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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (The Legend of Zelda 2 リンクの冒険 Rinku no Bōken?) is the second installment in The Legend of Zelda series, published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was originally released in Japan on the Famicom Disk System less than a year after the release of The Legend of Zelda. Nintendo released The Adventure of Link in Japan a full seven months before America saw the release of even the first Legend of Zelda title. Nintendo released The Adventure of Link in North America in 1988, almost a full two years after its initial release in Japan, converting (with various modifications) the game from its initial Famicom Disk System format to the NES cartridge format.

The Adventure of Link is a direct sequel to the original The Legend of Zelda, and again involves the protagonist Link on a quest to save Princess Zelda -- who is not the same Princess from the first game, but another member of the royal family by the same name, who was placed under a sleeping spell a long time ago. The Adventure of Link's emphasis on side-scrolling and RPG-style elements, however, was a significant departure from its predecessor and has given it a reputation as the "black sheep" of the Zelda series. It is arguably the hardest Zelda game. Despite this reputation, the game was highly successful and introduced many elements that would become commonplace in future Zelda games. It was followed in 1992 by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the SNES.


The Adventure of Link bears little resemblance to the first game or, for that matter, any other game since released in the series. Rather than the top-down view of the previous title, The Adventure of Link primarily features side-scrolling areas within a larger world map. The game also incorporates a strategic combat system and more RPG elements, including an experience points system, magic spells, and more interaction with non-player characters. Link also has lives and can pick up additional ones; no other game in the series to date includes this feature.

Experience levels

In this installment, Link gains Experience points to upgrade his attack, magic, and life by defeating enemies, each of which awards him a certain amount of EXP. He can raise each of these attributes to a maximum of eight levels. Raising a life level will decrease the damage Link receives when hit; raising a magic level will decrease the magic points cost of spells; and raising an attack level will strengthen his offensive power. Link can also acquire up to four Heart Containers and up to four Magic Containers that permanently increase his life points and magic points. Most other games in The Legend of Zelda series only allow Link to increase his strength through new weapons, items, and Heart Containers. Certain enemies drain Link's experience when they attack, though he will never lose a level once raised.

Overworld map and side-scrolling

Overworld gameplay

The Adventure of Link plays out in a two-mode dynamic. The Overworld, which is where the majority of the action occurs in The Legend of Zelda, is still from a top-down perspective, but it now serves primarily as a hub to the other areas. Whenever Link enters an area, whether it be a town, cave, or palace, the game switches to a side-scrolling view. This mode is where most of the action takes place, and it is the only mode in which Link can take damage and be killed.

Side-scrolling gameplay

Link also enters this mode when attacked by wandering monsters. Whenever the player traverses the various environments of Hyrule, such as fields, forests, and swamps, black enemy silhouettes appear and pursue him. Of the three random creatures that appear, there are three types, which correspond to the relative difficulty of the monsters in the battle mode: a small, weak blob denoting easy enemies, a large, strong biped denoting harder enemies, and a Fairy, which will put Link on a single screen with a free Fairy to refill his health. This separate method of traveling and entering combat is one of many aspects adapted from the role-playing genre.

Combat system

The Adventure of Link makes use of relatively simple controls and mechanics for Link's battles. Armed with a sword and shield, Link must alternate between standing and crouching positions in order to attack enemies and defend himself; for example, the Iron Knuckle enemy changes the height of its attack and its shield depending on Link's current stance, forcing Link to change stances until he has a chance to attack safely. Link also has the ability to jump, which can be used for attacking tall or airborne enemies and for evasion. Eventually, he can also learn the Downthrust and Jump Thrust midair techniques.


In place of actively-used items, The Adventure of Link features spells for Link to use during action scenes. This is the first time magic was used in the series. Each spell is learned from a wise man, each one in a different town. Link often has to complete side quests, such as retrieving lost items, before they will teach him their spells. Some spells are necessary for advancing beyond certain points in the game; both the Jump and Fairy spells allow Link to reach the top of ledges that are otherwise too high. Magic spells consume magic power. How much power is drained depends on Link's current magic level. Four Magic Jars can be found hidden throughout the game; these jars expand Link's magic meter by one square.


Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.

Artwork of Impa, Link, and the sleeping Princess Zelda

Several years after the events of The Legend of Zelda, just before his sixteenth birthday, Link notices a strange mark on the back of his left hand, similar to that of the crest of Hyrule. He seeks out Impa, who responds by taking Link to the tower of North Castle, where a maiden lies in a deep sleep. Impa tells Link that the maiden is Zelda, a princess of Hyrule from long ago, and the origin of the "Legend of Zelda". A long time ago the Prince of Hyrule had tried to obtain the Triforce, but Zelda refused to tell him the location of it. In order to extract the information from her, he brought in a Magician to interrogate her. Unable to find out any information, the wizard cast a sleeping spell on her, which also resulted in his own death. The prince, being unable to reverse the spell, had his sister placed in the castle tower, in the hope that she would one day be awakened. He decreed that all females born to the royal family from that point on would be named Zelda, in remembrance of this tragedy.

Impa says that the mark on Link's hand means that he is the chosen hero to awaken Zelda. She gives Link a chest containing six crystals and ancient writings indicating that each crystal needs to be placed in a different palace in Hyrule. This will open the way to the Great Palace, which contains the Triforce of Courage, which has the power to awaken the enchanted Zelda. Taking the crystals, Link sets out to restore them to their palaces. Meanwhile, the followers of Ganon are seeking to kill Link, as sprinkling his blood on Ganon's ashes would supposedly resurrect their master.

