This is a little experiment I’m doing. I have always wanted to beat Zelda II but when I was a kid I just couldn’t seem to do it. The game was too hard and my tolerance for dying after making a lot of progress and losing all my experience was just too low.
But now I’m older a game that seemed like an endless quest is actually relatively short. So I’m gonna give it another go. Will I succeed? I don’t know. But you’ll be along for the ride to see me either conquer a major gaming goal or be defeated once again by an old foe.
So let’s start at the very beginning which as The Sound of Music taught me is a very good place to start.
The beginning part of the game is very familiar to me. Even though I was never able to complete this game I did play it a lot. I usually got stuck around the time you need the hammer. Which means I was able to complete the first two palaces and then I’d hit a road block. since that was about all I could do as a kid I did that about 20 times over because I liked the game. So all of this early stuff is very memory based.
I go and get the shield spell, then the heart container under the desert and then it’s on to the first palace. As I’m going through the palace I’m trying to level up in a smart way. Aiming for more health and then attack to hopefully help me once I get to the dreaded hammer maze that stopped me from completing the game for so long.
The first dungeon is very small and I get through it without dying. Once I have the candle I head back and get the trophy so I can get the jump spell. Now I have access to new places! I go back and kill the first palace’s boss. He’s pretty easy, I do sort of a jump and down slash thing and can hit him pretty much every time, so that’s a cake walk. As you can see I’m at 2 attack, 2 magic and 4 for health. So far so good for my plain.
Now I move through the cave on the left side of the map (with my newly acquired Jump spell) and into the marsh area. My memory of this is a bit fuzzier and I can tell it wont be long until I’m in uncharted or at least unremembered territory.
I get the note from Bagu who I managed to remember lives in the forest above the town. That will allow me to go toward the hammer I think but I’m far from ready for that so I move on to the second palace. This is where I started to run into some trouble. It turns out my memory of the second palace isn’t so good and so I’m wandering around and end up dying. There’s not a whole lot of getting your life back in this game once you’re away from town. At least not til the life spell a bit later.
In any event I go back to exploring the palace and die yet again. Doh! Now I’m down to just one life left and I’ve been passing up the lower level ups to try for better attack at 800 exp. Unfortunately I die again with 798 exp. Killed by a slime…. all experience gone and back at the room where it all started, Ouch…
This is the sort of thing that would have destroyed me as a kid but now I’m determined. However it’s getting late so this will have to be it for day 1, but rest assured there will be a day 2. I’ll update this post over the coming days so it’s easy to find and doesn’t clutter up the front page.
Okay so with the first palace and my first big setback out of the way let’s move on to day 2 of my Zelda II adventure.
I started off by heading back to the second castle. I’m still not feelin good about my ability to complete the hammer maze so this seems to be my only other option. I went back and was able to get the glove (which allows me to break blocks with my sword) before quickly dying again. If there’s one thing that holds true from when I was a kid it’s that this game is hard.
So another setback but at least I had just leveled up and I got the glove so some progress was made and not much was lost. As I go forward I’ve decided not to use any internet based help to guide me but I realize this game can be a bit opaque so I’ve decided to use my old Nintendo Power Issues if I need help. This makes it feel less like cheating while also giving me the experience I would have had as a kid if I would have stuck with the game. Plus it gives me an excuse to look at my old magazines that I love. It’s win win.
(The two main issues I’ll be using)
So I’m back at the start when suddenly I remember, Hey isn’t there a cave below the starting area? Turns out my memory was correct and I got the magic container down there. Score one for staving off Alzheimer’s.
It’s time to take a second crack a palace #2. I work my way through and manage to level up on one of the crumbling bridge pieces which pauses the game and then drops me in lava…. bad times. After that I manage to make it to the boss but I only have one life and he kills me. Back to the opening scene I go. This aspect of the game reminds me of Roguelikes or something like Dark Souls. It’s punishing but you do retain some progress and completing anything feels very rewarding. I suppose now it’s time for take 3 on the dungeon.
Side note: although this game does have experience points there isn’t really a great way to level up or grind for the exp. Since all the monsters are worth so little. It’s either a crazy long grind running around in one area or just play though as normal and hope for the best. I choose the latter for now. Hopefully I never need to resort to the former.
My third attempt is much more successful. I am able to beat the boss and only die once on the way. Once I beat the multi-headed Knight boss I realize that my only choice now seems to be to go get the hammer. As a kid I can only recall being able to do that once. So I am getting very close to my stopping point from childhood. My current stats are 4 attack, 4 magic and 6 life. Let’s hope that’s at least a good start.
I think I’m gonna take a break here and browse my Nintendo Powers for some sagely advice as I prepare to take on my ultimate foe. Check back soon for the big battle as I take on day 3 of my Zelda II adventure.
The quest for the hammer begins. First off it’s a giant maze and I have no idea which way to go so I just pick a direction at random and try to just keep moving forward. I don’t know if it’s by pure luck or that I really have no choice but I end up going the exact right way to make it to the bottom of the maze and I drop down into the final pit to attempt to get the hammer.
