Once upon a time an evil sorcerer cast a magic spell on a beautiful princess called Zelda, and thus she drifted into an endless sleep. The only way to revive her is for the hero Link to collect six shards of a magic crystal from the depths of Hyrule. When these have been gathered together they can be used to remove the magic that protects the gate of the ‘Great Palace’ where the evil sorcerer has fled. Link can then save the day and get the girl once again.
The Adventure of Link is presented in a completely different format to the previous Link release. Instead of the top down approach taken before, this Zelda title utilised a side on view - much in the same way as Mario or Metroid. The game is split into two different styles. On the map screen Link walks around in a vastly scaled top down view and when a monster attacks or you enter an area of interest it changes to the side on view thus marking a huge departure for the series.
A number of additional touches have also been included, as now Link gains experience and can grow stronger by levelling up in much the same way as the Final Fantasy releases. Magic is also brought into play much more.
Graphically, the game is both good and bad, while the map screen is void of detail and incredibly small (when in the two dimensional perspective) everything is well defined and animated with a decent range of colours being used to show the land of Hyrule. Different locations are varied enough to keep you interested despite the caves being almost identical and much the same can be said about the towns.
In terms of how Zelda II: The Adventure of Link plays, it both impresses and disappoints with equal measure as well. It is clear that the game has developed and moved forward since the previous incumbent, with the more stat based approach and emphasis placed on a more platform arena rather than the map wandering of the prequel. However, you have to wonder why the game engine was altered. The first Zelda game was a magical affair, if a little basic at times. Moving the series into the realms of a platform game only serves to strip it of the character displayed in the original. Arguably, right from the start the magic is sadly lacking. If you want platform game then there is Mario or countless others, but the Zelda series really did not need to go down the same road.
What we are left with is a game that looks a lot better than the original but lacks in how it plays. Having the dungeons set in a two dimension perspective means you never get a sense of where you are or what needs to be done. The puzzle potential is also greatly reduced meaning most obstacles are simply a case of finding keys and taking them to locked doors. The Adventure of Link is not a bad release nevertheless and it does possess some nice touches, but there was no need to change the style - something the developers soon realised as the perspective was set back to the traditional Zelda approach for the Super Nintendo version.