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after ganon was destroyed,impa told link a sleepingspell was cast on princesszelda. she will wake onlywith the power of thirdtriforce sealed in a palacein hyrule. to break theseal,crystals must beplaced in statues in 6well guarded set out on his mostadventuresome quest yet...©1987 nintendo

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Link no Bouken) is the second game in The Legend of Zelda series, released for the Famicom Disk System in 1987 for Japan and the NES in 1988 for North America and Europe. Unlike many other Disk System games, a cartridge version was never released for Japan.

Zelda II is most notable for completely overhauling the gameplay of its predecessor. The game utilizes side-scrolling action more akin to a Metroidvania instead of being top-down and makes heavy use of RPG Elements, such as an experience-based leveling system, magic and health points, and random encounters. The game also has deeper story elements with a more complex world, including towns filled with characters.

The story has two threads. Many years after his defeat of Ganon, Link sets out to claim the third piece of the Triforce: the Triforce of Courage. Doing so will awaken Princess Zelda (not the same one from the original) from her sleeping curse. Meanwhile, Ganon's followers are trying to resurrect him, and the only way to do that is with the blood of the hero who felled him. Thus, there are a ton of enemies standing in Link's way as he attempts to deposit six crystals in the palaces throughout Hyrule and open the path to the Great Palace, where the Triforce of Courage is kept...


While the side-scrolling gameplay style would not be revisited outside of small segments of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games and the RPG elements would be largely eschewed in the future, Zelda II definitely left its mark on the franchise. Towns filled with NPCs and sidequests would become staples of the series, and a magic system is used in many games. The Triforce of Courage being associated with Link also originates with this game.

According to Hyrule Historia, this is the last game in the "Hero Defeated" timeline.

The game has been readily available for much of its lifetime: it was ported to the GameCube in The Legend of Zelda Collector's Edition, the Game Boy Advance as part of the NES Classic series, has been released on every iteration of the Virtual Console, and is available to play within the Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online service. Additionally, it was announced on June 15th, 2021 that a special version of the Game & Watch system containing this game, its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and a Zelda-themed version of the Game & Watch game Vermin will be released to commemorate the series' 35th anniversary, and is currently set to release in November of 2021.


This game provides examples of:

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  • All There in the Manual: The Save the Princess plot, along with the tie to the third Triforce, are given much more detail in the manual. Plus it's noted why the Game Over screen looks like that. It also explains why there is another princess named Zelda (up to that point, the eponymous Legend of Zelda).
  • Ambiguously Christian: Link, by Word of God. He has a cross on his shield, another cross in his inventory, and he learns swordsmanship techniques in-game from churchgoing warriors. (This was back when Christianity was going to be the in-game religion, instead of the worship of the three goddesses which was invented later.)
  • Animated Adaptation: The cartoon series used elements from this game (though it notably does not include the Triforce of Courage in any way), and the Captain N: The Game Master episode "Quest for the Potion of Power" was largely based on it.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Running out of lives in the Great Palace will drop you off at the entrance upon continuing instead of all that way back at the start of the game. (However, this does not apply if you save and quit. Better set some time aside once you get there if you aren't playing on Virtual Console.) Also, if you die fighting Link's Shadow, therefore having already beaten Thunderbird, you do not have to fight Thunderbird again. This isn't done for the sake of kindness but for a technical reason, however: The original version on the Famicom Disk System had the Great Palace on Side 1 of the disk while the majority of the game was on the second side, so the checkpoint was implemented to avoid forcing a disk swap when you ran out of lives.
    • While stronger enemies like Iron Knuckles do not respawn in caves or the palaces unless you run out of lives, weaker ones do, meaning each palace, even the Great Palace, has at least one area where you can relatively safely farm for blue potions to restore your magic (which in turn would let you restore your health once you get the healing spell). Plus, every palace except the First Palace, Fifth Palace, and Great Palace has a statue at the entrance you can strike to get a red potion, letting you heal up before you go inside. Sometimes you will get an Iron Knuckle instead, but all you have to do is exit the palace completely and try again.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Part of the difficulty of the game is that in addition to monsters having fairly nasty attacks, they tend to move and use them intelligently, and the AI is much more impressive compared to most other 8-bit games of the time. Fighting the Ironknuckles feels like a real duel. The Lizalfos will throw their rocks at Link with leading patterns to catch him to where he's expected to be, not just where he is currently. Even the basic Bots in the dungeons like to feign immobility while quivering and then jump at you when you get to close.
  • Asteroids Monster: The Giant Bubble and the Boss Bot in the final palace. Giant Bubble turns into two Bubbles; Boss Bot turns into several small Bots that look exactly like regular Bots, except they are a LOT harder to kill.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The enemies named "Horsehead" and "Helmethead". Guess where you need to strike? Inverted with Gooma, a boss added to the international releases in place of a second battle with Helmethead, whose weak point is his body and, in contrast to the boss he replaced, whose head is invulnerable.
  • Bag of Spilling: Link only retains a sword and a shield from the previous game and has to get a new raft, flute, candle, and magical key.
