Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

zelda ii box art original nes nintendo
8.0 Overall Score
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Controls: 8/10

An almost completely different gaming experience than the first game

Eliminates some of the fun of the first one in changing the gaming style

Game Info

Game Name:   Zelda II:  The Adventure of Link

Developer(s):   Nintendo R&D4

Publisher(s):   Nintendo

Platform(s):   NES

Genre(s):   Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):   January 14, 1987 (Japan)/December 1, 1988 (US)

ESRB Rating:   E

zelda ii hyrule map screen original game

Boy, Hyrule looks a lot smaller when you grow up

Danger once again has enveloped the land of Hyrule, but this time Link must travel even farther to confront the danger. Zelda has fallen into a deep sleep and the Triforce of Courage must be found. Unfortunately, the Triforce of Courage is housed in the Great Palace which is locked away from the world. Link must travel to the palaces of Hyrule to unlock the Great Palace…but Ganon’s followers also want Link since he is the only one who can restore their master.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was relased on the Family Computer Disk System (or the Famicom Disk System) in Japan on January 14, 1987. It was ported to the United States’ Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988 and followed the popularity of The Legend of Zelda which had been released in the United States in 1987. It featured a save game battery. The game was released to big Christmas sales and more mixed reviews than the previous entry. It has been released on multiple platformed since its release.

zelda ii boss battle rebonack-gameplay-screenshots-nes-link

Downward thrust rules!!!

I liked The Legend of Zelda a lot. It was inventive and different than games like Super Mario Bros. with a nice geeky blend of action-adventure and fantasy. I didn’t get my NES until fall of 1988, so Zelda II was released just after I got it.  Zelda II (which is actually only the true timeline sequel to the original The Legend of Zelda) was a lot different than the original Zelda, but still had its own unique appeal, and it introduced aspects that are carried on in Zelda games today.

The game took a decisively more “role-playing” aspect to the gameplay than in the previous entry. Essentially it was the same game in theory with Link going dungeon to dungeon, finding new abilities and attempting to reach the final dungeon (and in turn the final boss). The difference was the gameplay which featured the overhead “classic” map which entered into sidescrolling jumping and fighting adventure screens. The game introduced the Magic Gauge which has stuck with Zelda in almost every game, but it also featured leveling up (something virtually eliminated from the series).   The individual levels were basically hack & slash levels with your shield mixed in (I do love the downward/upward thrust though)…plus, you can turn into a fairy. It wasn’t what people necessarily expected having played the first game.

zelda ii boss battle shadow link ending screenshot gameplay

One of the most irritating fights in all of Zelda

The graphics honestly did show improvement, but it also felt a bit more like a Mario game in the improvements. Super Mario Bros. 2 came out at the same time and you could argue that the graphics on that game are equal if possibly not slightly better than Zelda II (and the above ground map really was basic). The knights and bosses were big and impressive, but it wasn’t necessarily the direction you hoped it would go.

The controls are strong, but this is potentially the most frustrating of all the Zelda games. The hopping and jumping was sometimes tedious and falling in lava was extremely frustrating…plus, a lot of the actions of the game involved solving riddles by talking to all of the people in villages and towns which proved to be kind of annoying at times (some lines were actually pretty funny). The side-scrolling fighting was often very difficult with enemies like knights and the really hard Shadow Link that is found in the final palace.

Like the original game, I played Zelda II into the ground and pored over players’ guides and maps for the game to find all the hidden items. I also recall playing the game through one day after beating it from start to finish without continuing just to see if I could do it. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t hold up as well due to the changes in the game and the quality of other sidescrolling adventures, but it still is a fun game (if not extremely frustrating) at points. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was followed by possibly the best entry in the series The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in 1991 for the Super NES.

Related Links:

The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda:  Link’s Awakening

The Legend of Zelda:  The Minish Cap

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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