Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

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Ben Boldt
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Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by Ben Boldt » Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:47 pm

I understand some people like this game, but I remember when I was a kid playing it for the first time. I had the original Zelda, which I loved, and I wanted Zelda II really bad for a long time. When I finally got to play it at someone's house, I thought it sucked, BIG-TIME. I still think that now. But why? I can't really pinpoint why I feel this way. I would like to hear why you like or dislike it.

Here are some things I like about it:
  • The title screen, graphics and music, just awesome.
  • Link is a tall 16x32 sprite in this game instead of 16x16. That seems pleasant. I like my Link tall and skinny.
  • Link's shadow / Dark link, very cool idea. (probably stolen from Peter Pan)
And here are some things I just really don't like:
  • Side-view instead of top-view (but not sure why I feel this way??)
  • Music has a very excessive, overbearing, low-quality tremolo. It sounds like a tape deck with a rubber band instead of a belt.
  • 'Random' encounter system on overworld instead of direct enemy confrontations, I really hate that.
  • Overworld has lag when moving. The music slows down as the screen scrolls. That is SO unacceptable. Maybe that is the main reason I don't like the game.
  • Overworld graphics are way more boxy than Zelda 1, you never lose track of that 16x16 grid.
  • Nothing special about underworld entrances. They are so cool and creepy face-shaped in Zelda 1.
  • General blandness of underworlds, easy to get lost because everything look exactly the same, reminds me of jumping over the flagpole in SMB1 and the background just loops forever and you're stuck and not having any fun anymore.
  • Elevators in underworld -- it just doesn't make any sense, why is there an elevator. It should look ancient and crumbling, no electricity, etc.
  • Falling through the floor, why the crazy colors and not some sort of scrolling/animation, bricks falling, cutscene, etc?? Oh let's just flash some colors because that's easy. I am not impressed.
I saw something on Youtube a while back, where someone described Zelda 1 vs. 2, said something to the nature of, Zelda 1 was not aware of the player's presence. I thought that meant something special to me.

Obviously Nintendo got in tune with everything that went wrong and really nailed it with SNES Zelda - A Link to the Past. What else is right or wrong about Zelda II?

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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by Fiskbit » Tue Apr 27, 2021 10:51 pm

I know a lot of people who love this game and the thing that most appeals to them is the combat, which has a lot more depth and nuance than other games of the era.

Unfortunately, I don't like this game much. I think these are my main issues with it:

- The game feels like a platformer, but without much in the way of platforming gameplay. It's made up of long, flat corridors that are generally devoid of any sort of non-enemy obstacle. It's really focused on the combat, but if that combat doesn't stand out to you, there's very little else to make the game interesting.
- The random encounters on the overworld punish exploration. Because there's an endless stream of enemies every time you go anywhere off-road, you're disincentivized from ever thoroughly exploring an area. Zelda 1 had a limited number of enemies on a given screen and they stayed dead until you went far enough, letting you clear out an area, check every cranny, and feel like you're making progress. Zelda 2 just throws more and more enemies at you as its reward for trying something.
- Zelda 1's dungeons were very much about spatial puzzles peppered with fun combat; you're trying to figure out how the dungeon is laid out and how the rooms connect together. I think this worked really well with its overhead perspective, single-screen rooms, and mininmap and subscreen map. Zelda 2 seems like it tries this same formula in a side-scrolling perspective, but for me, it doesn't work well at all. Sidescrolling puts a heavier emphasis on the room design than the overhead perspective, and I think Zelda 2 fails at this, so it feels like it's lacking something really important. Meanwhile, it's a lot harder in Zelda 2 to keep track of how things connect together. There's no map, and because the corridors are long, it's a lot harder to think about a grid layout for them. The palaces don't feel like a union of combat and puzzle; they feel like enemy gauntlets with some branching paths you wander down until you find the right one.
- I don't really like the overworld map in general and don't think the game needed or benefited from it. The game could've just been a sidescroller with all the areas connecting together, which I think would've made it feel a lot bigger and interconnected. Exiting out to a large map that feels pretty empty and punishes exploration doesn't make things feel big to me, and it doesn't provide compelling gameplay.

Eliminating the overworld map, tightening up the platforming a bit, making the terrain itself a varied and fun challenge, and having a greater emphasis on puzzles in the palaces probably would have made this a winner for me.

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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by Bregalad » Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:34 pm

Personally, while I always loved to play Zelda games for one hour or two, I never went further in any games of the series, no matter the generation or the platform. There just lacks something that made me continue playing them in a "hardcore" way.

