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I'll be the first to admit I'm not a huge Zelda fan. The storylines, puzzles, and goofy, creepy characters always put me off as a kid. Unlike Mario, Zelda games never grabbed me and sucked me in from beginning to end. Actually, Zelda was one of the few big names of gaming that did this. I played The Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time, and A Link to the Past, but as great as they are, I never had the tolerance to play them through. First playing Zelda 2, years ago I didn't know how to interpret this game. In other words I didn't like it, just how I didn't like any other Zelda game.
Part of Nintendo's Ambassador Program for 3DS owners, I got my chance to play Zelda 2 again. At my own pace. And while I find this to not only be a very underrated gem, I find this to be the most exotic, daring Zelda, Nintendo has ever crafted.
Zelda 2's storyline is basically this: The Princess of Hyrule, Zelda, is in a deep sleep and it's up to Link to awaken her. The first thing you will notice is that the game now plays like a 2-D side scroller while the world map is the only thing still in a top down perspective. A complete overhaul in a different direction compared to it's predecessor unfortunately puts off many Zelda fans new to the game.
I'm shocked to say that the world map is much, much larger than the original. Like in Square's early Final Fantasy games, enemies randomly spawn for you to encounter and defeat. Depending on where you exactly are in the world map decides what terrain you'll be enduring such as swamps, grasslands, deserts, etc. Running along the main dirt road will keep you safe from harm. If an enemy runs into you while you're on the dirt roads they won't appear at all. Within secret areas are helpful items like experience bags, heart containers, and magic potions. When crossing bridges and certain unmarked, dangerous parts of the map, you'll be expected to face an undying force that will do anything to kill you. Things like Lizalfos constantly throwing fire balls at you while they are safe behind a wall or spirits crashing into you.
Multiple RPG elements exist within Zelda 2 as well. Leveling up your magic, strength, and health, and casting spells are just a few to list. Going to nearby villages to get clues on where to go and to learn new abilities is essential. The fact that every village is unique in it's own little way makes Zelda 2 feel alive. One village is normal, just a little worried about their surroundings. While another is completely deserted.
The design of the dungeons can get quite tedious. Every dungeon has a different color, and that color is the same throughout the entire area. No life in the background, no miscellaneous objects to set one room from the other, nothing. While dungeons are an eye sore, the enemy placement is quite tedious as well. Fighting three of some of the strongest enemies in the game right before a boss room is inexcusable. Losing all of your lives results in Game Over. When resulting in Game Over you are sent to the beginning of the game where you have to travel once more, to the area you must complete. Very unnecessary to why we can't just start from the beginning of the temple. If we get Game Over anywhere other than a temple, sure, but it being anywhere at any time is a tad ridiculous.
Thankfully none of that can be said about the enemies. Certain dungeons introduce new ones, while most mix up the roster. There's a great variety of enemies to encounter and defeat throughout the entire game. For the most part the bosses should receive the same praise. Very difficult, rewarding boss battles, set Zelda 2 way ahead of the original.
Zelda 2 plays more like a Mario sidescroller than any Zelda out there. Jumping from platforms, crouching to strike an enemy, down slashing, all feel natural. Pressing the start button to open up the inventory to select a spell ruins Zelda 2's pace. Going from surviving an onslaught in a temple to a menu screen for a few seconds to heal yourself, depletes what excitement the gameplay has to offer.
The score, however, is a different story. Hearing the same songs on the world map, in battle, or in a temple, can really make someone go "Wow, this is getting a little annoying." I'm not saying it's one song altogether but a very limited soundtrack is all. It actually grew to the point I turned off the music for the sake of numbing my headache. Sure the traditional Zelda tune went off every time you found a new or hidden item but nothing stands out.
Zelda 2 looks good for the most part. While Link looks a little goofy, the character animations look great on everyone else especially the enemies. The bosses really standout in this category. The world map is grid based as every area is one block. An entire town equals one block as does Link himself. As unrealistic as this is you can't really complain about it. The Legend of Zelda is a fantasy world. Unlike the incredibly dull temples, certain areas throughout Zelda 2 really standout graphically. Trees have very nice details, towns look great, caves look dreary and treacherous.
The unfair difficulty, lifeless temples, and the repetitive soundtrack are easily overshadowed by the positives. Rewarding challenges, admirable graphics, enjoyable gameplay and an awesome implementation of RPG elements make Zelda 2 a must have for Zelda fans.
9- Awesome This game has little in the way of flaws, and is a highly enjoyable experience.
Last edited by ViewtifulJoe on April 4th 2012, 12:27 am; edited 3 times in total
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