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Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link

Year released: 1988
Company: Nintendo
Genre: Adventure

Tinkering with a successful series can be risky. You want to keep it close enough to make sure players are still familiar with it, but not so much that it's the same game run through the Xerox machine. While the Super Mario Bros. series managed to pull off their sequel with success, The Legend of Zelda was not as welcome to the area of sequels. People thought the game changed too much, diminishing the game into a shadow of itself. Well, right from the start, I knew something was wrong about that. When I played the game, I actually thought it was better- that's right, better - than the original.

Much of the improvements came from the game's presentation. No more sickening green, yellow, and brown color schemes - this time around the graphics were excellent. Link was much more detailed, as were the enemies and landscapes. The palaces retained their dark ambiance, and the colors were more brilliant than before. The game's music also took a step up in some cases. The palace music is just as classic as the dungeon theme of the original game, and the battle and town tracks are both inspired. However, the original Zelda theme was absent, and that alone could have booted the Audio score up another notch. The sound effects were also pretty good. Link's grunt when he takes a hit is more recognizable, and his sword makes a nice slashing sound whenever Link attacks.

The other technical score, Play Control, also works very well. The recoil Link takes is significant, but not so much that he goes flying with every hit. The hit detection is very nice, and Link moves at a decent pace. There is a bit of a skid whenever Link makes a sudden stop. but it doesn't interfere with play much. The inclusions of the upthrust and downthrust add to Link's maneuverability as well, allowing him to attack from other angles than just head on. One complaint, however: Link's sword is incredibly dinky. You're forced to engage your enemy in close quarters, and in some cases that can be a disadvantage to you.

Since The Adventure of Link lacks a second quest, the programmers were forced to concentrate their challenge into a smaller game. While it really doesn't kick in until late in the game, it does present a problem. For instance, even after you've cleared the first six palaces, getting to the last one is an odyssey of its own. Moreover, you're only allowed 3 lives. 1-up dolls can be found in some places, but they disappear forever once you use them. Since continuing your game anywhere but inside a palace forces you to start over from the beginning, it can be aggravating to make your way to the Great Palace, only to slip into a lava pit, lose your last life, and start from scratch just before you make it. This is probably the biggest error made by the game. They should have either allowed players to continue where they died, or have enemies drop 1-ups at random.

One of the elements that sets this game apart from the original Zelda is the fact that Link boosts his abilities in an RPG-like system: most enemies award experience points upon their defeat, and getting enough of them allows you to increase Link's stamina, magic power, or attack strength. This is an interesting way to power Link up, and it really works. An especially interesting part of this is the fact that you can skip levels to power up a different ability if the need arose. Also included is the use of magic spells, which can do anything from replenish your life to shoot fire from your sword. Both of these add up to a game that's just as fun, if not more fun, than the original.

The Legend of Zelda will always be known as one of the most playable games on any platform. Zelda II, not as much. True, once you really get started it's a blast, and you won't drop the game in mid-campaign. However, the game just isn't as "classic" as Zelda. The game is a little more frustrating, and the lack of a second quest means you'll be done with it long before you'd be done with the prequel. That doesn't mean it deserves the razzing it gets, though. There are enough thrills in the game to make it a worthy companion to the original.

All in all, The Adventure of Link is a great game. Although it doesn't quite match the playability of the first game, It still deserves a higher rating than the predecessor because the technical improvements more than outweigh the aesthetic shortcomings.

Overall Ratings:

Play Control:
Technical Score: 14
Challenge: (Hard)
Thrill: (Frustrating)
Aesthetic Score: 21
Overall Score: 83%

You are now listening to the Palace Music to The Adventure of Link.