I must admit, it took me a good few years to admit that I actually like this game. Twenty years, in fact. I recently got into playing it again, and I actually enjoy it. This is the Zelda game that many fans of the series are divided about. You’ve got a bunch of fans on the left saying that it’s awful because it plays nothing like the first game, but then you also have a bunch of fans on the right who really enjoy the side-scrolling and levelling up system that has been introduced.
The game takes place several years after the first, and Link is now a lot more mature at the age of sixteen (he’s now also very hormonal. Probably). Link notices a mark engraved on his hand that is similar to the crest of Hyrule, and thus he goes and seeks help. It turns out the hand with the crest on it can open a secret door, where behind it lays Princess Zelda, sleeping soundly. She is unable to awake due to a spell cast on her by an evil Wizard, as she refused to tell him where the Triforce’s location was. So now it was up to Link to help awaken her, for he had been chosen.
Compared to the first Zelda game, this plays very differently, and it was certainly a risk by Nintendo. The first game was groundbreaking, and you would think that Nintendo would have stayed with that sort of gameplay for Links second outing too, but they changed it dramatically and it is a risk that caused a Zelda war amongst its fans. Fans were, as previously stated, divided. I used to be one of those who stood in the corner saying it was the worst Zelda ever created, but since I’ve got into playing it again, I have to disagree with myself. So what actually is so different about it? Well, gone is the top down look that the first game had, instead replaced with a side-scrolling hack and slash. When you leave a town, you find yourself on a world map screen, where you have to make your way to your next destination. The world map isn’t sidescrolling, it is in fact a top down view like the classic Zelda we know and love, but as you make your way over to your next location, random enemy encounters will occur. You can spot the enemies on the map, but some can be tricky to sneak by. We all associate Link with the three little hearts he has at the start don’t we? And we jump for joy (in private, of course) when we find more hearts. Yes, you know what I am talking about. But gone are the hearts in this game, replaced by a health bar that gets bigger the more you level up. You also have a magic bar that works in the same way. You gain experience to level up with as you kill certain monsters and find EXP bags lying around. It isn’t easy though, because you lose the experience points you have just tried hard to gain when you take damage. Once you get the hang of fighting bosses and tougher enemies though, you do start to level up more frequently.
All in all, it is a good little adventure that Link takes you on, if you can stick it out. It is very hard, probably the hardest Zelda game in existence, so it’s one that does need your full attention. But if you can give it that, you may just find yourself getting sucked into it and eating THOSE words you made about it twenty years ago. Like me.