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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 palaces.link set out on his mostadventuresome quest yet...©1987 nintendo
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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Link no Bouken in Japanese) 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...

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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 if one counts them, two of the infamous CD-i games, Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon), 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 would be released to commemorate the series' 35th anniversary, which came to fruition in November of 2021. This release also contains the European and original Japanese versions of all three games.

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This game provides examples of:

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  • Absurdly Low Level Cap: There are 8 levels in each of three categories (Attack, Magic and Health). Between the very quick first few level-ups and the six palace crystals that each give you a free level, these go pretty fast — by the time you're ready to attack the last palace, you'll probably be maxed out. In fact, even any-percentage speed runs of the game tend to get almost all the levels. Because the palace gives an instant level up at the end, savvy players tend to level grind after beating the boss until they level up so that they can obtain the next level up instantly without wasting the free experience points that the crystals give. If the player is maxed out already, the levels are exchanged for 1-ups, which are rare.
  • A Chat with Satan: In the final dungeon, Link must defeat his own shadow, later named Dark Link, in order to obtain the third Triforce piece and awaken Princess Zelda. However, given Link's status as the world's most legendary Heroic Mime, there's no actual "chatting" involved.
  • Actionized Sequel: The game shifted its focus away from collecting items and solving puzzles in dungeons towards a more developed side scrolling combat system where Link can perform different sword attacks and cast magic. Instead of being able to just mindlessly hack away at enemies, the sequel now has enemies who either need specific sword attacks or magic to defeat and other enemies like Iron Knuckles require precise timing to hit them when they're open to attack.
  • Actually Four Mooks: On the main stage map, black silhouettes of individual monsters will attack Link on the overworld map, revealing themselves to be crowds of mooks or, if they encounter you on roads, absolutely nothing at all.
  • After Boss Recovery: Defeating a boss in a dungeon won't recover Link's health. However, placing one of the six crystals into the dungeon's lectern will not only fully recover his health and magic meters, but also give him experience points up to the next level-up.
  • A.I. Breaker:
    • Enemies who chase Link actually read your controller inputs, making it difficult to hop over them as they'll turn around mid-jump and you'll land on them. However, when Link jumps forward he maintains the momentum even if you take your finger off the direction pad. If you get the timing right, you can jump over enemies effortlessly and just keep running, since they'll keep going in the opposite direction until you hit the d-pad again to keep moving, which is a tactic put to great effect by speedrunners.
    • This is also the reason why jumping in and attacking shield-bearing enemies in the head is so effective. Baddies like Ironknuckles and Lizalfos are programmed to immediately guard low whenever you duck, and jumping briefly puts Link into a crouching position while he leaps upward.
    • The first Blue Fokka on the "correct" route through the Great Palace has an AI hiccup where, by standing a pillar of four blocks (the room it appears in just so happens to make this very easy), ducking, and stabbing as he jumps up to try and hit you, you'll smack him in the head and leave him to keep trying, making it very easy to dispatch it. The second one, however, does not show up in a room where this is possible. In fact, a lot of enemies in the game seem oddly unable to handle a jumping crouch stab.
    • The end boss, Link's Shadow, is among the hardest bosses in the NES era... unless you stand on the far left, duck, and just sit there stabbing over and over. The boss AI will repeatedly walk right into your sword, leading to an easy victory. Most ROM hacks add lava or some other deadly hazard on the leftmost tile to disallow this. Incidentally, the original FDS version did not have this; it was caused by an RNG bug common in FDS to NES ports.
  • Airborne Mook: Being much more of a platform game than other installments in the series, the game has several. Bubbles bounce around the screen in diagonals and take a ton of hits to kill. Aches and Achemen are bats that swoop down from the ceiling, Achemen turn into a demon when they land and spit fireballs. Mobys are a bird that swoops down out of the sky and beelines at Link once they reach his height. Bago Bagos are a skeletal monster head that take soaring leaps across the screen while spitting stones. Ras are the animated dragon head statues and the Ledge Bats of the game. Moas are flying ghostly eyeballs — the orange ones in palaces try to drop fireballs on Link, the outdoor types just try to fly into him. Girobokkus are a slower moving, armored floating eye that are invincible when their eyes are closed. Boons are fast moving dragonflies that rain rocks down beneath them, luckily they're fragile because they're very hard to hit.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: There are cacti in enemy battles in the desert. These are only one-armed, though.
