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File:Zelda II The Adventure of Link box.jpg



Radically different from both its predecessor and every game in The Legend of Zelda series since, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link featured an overhead-view map like the first game, but introduced side-scrolling action sequences and RPG Elements such as level ups, magic and health points, and random encounters, as well as more complex world and story elements, including towns filled with characters. It was somewhat divisive and did not attain quite the same popularity as the rest of the series. Still, the game definitely left its mark on the franchise: while later games would return to the top-down action-adventure model of the original rather than being more like an RPG, the magic meter, and especially towns filled with NPCs and sidequests would become staples of the series.

The story basically has two threads. On the one hand Link, after his defeat of Ganon in the original game, is attempting to collect the third piece of the Triforce: the Triforce of Courage. Doing this will help wake the sleeping Princess Zelda (not the same one from the original) from her long magical sleep. On the other hand, Ganon's followers are trying to resurrect Ganon, and the only way to do that is with the Hero's blood. Thus, there's lots of enemies standing in Link's way as he attempts to deposit six crystals in the six palaces throughout Hyrule and open the path to the Great Palace, where the Triforce of Courage is kept...

Reviewed by The Angry Video Game Nerd here. The review was done on request, and mostly just highlights how insanely Nintendo Hard the game is. Despite that, the Caustic Critic likes it and was surprised when the requester called it a bad game, and he had spoken favourably of it in previous episodes.

Even if The Black Cauldron and Legend didn't influence the first game, they certainly did with this one.

According to Hyrule Historia, this is the last game in the "Link died during Ocarina of Time" timeline.

