Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Zelda II: Adventure of Link (NES, 1988)

 Time to cover a Zelda game that I sorta skipped over before. If I don't cover it, it'll bother me, so here we go. This one suffers from the same thing that Castlevania 2, Dragon Quest 2, and Final Fantasy 2 on the NES suffered from: It reinvents something that was working fine before, to mixed results at best.




 
This is a direct sequel to the previous game, which is rare for this series. It was released in Japan in 1987 and the U.S. in 1988, not too long after the release of the first game.

 I think they just emphasized the "LINK" here so people would stop calling the main character "Zelda". It's almost as bad as referring to Samus as "the Metroid" and talking about how badass he is.

That sword is pretty sweet.

I just got ahold of the Nintendo Power that features this game, so let's check it out.

Link apparently has the Golden Sword from A Link to the Past. Maybe that's what the max-level sword was imagined to look like in this game, even though the game only renders one sword for the whole game and it's plain. You have to use your imagination a little bit with these old games.

 At this point in time, Zelda 2 really WAS the most eagerly-awaited video game of all time.

Also, this was a time when people actually asked for Wrestlemania.

The poster in this issue is a rad-to-the-max game called Skate or Die. The only way this guy could be hipper for 1988 is if he were wearing sunglasses and NOT wearing a helmet.

On the other side of the poster is something significantly more impressive: A Zelda II world map. It's drawn and it's awesome. The top left is the area you start in.

This is when Link still wore skin-tight leggings. At least he had the decency to wear a skirt over them instead of wearing them as pants.

Old Nintendo Powers are such a joy to read. I like the way they illustrate everything, and the pictures are compelling. As usual, Nintendo Power adjusts their vocabulary depending on the game they're covering. "The glove will prove to be Link's salvation"? I guarantee you won't see that kind of language in the Skate or Die coverage.

ANOTHER drawn map, this one significantly less-useful than the big world map on the poster. This only shows about half of the world, and it's hard to make out any details.

I used to really like these monster / boss rundowns that Nintendo Power would always do. There's a great one in the Super Mario World issue that shows all the new enemies. We've got hand-drawn bosses here...yeah, this is great stuff. After reading this I'm stoked for Zelda II, and it isn't even all that fun of a game.

Time to finally get started, Nintendo Power in hand. It'll prove to be my salvation. The sooner I get underway, the sooner I can find ERROR.

Cockburn swings into action! In this game you get lives, three to be exact. Losing one puts you back to the beginning of the current room/hallway, while losing all three puts you back at the hub point of the world. Basically, it's three chances to get through any given dungeon.

Behold the side-scrolling visuals. This was the only Zelda game to try being a side-scroller all the way through, and there's a reason for that. It doesn't work that well, with iffy controls and a very limited plane to fight enemies on.

You can see Princess Zelda asleep, and the objective of this game is to wake her from the sleeping curse. Bad joke about Ganon being a roofie-ing bastard here.

The only time it isn't side-scrolling is when you're on the overworld. The palace here is the hub where you respawn when you game over. The objective here is to find a bunch of palaces and shut them down, not unlike the original Zelda. Each palace has a boss to fight and a special artifact / item to find. It's pretty much just like all of the Zelda games since.

Yet another Nintendo Power map. This one's the most useful yet, outlining the locations nearby so I can figure out where to go.

The first few objectives are outlined: Do the first palace, find a candle, find a statue in a cave, head for the second palace. This is one of those games that takes a little while to get to the first boss, but after that the pace is brisk.

Moving around the overworld triggers random enemies that converge on your position. If you stick to the roads, enemies don't spawn, and if you jump back onto a road before an enemy reaches you, it avoids the battle. While enemies do give experience, these random battles are largely useless and sap your resources.

That's right, there's experience in this game. You get small doses of EXP from every enemy you defeat, but most of the EXP comes from these P-Bags that enemies sometimes drop. Grab one and it's a big boost.

So...what does P-Bag stand for? A bunch of things are coming to mind, and none of them are good.

Here's an example of a random battle, as Link battles slimes for the future of Hyrule. Yeah, this game is totally attempting to be Dragon Quest.

There are towns strewn about on the world map, and they're brimming with mostly-useless NPCs.

That's true. Well, knowing nothing is better than how some of the young women turn into Aches (bats) and attack when you talk to them. Why do they turn into Aches? I don't know, they must just be in a bad mood.

"Torch it, Childs!"

::high-pitched alien shrieks::

Finally, a helpful NPC. I wonder why she wants Link in her house.

::the house begins to shake violently::

Now thoroughly refreshed and restored, Link goes back to talking to useless, rude people. I can't find ERROR here either. Let's move on.

There's a cave in the desert, but it isn't really advisable to go in there without the candle.

It's super-dark so you can't see the enemies. It's there, though, so one can give it a shot regardless. So far the game isn't quite as linear as it seems, and I'm enjoying the exploration.

Gain enough EXP and you can level up one of your three primary attributes. Attack is the best thing to level early on, and also the most expensive. Once you reach the next threshold for a level (in this case 50, 100, or 200) this window pops up again. You can either cancel out and wait for the next threshold to upgrade something more expensive, or you can use points on something. It's an odd level-up system with room for improvement.