  • 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. 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. Retaining this in the NES version, though, is at least an accidentally nice thing for the game to do.
    • 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.
  • Apathetic Citizens: The game has a mix.
    • Plenty of people are willing to help Link, but sometimes require strange tasks. Getting one key spell, for example, requires getting water for a woman when the fountain is the next screen over. Another complains about a trophy being stolen and requires its return to get the spell.
    • The random townspeople are a mixed bag. Some of them are clearly worried with phrases like "You must save Hyrule!" and "Please save our town!". Others express "I am much too busy to talk to a stranger" or "I know nothing".
  • 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 (a Helmethead rematch), whose head is invulnerable.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Thunder spell does heavy damage to every enemy on screen. But the cost for the spell is extremely high — with a fully leveled magic power and fully extended magic meter, one casting of Thunder still drains half your magic. And this is Zelda II, where you'll be needing that magic for healing.
  • 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.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Aches and Achemen are one-game enemies that resemble Keese and Vires in almost all respects save that Aches can transform into seemingly regular humans to spy for Ganon's forces.
  • Battle Boomerang: This is one of the few games in the series where Link cannot use a Boomerang on his own. Only the Goriya enemies do, and throw theirs at Link to attack him.
  • 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 in the series to have battle music for them. Neither kind of music existed in the first game, which at most had an intro fanfare for Ganon prior to the Final Boss battle. 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).
  • Beige Prose: Dialogue is brief, with occasional abbrevs & odd syntax. Necessity of translation.note 
  • Bird People: In the Final Palace where the Thunderbird awaits, his servants are the Fokkanote  and Fokkeru. The Fokka are male eagle knights with talon arms instead of wings to wield their sword, and shield. The Fokkeru are the females of the Fokka with actual wings, and Non-Mammal Mammaries, they shoot fireballs instead of swordfighting like their male counterparts. Being placed there by the King in ancient times to ensure only the worthy would get the Triforce of Courage, the Fokka, and Fokkeru are not actually evil, and just await a true hero to overcome them.
  • Blackground: The game has 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. This is also likely because the background turns bright red - It has to in order for the player to even see the final boss.
  • Blackout Basement: All caverns are dark until the Candle is collected in the first dungeon.
  • "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).
  • Blood Magic: According to the manual, the monsters want to kill Link to use his blood to revive Ganon. They apparently succeed if you get a Game Over.
  • 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 Japanese Disk System version but "Palaces" in the English NES version, 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 Wizard 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 can make one wonder why a large bird of prey has a human skull for a face.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: Moruge Swamp and Midoro Swamp in West Hyrule, where the muddy water damps Link's motion. The latter swamp is where the second dungeon (Midoro Palace) lies.
  • Bullfight Boss: Rebonack's first phase has a mounted Iron Knuckle charging Link until Link can do enough damage to the horse to force him to dismount.
  • Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff": The Thunderbird has little resemblance to its namesake from Pacific Northwest Coast folklore.
  • 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.
  • Chest Monster: There are townspeople who turn into monsters after you talk to them. These are fairly easy to avoid, though — just... don't talk to the random townspeople. They very rarely have anything interesting to say anyway.
  • 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 go down through the chimney.
  • 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 international versions, 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.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: The Final Boss of the first game was Ganon, a feared leader of the monsters that ravaged Hyrule, and who is defined by his desire to possess the full Triforce; he evades Link with invisibility and fires magical bolts at him. The Final Boss of Zelda II is Dark Link, a Doppelgänger of Link born from his shadow. He is the final test that must be overcome before Link can obtain the Triforce of Courage, and he relies entirely on his sword to fight.
  • Creepy Cemetery: There are several graveyards on the world map, including a massive one that hides the entrance to the third palace. Since Random Encounters are almost always difficult in graveyards, you'll generally want to avoid them. However, visiting the tombstone south of King's Tomb will be necessary to progress in the game.