Tropes used in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link include:
  • All There in the Manual: The Save the Princess plot, along with the tie to the third Triforce, are given much more detail in the manual. Plus it's noted why the Game Over screen looks like that. It also explains why the princess is named Zelda every time.
  • Animated Adaptation: The cartoon series used elements from this game, and the Captain N episode "Quest for the Potion of Power" was largely based on it.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The enemies named "Horsehead" and "Helmethead". Guess where you need to strike? Inverted with Gooma, a boss added to the international releases in place of a second battle with Helmethead, whose weak point is his body and, in contrast to the boss he replaced, whose head is invulnerable.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The most of the entire series. This is a primary reason for the game's difficulty.
    • A more clear example are the Eagle Knights[1] in the Great Palace. They are similar to the Iron Knuckles, but both types can cast swordbeams at you and leap over you. The Red versions take two to three hits to kill and the blue ones five to six. It doesn't help that they usually appear in a place where it is very difficult to run away from them. The Iron Knuckles can also be this if you don't know the easy way of defeating them (by jumping in the air and striking right before you land). This doesn't really make blue Iron Knuckles much easier to defeat though, thanks to their sword beams.
  • Bowdlerize: The dungeons are called "temples" in Japanese but "palaces" in English, due to Nintendo of America's then-current policy of removing religious references in games. (They left the crosses in, though.) The term "temple" for dungeons persists in later games, and from Ocarina of Time onward the English localizations follow the Japanese lead.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: The Valiant Comics series authorized by Nintendo was based on this and the original game.
  • Continuing Is Painful: A Game Over reduces Link's XP to zero and sends him all the way back to the Northern Palace in Western Hyrule.
    • Averted in the seventh and final level 'The Great Palace' where a game over puts Link at the beginning of that Palace.
  • Continuity Nod: The overworld from the previous installment can be found in the southwest corner of the game's world.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: As in the first game, all the tombstones in the graveyard have crosses on them, as does Link's shield; and in this game, a cross is actually an item retrieved from one of the palaces. Word of God explains that the motif is caused by the fact that the original plan was to have Christianity as the main religion in Hyrule; the three goddesses weren't invented until after the two NES games were released.
  • Demoted Boss: Rebonack, a mounted Iron Knuckle who starts out as the boss of the Island Palace, appears as a miniboss in later dungeons.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The Spell spell.
  • Difficulty by Region: The Famicom version is easier than the NTSC and PAL versions even though it has one boss more.
    • Nerf: The Famicom version of the 6th boss, Barba, is harder to fight than the NTSC and PAL versions.
    • Buff: The Tektites in the Famicom version are easier to kill than the NTSC and PAL versions.
  • Enemy Without: Dark Link.
  • Engrish: I Am Error, despite being a correct translation, is considered an example, with people assuming his name is supposed to be "Errol" or that "I am Error" is actually an error message. However, his friend, Bagu, is supposed to be transliterated as "Bug", making their names "Bug" and "Error," with the two being named after programming issues. In addition, another NPC mentions Error by name and says to ask him how to find the next palace, and after this is done Error gives advice instead of introducing himself.
    • Most dialogue messages are considerably longer in Japanese as well, leading to newspaper headline-style speech from most NPCs in English. This is probably because the same character limit per text box was kept in the English localization as there was in Japanese despite the difference in information per character.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's the second game in the Zelda series, it's about Link, and he has an adventure.
  • Experience Points: Gain enough, and you can raise your defense, reduce magic costs, or raise attack.
