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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Release date(s)
FDS/NES release
North America December 1, 1988
Japan January 14, 1987
European Union November 26, 1988

GBA release
North America October 25, 2004
Japan August 10, 2004
European Union January 7, 2005

Wii Virtual Console release
North America June 4, 2007
Japan January 23, 2007
European Union February 9, 2007

3DS Virtual Console release
North America August 31, 2011
Japan August 31, 2011
European Union September 1, 2011
Commonwealth of Australia September 1, 2011
Triforce piece.png

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is the direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda, both originally released on the Famicom Disk System in Japan and then the Nintendo Entertainment System in the US and PAL territories. While retaining many of the features of its predecessor, The Adventure of Link altered certain elements of gameplay, most notably affecting movement and combat. Traveling across a large world map (not unlike those seen in the Final Fantasy series of video games) would lead to enemy encounters which took place on a side-scrolling field of play rather than the top down perspective for which the series became known.


Plot Synopsis

Following the defeat of Ganon and rescue of Princess Zelda, the land of Hyrule began to recover from the ills that had been visited upon it by Ganon. Content to aid in the restoration of Hyrule, Link, at the age of sixteen,[1] was disturbed one day by the appearance of a mark of three triangles on the back of his hand. Upon seeing this mark, Impa, the nurse of Princess Zelda, related to Link the story of how, ages ago, the King of Hyrule had hidden a third part of the Triforce, the Triforce of Courage, in the Great Palace to safeguard it from evil.

The story goes that upon the death of the king, his son had searched eagerly for the missing Triforce, but its location had been imparted only to the king's daughter, Princess Zelda. Angered upon learning this, the Prince tried to use the power of a wizard to force the truth from his sister, but when she refused the wizard cast a spell upon her to put her into a deep and unending sleep, the wizard died soon after. Only by uniting the Triforce of Courage with its counterparts could Link awake the sleeping Princess Zelda. Upon hearing this tale, Link received from Impa six gems that served as keys to open the seal on the Great Palace.

Even as Link learned all of this, the minions of Ganon had begun to stir once again. Believing that they could revive their master by pouring the blood of his conqueror (Link) over his ashes, they began again to spread across the land, seeking for him. Traveling the land and working with the peoples of its many remote towns, Link was able to discover each of the six palaces and overcome the tests that had been set against any who would seek to gain the Triforce of Courage. In the end, Link made his way into the depths of the Great Palace and discovered the Triforce guarded by a wizened old sage, who relinquished the prize to Link after putting him through one last test of courage: defeating his own shadow. Uniting the three Triforces, Link returned to the Northern Palace and awoke the slumbering Zelda.

Manual Excerpt

Hyrule was on the road to ruin. The power that the vile heart of Ganon had left behind was causing chaos and disorder in Hyrule. What's more, even after the fall of Ganon, some of his underlings remained, waiting for Ganon's return. The key to Ganon's return was the blood of Link - the valiant lad that overthrew the King of Evil. Ganon would be revived by sacrificing Link and sprinkling his blood on the ashes of Ganon.

Meanwhile, Link remained in the little kingdom of Hyrule and lent his hand to its restoration. But circumstances did not look very good. One day a strange mark, exactly like the crest of the kingdom, appeared on the back of Link's hand as he approached his 16th birthday. The worried Link went to Impa, Princess Zelda's nursemaid, who was shocked and frightened when she saw the birthmark. When she regained her composure, she took Link to the North Castle.

There was a door in the North Castle called "the door that does not open." Only the descendants of the Impa family who served the king knew how to open the door. Impa took Link's left hand and pressed the back of it against the door. There was a sound of a lock falling open, the door slowly creaked open and there on an altar in the middle of the room lay a beautiful woman. "Here lies the Princess Zelda." Impa began to speak calmly. "Link, the time has come when I must tell you the legend of Zelda handed down in Hyrule.

"It is said that long ago, when Hyrule was one country, a great ruler maintained the peace in Hyrule using the Triforce. However, the king too was a child of man and he died. Then, the prince of the kingdom should have become king and inherited everything, but he could inherit the Triforce only in part. The Prince searched everywhere for the missing parts, but could not find them.