  • Battle Theme Music: The game set the tradition in itself and subsequent 2D (and eventually also 2.5D) Zelda games to play a tense, fast-paced battle music for all standard bosses, with the Final Boss having a smooth-but-ominous one. Also, as a result of having Random Encounters, the game also became the first to have battle music for them. The standard boss theme is shorter in the Japanese version, while the enemy music is completely different (this is the reason why one of the Zelda II boss themes in Super Mario Maker 2 doesn't sound familar to players outside Japan — it's the enemy music from the original version).
  • Blackground: The game had background textures for nearly every environment in the game, except for two rooms: one at the very beginning, and the other at the very end. Considering that every room in every dungeon previous has had some sort of a background, you should know you're in for trouble when you enter the final room of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon and suddenly this is no longer the case. Of course, this was also likely because the background turns bright red - It has to in order for the player to even see the final boss.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • Bagu is meant to be rendered as "Bug", matching "Error". In the English version, his name lost the pun, and made "Error" seem like the translation problem.
    • There is also the issue of "Barba," whose Japanese name(バルバジア or Barbargia in English) is very similar to the official name of Volvagia (spelled as ヴァルバジア in Japanese).
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: This is the primary reason for the game's difficulty: there are more of these in this one game than there are in the rest of the series combined. Iron Knuckles require twitch reflexes both to survive their attacks and get past their shields, but the hardest are the Eagle Knightsnote  in the Great Palace: they are similar to the Iron Knuckles, but both red and blue ones can cast sword beams at you, and they can leap over you. At full attack level, the Red versions take two to three hits to kill and the blue ones five to six. They usually appear in a place where it is very difficult to run away from them.
  • Bottomless Pit: These exist, but they subvert the typical trope: any pit that doesn't have water or lava at the bottom can be safely jumped into to access the lower levels of a temple.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The dungeons are called "Sactuari(e)s" in the Disk System version but "Palaces" in NES port, and the Goddess Statue was renamed "Trophy" due to Nintendo of America's then-current policy of removing religious references in games (they left the crosses in, though). The original term (Shinden) would later be consistently translated as "Temple" for dungeons as of Ocarina of Time. The Temple stage in the Super Smash Bros. series is more closely based on this game.
    • Link's Magical Shield is altered in many media associated with the game, in order to remove religious imagery. This alternate design, curiously, was a Mirror Shield.
    • Oddly enough, the censorship didn't go through the Wizzrobe enemies, which look suspiciously similar to the Klu Klux Klan.
    • The second to last boss, "Boruba," is a large divine spirit resembling either an archangel or a demon. The localization team renamed him as the "Thunderbird," which begs the question as to how a large bird of prey has a human skull for a face.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The hammer can break trees. The only thing for which this is at all useful is finding New Kasuto, and that happens so long after you find the hammer that you'll likely have forgotten you can even do that.
  • Chimney Entry: Link has to learn a sword technique in one town, but the instructor's door doesn't open. What he has to do is activate his Jump spell, jump to the roof, and... well, guess.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Barring a single mention in the manual, the princess Zelda from the previous game is nowhere to be seen or heard.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: The Valiant Comics series authorized by Nintendo is a follow-up to this and the original game.
  • Continuing is Painful:
    • A Game Over reduces Link's XP to zero and sends him all the way back to the Northern Palace in Western Hyrule. For the later levels, it's not just a matter of the walk being tedious: there are places where the wandering monsters are nigh impossible to avoid and the mini-levels they trigger are much harder, leaving you in great danger of another Game Over and having to do it all again as soon as - or even before - you reach the current palace again. This is downplayed in the Great Palace, where a game over puts Link at the beginning of that Palace.
    • Difficulty by Region makes Japanese players suffer a little more for a Game Over. Get enough points and you can increase your life meter, magic meter, or attack power, right? In the US version, each stat has its own EXP requirement and you can save your points for the more expensive stat if you prefer, while in the Japanese version, they all cost the same. Where does Continuing is Painful come in? Well, get a Game Over (or even save and restart) and your levels are all reduced to whatever the lowest of the three current levels are (e.g. if your levels are 4 life, 4 magic, and 3 attack power, you go back to 3-3-3. Have fun if you think going 1-1-8 is perfectly reasonable).
  • Continuity Nod: There are several.
    • Between the second and third palaces, the player must navigate Death Mountain. The original game's overworld is just to the south of it, complete with forests, lakes, a cemetery, and even Spectacle Rock all in the same spots as before - if you ever suspected that the first game didn't show you all of Hyrule, you were very correct. You can even enter where Level 9 was in the last game and find a magic container inside.
    • In the previous game, Link could not defend against energy balls, magic blasts, or sword beams without the Magical Shield. However, Zelda II's manual claims that he begins the game with this shield in tow. True to form, all of the first game's projectiles reappear and can be blocked by default. However, for some reason, Link's Magical Sword (which he is also stated to begin with) seems to be much weaker.
    • When Link turns to face the player after obtaining an item, his eyes are still two brown pixels with odd green pixels above them.
    • Water of Life, a quest item in this game, was also a name for the potion in the first game. The sprites are largely the same as well.
