Zelda II: The Adventure of Link02 Feb 2017
Zelda 2 is pretty famous for being the worst Zelda. It’s also famous for being obnoxiously hard.
Obnoxious is probably the right word, too. This isn’t Dark Souls style “tough but fair” masochism, this is straight up unfairness. One enemy, the iron knuckle, will probably kill you from full health unless you use an obscure technique to attack them.
Because Zelda 2 was only the second in the series, they decided to drastically depart from the formula laid down in the first one - much like how Super Mario Bros. 2 outside Japan is very different. Zelda 2 has a lives system, combat is side scrolling, there’s an overhead world map, random encounters, and an XP/levelling system. None of these have ever been seen since.
There are towns, for the first time, though. In the first game there were caves, but in these there are towns associated with most of the palaces (read: dungeons). Each town has magic and secrets, some of which are - obnoxiously, again - vital to progress. If you want to beat the final boss, you need the thunder magic. To get the thunder magic, you need to get all 4 magic containers in the game. They are pretty well hidden in a huge map. There is no hint - ANYWHERE - you need to do any of this.
Oh, and the lives system. If you lose all your lives, you can resume your progress, but you lose all your XP since the last level up, and you have to make your way back from the starting room. Not the dungeon you’re in. It takes a long time to level up, so this gets frustrating extremely quickly.
I’m vaguely ashamed that I abused the hell out of emulator save states to get to the end of this game. I also consulted a guide, frequently. My reasoning is that I wanted to “experience” all of this game, because it’d probably take me all year to get good enough to make decent progress. I did complete it, though. For the first time in my life.
.. it wasn’t worth it. I had to put up with a lot of frustration and I don’t even really feel like I achieved anything.