Then, a magician close to the king brought him some unexpected news. Before he died, the king had said something about the Triforce to only the younger sister of the prince, Princess Zelda. The prince immediately questioned the princess, but she wouldn't tell him anything.

After the prince, the magician threatened to put the princess into an eternal sleep if she did not talk, but even still, she said nothing." "In his anger, the magician tried to cast a spell on the princess. The surprised prince tried to stop him, but the magician fought off the prince and went on chanting the spell. Then, when the spell was finally cast, Princess Zelda fell on that spot and entered a sleep from which she might never awake. At the same time, the magician also fell down and breathed his last.

"In his grief, the prince placed the princess in this room. He hoped that someday she would come back to life. So that this tragedy would never be forgotten, he ordered every female child born into the royal household should be given the name Zelda." From the stand next to the alter where Princess Zelda lay in a deep sleep, Impa took the six crystals and a scroll with the same crest and handed them to Link. "For generations, my family has been handed down these things which have been set aside for a time when a great king will come. They are written in ancient script that no one can read now. But you who have the crest may be able to read it. It is said that the key to uniting the Triforce is hidden there. Now it is time for you to read it." Link glanced at the scroll half in doubt, but what do you know? Although he never seen the letters before, he found that he could read them as if they were talking to him...

"This was written on the Scroll. "You who'll control the Triforce of the future. I shall hand down to you the secrets of the Triforce. There are three kinds of Triforce - Power, Wisdom, and Courage. When these three are brought together, the Triforce will share its maximum power. Of the three, I have left Power and Wisdom in the kingdom. But the Triforce of Courage I have hidden for a reason. Not everybody can use the Triforce. It requires a strong character with no evil thoughts. But an inborn special quality is also necessary. Unfortunately, I have not found such a person during my lifetime." "Therefore, I have decided to cast a spell on all of Hyrule. A crest will appear on a young man with that character who has been brought up correctly, has gained many kinds of experiences and reached a certain age. But, what will happen if someone else uses the Triforce before then? If it is misused, it will produce many evils".

"The Triforce of Courage is hidden in the Great Palace in the Valley of Death on the largest island in Hyrule. However, to enter you must first fight the guardians and undo the 'binding force.' When you have defeated the guardians, which I made to prevent enemies from invading the six palaces in Hyrule, set a crystal in the forehead of the statue you find. When you have set crystals in all of the statues in the six palaces, the 'binding force' placed on the Valley of Death will be removed and you will be able to enter the great palace. There you must fight the last guardian. And you can obtain the Triforce only by defeating that guardian. There's nothing to fear. You are the one to get the Triforce. You are the beacon of hope for Hyrule." Impa implored Link, who raised his head slowly after reading the scroll. "The magic spell cast upon the Princess Zelda will sure to be broken if the Triforce is used. Please, Link. Unite the Triforce and save the princess. And bring back peace to Hyrule." Link nodded silently in approval, and left the room after taking a long glance at the altar. Then with a magical sword in his left hand and a magical shield in his right, he set off alone on his long travels. At that time, Ganon's underlings were calling up new allies from the Underworld, and were beginning to work devilishly towards the revival of Ganon.


The Adventure of Link was the sequel to the highly acclaimed The Legend of Zelda, and the second Zelda game ever to be released (not counting the Game & Watch Zelda). Like its prequel, The Adventure of Link features dungeons that must be located in the overworld; inside them is a boss that will challenge Link when they find each other, as well as a treasure item that will prove useful for Link eventually. However, the game features many and very significant gameplay changes from the previous installment, the quest progress is more complex and the difficulty level has reached a peak level.

Screen Interface

The first mechanic to be noted is the side-scrolling perspective, which conjugates with the also present top-view perspective. The former is used when Link is exploring a town, a cavern, a secret open field with some reward, a bridge, a mid-way track or a dungeon. The latter is just to move across the overworld so that Link can indeed travel towards any of the aforementioned places; in addition, when an enemy group (represented in the overworld map as black-colored creatures) manages to make contact with Link after chasing him, the perspective is side scroll as well, and here Link has to either defeat those who are bothering him and flee, or just do the latter (if he can do so easily, of course).