    • The Fairy spell uses the same sprite as the health-restoring fairy from the previous game, save for two white pixels on its head being removed.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: To prevent Spell from being a Story-Breaker Power, the bosses and strongest enemies are immune to it.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: As in the first game, all the tombstones in the graveyard have crosses on them, as does Link's shield; and in this game, a cross is actually a helpful item retrieved from one of the palaces. Word of God explains that the motif is caused by the fact that the original plan was for Christianity to be the main religion in Hyrule, but Nintendo of America wasn't too happy with that. Starting with the next game, Hyrule was retconned to have a purely fictional religion revolving around three goddesses.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments:
    • There are a few room types that get reused in various palaces. One that's notable is a long room with a block structure that usually hides a key in one of the structure's indents.
    • On the way to Darunia, you're expected to go through two maps that are exactly alike, except that the second one has bubbles coming up from the bottom of the screen that are liable to knock you into the water and, predictably, kill you. note 
  • Darker and Edgier: While the game lacks the details to properly show it, the game is a bit darker compared to the first one. The reason there were no towns or settlements in the first game was due to everyone evacuating and moving up north to avoid Ganon's forces. Despite the move, Old Kasuto was completely abandoned by its people once Ganon's minions found them; going there has no NPCs (save for a hidden one that teaches you a spell), and there are invisible enemies everywhere that you cannot see unless you picked up the Cross. Thankfully, Old Kasuto's residents moved to a hidden area in the woods that you can reach once you reveal the location. On top of this, one of the town's children was kidnapped by one of Ganon's minions, which you do get to rescue. There's also the fact that all of Ganon's minions are actively hunting for Link - not just for revenge, but for Link's blood specifically, which is needed to revive Ganon. Get a Game Over and you see Ganon rise again as he laughs.
  • Decapitated Army: Averted. Ganon's followers are ruthlessly determined and organised, setting up many traps to ensnare Link.
  • Demoted Boss: Rebonack, a mounted Iron Knuckle who starts out as the boss of the Island Palace, appears as a miniboss a couple times in the sixth palace. Horsehead also reappears in the fifth, but only in the FDS version (he's replaced by a blue Iron Knuckle in the US version).
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The "Spell" spell.
  • Difficulty by Region: The original Disk System version is easier than the NES cartridge port, despite having an additional boss.
    • Nerf: The sixth boss, Barbargia (AKA Barba), is harder to fight in the Disk System version than in its NES counterpart.
    • Buff: The Tektites in the Disk System version are easier to kill than the NES version.
    • Buff and Nerf: The level up system was completely overhauled. In the FDS version, you could level up any stat you like whenever Link gained a level, but to discourage putting all your points in just one or two stats, a Game Over would drop all your stats to be equal to the lowest stat. The NES version just gives each stat its own EXP progression, and if you don't want to buy the currently-cheapest stat you can back out of the level up menu and keep going. The NES version also increased EXP requirements greatly, but also EXP rewards.
    • Nerf: Several enemies that used varying attacks in the FDS version will choose only one attack when they spawn and just spam that attack. This is due to an RNG bug common in FDS-to-NES ports.
    • Nerf: The final boss doesn't fall for the famous "crouch in the corner and stab" exploit in the FDS version. This is also a result of the aforementioned RNG bug.
    • It is harder to progress the story in the Disk System version than the NES version. For example, in the Disk System version, the stolen trophy that you must return to Ruto Town to learn the Jump Spell will not appear in the northwest desert cave until after you perform a specific action. In the NES version, the stolen trophy is already in the cave, allowing Link to get it with or without the candle.
  • Door to Before: Of a sort: when you get the hammer, the boulders blocking access to the southern part of the western continent are no longer an issue. This becomes very important when you continue: you can reach the southern area without having to pass through a cave and swamp area (and all the attendant battles you'd have to fight). There are some other, more minor examples as well, such as the Water Walking Boots.
  • Drought Level of Doom:
    • The game has many caves and areas you must travel through in order to get to various dungeons and temples. The game kills you in such efficient ways that you're likely to run out of both health and magic by the temple and dungeon in question, let alone facing the boss.
    • The fact that there are no healing item drops is one of the things that makes the entire game such a challenge. If you're slogging through one of the dungeons, the only way to heal is by finding a fairy or using the (expensive) Life spell.
  • Dub Name Change: Mostly certain enemies and key items mentioned in the manual and strategy guides (and even then, depending on the guide), but also the game title itself and the Reflex spell becoming the Reflect spell.
  • Early Game Hell: Link starts off with extremely weak stats, and it takes a while to get enough EXP to even have a fighting chance. Making matters worse is that the game throws Death Mountain, probably the hardest level in the game, at you very early on.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: While the prior game had some implication that Christianity exists in Hyrule, this game goes all-in on it, what with the churches, the priests, the crosses all over the place, and even quite a bit of artwork. A Link to the Past buried this implication, explicitly defining Hyrule as a fantasy world with its own polytheistic religion (though maintaining a few very loose Christian pastiches such as Ganon's Satanic Archetype nature).
