Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG | Players: 1 | Developer: Nintendo R&D4
I respect franchises that are brave enough to change much of their formula, especially early on. Accordingly, Zelda II’s change to a side-scrolling POV for interiors, random enemy encounters, and hidden overworld areas is not something I classify as a problem. It’s a decision; one that I have no qualms with, in a vacuum. The same is true for the brutal difficulty. There are magic drops in carefully doled out supply that will make progression exceedingly possible, if not delectably care-free.
There are RPG elements in play and while you are welcome to grind your heart out there are measures in place to facilitate a relatively swift adventure. You’ll be given a free level-up for completing each temple. If you use the experience-heavy enemies inside them to level just prior to placing the jewel at the end, you’ll be able to make the most out of this boon.
Regardless of my tolerance for these changes, there is a major problem: those very temples. Much like the original Metroid, there is a sameness to each area. Colors change from place to place, but within each temple it’s the same, from the floors to the walls to the bots drop from….the ceilings…The dungeons in the first game are equally guilty, but being presented top-down with a map system forewent the left-right, up-down experimentation necessary to complete these temples. “I went left last time, but I didn’t go up and then right at that elevator I found when I did, right?” is a conversation no one should have to have with themselves. EVER.
As tedious as one of the main focuses of the series is here, there are a few positives: Ocarina’s sages find their origin in the town names of this version of Hyrule. It’s Error and Bagu’s 'hood, yo. Yet most importantly, to me, is the music. There’s something about the tone that makes it haunting, perched on the precipice of madness. I love it. It should also be noted that a New Game+ exists that allows you to keep your levels and spells.
I can’t in good conscience implore anyone to play this in any serious capacity. If someone you know has it, give it a few minutes. Completing the first temple gives a representative enough feel of the experience.
Buyer’s Guide: Originally an NES game, it’s been ported to the GameCube (on the Zelda Collector’s Edition), the GBA, and every version of the Virtual Console currently in existence. It has also been included on the NES mini.
2 Sides of Yourself Enter, One Leaves out of 5