11 ‘Bad’ Games We’ll Die Defending

11 ‘Bad’ Games We’ll Die Defending

Image: Nintendo

I’ve spent a lifetime hearing folks malign Zelda II: The Adventure of Link as “objectively the worst Zelda game” or making other similarly denigrating statements. (OK, occasionally they’ll make allowances for Spirit Tracks being even worse.) Well, I’m here to say that you’re all wrong. Zelda II is both a great game in its own right and one of the best Zelda games.

Zelda II represents a time when big developers were still sometimes willing to take big chances, and with Zelda II, Nintendo abandoned the top-down action of the original game for side-scrolling combat and exploration. However, part of what made it so exhilarating was that these side-scrolling sections were interspersed with traversal that takes place on a top-down map. It’s a choice that both helps to convey the vastness of Hyrule (the entire first game’s setting makes up just a small part of Zelda II’s world) and that forces us to reckon, for the first time, with Hyrule as a three-dimensional space, one we view from multiple perspectives. It was bold, innovative, and exciting.

Read more: 14 Exciting Games To Expect From Nintendo Switch In 2023

On top of that, the combat itself, with its high and low strikes, its downward sword thrusts, and its shield blocking, is tight and engaging, its palaces were wonderfully challenging, and the way Link earned experience and powered up as you progressed was an early example of action-RPG mechanics that are now fairly commonplace. In my view, the Zelda series later reached a point, typified by games like Twilight Princess, where the formula had grown so rigid and lifeless, where freedom was illusory and you were just a cog going through motions the designers had laid out for you. Zelda II stands head-and-shoulders above those games as a lively, risky adventure, and sometimes I wish more developers today were still willing to take such big swings with their flagship franchises.

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