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: This is the final game in the "Hero Defeated" timeline, and while the backstory is quite dark, its ending is unambiguously happy: Link's descendant has defeated Ganon, his questing throughout Hyrule has sent what remains of Ganon's army into chaos and prevented them from resurrecting him, Hyrule itself is mostly at peace, and Link has overcome the dark side of himself and awoken (the original) Princess Zelda, who has been sleeping for centuries.
  • Enemy Without: Link's Shadow.
  • Every 10,000 Points: Every 9000 experience after maxing out levels gives Link another life.
  • Evil Laugh: When you get a Game Over, the evil Ganon laughs at you with the caption GAME OVER RETURN OF GANON. Subverted in the FDS version, where Ganon gives some kind of roar (or a glitchy electronic sound on a poor emulator).
  • Experience Points: Gain enough, and you can raise your defense, reduce magic costs, or raise your attack power.
  • Faceless Eye: Moas are enemies resembling flying eyeballs with no other appendages.
  • Fairy Battle: You'd be forgiven for thinking this trope was named for this game instead of its usage in Final Fantasy IX, as Zelda II has literal "fairy battles": some random encounters feature a battle screen with nothing but a healing fairy to pick up.
  • Fan Vid: The Adventures of Duane & BrandO's gleeful musical retelling of the game, painting Link as a cocky and vaguely confused hero playing through a sequel with completely different gameplay mechanics.
  • Flash of Pain: Link and all of the enemies and bosses will cycle through all four of the current palettes in the game's coding upon taking damage.
  • Foreshadowing: Beating a boss is the only time Link's shadow is visible.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Boots allow Link to walk on water. In only a handful of predefined areas on the Overworld Map, and precisely one battle area (to acquire a Heart Container near Level 5). Otherwise falling into water in a battle area is just as fatal after you acquire them as is was before.
  • Gender Bender: The artwork makes it look like fairies are female, and the fairy that Link turns into with the fairy spell uses the same graphics as all other fairies. Thus, it seems as if Link changes into a female fairy with this spell.
  • Genre Shift: This is the only side-scrolling game in the entire series (not counting two of the CDi Games). This is also the only time you can level up with a certain amount of experience points, expanding on the RPG Elements of the first game.
  • Ghost Town: Old Kasuto was abandoned, with only invisible Moas and the final wise man left.
  • The Goomba: Bits and Bots are Blob Monster mooks, and likely the first enemies you meet.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Inverted. You need to return the crystals you have to the palaces, rather than collect them.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • Ganon is the force motivating all the other bad guys rather than an actual character in the game; but since he's dead, he didn't actually tell anyone to do anything.
    • The Magician who cursed the original Zelda is never encountered in the game, and is stated by the manual to have died in the process of putting the curse on her. According to Hyrule Historia, he may have been an aspect of Ganon or one of his minions.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • While most things in the game are hinted at in one place or another, many hints are badly translated and only given by NPCs that look exactly like the useless Welcome to Corneria types. Good luck finding New Kasuto based solely on "THE TOWN IS DEAD LOOK EAST IN FOREST", especially since
    1. You need to know that the hammer destroys trees in addition to rocks
    2. You must also know to use the hammer to find New Kasuto's tile, instead of merely walking on said tile like every other tile in the game that contains a hidden area
    3. There are in fact TWO areas of forest to the east of Kasuto, one of which is absolutely gigantic (and not the one New Kasuto is in, which relies on All There in the Manual to identify).
    • Once you're actually in New Kasuto, you have to learn the "Spell" spell and use it to make a building appear at one point in the game, but the game never even tells you what the "Spell" spell is supposed to do. The only hint you get is a random NPC saying "There is a secret at edge of town."
    • If you haven't beaten the game already, chances are, you're still trying to find the island palace.
    • Most people who played this game at the time of its release will probably have completed it without both the Life Spell and the Up Stab Technique. This is because the only clues you'll ever get are "I lost my mirror" and "A powerful knight lives in town." Those that did finish the game with both the Life Spell and the Up Stab Technique will most likely have gotten advice from Nintendo Power (or friends that had Nintendo Power). The mirror is especially hard - it requires a rare combination of buttons in just the right spot. Even if you suspect that the programmers had to have some reason to put that evidently empty room there and try everything - get used to doing that if you expect to beat any Zelda game - you might not get that mirror.
    • Progressing through the story is actually more complicated and cryptic in the Disk System version, which is a stark contrast to the NES version where things are a bit simpler and more straightforward.
    • The Great Palace was deliberately designed to grind down players through its vast size and the use of numerous deceptions and dangers (false floors, false walls, dead-ends, and lots of irritating and very dangerous enemies).
  • Heart Container: Despite one of the apparent levels being called "Life," that's just defense. You still need to find containers to increase your life meter. The "Magic" level function similarly; increasing it decreases the cost of some spells, rather than how much magic is available to begin with. Magic Containers shaped like potions increase the magic meter similarly to how Heart Containers increase the life meter.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Zelda's predecessor, the princess you need to awaken, has red hair (in both her sprite and the manual).