Ultimately, Link restores the crystals to the six palaces, and with the crystals in place, the entrance to the Great Palace is opened. After venturing deep inside, Link is made to battle and defeat a shadowy doppelgänger of himself known as Dark Link. After Dark Link is defeated, Link claims the Triforce and uses it to awaken Zelda, who embraces Link while a curtain falls in front of them.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers end here.


Like The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link was based on Shigeru Miyamoto's concepts. However, the game was developed by a separate team from that of The Legend of Zelda, and key members from The Legend of Zelda's design team, such as Takashi Tezuka and Kōji Kondō, were not involved in The Adventure of Link's production. Instead, Tadashi Sugiyama and Yoichi Yamada directed the game while Miyamoto produced it.


The score of The Adventure of Link, unlike that of The Legend of Zelda, was composed by Akito Nakatsuka ("Tsukasan" in the credits) rather than Kōji Kondō. Almost none of the music from the previous game was integrated, save for the introductory notes of the overworld theme (Hyrule Overture), which were quoted at the start of the new overworld theme. Most music in this game has generally not been incorporated into later games in the series, most likely because it was significantly different from the direction that the series ultimately took. However, orchestrated versions of the Palace track were used in Super Smash Bros. Melee, played during the Hyrule: Temple and Underground Maze levels; a different variation in Super Smash Bros. Brawl ; and yet another variation when battling a Shadow Link in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap also includes a remix of the Japanese battle music, in the form of its mini-boss music. The orchestrated version of the game's introduction music featured on the title screen has been sampled in Boom Bip's song Roads Must Roll.


In the Town of Ruto, there is a character whose initial line of dialog is "I am Error." This is correctly translated from the Japanese word for error (エラー). This famous Zelda II character is referenced in the 2007 Wii title Super Paper Mario by having Fracktail, the first boss, say "I am Error" once he becomes corrupted by Dimentio.


The Adventure of Link was originally released on the Famicom Disk System before its worldwide release. Like its predecessor, the FDS version appears to be an earlier version of the game, with a few obvious differences. On the main map, the icons denoting attacking monsters look different, but the most significant change is the spending of experience points, as all three of Link's attributes cost the same, unlike the worldwide release. This makes leveling up in the game very different. Besides that, the Famicom Disk System version takes advantage of the extra sound capabilities not present in the NES, and the NES version has a new boss, among other differences.

The Adventure of Link was re-released in 2003 on the Collector's Edition disc for the Nintendo GameCube, and again in 2004 as part of the Classic NES Series for Game Boy Advance, with several changes. The death animation removed flashing colors in an effort to prevent seizures, replacing it with a solid red color (the same goes for the Virtual Console release). Several graphical and audio tweaks were made, and an enemy formerly titled Barba is named Volvagia, keeping with the naming in the Japanese release. It was released as the 100th title on the Wii's Virtual Console in Japan on January 23, 2007, in Europe and Australia on February 9, 2007 and was released in North America on June 4, 2007. On September 1, 2011 it was released on the 3DS as part of the exclusive set of virtual console titles for the 3DS Ambassador Program, which allows those who purchased a 3DS before its large price cut to download a set of 20 free games. This version is identical to the original NES release. This version was later rereleased in November 2012.


Link in the Town of Ruto

Many elements first introduced in this game have remained in the series. For instance, non-player characters (NPC) were present in The Legend of Zelda, but their role was rather limited. Starting with The Adventure of Link, all Zelda games have prominently featured a variety of NPCs who play pivotal roles in Link's quests. The use of metered magic and spells has also carried over into several Zelda games. The Triforce of Courage makes its first appearance in The Adventure of Link and plays an important role in later Zelda games, as it is strongly associated with Link. Dark Link also appears in Ocarina of Time, and a similar Link clone called Shadow Link appears in Four Swords Adventures.

Additionally, The Adventure of Link was one of the first games to combine RPG and platforming elements to any considerable degree. Over the next several years, a number of Japanese-made games appeared with a similar format; major titles such as Cadash (1989) and Wanderers from Ys (1989) closely resemble The Adventure of Link, with side-scrolling platform stages supplemented by RPG-like statistical systems, weapons, armor, magic spells, and so forth.

Many of the sages in Ocarina of Time bear the same names as towns from The Adventure of Link (Rauru, Ruto, Saria, Nabooru, and Darunia). Another town, Mido, is also the name of a character in Kokiri Forest.

The Adventure of Link is the only Zelda game of the main English releases not to use "The Legend of Zelda" in its title, the only Zelda game to feature "lives" counting down, and therefore the only game in the series to include 1-up Dolls.


Unlike BS Zelda no Densetsu, it would have been the same game with enhanced features instead of a game loosely based on the original. It was ultimately canceled in favor of the new storyline of the BS Zelda games.

The next Zelda game after The Adventure of Link is A Link to the Past for the Super Famicom, which follows new Link and Zelda characters and returns to the top-down style of the original The Legend of Zelda. No further Zelda titles in the main series to date have used side-scrolling as the primary mode of gameplay, but several later games including the Game Boy games Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, and Link's Awakening incorporated limited side-scrolling in certain areas. Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, two lesser known Zelda games for the Philips CD-i in 1993, did have side-scrolling play slightly reminiscent of The Adventure of Link. However, these games are not counted as Zelda canon.


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