  • 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 
  • Cute Slime Mook: Zols and Gels, which are red (or blue) gelatinous creatures. There's also a giant version in the Great Palace.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: On Link's 16th birthday, a strange mark appears on his left hand, the Triforce, and thus the adventure begins.
  • 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.
  • Dead Guy Junior: The game's backstory in the manual states that there's a law in Hyrule for princesses to be named in honor of the "sleeping" Zelda in the game. As Link and Zelda are constantly reincarnated from previous bearers of the name, all but the first Link and Zelda are this. That is, assuming Link is actually named "Link".
  • Decapitated Army: Averted. Ganon's followers are ruthlessly determined and organised, setting up many traps to ensnare Link.
  • Degraded 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.
  • Ditto Fighter: The final confrontation is against Link's own shadow, who has all of his strengths and weaknesses. He's known as Link's Shadow in the game, but renamed Dark Link in subsequent appearances.
  • Door to Before:
    • Each of the first 6 palaces has a back door just past the final room, leading back outside.
    • 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.
  • Drop the Hammer: Link can get a Hammer in Death Mountain, though it can only break rocks and cut trees in the overworld map. It cannot be used during battle.
  • 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.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The protagonist is the SAME Link from the first game. You can understand that people might ask him to save a kidnapped child or help the citizenry; after all, that's what he is supposed to do. But to refuse to let him cross a bridge, or to ask him to fetch some water? Not only did this guy save the country from the local Evil Overlord, but he is the envoy of the ruler of said country.
  • Dungeon Town: The original town of Kasuto was abandoned because it was invaded by invisible Moas. Once you get the cross, the Moas become visible, making it possible to explore the area (slightly) more safely. The towns of Saria and Darunia are dungeon towns too, but only if the player so chooses. Both towns have aches disguised as random villagers and talking to any of them has a chance of drawing the ache out to fight Link. Don't talk to anyone who's not relevant to the plot and you'll never know about the danger lurking within those two towns.
  • 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: Dark Link appears in later Zelda games as well, but his debuting appearance here this fits the trope the best. At the very end of the Great Palace, after Link defeats the Thunderbird, a wizard is seen making Dark Link pop out of Link once the boss room is entered. Link's final test for the Triforce of Courage is fighting his own evil.
  • Epic Flail: It has been an intimidating weapon in the series since this game. Not only are there enemies who throw spiky maces at Link, but one of the bosses (Gooma) attacks him with a very powerful morning star.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: The screen flashes as bosses die. When Link dies, the screen flashes multiple colours save for Link's black silhouette. These effects have been considerably toned down in rereleases, however.note 
  • 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).
  • Expansion Pack World: The game begins in North Hyrule, a region directly north of where the first game occurred. Death Mountain, located at the extreme north of the map in the first The Legend of Zelda, is now located at the extreme south, and two additional continents come into play.
  • 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.
  • Fearful Symmetry: Dark Link pulls off the same moves as you do. It's not pretty. You can cheat and head to the corner and down stab.
  • Fetch Quest: There's a number of these which Link is forced to perform in order to be taught the skills he needs to complete his quest. At one point, he has to fetch a kid, who is held up in the air and stored in inventory like anything else.
  • Fireballs: A spell learned in Nabooru lets you toss them around with your sword, which is the only way to damage certain enemies.
  • 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.
  • Four Is Death: The fourth palace, the Maze Island Palace which is found in a labyrinthine island in East Hyrule, is an eerie, purple-colored palace overrun by Wizards and undead enemies.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: It is possible to destroy a palace without completing it by using a glitch caused by activating the fairy spell while off-screen, meaning you won't be able to place all six crystals in the palaces. Of course, this would require doing the palaces out of order, using the glitch, and then saving your game.
  • Game-Over Man: Ganon in the international versions, complete with 8-bit Evil Laugh. The Japanese version only has a pitch-black background saying "Game Over".
    GAME OVER
    RETURN OF GANON
  • 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.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: To avoid triggering epileptics, all ports and rereleases of the game remove the rapid flickering effects seen in the NES original when certain spells are cast, bosses are defeated, or Link is killed, and replace them with a single solid color.