  • Heroic Mime: This is the first game to avert the series standard of Link as being a silent protagonist.
    • There is an apparent (but ambiguous) line of speech when he reads the sign in Old Kasuto.
      Sign: Kasuto. Strange... it is deserted.
    • One scene, at the fountain in Nabooru, is somewhat ambiguous on this point. Given the way it's worded, Link is either talking to himself, the fountain is actually talking to Link, or Link is talking to the player.
      "Want to get some water?"
    • The house where the Spell spell is learned in New Kasuto has a fireplace that Link can climb through. Pressing B instead of Up has Link comment on it.
      "I can enter the fireplace."
    • In the English version of the game, Link says "I found a mirror" when it is discovered under a table.
  • Hidden Elf Village: New Kasuto. A villager states they had to flee Old Kasuto, so it makes sense for them to hide their new hometown.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: An example that's very noticeable, but not all that harmful. The Achemen (red bats that transform into devils) are always considered to be two blocks high even when in their one block bat form. If you take one out while it's still a bat, it'll explode as if it were a humanoid enemy. As well, down a low stab as you hit the ground from a jump will cause your attack to hit lower than it would if you just ducked and stabbed. While this can be used to kill some ankle-high enemies, you don't run into them often enough before getting the downward stab (which is how you're supposed to deal with them) for it to be any more than a mild convenience provided you run Death Mountain before taking on the second palace.
  • Inconsistent Dub: Between external sources rather than the game itself, but the dragon boss was referred to as Barba for the original release and Volvagia (which was closer to the original Japanese version's name) for the Collector's Edition release (the latter of which also came with a game with a different Volvagia, whose reference to this installment was lost until the original's name was retranslated).
  • Infinite 1-Ups: After Level Grinding enough, each level-up leads to a 1-up. There is one room in the fifth palace where you can set your sword beam to turbo to continuously kill Moas (ghosts that yield 50 experience). You'll just have to pick up experience bags and magic refills when enough spawn to get the ghosts to start spawning again. The process is a lot more time-consuming here than in most games with infinite 1-ups, but you'll need every single one of them. A video with a lengthy explanation in the description can be found here.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Key: Like the first game, this game has a magic key which can unlock any door in any palace, and it's also possible to obtain surplus keys that you end up not needing. However, your basic key can only be used in the palace in which it's found, as with the keys in later games.
  • Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality: The "Thunder" spell severely damages all enemies on screen instantly, but sucks up almost all of your magic. Even when you're completely leveled up and have all the magic containers, it still uses half of them. The mid-boss just before the final boss in the Great Palace requires you to use the Thunder spell to make it vulnerable to your other methods of attack. Given how long the last level is, and how hard the enemies are, it's entirely possible that you'll reach the fight without the magic necessary to effectively do anything. Then again, smart players will find a red potion (full magic) hidden just around the corner before the boss.
  • Invisible to Normals: The blue Moa enemies are invisible until you get the Cross in the sixth dungeon.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Link's death is Ganon's return, and there is no longer anything standing in his way. The Disk System version is even worse, displaying a black screen with "RETURN OF GANON THE END" and playing a digitized roar. Apparently, Hyrule is burning, and that's the last we'll ever see of it.
  • Jump Physics: The only Legend of Zelda game that used manual jumping without an item until Breath Of The Wild.
  • Jump Scare: Deep within the Great Palace, as the player guides Link through an empty corridor, a humongous Bot (the blue gumdrop enemies that Link has been battling since the very beginning of the game) will suddenly materialize from the ceiling and drop down. This particular Bot is huge, has evil eyes, and only three are present in the entire game; all in the Great Palace.
  • Kid Hero: The manual states that Link is 16 years old, the first time he's ever given a specific age.
  • Kid Hero All Grown Up: Taking place several years after the first game, he's much older.
  • Kill It with Fire: The fire spell lets your sword shoot fireballs, even when you don't have full energy. Also, there are several enemies vulnerable only to this spell.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: A curtain drops at the end of the game, and Link and Zelda get to smooching. Although this was likely more due to lack of sprite animations than modesty (you just see the sprites move together).
  • Knockback: It doesn't matter how hardcore you think you are. This game's enemies that move and weave across the screen like Medusa-Heads, will knock you into Bottomless Pits time and time again.

  • Lady in Red: In most towns there is a woman in a red dress who will take Link into her house and bring him to full health. This has led to some speculation that Link is visiting a prostitute.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Just like in the first game, an enemy's color indicates its strength; orange is the weakest, then red, and finally blue is the strongest version of that enemy. Similarly, the Shield spell turns your tunic red, just like the Red Ring that is the highest defense upgrade in the first game.
  • Ledge Bats: There are numerous locations with enemies whose only purpose is to knock you into water or lava.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The Valley of Death. Lava is also a common hazard in caves and dungeons, more so than anywhere else in the series. Every dungeon contains lava somewhere.
  • Level Grinding: From killing loads of slimes, to loads of Tektites, to loads of Orange Lizalfos. You'll still spend a lot of time killing monsters, but you have plenty of options to break up the monotony.