Zelda II is no exception but the main issue is that most of the time you don't know where to go. (This was also true in The Legend of Zelda so this is nothing new). You also have to put this game in the context where innovation was the main selling point of games (rather than continuation of a tradition), and where many series had a second game who was very experimental and unpopular.
What else is right or wrong about Zelda II?
You didn't mention the single thing I liked the least about Zelda 2 : The very, very short sword range.
The title screen, graphics and music, just awesome.
Still having flat sprites with no outlines in 1987 was not particularly awesome, especially combined with the blocky overworld you mentionned. The music is good but having only 50% square wave in the entiere game feels bland to me. (Most early 1st party games had this)
Music has a very excessive, overbearing, low-quality tremolo. It sounds like a tape deck with a rubber band instead of a belt.
Actually the vibrato sounds nice on the original FDS version, but it was amplified for the NES version where it sounds bad.
'Random' encounter system on overworld instead of direct enemy confrontations, I really hate that.
Random encounter was a new and modern thing back then. And in Zelda 2 they seem to be triggered when you step out of the path so they're not really random. I don't find is bothering.
Elevators in underworld -- it just doesn't make any sense, why is there an elevator. It should look ancient and crumbling, no electricity, etc.
Many things in video games makes no sense - I don't find it bothering either.
Last edited by Bregalad on Wed Apr 28, 2021 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by Pokun » Wed Apr 28, 2021 6:24 am

Zelda 2 was one of the first games I had for NES, so it has a special place in my heart and I know every nook and corner of it inside out. That said I understand some of the critics of it, but most of them I don't. Especially anything about combat which is just brilliant in about every way.

'Random' encounter system on overworld instead of direct enemy confrontations, I really hate that.
It's an RPG, obviously inspired by DQ which was released with great success the year before Zelda 2, and uses the same basic formula but with an action-based battle system. I think the random encounter system with visible enemies is great, and I always thought more RPGs should use this system, but they seldom do. The only problem I have with it is that enemies are moving in real-time. I would prefer that they only move when the player moves. That would make exploration less stressful, as you could stay still and look at the map without interruption that way.

Overworld graphics are way more boxy than Zelda 1, you never lose track of that 16x16 grid.
It's a scaled map screen unlike in Zelda 1, so things needs to be simplified and benefits of being a bit blocky. Tiles are rather boxy compared to later RPGs though, especially forest tiles.

Nothing special about underworld entrances. They are so cool and creepy face-shaped in Zelda 1.
There are no underworld entrances, the dungeons are in temples in this game, but yeah they all use the same Roman pillar arcade type of temple entrance tile. Cave entrances are pretty much the same as in Zelda 1, just a black tile.

General blandness of underworlds, easy to get lost because everything look exactly the same, reminds me of jumping over the flagpole in SMB1 and the background just loops forever and you're stuck and not having any fun anymore.
Dungeons are much simpler in Zelda 2 than in Zelda 1, and you can easily get past all of them without a map, with the final temple being the only exception as it's very large and complicated (the Death Mountain maze might also qualify though as it's a very long series of connected caves). So I don't understand what you mean by them being easy to get lost in. I could understand it if you said that dungeons are less interesting because of the lack of puzzles and being less complicated than in Zelda 1 like Fiskbit said. Not MORE complicated, which I don't think they are. You basically just pick up keys, fights enemies and do some platform jumping over lava pits, so yeah kind of like small gauntlets. You occasionally need a certain item or spell to advance though, like the glove or the fairy spell. This makes it a bit more Zelda IMHO, but it's definitely the Zelda game with the least puzzles in the series.
I don't agree that dungeons are bland. Most rooms looks different enough for you to know about where you are, even though it's not a grid system. This is not Metroid which do have tons of identical looking corridors and shafts. The manual suggests you to draw a map of dungeons, but I've never needed to do that in Zelda 2, as they are mostly small enough to keep everything in your memory.

Elevators in underworld -- it just doesn't make any sense, why is there an elevator. It should look ancient and crumbling, no electricity, etc.
I could never understand why some people complain when modern technique is mixed with medieval in fantasy. I always thought it was a great idea, though it should maybe be done in moderation. It is anyhow a very common thing in fantasy.

the single thing I liked the less about Zelda 2 : The very, very short sword range.
It isn't shorter than the enemies' weapons in general, even with those using spears. You need to stand in range of the enemy's weapon for your attacks to connect. Make good use of the shield. If the enemy is a good shield user you can use a special technique that I developed myself. I call it the "Double Stab". First retreat a bit to create some room between you and the enemy, then do a short jump forward to within sword range of the enemy by running, ducking then jumping while keep ducking (Link should be in the ducking position through the whole jump). Then press B while in the air on the way down. If your sword hits the enemy with the right timing it should hit both the top part and bottom part on the way down. Almost no enemy can defend against this, but it's a bit hard to do, especially if the enemy has projectile attacks as well (like the blue Iron Knuckle).



Here are some things that I like and that Zelda 2 really improves on:
  • Entertaining fighting system. This is something that Zelda 1 is seriously missing. The fighting in Zelda 1 is very crude because of the tile-based movement, lack of diagonal movement (except for enemy beams which can move in any direction towards Link) and the requirement to turn/walk towards the enemy before attacking. Enemies' attacks are basically limited to touching you or shooting you with projectiles. Fights with a Darknut (about the only worthy opponent among slimes, bats and other small-fry) feels like some kind of clumsy dogfight where you need to get on the side of them to attack.
    In Zelda II battles are much more sophisticated and requires good use of shield and sword fencing techniques. Enemies have a large number of possible moves and some can even run away. You still need to turn towards the enemy for your attacks to connect, but this is much less of a problem in a side-view action game with pixel-based movement, as you can easily turn without taking a full tile-step, and there are only two facing directions. Battling an Iron Knuckle really feels like you battle a worthy opponent as it can use both the sword and shield properly, and no more dogfights.
    Ocarina of Time was developed with Zelda 2 as inspiration to make battles entertaining, and that was a good choice as it basically defined action-based combat in 3D games with Z-targeting and all that.

    Now I understand that Zelda 1 was heavily inspired by Hydlide, and they took that game idea, threw out the RPG-style auto battles and added a more pure action-based battle system to it, and thus basically established the action-RPG genre. So I give it some slack as it was one of the first games in that genre.
    Zelda II (which wasn't even a Zelda from the beginning) takes an entirely different route and instead adds a fencing system to the athletic platform genre, and puts it in an RPG after finally slapping the Zelda label on it.
  • Experience point system, Zelda II is much more of an RPG than any other Zelda game. For some reason it's the only game that is missing rupees though, which is another common RPG element.
  • Spells, Zelda 1 had some magic artifacts like the rod, but you couldn't really learn spells and there was no MP system. Aonuma seems to have removed the MP system in favor for a stamina system in modern Zelda games though. Alhough I don't dislike the stamina system, I'm don't see the reason to remove MP.

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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by Dwedit » Wed Apr 28, 2021 7:17 am

The game is so much easier when use the Down+B attack while landing from a jump. It will slice right through the Ironknuckles, hit Diaras at a safer distance, and even defeat Mus before you get the downward thrust.
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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by nesrocks » Wed Apr 28, 2021 10:16 am

You're wrong, all Zelda games suck, except Zelda II. It's literally the only fun one.

If you want to play a top-down zelda game play link's awekening, but I don't see a reason to replay it. All other Zelda games are boooooring.
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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by Pokun » Wed Apr 28, 2021 10:46 am

A Link to the Past is probably the best game in the series. It got pixel-based movement (or at least finer movement than Zelda 1) and wider attacks that can hit dioganally, so it basically fixes all problems with Zelda 1 while keeping true to the Zelda 1 formula. Battles are still less sophisticated than Zelda 2, but it has other qualities like the story, atmosphere and more sophisticated dungeons.
Ocarina is also good, although battles are a bit easy and economy is broken. A negative trend that haunts all modern Zelda games except maybe Breath of the Wild.

Dwedit wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 7:17 am
The game is so much easier when use the Down+B attack while landing from a jump. It will slice right through the Ironknuckles, hit Diaras at a safer distance, and even defeat Mus before you get the downward thrust.
Yeah that's the Double Stab attack I was talking about. I didn't know it could hit Myu though.

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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by Hamtaro126 » Wed Apr 28, 2021 2:28 pm

nesrocks wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 10:16 am
If you want to play a top-down zelda game play link's awekening, but I don't see a reason to replay it. All other Zelda games are boooooring.
If you want to play Link's Awakening, Might I suggest trying Oracles of Seasons and Ages also, as they make up the Gameboy trilogy, not to mention they function similarly engine-wise, as the Oracle series uses the Link's Awakening engine and enhances it tenfold for the GBC!
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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by ccovell » Wed Apr 28, 2021 5:00 pm

Ben Boldt wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:47 pm
Music has a very excessive, overbearing, low-quality tremolo. It sounds like a tape deck with a rubber band instead of a belt.
I agree with most of your points, and also felt that the music was disappointing/grating. The composer was Akito Nakatsuka -- and that seems to be his style, mostly, with warbling tremolo, vibrato, or twangs/glides. He was also responsible for the FDS Golf games which had similar unsatisfying music. Just not to my taste at all. I don't know how to explain it... his songs tend to play and loop without ever reaching a crescendo or climax.

At least he made some more popular/impressive tunes such as the great Punch-Out, and the FDS BIOS' intro tune.

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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by calima » Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:25 am

I find all Mario and Zelda boring, though I did like Ocarina's Water temple :lol:
/the majority taste is so bad

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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by nin-kuuku » Thu Apr 29, 2021 1:08 pm

nesrocks wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 10:16 am
You're wrong, all Zelda games suck, except Zelda II. It's literally the only fun one.

If you want to play a top-down zelda game play link's awekening, but I don't see a reason to replay it. All other Zelda games are boooooring.
This is the correct opinion. Was going to say the exact same thing. Zelda 2 is one of the few non-sucking zeldas. The Game&Watch Zelda was also excellent.

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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by Pokun » Thu Apr 29, 2021 4:23 pm

No way, all Zeldas are great. Especially all up to and including Majora's Mask. They are too easy after those.

ccovell wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 5:00 pm
Ben Boldt wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:47 pm
Music has a very excessive, overbearing, low-quality tremolo. It sounds like a tape deck with a rubber band instead of a belt.
I agree with most of your points, and also felt that the music was disappointing/grating. The composer was Akito Nakatsuka -- and that seems to be his style, mostly, with warbling tremolo, vibrato, or twangs/glides. He was also responsible for the FDS Golf games which had similar unsatisfying music. Just not to my taste at all. I don't know how to explain it... his songs tend to play and loop without ever reaching a crescendo or climax.
I think a lack of climax might work well for a BGM that loops endlessly as it could make it less tiring to listen to over and over again. I find the music in Zelda 2 to be addictive. The battle theme in the FDS version is a bit boring, but the new battle theme in the NES version (which I guess does have a climax) is fantastic. So are the two temple BGMs.

calima wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:25 am
I find all Mario and Zelda boring, though I did like Ocarina's Water temple :lol:
Lol get out! The 3D Zelda games adds the third dimension to the puzzles which is sometimes great and sometimes annoying. The Water Temple is an example of the later (though the water dungeon in Majora's Mask is much worse with streams and shit). That's one reason I prefer A Link to the Past where dungeons were perfect.

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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by lidnariq » Thu Apr 29, 2021 4:45 pm

Pokun wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 4:23 pm
No way, all Zeldas are great. Especially all up to and including Majora's Mask. They are too easy after those.
If I'm gonna ___post, I may as well say: the two N64 Zeldas were awful. The hardware wasn't good enough for them graphically, and the camera was par for the era (i.e. bad).

Adventure of Link is interesting in that is was a clear divergence from the formula they used before and since. It's almost better to compare it to Metroid than LoZ.

If you look at reviews of the game, it's clear that AoL was revelatory when it was released, but it doesn't stand up well now. (Then: ratings around 90%; now: ratings around 70%). Not entirely clear why; you might think that LoZ would hold up less well given the large number of later games in that 3/4 perspective action-adventure genre. Maybe it's just that people expect it to be like everything else in the series and it just isn't.

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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by Ben Boldt » Thu Apr 29, 2021 7:31 pm

I have always been a bit 'different'... I didn't like Zelda 2 even when only 1 & 2 existed. Memory from back then can have a way of getting exaggerated though. Maybe my current bias against it inflated the distant reality a bit.

I always thought the vines growing on the title screen in Zelda 1 were really cool and I was disappointed never to find those in the game growing on anything. I mean, at LEAST it should have had vines in the triforce piece room. There should have been light coming in a window or skylight in that room; you do exit from it directly afterall. Strange things I noticed as a kid. Knowing that Zelda 2 existed, I dreamed a lot about what it might be like and I always pictured those vines making their way in. I wish I could remember what else I dreamed up. I think I probably built it up to quite an unreachable fantasy for an NES and was destined for disappointment.

The whole vine thing did show up finally for me in 9th grade when I got a hold of Final Fantasy 5; overgrown plants are a prevalent theme in that game and definitely does aid a sense of adventure and natural deterioration to see those. So cool to see how exdeath utilized plants in an evil way, very very creative. Definitely has a Japanese vibe to it.

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Re: Zelda II - The Adventure of Link... SUCKED

Post by calima » Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:15 am

Majora's FPS is clearly better than Ocarina's, even with better graphics, so it's clear Ocarina was just badly optimized.

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