  • 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.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Dark Link, the Final Boss of the game. Link already defeated the guardian of the Great Palace (Thunderbird). For some reason, the Triforce Keeper draws out his shadow and they must fight. Many believe it was a final test to deem Link worthy of the Triforce of Courage, and others believe it is the apparition of Ganon's shade, but no official explanation is ever given.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Inverted. You need to return the crystals you have to the palaces, rather than collect them.
  • Grave Humor: The Japanese version has a grave in Saria Town read "here lies Loto, the hero" (Loto being Erdrick's Japanese name in Dragon Quest I).
  • 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).
  • Healing Potion: The Water of Life is odd in that you don't use it yourself, but instead fetch it to give to a woman who needs to heal her sick daughter.
  • 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 raising 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. All Heart and Magic Containers (of which there are 4 each) are found in the overworld, whereas bosses instead reward Link with an automatic level up.
  • 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.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Dark Link is one of the series' most recognizable bosses, and a very direct case as it was introduced here, the direct sequel for the first game.
  • Improbable Accessory Effect: There's a glove that gives Link the ability to stab rocks. Likely a predecessor to later items in the series with similar properties, which were explicitly Tricked-Out Gloves that gave Link superhuman lifting ability. It also contains the line, "With boots I could walk on water."
  • 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.
  • Killed Off for Real: Ganon's minions need Link's blood to revive their king. This is said to be the ONLY way to revive him at this point, since Link took the Triforce of Power from him after his defeat.
  • 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.
    IF ALL ELSE FAILS USE FIRE.
  • King Mook: The third palace has an Iron Knuckle riding a horse as one boss. He returns as a miniboss down the line in the sixth. There's also Carock, which looks and attacks like a Wizard but is bigger and faster in terms of teleport frequency, and much harder to hit (that last being something Wizards are good enough at already). Yet another example is Thunderbird, a giant-flying variation of the Fokkeru birds that drop fireballs in the Great Palace.
  • 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.

    L-Z 
  • 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, with the sole inversion being the red Ache, which has a more dangerous humanoid form (Acheman) that its blue brethren do not. 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, whose prolonged pathway (which leads to the final dungeon, the Great Palace) is not only filled with lava pits but also flame-like enemies (Moa) that are invisible to the naked eye (the Cross negates that). 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.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: The game distinguishes between heart containers, magic containers, health level-ups AND magic level-ups. Only their respective gauges would be restored on pickup or level-up.
  • Life Meter: Unlike in all other games in the series, the life meter is represented via a row of rectangles instead of a row of hearts. Collecting a Heart Container will add a new rectangle to the row to extend it.
  • Live Item: At one point, you have to rescue a child from a cave. The child counts as any other item in the inventory.
  • 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, Dark Link. He's summoned into scene at the end of the Great Palace to challenge his owner in a fierce battle, serving as the final test to claim the Triforce of Courage.
  • Lord British Postulate: Bubbles are supposed to be invulnerable, but due to programming limitation are actually set to have 255 hit points before being defeated. If you have enough patience (or leveled up your sword enough) it can be done for a measly 50 experience.note 
  • Losing Your Head: The boss monster Helmethead will lose several helmet-covered heads that proceed to float and attack Link independently of the body.
  • Magic Is Rare, Health Is Cheap: Inverted. Magic jars are plentiful in the game, while there's no item that restores health. At one point, Link can learn the Life spell, which restores three bars worth of energy (out of the default four, and out of eight at most; so if Link is badly damaged you'll need to use the spell twice). The other means of recovering are in a town, or collecting a Heart Container; this is one of the many aspects that factors in the game's Nintendo Hard nature.
  • Mana Burn: Glowing floating skulls drain magic from Link upon contaxt. Link has no items that are usable outside the overworld map, so all his extra-super powers require mana to use. In addition, the skulls do just enough damage that if you have full life to use the sword beam, you can't anymore. They can be killed and give a lot of XP for early dungeon enemies, but they require a lot of hits, even with the highest attack power.
  • Mana Potion: The blue bottles restore one section of the Mana Meter. Red bottles restore all of it.