    • A convenient, if risky, method of early leveling up is killing Bubbles, even in the first Palace. They respawn infinitely, they hold still when you hit them, and they give you a whopping 50 Experience Points each. All they ask in return is sore fingers and whatever magic they eat off you if you screw up. Having the downward thrust makes this substantially easier if you time your jump right. (The problem is that Bubbles take a LOT of hits and other enemies aren't polite enough to wait for you to finish.)
    • You can also skip returning the crystals to the palaces until the last minute, making getting those 5000, 6000, 7000 and 8000 experience levels a lot easier.
    • Slightly easier in the Disk System version where the maximum XP limit for a level up is 4000.
  • Living MacGuffin: The kidnapped child. For NES players, it's a funny variant on the trope, since the game treats the child just like any other inventory item, even to the point of Link holding him above his head in the traditional Item Get! pose. This is not nearly as funny in the Disk System version: To rescue the child, Link must hit him with his sword like picking up a potion (or indeed, any item in the game.) The fact that the child is bound in ropes which need to be cut to free him provides the reason for needing to hit him.
  • Living Shadow: The Final Boss.
  • Mana Potion: The blue bottles restore one section of the Mana Meter. Red bottles restore all of it.
  • The Maze: The later palaces. Also the route to the fourth palace.
  • Mini-Me: Extra lives in this game are dolls which somehow look exactly like Link.
  • Mirror Match: The fight against Link's Shadow. Ironically, the fight can be made one of the easiest in the game by exploiting a glitch that allows you to hide in the left corner and stab repeatedly. Various ROM hacks of the game have put lava in the corner to make this impossible.
  • New Game+: Unlike the the first game, this one makes a replay game significantly easier by letting you start over with all your acquired levels and spells from the last playthrough, as well as the upward and downward thrusts. With your Life, Magic and Attack maxed-out to level 8, the difficulty curve doesn't catch back up to you until about the fifth palace. The "Special" version on the Switch NES collection actually starts you in a New Game Plus.
  • New Skill as Reward: A sidequest to find a swordsmaster NPC gets you the ability to thrust your sword up or down while jumping. Similar sidequests get you new spells.
  • Nintendo Hard: Widely considered the hardest of the entire series, with good reason. Blue Iron Knuckles in particular will have you tearing your hair out. The Eagle Knights in the Great Palace are even worse... until you figure out the trick to beating them by simply blocking their attacks until they jump over you, then doing an upward thrust to their feet, making them incredibly easy.
  • No Antagonist: There's technically no Big Bad in this game. The Damsel in Distress has been that way for centuries and the person who bewitched her died the moment he cast the spell. Link is given his quest by Impa simply because the Birth Mark Of Destiny appeared on his hand. While there are enemies in the game who want to kill Link to resurrect Ganon, they have nothing to do with the actual plot, and the dungeons Link must conquer are actually guardians created by the forces of Good to protect the Triforce of Courage. Even at the end of the game, the final confrontation with Shadow Link is a test set up by the old man who guards the Triforce and wants Link to prove that he's overcome his evil side.
  • No Fair Cheating: In the Great Palace, bypassing the barrier early with the Fairy spell is instant death, regardless of how much life Link has remaining.
  • Nostalgia Level: This tiny pink area/beach in the southwest is implied to be the map from the original game. You have two large lakes in the center, a forest and graveyard at the left, and a mountain with Spectacle Rock at the north end. Link's all grown up now, so places that seemed huge before are now just a small part of his world.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: In the Disk System version, for the Game Over there's just a black screen and a digitized roar. Nothing else.
  • NPC Random Encounter Immunity: Averted in that, if you get into a random encounter while on a road, no enemies show up and you're free to continue walking, so supposedly monsters just stay away from civilization.
  • Nuclear Candle: If you don't have a candle, you cannot see any enemies in dark rooms except for the shuffle of their sprites' feet on the surface of the floor, even if they are inches in front of you. Once you get the candle, they're visible even if Link and the enemy are on opposite sides of the screen. Note that orange Daira and orange Lizalfos enemies are an exception to the "invisible in dark rooms" rule. Presumably Nintendo didn't expect any players to get that far without the candle. Of course, Speedrunners frequently run the entire game without the candle, since it's not technically necessary to beat the game (you just have to be very good and/or lucky to beat it without the candle).
  • Oddball in the Series: Although how "odd" it is tends to vary.
    • Functionally, the main differences between this and other Zelda games is the side-scrolling, platforming, heavy reliance on magic and less focus on sub weapons or puzzles. It still retains the exploration, the hack-and-slash gameplay, and begins the tradition of the various towns with citizens having sidequests you must complete to get items and such.
    • It's the only game in the franchise where there's no currency involved, thus no shops exist either.
    • It's the only game without bombs and, along The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, bow and arrows.
    • It was, for decades, the only numbered title in the entire series. The Japanese name of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds changed that (it was called Triforce of the Gods 2 there).
    • Heart Containers only exist in the overworld. While the first game did this as well, they still appeared mostly in dungeons.
    • Magic Containers only exist in this game, which extends your magic meter. Future games would use other methods to extend the meter.