  • Every Ten Thousand Points: Every 9000 experience after maxing out levels gives Link another life.
  • Fairy Battle: You'd be forgiven for thinking this trope was named for this game instead of its usage in Final Fantasy IX, as Zelda II has literal "fairy battles". That is, battle screens with nothing but a healing fairy to pick up. More a wandering monster than a Random Encounter, though.
  • Fan Vid: The Adventures Of Duane And BrandO's gleeful musical retelling of the game, painting Link as a cocky and vaguely confused hero playing through a sequel with completely different gameplay mechanics.
  • Foreshadowing: Beating a boss is the only time Link's shadow is visible.
  • Genre Shift: This is the only side-scrolling game in the entire series. This is also the only time you can level up with a certain amount of experience points, expanding on the RPG Elements of the first game.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Maybe it wasn't intentional, but in a few towns, there's a woman who offers to help Link, and takes him into her home. Something happens inside that the player does not see, causing his Health Bar to refill. Many players wonder if the "help" she provides is as innocent as it seemed.
  • Ghost Town: Old Kasuto.
  • The Goomba: Bits and Bots. (Those red and blue jelly slime things)
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Inverted. You need to return the crystals you have to the palaces, rather than collect them.
  • Guide Dang It: While most things in the game are hinted at in one place or another, many hints are badly translated and only given by NPCs that look exactly like the useless Welcome to Corneria types. Good luck finding New Kasuto based solely on "THE TOWN IS DEAD LOOK EAST IN FOREST," especially since it isn't obvious that the hammer destroys trees in addition to rocks, with this having to be done with the tile New Kasuto is on instead of merely walking on said tile like every other forest tile in the game that contains an area instead of just being regular land (e.g. Bagu's cabin).
    • In the town, you have to use the "Spell" spell to make a building appear at one point in the game, but the game never even tells you what the "Spell" spell is supposed to do. The only hint you get is a random NPC saying "There is a secret at edge of town."
    • If you haven't beaten the game already, chances are, you're still trying to find the island palace.
  • Heart Container: Despite one of the apparent levels being called "Life," that's just defense. You still use these to increase your life meter. The "Magic" level function similarly; increasing it decreases the cost of some spells, rather than how much magic is available to begin with. Potions increase the magic meter similarly to how Heart Containers increase the life meter.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Zelda's predecessor, the princess you need to awaken, has red hair (in both her sprite and the manual).
  • Hidden Elf Village: New Kasuto. A villager states they had to flee Old Kasuto, so it makes sense for them to hide their new hometown.
  • Inconsistent Dub: Between external sources rather than the game itself, but the dragon boss was referred to as Barba for the original release and Volvagia (which was closer to the original Japanese version's name) for the Collector's Edition release (the latter of which also came with a game with a different Volvagia, whose reference to this installment was lost until the original's name was retranslated).
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Key: Like the first game, this game has a magic key which can unlock any door in any palace.
  • Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality: The "Thunder" spell severely damages all enemies on screen instantly, but sucks up almost all of your magic. Even when you're completely leveled up and have all the magic containers, it still uses half of them.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Link's death is Ganon's return, and there is no longer anything standing in his way. The Famicom version is even worse, displaying a black screen with "RETURN OF GANON: THE END." and playing a digitized dragon roar. Apparently, Hyrule is burning, and that's the last we'll ever see of it.
  • Jump Physics: The only Legend of Zelda game that uses manual jumping without an item.
  • Kid Hero: The manual states that Link is 16 years old, the first time he's ever given a specific age.
  • Kill It with Fire: The fire spell lets your sword shoot fireballs, even when you don't have full energy.