This is the tough part. The pit is pretty long and while most of it is easy there are these red axe throwing guys called Dairas that are hard as hell. Basically they can hit you from a distance that you can’t clear easily and your shield has no effect on their axes so it really comes down to using the shield spell and powering through. Luckily I leveled up my life stat to 6 before getting here.
Even with all that health I am on my last life as I get to the final room. It’s me against one Dairas. I manage to kill him and finally the Hammer is mine! What I remembered as a torture was actually not half bad thanks to some early planning on my part. Death mountain is complete and I go back to the next screen and quickly die.
Laugh all you want Gannon but I’m feeling pretty good right now. Well I was feeling pretty good until I realized that I have no idea where to go now…. Onward and upward I suppose. There’s still a lot of game to go and all of it is basically unknown to me. Time to explore (and crush some rocks!).
After a bit of exploring I managed to get the Fairy and Life spells as well as the down thrust skill from the local towns. I suppose I could have gotten life before Death Mountain but whatever. Then I proceeded to get lost looking for the next palace. With a little help from Nintendo power I was able to work it out and find my way through the big graveyard.
The third palace starts off with a trap. I have been hitting the statue at the entrance of each palace to get the little magic jug, but this time it makes one of the armored knight enemies appear. This seems like a bad omen for what’s to come. Sure enough I die quickly. It seems that the enemies are taking quite a few hits. I need to level up but that’s easier said than done.
On my next attempt I made it to where I could see the raft but unfortunately the blue armor knight right in front of it killed me. Try try again. Next time through I was able to get the raft but just barely and I leveled up one time right before dying. Dead again but progress made. Maybe I can use the raft to find something to help me in the palace. But we’ll have to wait til tomorrow to find out.
I started to explore the area after using the raft but it was very difficult. I made it to the town and got the Fire spell, but after that it seemed better to turn back and take on the 3rd palace again. This attempt on the palace was a success. I got to the boss with almost no health or magic (as pictured) but I had one more life left and I was able to beat the knight on the horse. Which by the way was an awesome boss.
Now I’m not sure what to do next. It turns out that Nintendo Power isn’t all that much help because it’s guides are mostly on the dungeons and those are not the part I’m having trouble with. My problems are in finding things on the world map. So it’s back to exploring for me.
After a bit of exploring I find the reflect spell and the up-thrust skill which for whatever reason I remembered exactly where it was from watching someone else get it when I was a kid. Next I head toward the maze that leads up to the 4th palace. The maze is not too bad and I manage to get through it but I am not looking forward to doing it again when I die.
The 4th palace is very purple. The enemies in it aren’t especially hard but there are lots more places where you can fall into a pit or lava, making it far harder than the previous dungeon. However Nintendo Power came in handy here since one of the pits doesn’t kill you but in fact leads to the boots. Which I was able to get on the next trip. Then as is my ritual at this point, I died.
Heading back to the palace is much easier once you have the boots since you can skip the maze. I managed to make it to the boss on the next trip and it was super simple since all you do is use the Refelect and Shield spells and just block him until he kills himself, Nothin to it.
Two palaces down in one day I’d call that a success. Time for a break and some much needed sleep. See you back here tomorrow for part 5.
Five days in and five palaces in, so far things are going well. I’m not gonna lie though. Today I punched the arm of my desk chair while playing this game. Well not so much punched as pounded my fist down on but still. It’s rare that a game can frustrate me that much but this one has a few times. I am however still enjoying it in general.
Today’s adventure starts off with getting the flute. I got it on the very first try (I’m getting pretty good at this game). Next I went on a hunt to find the boss. It’s been sort of a long process since this dungeon is much larger than the others. I’m actually really surprised at how much they fit into this game. Big sprites, lot of enemies and really cool bosses. All that with a large over-world and lots of big dungeons, it’s really impressive.
Anyway with the flute in hand I work my way back into the 5th palace to find the boss. I had messed around a bit in this dungeon before finishing the previous one and it turns out that was dangerous because I think I used keys from this palace in that one which means I didn’t have enough here. Luckily I remembered that using the fairy spell lets you pass through the key holes so I was still able to make it to the boss. This boss was really simple. I beat him on the first try. He swings the mace I move away, he stops swinging I hit him. Nothing too special. He was probably the least fun boss to beat so far but at least I’m one step closer to finishing the game.
I’m not gonna lie I hear the final palace of this game is very hard and I’m not looking forward to it. It looms over me. Every time I complete something I think “Okay I beat that, but is the last part going to be too hard for me to complete the game?”. I’m further than I’ve ever been at this point which is awesome, let’s just hope I can keep this going.
On to palace #6. Exploring on my way to the palace proves to be hard. The game is definitely getting much more difficult. Many of the enemies can only be killed with the Fire spell which makes it so I mostly just have to avoid them and the others just do a lot more damage.