Magic Usage and Experience

The second mechanic, arguably more noteworthy, is that for attack, defense and action. Link, when he's on a side-scrolling place, is able to perform a spell. A spell has a specific purpose, and depending of its effect, it's used either for attack, defense or solving a puzzle; each spell consumes a certain amount of magic, and while its effect is of unlimited time, it automatically cancels after Link reaches a new segment or zone. If Link needs the spell again, he needs then to perform it again, and thus needs magic reserve once more. Certain enemies drop jars that contain magic power, ideal for replenishing the magic stock. There are eight spells in total:

  • Shield: Gives Link extra defense. enemies inflict half of the damage to him.
  • Jump: makes Link jump twice as high as before.
  • Life: Makes Link recover three segments of health energy (this is, in fact, one of the only three ways to recover energy, the others being collecting rare fairies and entering into a clinic in any town).
  • Fairy: Turns Link into a fairy, extremely useful to reach high places, escape from enemy battles and passing through locked doors).
  • Fire: Makes Link able to shoot fireballs (only two at a time, however).
  • Reflect: Hardens Link's shield, which allows it to counter stronger projectiles.
  • Spell: Turns strong enemies into other weaker ones.
  • Thunder: Eliminates every single foe in the screen.

The third mechanic, earnestly vital for survival, is the experience system. As Link defeats enemies, he gains experience points, when a certain number of points is matched, the player can make Link improve by an increment of 1 level one of these attributes: Health (enemies' attacks won't hurt too much, therefore will inflict less damage), Attack (the sword will gain strength, and enemies will take less hit to be pulverized) and Magic (spells will require less magic power to be performed); each attibute can be improved up to the eighth level, and the maximum experience amount to be matched is 8000. After nothing else can be enhanced, every time Link accumulates 9000 points he will gain an extra life (see below).

Lives and Item Usage

The fourth new mechanic is the life system. The player starts with Link having three lives; unlike all other Zelda games, there is no way to instantly revive after depleting the entire health meter. This means that when Link dies, he loses a life, but resumes his quest from the same place where he died; he can increase his life stock by collecting dolls portraying Link himself, generally hidden in secret spots or even in the last dungeons. When he loses all lives, the game is over and, while the player can save his progress in this moment, next time Link resumes his quest, he'll restart from the Northern Palace (where the game begins). Of course, unlike most video games with life system, which reset absolutely everything the player did after all lives were lost, The Adventure of Link retains everything Link collected, and losing all lives simply bring Link back to the starting line. Now, this also has a severe disadvantage: By "everything Link collected", this also includes the dolls Link collected to have more lives; they are gone forever after being collected the first and only time. Experienced Zelda fans recommend the average player to refrain from collecting any doll until the final dungeon is to be explored, due to it being more difficult than the also difficult rest of the game.

Fifth mechanic: A modified item usage. Besides the magic spells, traditional items can also be collected, but not all of them can be used directly (by pressing a button). For example, the hammer and the flute are indeed used in the overwold (by pressing certain buttons, to which said items are assigned permanently) to open new ways to new areas, whereas the boots and the raft are for crossing otherwise prohibitive spots (respectively, a lake and an entire ocean), but without the need of being used by a button press; the other half of the items have permanent effects for the side-scrolling mode. The candle illuminates darkened caves, the glove allows Link to break hardened blocks inside dungeons, the gold key can open an infinite amount of floors, and the cross allows Link to see invisible enemies.

Additionally, this game also cancels out the use of a map and a compass. Finding one's way around a palace can be quite difficult, especially in risk of a Game Over moment.

Second Quest

The game also offers a Second Quest, though the only changes seen after ending the game are the experience stats left intact, same for the spells learned.