  • Marathon Level: The final dungeon, the Great Palace. An enormous labyrinth full of dead ends and fake floors, one of which leads the right way. Spiders and Ledge Bats are everywhere as well, of course. It's also possible to end up on the wrong path, which is almost as long as the correct one, and one fake floor later in the level sends you to the end of that path. And God forbid if you've forgotten to learn the spell required to be able to damage the boss when you finally reach 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 Plus: Unlike 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, and the Game & Watch 35th Anniversary edition also allows you do so with a secret input.
  • 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.
  • New World Tease: The Great Palace, with its golden tiles and music if you were unfortunate enough to have marched all the way up there without having placed all the crystals in their corresponding spots. Or even unlocked the penultimate palace (let alone gotten the item from there, which would have made the trip to the Great Palace much easier).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The game's story strongly suggests that life in Hyrule has become even worse since the (very) first game, because now, nobody is controlling Ganon's monsters. It doesn't help that the one thing said monsters can focus on is that by killing Link, they can revive Ganon.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The Moas are flame-shaped spirits that roam in graveyards, as well as the entrance of certain palaces. The orange Moas merely move back and forth in the rooms where they appear, while the red and blue Moas move with more accuracy and attempt to hit Link (if they succeed, they'll not only deplete part of his Life Meter but also some of his experience points). The Blue Moas are also invisible, thus requiring the power of the Cross (an item found in the Three-Eye Rock Palace) to be seen.
  • 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.
    • Passing through locked doors to obtain treasure items is a waste of magic in the FDS version because items have to be struck with Link's sword in order to collect them, which he can't do in Fairy form.
  • Noob Cave: The cave leading to Parapa Desert, where the first main dungeon (Parapa Palace) awaits, serves this role. Without the Candle, which is obtained in the aforementioned palace, visibility will be reduced as the cave is naturally dark. Luckily for Link, the threat level is minimal (one measly Lowder, whose skittering can be made out even in the darkness).
  • 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.
  • NPC Roadblock: The River Devil who blocks the north-south road of Eastern Hyrule. In order to get rid of him, you must play the flute.
  • 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.
  • 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 and Korean names of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds changed that (both versions are called Triforce of the Gods 2).
    • 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-Hit Kill: The Thunder Spell can kill almost every kind of enemy shown in the screen, but costs a lot of magic.
  • 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.
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: This is the entire game. Ganon's leftover goons need Link's blood to revive their boss, but the dungeons, including The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, are all a big test. Ironically, this is the hardest game in the entire franchise; the test is worse than the actual villains you must face to save the world in the other games.
  • 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.
  • Overworld Not to Scale: The only purpose the top-view map serves is to connect existing locations, with occasional wandering monsters to harass you. In fact, the entire map of the previous game fits into a small plot of land south of Death Mountain.
  • Palette Swap: Orange is added for weaker variants of enemies, with red being stronger than orange and blue being stronger than red, though with armed enemies the weapons often change with the color (such as the orange variant of the Daira enemy in Death Mountain swinging its axe at Link and the red variant throwing axes at him).
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling:
    • There are plenty of good places to grind for experience late in the game, but one of the better ones you can access earlier on is the large prairie across the eastern sea. The Tektites you find there are only vulnerable to the Fire spell, but they give 50 experience points each, go down with a reasonable amount of hits, and every sixth one you kill drops the best goodies; either a red potion or a 200-point XP bag. What's more, the town of Nabooru is just a few paces away, so your life and magic can both be refilled in a snap. It's even easier to farm Tektites for XP in the FDS version, as they can still be killed with your sword.
    • The Skulls in the first dungeon are a great source of experience. They take a little while to kill (50 blows at level 1) but they drop either 50 or 200 XP and are completely immobile while being attacked. You can often get two or three at once to speed things up, then leave the screen to get them to return.
  • Perfect Play A.I.: The Final Boss is an example that predates even the more infamous fighting (i.e. MK) examples: Dark Link aggressively advances toward the player and tries to attack whichever position (high or low) the player isn't currently guarding against; and when the player attacks, Dark Link merely counters with his shield in the appropriate position. He is remembered for having one flaw in his AI ("duck and stab") because he sometimes counters a low strike with a jump, which leaves his legs open to attack.