  • Kissing Discretion Shot: A curtain drops at the end of the game, and Link and Zelda get to smooching. Although this was likely more due to lack of sprite animations than modesty (you just see the sprites move together).
  • Ledge Bats: There are numerous locations with enemies whose only purpose is to knock you into water or lava.
  • Lethal Lava Land/Mordor: The Valley of Death. Lava is also a common hazard in caves and dungeons, more so than anywhere else in the series. (Literally every dungeon contains lava somewhere.)
  • Level Grinding: From killing loads of slimes, to loads of Tektites, to loads of Orange Lizalfos. You'll still spend a lot of time killing monsters, but you have plenty of options to break up the monotony.
    • You can also skip returning the crystals to the palaces until the last minute, making getting those 5000, 6000, 7000 and 8000 experience levels a lot easier.
    • Slightly easier in the Famicom version where the maximum XP limit for a level up is 4000.
  • Living MacGuffin: The kidnapped child. It's a funny variant on the trope, since the game treats the child just like any other inventory item.
    • This is made worse in the Famicom version: To rescue the child, Link must hit him with his sword.
      • The child is tied-up in ropes which need to be cut to free him, hence the reason why you hit him with your sword.
  • Living Shadow: The Final Boss.
  • The Maze: The later palaces. Also the route to the fourth palace.
  • Mirror Match: The fight against Dark Link. Ironically, the fight can be made one of the easiest in the game by exploiting a glitch that allows you to hide in the left corner and stab repeatedly. Various ROM hacks of the game have put lava in the corner to make this impossible. In his review, the Nerd uses this trick to beat Dark Link using the Power Glove, without looking at the screen.
  • Nintendo Hard: Widely considered the hardest of the entire series, with good reason. Blue Iron Knuckles in particular will have you tearing your hair out. The Hawk knights in the Great Palace are even worse.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: In the Famicom version, for the Game Over there's just a black screen and a digitized roar. Nothing else.
  • Nuclear Candle: If you don't have a candle, you cannot see any enemies in dark rooms, even if they are inches in front of you. Once you get the candle, they're visible even if Link and the enemy are on opposite sides of the screen.
  • (NTSC-U and) PAL Bonus: The game received quite a few changes in the localization process; the dungeons are all colored differently, the overworld battle music was changed, Barba/Volvagia is drawn and animated better, the boss Gooma is added to replace what was originally a rematch with Helmethead, etc.
  • Oddball in the Series: Although how "odd" it is tends to vary. Functionally, the main differences between this and other Zelda games is the sidescrolling, platforming, and less focus on sub weapons. It still retains the epic exploration and hack & slash gameplay.
  • One-Time Dungeon: The Palaces become Mountain squares on the overworld map after you beat them, but only after you both defeat the boss and collect the required item, fortunately. The only things that can truly be Lost Forever are some Experience Point bonuses.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: This Zelda's dress is pink with small puff sleeves, a bell skirt, and a ring of white bows and ribbons around the skirt. It's just that way in the manual, but it counts.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Again, the dress is pink.
  • Random Effect Spell: Just called "Spell".
  • RPG Elements: The only game in the series that comes close to being an Action RPG.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Not that the first game was easy itself, but there's a reason why this installment is generally considered to be the hardest.
  • Shout-Out: A gravestone in the Japanese version features the epitaph "Here Lies the Hero Loto." There is no equivalent text in the North American version.
    • In the Famicom and GBA versions of Dragon Warrior, there is gravestone in Elftown that features the epitaph "Here lies Link".
  • Sleeping Beauty: The Princess Zelda in this game has been in an enchanted sleep for the last few centuries.
  • Smooch of Victory: Link and Zelda, behind the curtain after she's been awakened; at least, such is implied.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Link has two lines of dialogue in the game, although both times it is to the player. Nevertheless, this was pretty nearly the only time in the entire series he gets ANY form of dialogue whatsoever until The Wind Waker had him shouting "Come on!"
  • Super Drowning Skills: In the side-scrolling segments. There is an item you can get that allows you to walk on (certain tiles of) water, but that only works on the overhead map.
  • Sword Fight: This game has some of the most intense sword fighting on the NES when it comes to battling Iron Knuckles. It also illustrates the faster reflex-based combat of this title in comparison to the subdued movement-based combat of the previous game.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Several Mooks that are a non-issue in most games will kill you to death in this one.
    • Tektites especially. Immune to anything but the Fire Spell, and you first run into them before you get it. They hop really high and far, and every part of their body gives Collision Damage (which means with their legs fully extended they are practically boss-sized in terms of do-not-touch radius.) And Zoras, which in this game are little ankylosaurus looking things, also immune to everything except Fire and incredibly durable.
    • Link himself is particularly more badass in this game than the last. With the side-scrolling combat he can now jump, use upwards and downwards thrusts, and fight enemies in one on one sword fights.
  • Useless Useful Spell: The "Spell" spell has very little real use in the game: it unlocks a building in New Kasuto and reveals the hidden vault containing the magic key. At no time is it ever really explained what the spell does.
    • It also turns several enemies into Bots (those little blue blob things, basically Zelda's Goomba), rendering their butts far more kickable (at the cost of lowering the XP you get from them drastically.) It's a lifesaver in the particularly Mook-heavy rooms. It's basically the poor man's Thunder Spell (Thunder kills every Mook enemy onscreen with full XP... if you don't mind emptying your magic meter. Spell Spell doesn't take much MP at all.) However, enemies killed after being Spelled will respawn as soon as you leave the room, and Spell doesn't work on everything (bird knights, for example).
  • Video Game Lives / 1-Up: It's the only game in the series where you have multiple lives, the number of which can be increased by finding little doll versions of Link scattered throughout the countryside. You also get 1-ups in place of level-ups after maxing out Link's levels.
  • Walking on Water: By means of a pair of magical boots, but it only works on a specific body of water around the fifth palace as well as, for some reason, the river south of the fourth, but the only reason players would ever need to use them for the latter case is when Sequence Breaking.
    • The fourth palace is where the boots are found in a normal game, so the river acts as a Door to Before.
  • Witch Hunt: Two towns in the game, Saria and Darunia, are full of monster spies disguised as non-important NPC's (the kind that just say "Hello!" or "Sorry I know nothing"). Any of these type of NPC's can be revealed as spies if you talk to them once.
  • When All Else Fails Go Right: All of the bosses are faced after entering their rooms from the left. Most are considerable distances to the right of the dungeon entrance.
    • Oddly enough, all the treasures in the temples are to the left. So in order to get everything, you have to go left first, then go right.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: The lack of alternate weapons put swordplay right at the forefront. Even though you do get a literal hammer, it's used as an overworld item, not as a weapon.
  1. Often known by their Japanese name, Fokka, since the Nintendo Power Player's Guide for The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition seems to be the first official source to give them a translated name