    • This is the only Zelda title to incorporate the use of Video-Game Lives.
    • Maps and compasses do not exist in the game, requiring the player to keep track of their location in the dungeons.
    • The game is the only one where there's no active antagonist. Link does fight monsters, but he's fighting Ganon's forces who are seeking to revive him and the monsters in the dungeons were set there by the previous King to act as guards for the Triforce of Courage. There's no antagonist driving the plot.
    • The game destroys dungeons when you put the crystal in place and collected the dungeon's treasure. Most games in the series don't block off dungeons after they're completed unless they're one time dungeons that are blocked off due to plot.
  • Old Soldier: There are a pair of Hylian soldiers from the last great war who, despite not being at the peak of their physical ability as they once were, can still teach Link sword techniques.
  • One-Time Dungeon: The Palaces crumble and become Mountain squares on the overworld map after you beat them, but only after you both insert the crystal into the idol's forehead and collect the required item, fortunately. The only things that can truly be lost for good are a one-up in the sixth palace and some Experience Point bonuses.
  • Only Good People May Pass: The Great Palace (the final dungeon of the game) houses the Triforce of Courage—and, true to the item's name, the Temple's barrier will not open unless the entrant has placed six jewels in the other temples as proof of their courage. The final challenge, before the person can claim the Triforce itself, is to fight the evil within them.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Carock is impossible to beat without the Reflect Spell, which can throw players for a loop since they're used to the whole swordfighting requirement of the game. Thunderbird is also impossible to beat without the Thunder Spell, since it will be invincible to sword strikes unless it is somehow weakened.
  • Permanently Missable Content: There are some experience bags and a one-up doll that can be missed because they're in palaces, which become inaccessible after you collect the palace's item, defeat its boss, and restore its crystal (which causes the palace to crumble). Additionally, these goodies only appear once; once you've collected them, they won't appear again unless you revert to an earlier save file. However, that's not possible with dungeon items, despite multiple rumors. The Angry Video Game Nerd discussed this and disproved it during his review of the game.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: This Zelda's dress is pink with small puff sleeves, a bell skirt, and a ring of white bows and ribbons around the skirt. It's just that way in the manual, but it counts.
  • Player Death Is Dramatic: Link is visible only as a silhouette against a red background upon death.
  • Power Up Letdown: Just like the previous game, Zelda II lets you shoot sword beams when you are at full health. Unlike in the previous game, though, most of the enemies are completely immune to it. Additionally, the beam only travels a few feet before it disappears with a graphic like a popped soap bubble.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Zelda's pink dress.
  • Random Effect Spell: Just called "Spell". Usually it just turns enemies into Bots, but in one location it summons a shrine from the ground, which is necessary to progress in the game. The game never actually explains what it's supposed to do.
  • Random Number God: Red potions (restores all magic) pop out of certain statues and breakable blocks when they are struck with the sword. Occasionally, however, an Iron Knuckle or Eagle Knight will pop out of the statue/block instead. Additionally, a number of red potions are hidden inside places in dungeons and in the world map. But any of them may or may not appear in any new game.
  • Reality Warping: The aforementioned "Spell" can invoke Baleful Polymorph on enemies, and also conjure a shrine from the ground at one point.
  • Regional Bonus: The game received quite a few changes in the localization process, becoming a lot more polished as a result:
    • The dungeons are all colored differently (only the first, Parapa Palace, retains the tileset used abroad in the Japanese version), the overworld battle music was changed, Barba is drawn and animated better, Carock is now animated instead of being static, the wandering monsters have new sprites, and the classic Item Get! pose is implemented here (before, stabbing things to get them like with the potion was done with all items).
    • There's a brand-new boss in place of a second fight with Helmethead. The second fight from the Japanese version was moved to the second palace, replacing the first fight altogether. The new boss is Gooma, a King Mook version of the Guma enemies.
    • The legendary difficulty is higher internationally, with Tektites only being vulnerable to the Fire Spell (and first encountered long before you get it!) and XP-draining monsters being stand-out examples.
    • The amount of XP needed to level up in Japanese stops increasing at 4000, not 9000, which means you're a lot tougher by the time you reach the Valley of Death and the Great Palace, which are ultra-deadly internationally. To compensate, however, you don't undergo stat reduction when you die in the international version.
  • The Remnant: Ganon's warband. The original game ended on a happy note — Ganon's dead, Link has the Triforce, Zelda's free, and Hyrule is back under its original rulers — but the sequel keeps the camera running. Ganon's warriors have regrouped and summoned up new allies, and now they're harrying the countryside and making reconstruction impossible. They have two objectives: to keep Hyrule weak enough that it can be reconquered easily, and to draw out Link so they can sacrifice him and get their master back. It doesn't work in the actual story (Link was just that good), but Ganon's return is the Game Over screen, so you'll be seeing it happen a time or two.
  • Resurrect the Villain: This is exactly what Ganon's army intends to do.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Why is there a sword embedded in a cliff on the title screen? Rule of Cool? Is it the Magical Sword from the previous game? We will never know.
