Review: Zelda II – The Adventure of Link (NES)

By Drew Wilson

One of the best known fantasy adventure games around that has been around since the NES era is the Legend of Zelda game series. We take a look at the second iteration of this series – Zelda II – The Adventure of Link.

This game is perhaps as close to a classic style action RPG game as the series ever got. Released in 1988, this would be the second published iteration of the Legend of Zelda series. It is also perhaps one of the most different versions of the entire series.

The game starts off with Princess Zelda having fallen into a deep sleep and your task is to prevent Ganon from entering the world again as well as finding a way to break the spell that has kept Zelda asleep. Using the six crystals, Link must restore the six palaces.

The game is unique in the series in that it utilizes experience points. I don’t recall any other Zelda game using experience points and allowing Link to level up in any other game, so I thought this was an interesting change to this iteration.

In addition, besides the larger world map, this is mostly a side scrolling adventure game – again, this seems to be quite unique as many older Zelda games are traditionally top down adventure games instead.

As you progress through the game, you’ll eventually gather enough experience points to level up. If you level up, you have a choice between better a better attack, upgraded magic or upgraded health. You can still collect heart or magic containers to increase the quantity of both magic or health as well.

Another interesting element is the fact that you can visit wise men to add another spell to your spell book. This can be something like a fire attack or a shield that reduces the damage you take from each hit to name two examples. There are also a few soldiers you can speak to and gain special non-magical attacking abilities. I think there’s two of them you can meet and one allows you to stab downwards and one allows you to stab upwards.

Many of the other elements in this game are much more in line with canon though. Each palace you visit, you gain both a special item and you have to defeat the boss in order to progress. If you beat a palace, exiting it will immediately turn it to a rock square on the map.

The games graphics were quite well done for something released in the late 80’s. There’s the various monsters you encounter, the different textures you see throughout and even the flashy firing of either you or the enemies.

The music was nicely done. Even though the music got a bit repetitive after a while, the songs did follow particularly themed area’s. So, the repetition in this case wasn’t bad in my opinion. The sound effect, I found, were nicely done.

Overall, this game is certainly on my list of recommended old games to play. I occasionally go back to this game to try it out again. It’s like an old friend you see after a few years and you get a nostalgia kick from the encounter. Great game overall.


Furthest point in game: Defeated Dark Link.

General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 82%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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