Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link - Review

So THAT's How Tall Link Is

By: jaraph

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 6
   Originality 9
   Plot 7
   Localization 6
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

6 - 12 hours


Title Screen

   Gannon is dead. Hyrule is safe once again. With a sigh, you lay down your trusty boomerang and sword and reach over to turn off your 8-bit NES. But wait! It seems a shadow of evil has once again been cast over the peaceful kingdom. A wizard has cast a spell of slumber on Princess Zelda and run off with the Triforce. Couple this with the fact that hordes of ex-Gannon disciples are now seeking your head, and you know your adventures in Hyrule will be lasting for weeks to come...or at least a good weekend.

   In December of 1988, the second title in the epic LoZ series, appropriately titled, The Adventure of Link, introduced some of the most unique elements the series has ever seen.

   Perhaps the most unique (and, consequentially, unpopular) aspect of the game is its departure from the top-down perspective found in the original LoZ and in the later Super Nintendo and Gameboy incarnations. While the world map retains a somewhat top-down style, all towns, temples, and other areas employ a side perspective akin to that found in the Mario Bros. series of games (Miyamotoís other classic work). While this change did not go over well with fans of the original, I personally found it to be one of AoLís most appealing aspects.

   Battle takes place in the new side-scrolling view, with enemies coming at you from the right or left (or both), and you slicing your way through them. This system provides the most epic and pulse-pounding fighting in any LoZ game before or since. Unlike every other Zelda game, you cannot simply run around enemies you encounter. You must clash, and it isnít easy. The one-on-one sword fights against the Iron Knuckles (who can actually block your attacks and have surprisingly competent AI) are an absolute blast. Sure, theyíll beat you from time to time, but thatís what makes AoL so refreshing.

You'll have time for that AFTER your quest
"You'll have time for that AFTER your quest"  

   The side view also breathes new life into the graphics portion of LoZ. Both Link and his enemies are well animated (the more advanced sword techniques are especially cool), and the bosses are large and colorful. In a strange graphical twist, the world map section of the game employs a top-down perspective with you controlling a very tiny Link...

   Besides the new view, The Adventure of Link introduced some interesting new game mechanics as well. You actually gain experience from battles and level up, an astounding feature in a Zelda title. Also, Link is given a magic meter for the first time, though it isnít green. The list of spells Link learns is long, and each is unique in its effect and use. In fact, AoL puts the system of magic to better use than any other game in the series.

   The sound effects in Adventure of Link are sparse, but appropriate (again, the Iron Knuckle battles spring to mind). The score is short and average for the most part, but an inspiring variation of the classic Zelda theme plays while youíre on the world map.

   Text is also, as with most 8-bit RPGís, at a bare minimum here. Most villagers simply repeat the same pleas for help, except the rare individual who offers clues about your next task. Despite this fact, however, itís obvious that a fair amount of care went into AoLís localization.

   In spite of itís many game play innovations, Adventure of Link remains close to its roots in the story department. There may be a new villain, but the idea of conquering the different temples, reclaiming the Triforce, and restoring peace to Hyrule remains firmly intact. Iíve always loved this formula, though, and this adventure is no exception.

Where's a candle when you need one?
Where's a candle when you need one?  

   As I hinted in the beginning, this game is not going to consume huge portions of your time. Itíll take you between 6-12 hours to complete, depending on how much time you spend just enjoying the ride. For the most part, the game is quite strait-forward and easy right up until the final segment, when it makes a remarkable turn toward difficult. (The final boss is the hardest Iíve ever seen in any game of any genre.) Also, nearly every item and event in the game is integral to completion, so thereís really nothing for which to replay, except the fact that itís a lot of fun. Even if you wait six or seven years to pick it up again like I did, youíll find the gameís just as enjoyable as when you first encountered it.

   When at last you do win that insane final battle, youíll look back at your time with LoZ:AoL and smile. It may not be traditional, but itís definitely a classic.

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