This is compounded by the fact that I have no idea where to go now. I’ve just been wandering around. The guy in the dead town says to go to the woods east of there but so far no luck. Nintendo Power doesn’t have any info on this part of the game so for now I’m stuck. I’m frustrated so I think it’s time to take a break. Join me again next time as I get ever closer to the end of my Zelda II adventure.
At this point I have been stuck wandering around for quite a while. I see the little patch of forest to the east but none of the forest tiles let me go into them. I’ve decided to give in and look online, Because if I don’t then this is likely where I would stop playing.
Okay so I looked it up and that is some bullshit. I have no idea how I would have ever known to use the hammer in the forest. It’s never been used for that and the forest tiles in the past just allowed you to walk in to them. It makes no sense. Eff that noise!
(I was so frustrated when this happened that I forgot to take a picture so this one is from the internet. Hence the different coloring)
Okay so I’m back on track. For a second… I go in to the newly discovered town and the old wise man wont give me the next spell, he says I’m not ready. I look online again and it turns out you need to have found all 4 hidden magic containers before you can get this spell. This kind of stuff is so lame, but whatever off to track them down. I already have all but 1 of them anyway.
Okay so I went around and collected a few important things. I got the magic containers then the “Spell” spell and then the master key. Now I am finally ready for the 6th castle. Good lord that part was dumb. But at least it’s over and thanks to the internet it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
The 6th palace is more annoying than hard for me. It has an invisible pit that you can only jump over with the jump spell but I didn’t have enough magic left to use the jump spell so I had to die and come back. Once I made my way back I was able to clear the pit and make my way toward the Cross which is the next item I need. But before that you have to fight the horse mounted knight boss again. Apparently I wasn’t the only one that thought that guy was a cool boss. Anyway he’s pretty easy now so I finish him off and get the Cross. Now to find the real boss of this palace. I have a feeling that may take another trip.
In fact it took many trips but eventually I got to him with all my lives. On the way I had to fight that same knight on horseback again, okay Nintendo I liked it but I think you are over doing it a bit now. Then I had to get through a room of those stupid flying heads with lava pits beneath them. So far this was the hardest part of the game for me. I hated it in Castlevania with the Medusa heads and I hate it here. Anyway the final boss is a dragon that comes out of the lava. He was easy, I beat him on my first try. Just stayed toward the middle platform and hit his head. After all that build up on the way there it’s nice to feel relief after beating him.
I think this is a good place to take a break and prepare myself for the final showdown. I’ve gotten a lot farther than I thought I would in a short amount of time. I’m hopeful that I’ll finally beat this game and that would be crazy awesome because as a kid I always viewed it as a game I’d never beat. So join me next time for the thrilling (or a least somewhat interesting I hope) conclusion of my Zelda II adventure!
With all of the smaller stuff out of the way it’s time to get to the part I’ve been worrying about since the beginning. Can I actually beat the game? So far I’ve done pretty well but I’m worried there will be a difficulty spike. I guess there’s no way to know but to dive in and see how it goes.
But first a few preparations. I get the Thunder spell from the wise man in the dead town. Nintendo Power has all but failed me at this point. It has a short section about the road leading up to the final palace so I look over that for any tips that might help me and off I go.
The road leading to the palace is very hard. There’s a ton of the little eyeball guys that knock you into the many lava pits. It’s as frustrating as pretty much any game I have played at this point with Ninja Gaiden as a possible exception. Anyway after many tries I make I make it to the final palace. Yay!
Okay this is it. I have no lives and die immediately but luckily the game starts you at the entrance to this dungeon instead of back at the beginning of the game. If not for that this would have been the end of my time with Zelda II. So now it’s time for the final test. Can I beat the final dungeon?
Good God this dungeon is tough. Those damn bird knight guys are so freaking hard. I can’t see any real way to kill them without losing a lot of health. But eventually I was able to get to the boss. He is nearly impossible for me. I’m not sure I’ll be able to beat him. Getting there is getting easier but beating him is very hard. I wish I had leveled up my magic just one more time. I have to cast Thunder to fight the last boss and that leaves me with just enough to cast shield and nothing else.
Many hours later: I did it! Wooooooo! I beat him! It took me about 20 tries but I was determined. I learned his pattern a little a each time and I finally beat him. After that I had no life so Shadow Link killed me but I had another life left and I was able to kill him pretty easily. He wasn’t nearly as hard as the other boss.
So that’s it, I beat the game! Go me! I’m pretty excited. I may or may not have done a fist pump as I beat that damn floating boss. I’m super happy right now. I’ve always wanted to finish that game and now I can say that I have. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be except for the final castle. All and all I have a new love for the game. In the past I remember not liking it very much because of Link’s tiny sword, the limited lives and the difficulty but it turns out I just wasn’t ready for it yet. Now that I’m older and more patient I see what this game had to offer. Is it my favorite of the series? no. but it’s a great game and I’m glad I finally finished it.
Thanks for joining me on my journey through Hyrule. If you read all the parts to this then I just want to say thank you so much I know I wrote a lot but hopefully it was fun to ride along. It was a fun experiment but now it’s time to get back to video making. See you all soon. 🙂