Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is an action role-playing video game with platforming elements. The second installment in The Legend of Zelda series, it was developed and published by Nintendo for the Family Computer Disk System on January 14, 1987, less than a year after the original Legend of Zelda video game was released and seven months before the United States saw the release of the first Zelda title. The game was later released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America and PAL regions in 1988, almost two years after its initial release in Japan, converting the game from its initial Disk System format to the NES cartridge.
The Adventure of Link is a direct sequel to the original Legend of Zelda, again involving the protagonist, Link, on a quest to save Princess Zelda, who has fallen under a sleeping spell. The Adventure of Link's emphasis on side-scrolling and role-playing-style elements, however, was a significant departure from its predecessor. As of 2013, the game remains the only technical sequel to the original game, as all other games in the series are prequels, according to the official Zelda timeline.
The game was highly successful at the time, and introduced elements such as Link's 'magic meter' and the Dark Link character that would become commonplace in future Zelda games, although the role-playing elements such as experience points and the platform-style side-scrolling and multiple lives were never used again in canonical games. It was followed in 1991 by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super NES.
The Adventure of Link bears little resemblance to the first game in the series or later games in the series. The Adventure of Link features side-scrolling areas within a larger top-down world map rather than the exclusively top-down perspective of the previous title. It is more an action-RPG, much like Faxanadu (also on the FC/NES). The side-scrolling gameplay and experience system is also very similar to many games in the popular Castlevania series, especially Castlevania II: Simon's Quest also released for the FDS in 1987. The game incorporates a strategic combat system, a proximity continue system based on lives, an experience points (EXP) system, magic spells, as well as more interaction with non-player characters (NPCs). Apart from the CD-i exclusive Zelda: Wand of Gamelon and Link: Faces of Evil, no other game in the series includes a life-feature. The side angle was used again in Link's Awakening and the other Gameboy entries, but was not the main angle in those games, which relied primarily on the top-down view.
Several years after the events of The Legend of Zelda, the now-sixteen-year-old Link notices a strange mark on the back of his left hand, exactly like the crest of Hyrule. He seeks out Impa, who responds by taking Link to the North Castle, where a door has been magically sealed for generations. Impa places the back of Link's left hand on the door, and it opens, revealing a sleeping maiden. Impa tells Link that the maiden is Zelda (not the Zelda from the first game), the princess of Hyrule from long ago, and the origin of the 'Legend of Zelda'. Zelda's brother had tried to force her into telling their recently deceased father's secrets concerning the last of three sacred golden triangle treasures of his kingdom, known collectively as the Triforce. Princess Zelda refused to reveal its location, and the prince's wizard friend, in anger, tried to strike her down with a spell. Zelda fell under a powerful sleeping spell, but the wizard was unable to control the wildly arcing magic and was killed by it. The prince, filled with remorse and unable to reverse the spell, had his sister placed in the castle tower, in the hope that she would one day be awakened. He decreed that princesses born to the royal family from that point on would be named Zelda, in remembrance of this tragedy.
Impa says that the mark on Link's hand means that he is the hero chosen to awaken Zelda. She gives Link a chest containing six crystals and ancient writings that only a great future king of Hyrule can read. Link finds, although he's never seen the symbols before, that he can read it, and it indicates that each crystal needs to be placed in a different palace in Hyrule. This will open the way to the Great Palace, which contains the Triforce of Courage. This, combined with the other two parts, has the power to awaken the enchanted Zelda. Taking the crystals, Link sets out to restore them to their palaces. Meanwhile, the followers of Ganon are seeking to kill Link; sprinkling his blood on Ganon’s ashes would bring Ganon back to life.
Ultimately, Link restores the crystals to the six palaces, and with the crystals in place, the entrance to the Great Palace is opened. After venturing deep inside, Link is made to battle a shadowy doppelgänger of himself known as Dark Link. Link then claims the Triforce of Courage and returns to Zelda. The three triangles unite into the collective Triforce, and Link's wish awakens Zelda. The game ends as they (presumably) kiss under a falling curtain.
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