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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
TAoL Black Logo.pngTAoL NA NES Box Artwork.png
Tadashi Sugiyama (director)
Yasuhisa Yamamura[1] (director)
Shigeru Miyamoto (producer)
Akito Nakatsuka (sound composer)
Release date(s)
Famicom Disk System
Japan January 14, 1987[2]

Nintendo Entertainment System
North America December 1, 1988[2]
European Union September 26, 1988[3]

Game Boy Advance
North America October 25, 2004
Japan August 10, 2004
European Union January 7, 2005[4]
Commonwealth of Australia 2005

Wii Virtual Console
North America June 4, 2007
Japan January 23, 2007
European Union February 9, 2007[5]
Commonwealth of Australia February 9, 2007

Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
(Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors)

North America August 31, 2011
Japan August 31, 2011
European Union September 1, 2011
Commonwealth of Australia September 1, 2011

Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
North America November 22, 2012[6]
Japan June 6, 2012
European Union September 13, 2012[5]
Commonwealth of Australia September 13, 2012
Republic of Korea May 4, 2016[7]

Wii U Virtual Console
North America September 12, 2013[8]
Japan September 11, 2013[9]
European Union September 26, 2013[5]
Commonwealth of Australia September 26, 2013

Nintendo Switch Online
North America January 16, 2019[10]
Japan January 16, 2019[11]
European Union January 16, 2019[12]
Commonwealth of Australia January 16, 2019[13]
Republic of Korea April 23, 2019
Republic of China, Hong Kong and Macao April 23, 2019

Nintendo Switch Online (SP)
North America March 12, 2019[14]
Japan March 13, 2019
European Union March 12, 2019
Commonwealth of Australia March 13, 2019
Republic of Korea April 23, 2019
Republic of China, Hong Kong and Macao April 23, 2019
Content ratings
  • ESRB: E
  • PEGI: 3 (GBA)
  • PEGI: 7 (Virtual Console)
  • CERO: All
  • CB: G
  • USK: 0
StrategyWiki Favicon.png Zelda II: The Adventure of Link guide
at StrategyWiki
ZU-logo.png The Adventure of Link Guide at Zelda Universe

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is the second main installment of The Legend of Zelda series and the direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda.[note 1] It was originally released on the Famicom Disk System in Japan and eventually on the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America and Europe. While retaining many of the features of its predecessor, The Adventure of Link altered certain elements of gameplay, most notably affecting movement and combat. Traveling across a world map would lead to enemy encounters which took place on a side-scrolling field of play rather than the top down perspective for which the series became known.


Link and Impa observing Princess Zelda I

A few years after the defeat of Ganon and the rescue of Princess Zelda, Link, now at the age of sixteen,[17] is disturbed by the appearance of a mark on the back of his hand. Upon seeing this mark, Impa, the nurse of Princess Zelda, tells him the story of how, ages ago, the King of Hyrule had hidden a third part of the Triforce, the Triforce of Courage, in the Great Palace to safeguard it from evil.

Upon the death of the king, his son had searched for the missing Triforce, but its location had been imparted only to the king's daughter, Princess Zelda. Angered upon learning this, the Prince tried to use the power of a Magician to force the truth from his sister. After she refused, the wizard cast a spell upon her to put her into a deep sleep, which caused the wizard to die soon after. Only by uniting the Triforce of Courage with its counterparts, Link would be able to awake the sleeping Princess Zelda. Upon hearing this tale, Link receives from Impa six crystals that serve as keys to open the seal on the Great Palace.

Link waking up Princess Zelda

As Link learns all of this, the minions of Ganon begin to attack once again. Believing that they could revive their master by pouring the blood of Link over his ashes, they begin to spread across the land, seeking for him. Eventually, Link is able to gain the Triforce of Courage. Uniting the three Triforces, Link returns to the Northern Palace to wake the slumbering Zelda.


The Adventure of Link was the sequel to the highly acclaimed The Legend of Zelda, and the second Zelda game released. Like its predecessor, The Adventure of Link features dungeons that must be located in the overworld. Inside them, Link can find a boss and an item that will prove useful. However, the game features many and very significant gameplay changes from the previous installment.

Combat is restricted to the Sword and Shield. The main projectile weapon is the Sword Beam, which can only be used when Link has full health. The game also lacks recovery Hearts, meaning that Link can only recover his health by leveling up, using the Life Magic, finding Fairies or Heart Containers, or by talking to some women in towns.

Screen Interface

The game features a more prominent use of a side-scrolling perspective, which is used when Link is exploring a town, cavern, secret open field, bridge, or dungeon. The top-view perspective is only used when moving through the overworld. In addition, when an enemy group (represented in the overworld map as black-colored creatures) manages to make contact with Link, the perspective changes to a side-scrolling one, where Link must either defeat the enemies or flee.

Magic Usage

When Link is on a side-scrolling perspective, he is able to use Magic. Each Magic can be used either for attack, defense, or solving puzzles. