Before everyone was running around in game modes that allowed a hundred players to fight until only one remained, before capturing a flag in first person shooters was filling the industry with awe, and before MMORPGs were all the rage, everyone was gushing over and playing Zelda II and it was considered the best entry in the franchise.
Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Ok, it’s a lie.
Zelda II is completely the opposite, like the bastard child of the franchise and the one entry that is considered a blemish in the series. But… Was it really that bad?
We’ll get into that shortly, but I think context is required and some background on the game.
There was a time where the formula that has defined the series didn’t exist yet and Nintendo was still experimenting on what the series could be. Zelda II is the largest departure from what has defined the games and its failure to resonate with everyone is the reason why another like it has never been done again.
So, what is Zelda II?
The game has a top-down world map where you’ll move across to enter an area. Once you enter an area, the game switches and becomes a side-scrolling adventure. The biggest departure from series is the continue system when you die, and the experience system used. This was also the game in the series that directly inspired God Of War 1 – 3. How… you ask? Link bangs a chick in this game and Jaffe was like, wow how postmodern, Kratos should also bang chicks in our game. Boom! Without Zelda II, no video game characters would be banging anyone. Facts.
When you aren’t visiting towns and interacting with promiscuous NPCs, you’ll be walking across horizontal plains fighting enemies and gathering experience points that will allow you to upgrade three different categories: attack, magic, and life. When we get to combat, well, it lacks the finesse and variety as the other entries of the franchise. Essentially what you have is your sword, shield, a jump button, crouch, and magic. One magic spell, in particular, that is the most important is one that allows you to recover life. That’s right, no heart pieces or demonic fairies in this entry. Fairies are evil. You sound surprised, my poor naïve readers.
Let me teach you all some veteran advice on fairies as I’m familiar with the hell spawns of Lilith.
Fairies look different in all the incarnations of Zelda, and fiction because no one has lived after interacting with them to give an accurate account of what they are. These tiny looking, innocent appearing hell flies through the mouth and overtake the body, once in control they do the most devious of things with, and to, it. Their ultimate goal is unknown, but they are to not be trusted. You can trust me, I’ve trained in fairy slaying. Don’t end up like my cousin Chula who was taken far too soon after encountering one of these creatures.
There is one instance where Zelda II is the most important entry in the series because it explains something that many probably don’t know but affects the entire franchise.
Why is the princess named Zelda?
Well, that’s because these are the Days of our Lives. You see, there was a king that partied a lot on yachts with his flesh arrow and, eventually, he met this woman who was like “I will make all your dreams come true”. So they got married, had kids, and then she got the king involved with the cartel. Gangs, drugs, and better than Narcos season 4, she eventually got taken out but not before giving birth to two children. The king’s son, Zelda’s brother, wanted to know the secrets their father kept, especially concerning the Triforce, but only Zelda knew. The prince seeks the aid of a kamikaze wizard who tries to waterboard Zelda, but it only puts her into a deep sleep. The prince, feeling bad about the whole thing and not having a name, decrees that every future princess born will be named Zelda. Wow. I know, Zelda has a lot of twists and turns in its plot.
97.45% of you didn’t know that by the way, which means that, in principle alone, all your male children in every generation must be named Kyle.
My experience with Zelda II is nothing out of the ordinary. I played the first one and thought it was great, going out to explore and adventure the world, I thought it was magnificent. To this day it holds a special place in my heart. I didn’t play Zelda II until after I played A Link To The Past. At first, it was weird playing it because I had played three or four titles at that point that followed a similar style but, like everything else, I prefer the weird and attempts at something unique. It also helped that the game was hard for me, truly challenging, and I love a challenge. I love testing my skill and overcoming turbulent odds. Being a fan of the Castlevania series, and Metroid to an extent for comparison, the side-scrolling elements didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I want another game in this vein.
So, is it a bad game?
Is a Werewolf who turns into a human only with a full moon a Werewolf? Depends who you ask. I say no. I mean let’s think about it. He’s already a Werewolf and the few full moons out there he turns into a human. That would make him a Werehuman (trademarking that term by the way) and is a great plot for a teen novel. She was a confused girl, he was a brooding vampire, and he was her friend who loved her. I’ll call it Twilite. Oh, wait.
Zelda II is, from everyone I’ve interacted with, a polarizing game. Some people like it and some people hate it but I think we can all agree that it’s not a bad game. It’s different enough for Nintendo to not make another like it and it uses some elements that the other games don’t. Much like Breath Of The Wild, Ocarina Of Time, and Wind Waker it does something different and marks a stark contrast to the franchise. The only difference is that those other games were critically acclaimed and had games after them modelled to replicate it with a twist. Zelda II never got that. That’s not really indicative on the game and more just the result of Nintendo trying to find what would identify the franchise. Zelda II, for whatever reason, was decided not to be the foundation the series would be built upon.
Zelda II is a great game I think is underappreciated and every fan of gaming should at least experience. Every time I go back to it I always wonder why they never made another like it, even if it was thrown onto their handheld consoles or made as an eShop only download because I like the game and would have liked to see it built upon. Unfortunately, that may never happen.
Back in high school, I dated this chick. She was cool but she was also a jerk. Anyways, we were always hanging out and sometimes she didn’t seem real. Because she wasn’t. She got close to me, emulated my interests, all in a ploy to bang my close friend at the time. That was rough. I can remember driving home with the windows down, it was hot that night, and as I pulled in I got a text from that friend. He was sorry. He accidentally stuck his—he unintentionally slept with her. That’s rough as a 16-year-old to get that news. It got deeper though, worse for me because they started dating and I couldn’t be friends with either of them because there would be too much pity on their part for me. Oh, it gets better. Shortly after, she spread a bunch of lies about me, shared some personal hopes, dreams, confidential confessions around the school. It was rough. Around that same time, my family was moving, and a lot of my stuff was in boxes and I was so apathetic and heartbroken that I didn’t have the energy to find something to distract myself. My GameCube wasn’t in a box because of its handle and inside of it, I had the Zelda Collectors Disc that had 4 Zelda games and a demo for Wind Waker. Zelda II helped me get through this time. I had never beaten the game before that time and I allowed myself to be absorbed into it, distracting myself from my world that felt was falling apart all around me. Beating it, feeling that accomplishment that few others have probably committed to, helped in my healing process.
Every day a little boy is heartbroken, but every time Zelda II is played, hearts are healed. Let’s heal some hearts people.