Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Is a Bold and Important Failure

The Legend of Zelda franchise has captivated gamers for decades, offering thrilling adventures and unforgettable characters. One game in particular, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, stands out as a bold and important failure in the series. In this article, we will delve into the history and legacy of Zelda II, exploring its unique gameplay, innovative ideas, and how it has influenced future titles. While the game may not have been widely embraced, its impact on the Zelda series is undeniable.

The Departure from Tradition

Released in 1988, Zelda II took a different direction from its predecessor, A Link to the Past. The game’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, and his team at Nintendo aimed to blend elements of both RPG and action genres, creating an entirely new experience for players. However, this departure from tradition proved to be a double-edged sword.

Zelda II deviated from the familiar top-down perspective of the original game, opting for a side-scrolling view. While this change allowed for more dynamic combat sequences, it also led to mixed results. The gameplay lacked the fluidity and precision typically associated with action-adventure games, leaving players feeling unsatisfied. Despite these challenges, the game introduced several innovative features that would shape the future of the series.

The Challenge of Zelda II

One notable aspect of Zelda II is its difficulty level. The game is notorious for its high level of challenge, often resulting in frustration and frequent deaths for players. Combat encounters with enemies can be brutal, with their erratic movements and hard-hitting attacks. The lack of commitment to either the RPG or action genre left the gameplay feeling half-baked, resulting in a less-than-optimal experience for many gamers.

To mitigate the game’s difficulty, players have the option to grind through random encounters and level up their Life, Magic, and Attack stats. This mechanic, reminiscent of upgrading Life or Stamina in Breath of the Wild, creates a sense of progression. However, the harsh difficulty curve and clunky controls prevent many players from fully enjoying the game.

Zelda II’s Legacy

Despite its shortcomings, Zelda II has left an indelible mark on the franchise. Several elements introduced in the game have endured and evolved in subsequent titles. For instance, the iconic names of various locations in Zelda II, such as Rauru, Ruto, Saria, Mido, Nabooru, and Darunia, have become staples of the series. These names evoke a sense of familiarity and nostalgia for long-time fans.

Additionally, Zelda II introduced the concept of towns, providing pockets of community within the game world. While basic in their implementation, these towns have become integral parts of future Zelda titles, offering memorable interactions and quests. The importance of these community hubs has only grown in subsequent games, further enhancing the immersion and storytelling aspects of the series.

The Influence of Zelda II’s Boss Battles

One of the standout features of Zelda II is the conceptual encounter with Dark Link. This one-on-one battle against a mirror image of oneself, complete with matching skills and abilities, is a concept that would be successfully replicated in Ocarina of Time. These intense, solo boss encounters have become a staple in the Zelda series, providing players with memorable and challenging moments. The influence of Zelda II’s Dark Link fight can also be seen in the boss encounters of other renowned games, such as FromSoftware’s iconic boss battles in titles like Dark Souls.

The Artistic Connections

Zelda II’s opening sequence bears a striking resemblance to the beginning of Shadow of the Colossus. In both games, a young protagonist must journey into the wilds and defeat scattered creatures to break a spell and save a princess. While this narrative setup is not unique to Zelda II, the connection between these two games is notable. It demonstrates how certain storytelling elements can transcend individual titles and inspire future game developers.

Zelda II’s Unconventional Approach

Zelda II’s departure from traditional Zelda gameplay can be seen as a bold and creative vision. While the game may not have achieved widespread acclaim, it serves as a reminder that taking risks can lead to groundbreaking experiences. In fact, the Zelda series itself has seen success with radical departures like Majora’s Mask and Breath of the Wild, both of which have garnered critical acclaim and remain fan favorites.

The Impact of Zelda II on the Series

Despite its mixed reception, Zelda II has contributed to the evolution of the franchise. Its experimentation with new gameplay mechanics, introduction of memorable characters and locations, and its influence on future boss battles have shaped subsequent Zelda titles. While it may not be the most beloved entry in the series, Zelda II stands as a testament to the importance of innovation and the willingness to take risks in game development.


Zelda II: The Adventure of Link may be regarded as a bold and important failure, but it has left an undeniable impact on the Legend of Zelda franchise. Its departure from traditional Zelda gameplay, challenging difficulty, and introduction of innovative elements have shaped subsequent titles in the series. While the game may not have resonated with all players, its legacy lives on through the lessons learned and the creative risks taken. Zelda II serves as a reminder of the importance of pushing boundaries and embracing innovation in game development.

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