Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
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Zelda II US Boxart
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Designer(s) Tadashi Sugiyama (director)
Yoichi Yamada (director)
Shigeru Miyamoto (producer)
Akito Nakatsuka (sound composer)
Release date Famicom Disk System
Japan January 14, 1987

Nintendo Entertainment System
North America December 1, 1988
Europe November 26, 1988

Game Boy Advance
North America October 25, 2004
Japan August 10, 2004
Europe January 7, 2005[1]
Australia 2005

Wii Virtual Console
North America June 4, 2007
Japan January 23, 2007
Europe February 9, 2007[2]
Australia February 9, 2007

Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
(Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors)

North America August 31, 2011
Japan August 31, 2011
Europe September 1, 2011
Australia September 1, 2011

Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
North America November 22, 2012[3]
Japan June 6, 2012
Europe September 13, 2012[2]
Australia September 13, 2012

Wii U Virtual Console
North America September 12, 2013[4]
Japan September 11, 2013[5]
Europe September 26, 2013[2]
Australia September 26, 2013
Rating(s) ESRB: E
PEGI: 3Triforce piece.png / 7Triforce piece.png
USK: 0

Platform(s) Famicom Disk System, Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U
Predecessor The Legend of Zelda
Successor A Link to the Past
StrategyWiki Favicon.png Guide/Walkthrough at StrategyWiki

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

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Impa shows Link the sleeping Princess Zelda

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,[6] 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.


Link fighting Gooma

The Adventure of Link was the sequel to the highly acclaimed The Legend of Zelda, and the second Zelda game released. Like its predecessor, 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 use Magic. Each magic has a specific purpose, and depending of its effect, it's used either for attack, defense or solving a puzzle; each ability consumes a certain amount of Magic Points on Link's Magic Meter, 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 Magic Jars that contain magic power, ideal for replenishing the magic stock. There are eight magic 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 life energy (this is, in fact, one of the only three ways to recover life, the others being collecting rare fairies and being healed in a 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 from his sword (only two at a time, however).
  • Reflect: Enhances Link's shield, which allows it to counter stronger projectiles.
  • Spell: Turns enemies into weak Bots.
  • Thunder: Eliminates every 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 attribute 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 overworld (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.

Combat is restricted to the Sword and shield, as well as the aforementioned spells, and the main projectile weapon (due to the absence of usable Boomerangs, Bows & Arrows, and Bombs) is the Sword Beam, which only works when the player has full HP. Another feature that sets this game apart from most games in the series is the lack of Recovery Hearts, meaning that a player is unable to replenish lost HP outside of towns without leveling-up, using the "Life" spell (which costs many Magic Points), or finding Fairies or Heart Containers. There is also a complete absence of Rupees or any other kind of currency, and no shops exist where items can be purchased, instead relying on side-quests or exploration for Link to collect certain items, upgrades, and spells.

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 that the experience stats, sword techniques, and spells learned are retained from the first playthrough.

Game Information

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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 the NES, especially Super Mario Bros.. Also, each dungeon has a different texture and architecture, not like in the original game.

Unlike most 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 partly based off of his original overworld theme. Perhaps for this reason, 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, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and notably returned to the Zelda series as the "Streetpass Battle Theme" of A Link Between Worlds. An alternate slower version of the temple music also serves as the Victory theme. The only other Zelda game to include music from The Adventure of Link is The Minish Cap. Since both games contain scenes of Zelda awakening, the music was reused from Adventure of Link. The miniboss music in The Minish Cap is also a remix of a song from The Adventure of Link: the Famicom version of the battle theme. 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 Hyrule overworld

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 this aspect is Twilight Princess. Covering two continents and two islands, it features eight towns, which names were later used to name the Sages from Ocarina of Time; the first four towns are located in Western Hyrule, the other four 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 again in A Link to the Past, the Oracle series, and A Link Between Worlds, Hyrule then 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

Main article: Speedrun Records
Time Performer Date Notes
18:53 [7] Pro_JN & Simpoldood April 8, 2014 Any%
58:03 [8] Pro_JN September 29, 2014 Any% - No warps or deaths
1:15:47 [9] Pro_JN May 7, 2015 100% - All Keys, 1CC














The Adventure of Link was commercially successful, selling 4.38 million copies worldwide and being the fifth best-selling Nintendo Entertainment System game of all time;[10] however, it sold less than its predecessor, which sold 6.51 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";[11] 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".[12] When reviewing Spirit Tracks, Game Observer editor Jacob Crites cited The Adventure of Link as one of the black sheep in the series, along with Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker and Spirit Tracks itself.[13]

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,[14] as well as a current average user score of 8.0 in GameSpot.[15]

Ports and Remakes

In 2003, Nintendo released a bundle for the GameCube which included Collector's Edition, a disc which featured, amongst other games, The Adventure of Link. A port for the Game Boy Advance for the "Classic NES Series" was also released.

The Adventure of Link has also been 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.[16] It was officially released in the US on November 22, 2013.


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 introduction of the Triforce of Courage.
  • The first appearance of Dark Link.
  • 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, the Oracle Series 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 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, like 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.


Japanese intro with typos
  • Although the Japanese title for The Adventure of Link uses the English name of The Legend of Zelda, and the game's backstory explicitly defines The Legend of Zelda as a plot concept, the English language game is the only one in the main series not to include The Legend of Zelda in its title.
  • The Adventure of Link marks one of the few times (apart from dialogue options of the player's choice) where 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 bosses do not drop Heart Containers upon being defeated. 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, as well as other typos such as "Tryforce". This intro was largely re-written in the American release.
  • Ganon's laugh when you get a game over in the game is actually used in the NES game Punch Out!! being Soda Popinski's laugh.
  • The GBA version's opening text crawl contradicts a few facts established in the original NES version: For example, it implies that the Zelda in this game is the same Zelda from the first game, rather than being an entirely separate character. It is also implied that this game picks up directly where the original left off, as opposed to occurring a few years after Ganon's defeat.


Box Art

Game Boy Advance Versions


Australian Ad


Forest minish.png Names in Other Regions Jabber Nut MC.gif
Language Name Meaning
Japanese Japan THE LEGEND OF ZELDA 2 リンクの冒険 The Legend of Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link
Spanish Spanish-speaking countries Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Korean South Korea 젤다의 전설 2 링크의 모험 Zelda Legend 2: Link's Adventure
Chinese Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau (Traditional Chinese) 薩爾達傳說2 林克的冒險 Zelda Legend 2: Link's Adventure
Mainland China (Simplified Chinese) 塞尔达传说2 林克的冒险 Zelda Legend 2: Link's Adventure

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