Game Information

Graphics and Audio

The overworld map has a similar visual style to that of the first Zelda game, but more polished and incorporating new elements that reflect the variety of the ecosystems; there is also a clear distinction between the enemy-free paths and the rest of the ground territory (grass, trees, sand, etc.). The side-scrolling visuals are more reminiscent of the platform games for NES, especially Super Mario Bros.; it's also worth mentioning that each dungeon has a different texture and architecture, favoring realism.

Unlike all other games in the series, none of the music in this game was composed by famed composer Koji Kondo with the exception of the overworld theme, which was based off of his original overworld theme. Therefore, almost none of the music in this game was brought back in other games. The Temple music, however, has been remixed several times, and can be heard in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The composer of this game is Akito Nakatsuka who also composed the music for Ice Climbers.

As for sound effects, there are also many differences in the Japanese version. A few examples include different music for the title screen and for when Link encounters an enemy. In the Famicom version, the bosses also roar, and the sound effects are more harsh sounding than in the NES version.


The Adventure of Link features the largest incarnation of Hyrule in the entire franchise, the only game that can compare to the NES game in that aspect is Twilight Princess; this expansion covers two continents and two islands. It features eight towns, named (in-universe) after characters from Ocarina of Time (mostly Sages): The first four towns are located in Western Hyrule; the other four are in Eastern Hyrule.

Like the first game's incarnation of the land, and unlike that of most of the others, this one is not landlocked, meaning that Link will have to travel overseas to move from one side of Hyrule to the other. Death Mountain, which used to be north, is now in the southwestern zone, and it's been now explored further, as it's now a complex rocky labyrinth.

Timeline Placement

Both this game and the first are linked in continuity, since the first game revolves around retrieving two of the major fragments of the Triforce, and Ganon is fought in order to rescue Princess Zelda; the second game revolves around finding the third major fragment in order to revive an incarnation of Zelda that was sleeping for a very long time, and to impede the revival of Ganon.

In the timeline revealed in Hyrule Historia, The Adventure of Link takes place in the "Downfall" branch after Ocarina of Time. It is the latest entry in the timeline that has its roots in Ocarina of Time, and starts with A Link to the Past. After Ganon is defeated twice in A Link to the Past and the Oracle series, Hyrule entered 'The Golden Era', in which the wise Hyrule monarchs used the Triforce to govern the land. After the last king's death and the attempt of the Prince of Hyrule to assemble the complete Triforce, Hyrule was lead into the 'Era of Decline'. The Prince of Darkness Ganon was revived in The Legend of Zelda, but ultimately defeated by Link. The events of The Adventure of Link take place immediately following The Legend of Zelda, but refer back to the princess Zelda that was put under a sleeping spell at the beginning of the 'Era of Decline'.

Completion Records

The fastest single-segment completion time for The Adventure of Link is 1 hour, 13 minutes and 5 seconds by Kristian 'Arctic_Eagle' Emanuelsen on August 1, 2009.[2] The fastest completion time with deaths and Up+A warps is 57 minutes and 59 seconds by Rodrigo Lopes on April 10, 2009.[3] The fastest 100% run is 1 hour, 9 minutes and 23 seconds by Kristian Emanuelsen on May 8, 2009.[4]














The Adventure of Link was commercially succesful, selling 4.3 million copies worldwide and being the fifth best-selling Nintendo Entertainment System game of all time;[5] however, it sold less than its predecessor, which sold 6.5 million copies.


In terms of critical reception, IGN reviewer Lucas M. Thomas gave the Virtual Console version a score of 8.5/10, encouraging players to give it a try and forget about the common belief that it is a "bad game";[6] he praised the sound, the gameplay, the length and the presentation, but admitted that the graphics "did not age very well". Kristian Reed from Eurogamer, when reviewing the Game Boy Advance version, justified the game being underrated, saying that the game was "an ill-fated experiment", and that it aged "badly".[7] When reviewing Spirit Tracks, Game Observer editor Jacob Crites cited The Adventure of Link as one of the black sheeps in the series, along with Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker and Spirit Tracks itself.[8]

The original version earned a score of 36/40 from Famitsu, and was placed 110th on Nintendo Power's Top 200 best Nintendo games of all time (however, in the December 2009 Issue, they changed their mind and placed it last in their list of best The Legend of Zelda games).