  • 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.
  • Planet England: In this game, Link explores the entire world (or a large part of it), crossing at least two continents. The original Hyrule from the first game is tucked away in a tiny corner of that world map. It's implied that Hyrule has expanded in the recent centuries to cover all that land. Later sequels however returned to the original smaller map, and have simply ignored the issue of what exists beyond Hyrule proper, except for the Gerudo Desert (subtly characterized in games such as Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild as being separate from the Kingdom of Hyrule) and the continent of New Hyrule in Spirit Tracks (explicitly founded by refugees from the original, now sunken Hyrule).
  • Player Death Is Dramatic: Link is visible only as a silhouette against a red background upon death.
  • Player Tic: In the side-scrolling parts, jumping wherever you go. If you jump again at the instant you land, you only lose a little momentum or none at all, even if you're not touching the d-pad. Stabbing down may get added to the mix once it's unlocked.
  • Plot Coupon: The Six Crystals, or rather the six statues to put the crystals in (you have the crystals at the outset). They dispel the barrier that protects the entrance of the Great Palace.
  • Point of No Return: Once you've removed the barrier and descended down into the Great Palace, you're locked in until you either beat the game or get a Game Over. Trying to go back up again and leave the final dungeon reveals that the barrier has reappeared, and you cannot dispel it from the inside.
  • 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.
  • Power-up Full Color Change: the Shield spell turns you red. Anything that's the same shade of green as your tunic will change with you, even undergoing the very same flicker.
  • Pre-existing Encounters: There are certain squares on the overworld map that lead to a monster battle when stepped on, no matter what. There's a particularly annoying series of them near Death Mountain that you need to pass in order to reach the last part of the game. If your timing is just right, you can lure an enemy onto those squares and get off with a much easier encounter.
  • Pre-Final Boss: At the end of the Great Palace, you must fight a red (or blue, when its weakness is discovered) bird named Thunder Bird before the final battle with Dark Link.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Princess Zelda wears a pink dress, something which is made more clear in the instruction booklet than the game itself.
  • 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 turn enemies into Bots, 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. Following the Gerudo king's death in The Legend of Zelda, his followers attempt to resurrect him with Link's blood during the events of this game, which is why Link is constantly beset by monsters. Game Over means the bad guys succeed.
  • 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.
    • The small old man in red Link meets at the end of the Great Palace. Is he guarding the Triforce of Courage, is he allied with Ganon, or is he something else entirely? No one knows for sure.
  • Rip Van Winkle: Long before the game's events, a previous princess named Zelda (separate from the one encountered in the preceding game) had a cruel brother who mistreated the citizens of Hyrule with the help of an evil wizard. When Zelda refused to tell her brother what she knew about the location of the Triforce, the wizard tried to kill her with a spell that instead killed him and put Zelda in a deep slumber. The remorseful brother placed his sister in a castle tower in the hope that she would one day be woken up. The plot of the game involves Link finding the Triforce of Courage to do so.
  • Roaming Enemy: The game shows a variant where roaming, generic-looking enemy sprites start to appear in the overworld if you leave the safety of the path, but will become an entire miniature side-scrolling level full of mooks if it's touched.
  • 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.
  • Rule of Seven: Seven palaces across all of Hyrule. The first six have statues onto which the sacred crystals have to be deposited in order to dispel the barrier protecting the entrance to the seventh, where the Triforce of Courage awaits.
  • Sand Worm: The game features Geldarms, centipede-like creatures that emerge out of the sand in desert-based Random Encounters.
  • Save-Game Limits: Like in the first game, upon saving you begin at the starting point, though you keep all your progress in every other way. The starting point in this game is North Palace, where Princess Zelda is sleeping. Also, saving adds a death to your death count. Since you can already save whenever you die, the save function (which you need a second controller to use) is essentially a suicide code. However, this game also has one exception in the final dungeon, the Great Palace, likely due to its distance from the start and the fact that it's also behind a stretch of some of the most Nintendo Hard terrain there is, filled with invisible Demonic Spiders hovering over pits of death and so forth. So if you die in the last dungeon, you'll restart at its entrance. (AOL)
  • Save the Princess: A unique case, as Link has to help another Princess Zelda wake up from a spell that causes her to sleep eternally in the North Palace. She remains safe otherwise. (AOL)
  • 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.