It's very similar to Dark Souls, but I like the way that game simply increases the level-up requirement across the board every time you upgrade everything. You gradually need more and more exp to level, rather than the number going up and down all over the place like it does here.

I arrive at the first palace, Parapa Palace. Bad joke about Parappa the Rapper here. I'm terrible at that game, so bad that I wasn't even able to play it for a post.

In any case, I like the knight statue at the entrance and the pillars. Good aesthetics.

Nintendo Power has some very good dungeon maps that help a lot. This first dungeon is very short if you know where to go; you have to collect keys like all the other Zelda games, but they're pretty much unmissable here since there's a notable lack of any kind of puzzles.

Heh, this red monster is a Hammer Bro from Super Mario Bros. Seriously, it moves and jumps the same exact way while throwing hammers in the same exact arc. I'm onto your cutting and pasting, Miyamoto!

Get killed and Link pops a massive boner. He must have just seen the animation when Samus gets killed in Super Metroid.

Lose ALL of your lives, and we get this shot of Ganon. It's the only time Ganon even appears in this game, which is pretty weird. Apparently he really is dead, and it's his disciples who are causing all the trouble while trying to bring him back.

This fading bridge is right out of Super Metroid and Link doesn't have a speed booster.

The candle is the big accessory of the first palace. Like many of the other Zelda games, you can leave the dungeon right now and progress with the game now that you have the item, returning for the boss later. I'm going to go ahead and follow the progression.

Attack continues to snowball in cost while I ignore the other two stats. A life boost can be really useful for restoring your health mid-dungeon, so I do that before the boss.

The boss in question is the strangely compelling Horsehead, a bastardly fiend who is only vulnerable to strikes to the head. Luckily it's easy enough to jump and slash until the fight's over. It's worth noting that Link's sword reach is NOT very good in this game, which leads to a fair amount of frustration as you often whiff attacks.

Victory, and we get a neon screen-flashing to herald our victory. A shadow is momentarily visible here. Is it just Link's shadow, or something more sinister?

After beating the boss, you place a crystal into a monolith, and then it's time to move on. The palaces turn to stone after you've both defeated the boss and found the special item, so you can't even go back to them afterwards to play around. Weird.

With the candle, Link can now safely move through formerly-dark places. This allows him to get the statue of a goddess. Also, way to break the fourth wall by posing for the camera, Link.

The next town has what appears to be an unassuming hut. Inside, we find...

...wait a second, I know this guy... CAN IT BE?

HAS ERROR ARRIVED?





::smokes a cigarette::

Not only did Link just get his first magic spell, now he's patronizing another of Littlefinger's establishments.

::the building shakes violently as pieces of the roof begin to fall off::

My first magic spell, Jump lets Link temporarily jump with Luigi-height. It uses up some of the magic meter, but enemies drop potions that restore said meter.

I backtrack a bit and grab a spell that I think I could have gotten before the first dungeon, Shield. This halves the damage you take temporarily and is extremely useful.

Leveling up isn't the only way to increase your health. Finding Heart Containers also does that. It seems like Heart Containers actually expand the life meter, while your levels simply reduce the damage you take to that meter. In essence, leveling up "life" is actually leveling up your defense. I guess one could look at it either way though.

Third spell acquired. This one heals you and is definitely competition with Shield for usefulness. Time to start leveling up my magic points...but first, I need more attack power.

The next area is Death Mountain, and it's the end of the line for a lot of players. Very difficult, complex area. Hard to believe this is before even the second dungeon. The good news is that I've got a nice exploit to use right about here.

There's one area here with a patch of woods; getting attacked there and intentionally running into the strongest enemy icon will result in a fight with infinitely-spawning birds. Hold down a turbo controller and Link will knock off bird after bird for 2 exp each. It's fairly inefficient compared to actually playing, but if you leave the game running and do other things, checking back every so often to accept a level-up, this is a great way to let the game do your leveling for you.

I usually don't use exploits, but when a game is as difficult as this one, I'll do whatever it takes to make the ride a smoother one. I've beaten this game in the past without doing this, so I've got nothing to prove.

Next time: The rest of the game. Maybe. Gotta level up my attack a bit.




2 comments:

  1. You're spot on about how good these NPs are for games like this. It's probably why I liked strategy guides so much back when they existed, it all went back to NP coverage.

    Horsehead truly is strangely compelling.

    Good leveling trick there, it sounds like it comes just in time, too.

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  2. It's very nice to get a fresh new look at the game, accepting it's something different. This is the first time I've connected its side-scrolling elements with the side-scrolling sections of later Zelda games like Link's Awakening, by the way.

    I agree Link needed more name recognition then.

    I'm glad Nintendo Power put helmets and pads on most of its skaters in order to keep kids from getting the wrong message.

    Starting back at Zelda sleeping in the temple every time is pretty memorable.

    Yeah, this hand-drawn map rules, and this land mass is very unique, with its combination of mountains and waters.

    The drawings of Link here are legit 1980s anime style.

    Nintendo Power went all-out with the ye olde writing style here and I'm a big fan of that decision.

    A spell called Spell, eh.

    Hand-drawn monster pics ftw.

    Link's sword really should be longer.

    The level-up system is pretty interesting!

    Horsehead. Yes, I remember him. Link's Shadow is an excellent character too.

    No shame in EXP-sploiting this game!

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