainly as tight as they could be for 1988.
Outside of the new side scrolling view, the graphics were, in many ways, extremely close to the original game. Link’s green hat and pointy ears were more prevalent with the shift of views, though. Similar to the first game, Link had to travel around a large game world through caves, forests and towns, he had to talk with the locals, fight his way through dungeons, and collect special items. For its time, the game’s graphics were impressive; the rocks and mountains all had distinctive cracks and crag lines and colors that many other developers and programmers wouldn’t have taken the time to create. The graphics were a step up from the original game, but nothing especially groundbreaking in terms of visual splendor. Spiders dangled menacingly, dungeons had an ominous blue tint, candles threw eerie shadows, and the forests looked dense with foliage and?well?forest-like.
Like the Legend of Zelda the sound on Zelda II was suitably top notch. Swords clashing, bombs booming, enemies screeching, and the creeping tread of footsteps?all mixed with awesome tunes that put this game way ahead in the audio department. They were the kind of tunes that put visual images into your head; you’d close your eyes and listen to the Zelda music and images of the game would instantly spring to mind. Legend of Zelda was well known for its great musical element, and its sequel was no exception.
The replay value of the game probably wasn’t as high as in the original (this isn’t to say that the game was bad) but some corners complained about its length and this is one department that the developers really should have worked on. Zelda II wasn’t as fulfilling as the original and it could be beaten (fairly) comfortably within just a matter of hours. And, sadly, the final boss was also one of the game’s easiest; and subsequently, after such great new gaming RPG elements, the challenge and length of the game was suddenly over.
Overall Zelda II was great, but its relative brevity and lack of in-depth challenge didn’t allow the game to earn its predecessor’s legendary status. The side scrolling adventure set itself apart as a new era for Zelda fans and was a testing ground for something much larger in the future. The addition of magic and certain items helped to distinguish Zelda II from other games. Even though this is probably the least popular of the Zelda series it is nevertheless a good game and worthy of the series.