  • RPG Elements: One of two games in the series that comes close to being an Action RPG. Only Breath of the Wild would come as close, and even then, it does so in a different way while still keeping the number-crunching fairly minimal.
  • Scary Scorpions: Arurodas are blue-colored scorpions with cyclopean eyes that shoot fireballs at Link from their tails. The eye is the weak point, but Link has to wait until it opens to hit it, or else his sword attacks will ricochet. These enemies are found exclusively on East Hyrule, specifically the southeast region of the map housing the last two towns (both named Kasuto), as well as the last two dungeons, in the game.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Try going through the entire game while keeping one, or even two, of your stats (Attack, Magic, Life) at level 1 for the entire game.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • You're not supposed to be able to, but by entering "Glitch Town", you can bypass this. Tool-assisted speedrunners have run the entire game without fighting a single enemy apart from Link's Shadow, using this and some other glitches; here's an example. Live speedrunners have broken the game pretty substantially, too; here's a glitched any% run and a glitched 100%. None of these resemble normal gameplay in the slightest, and all of them visit dungeons and collect items out of order, skip significant segments of the game (not even the 100% run fights Thunderbird), etc.
    • If you don't have any keys, you can use the Fairy spell to squeeze past a locked door.
  • Shout-Out: A gravestone in Saria in the Japanese version features the epitaph "Here Lies the Hero Loto." There is no equivalent text in the North American version.
  • Simple, yet Opulent: Zelda's pink dress is certainly fancy, but has few enough trimmings to also be this.
  • Smooch of Victory: Link and Zelda, behind the curtain after she's been awakened; at least, such is implied.
  • So Near, Yet So Far:
    • The sleeping Princess Zelda is the first thing you see when you start the game. Every time you run out of lives and continue, you start back at the same palace where she's been sleeping for hundreds of years. This is a stark contrast to the original game, where all of the characters named in the backstory were unseen and mysterious until the very last fight of the game.
    • Also, unlike other games, where Link has to go and collect the various Plot Coupons, he has the six crystals on his person from the start. The trouble is getting into the dungeons and then placing each crystal on a statue.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Link has four lines of dialogue in the gamenote , although all of them are only to the player (or, quite possibly, to himself). Nevertheless, this was pretty nearly the only time in the entire series he gets ANY form of dialogue whatsoever until The Wind Waker had him shouting "Come on!"
  • Super Drowning Skills: In the side-scrolling segments. There is an item you can get that allows you to walk on (certain tiles of) water, but that only works on the overhead map.
  • Sword Fight: This game has some of the most intense sword fighting on the NES when it comes to battling Iron Knuckles. It also illustrates the faster reflex-based combat of this title in comparison to the subdued movement-based combat of the previous game.
  • Theme Naming: Error and Bug. Unfortunately, Bug was mistranslated as Bagu in the American version.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Several Mooks that are a non-issue in most games will kill you to death in this one.
    • Tektites especially. Immune to anything but the Fire Spell, and you first run into them before you get it. They hop really high and far, and every part of their body gives Collision Damage (which means with their legs fully extended they are practically boss-sized in terms of do-not-touch radius.) And Zolas/Zoras, which in this game are little ankylosaurus looking things, are immune to everything except Fire and incredibly durable.
    • Link himself is particularly more badass in this game than the last. With the side-scrolling combat he can now jump, use upward and downward thrusts, and fight enemies in one on one sword fights.
  • The Unreveal: According to the game manual, the Magician cursed the original Princess Zelda when she refused to tell her brother the deathbed secret their father imparted to her. However, we never learn what the secret was. Most players presume that he told her what he did with hiding the Triforce of Courage in the Great Palace, but we've never been told for sure.
  • Video-Game Lives: It's the only game in the series where you have multiple lives, the number of which can be increased by finding little doll versions of Link scattered throughout the countryside. (However, you can't get them back after you've collected them, so they're best saved for the end of the game when you can really use the extra lives.) You also get 1-ups in place of level-ups after maxing out Link's levels.
  • Walk on Water: By means of a pair of magical boots, but it only works on a specific body of water leading to the fifth palace and the river south of the fourth palace where the boots are found. Here the river acts as a Door to Before that allows players to skip having to navigate the island maze a second time upon leaving.
  • When All Else Fails, Go Right:
    • Link enters all the boss rooms from the left. Most are considerable distances to the right of the dungeon entrance. However, all the treasures in the temples are to the left. So in order to get everything, you have to go left first, then go right.
    • All temples also have you entering from the left, so the first few steps you make are always to the right (and then down an elevator).
  • When All You Have is a Hammer…: The lack of alternate weapons (bombs, bow and arrows, etc.) put swordplay right at the forefront. Even though you do get a literal hammer, it's used as an overworld item, not as a weapon.
  • Witch Hunt: Two towns in the game, Saria and Darunia, are full of monster spies disguised as non-important NPCs (the kind that just say "Hello!" or "Sorry I know nothing"). Because whether an NPC turns out to be a spy is determined randomly when you talk to them, sometimes you can actually talk to an NPC several times before they attack you, so unless an NPC has something unique to say, you can rightfully accuse them all of being monsters and kill them!