Fan Reception

Years after its release, The Adventure of Link has received positive feedback among fans of the franchise. It currently holds an average reader score of 9.4 at IGN,[9] as well as a current average user score of 8.0 in GameSpot.[10]

Ports and Remakes

In 2003, Nintendo released a bundle for the GameCube which included Collector's Edition, a disk which featured, amongst other games, The Adventure of Link.

Nintendo also re-released the game to the Game Boy Advance in their "Classic NES Series" re-release series.

The Adventure of Link has also been re-released for download on the Wii's Virtual Console. The game became available on August 31, 2011 as one of the games eligible for free download over the Virtual Console as part of the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program, a service available to players who bought a 3DS before its price dropped on August 11, 2011.[11] It will later be released to the public through the Virtual Console on an unknown date.


Despite featuring many radical changes from the previous Zelda title, the game also offered canonical elements to be part of the series' standards. It contributed largely to the overall storyline and gameplay of the series. For instance:

  • The ability of Ganon to be revived/return after defeat/death.
  • The Triforce of Courage was introduced.
  • The first appearance of Dark Link was in this game.
  • A magic system, even though it was never used so excessively after this game.
  • The introduction of several new enemies and one boss (aside from Dark Link) that return in later games, such as the Iron Knuckle and Volvagia (called Barba in the original English release).
  • The ability to learn new moves (though still limited to only two). More generally, the existence of distinct sword techniques at all, as opposed to the single forward strike of The Legend of Zelda.
  • The world of Hyrule became significantly larger. The overworld of no other Zelda title can be considered this large, with this many towns and this many different environments.
  • The Sages in Ocarina of Time are named after the towns in this game (in-game chronology, however, indicates the opposite: The towns were named after the Sages).
  • The need to do tasks outside the main mission 'Quest' like having to save a trophy or finding medicine for a sick child.
  • This is the first game where Link shapeshifts (into a fairy) as well the first game where the process is voluntary and beneficial.
  • Contrary to popular belief, this isn't the only Zelda game to feature side-scrolling gameplay. It is used briefly in the first game when taking secret passages. It is also used in the Game Boy games Link's Awakening and Oracle of Ages and Seasons and in Four Swords Adventures when taking underground paths (as well as certain boss fights).
  • Bosses have their own battle theme. They lacked it entirely in the first game.
  • This is the first game where villages and towns appear.
  • This is the first appearance of an "adult" (i.e. late teens or older) Link in the series. Link is officially sixteen in this game.
  • All of the dungeons in this game are known by the word for "temple" in Japanese, and this naming convention is reused in English as well as Japanese and most other languages in some other entries in the series, e.g. Ocarina of Time. The English localization of this game changed it to "palace" due to Nintendo of America's then-current policy concerning religious references in games.
  • Certain recurring types of item, such as the hammer and boots.
  • The suggestion of romantic interest between Link and Zelda, as implied by the ending.


Intro to the Japanese version. Note typos like "Gannon" and "Try-Force".
  • Although the Japanese title for The Adventure of Link uses the American name of "The Legend of Zelda", and the game's backstory explicitly defines the "Legend of Zelda" as a plot concept, the American game is, ironically, the only American game in the series to exclude "The Legend of Zelda" from its title.
  • The Adventure of Link marks one of the few times Link speaks in a canon game, by saying "I found a mirror under the table" while in Saria Town.
  • The Adventure of Link is the only The Legend of Zelda game where Heart Containers are absent, as they are replaced with red squares. It is also the only game where Link does not receive key quest items for completing dungeons, as he instead goes through the dungeons in order to place his key quest items within them.
  • The Famicom Disk System version of the game uses the infamous "Gannon" spelling in the intro. This intro was severely re-written in the American release.


Box Art

American Ad
<Center>Japanese Ad


TMC Forest Minish Artwork.png Names in Other Regions TMC Jabber Nut Sprite.gif
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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link