  • See the Invisible: The Cross, located in th penultimate dungeon, allows Link to see and fight invisible enemies.
  • Segmented Serpent: Barba/Volvagia is a serpentine dragon whose body consists of several centipede-like segments. In the official art, however, its a regular serpent.
  • 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.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: Iron Knuckles can raise their shields to block most of Link's attacks and can only be harmed from the front when these are lowered.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Tantari and Parapa Deserts are both located north of West Hyrule, and the latter is where the first dungeon (Parapa Palace) lies. During the Random Encounters that take place in them, Link has to deal with hovering rocks and erected centipedes (Geldarms). Tantari Desert features a cave with a plot-critical item necessary to progress in the game. In the southwest corner of Parapa Desert, a coast in front of the sea, there's a secret location with a Heart Container.
  • 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 English version.
  • Simple, yet Opulent: Zelda's pink dress is certainly fancy, but has few enough trimmings to also be this.
  • Skeleton Key: The Magical Key returns from the first game, though with a mildly different design and sprite. Like before, it can open unlimited locked doors, making it a necessity for the sixth palace unless the player knows the trick to bypass the doors with the Fairy spell.
  • Smart Bomb: The Thunder spell, which uses half your magic. It's also needed to expose the vulnerable spot in the penultimate boss.
  • 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.
  • Stab the Sky: The Up Thrust ability, which allows Link to attack flying enemies from below, as well break blocks the same way in dungeons.
  • 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.
  • Sword Plant: The game marks the debut of Link's sword-planting move. It is called Down Thrust, and is learned in the town of Mido, during the process to find the third dungeon (Island Palace). It allows link to inflict damage to enemies by "bouncing" on them with the sword aimed downward, quasi-Mario-style.
  • Teleport Spam: Carock, the boss of the Maze Island Palace, heavily indulges in this. Crouching in one corner with the Reflect spell active renders it a non-issue, however.
  • Temple of Doom: Not only are all seven dungeons Temple of Doom-type, the monsters within them are ostensibly not on the same side as the ones on the Overworld Not to Scale.
  • Temporary Platform: Some corridors have fragile stone bridges that gradually disintegrate as Link walks onto them, and beneath them is usually deep water or lava, both of which mean instant death upon fall.
  • Theme Naming: Error and Bug. Unfortunately, Bug was mistranslated as Bagu in the American version.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: The game tries to avert this by depicting towns with houses that serve no plot or game purpose and where Non Player Characters are constantly walking past you and off screen. However, there are still a small number of character sprites and most of the extra Non Player Characters just repeat the same generic dialogue.
  • Thunderbird: The penultimate boss of the game is called Thunderbird, though it actually attacks with fire magic and doesn't really seem to be incredibly avian in appearance. Its reason for being named after the mythological beast is a bit tenuous, as it is actually necessary to hit it with the Thunder spell to allow Link to strike it with his sword.
  • 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.
  • Tricked-Out Gloves: The Handy Glove allows you to break blocks with your sword in dungeons. It is located in Midoro Palace.
  • 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.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Carock, the boss of the fourth palace, can only be damaged by using the Reflect spell to bounce his magic spells back at him. If you reached him without obtaining Reflect, you cannot win. Luckily, dying puts you in the room before the boss room so you're free to leave the temple and find the spell.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The role is filled by the Great Palace and is the longest level in the game, big enough for you to get lost. To get to it, you have to travel through a lava-strewn terrain, which only exists in that one part of the world. The Great Palace also has unique music, unlike the previous six dungeons which all had the same music. Also if you lose all your lives there (which is very likely to happen) you will begin your quest again from the entrance instead of all the way back at the start of the game. It is the only dungeon to feature this trait.
  • 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!

IF ALL ELSE FAILS USE FIRE.
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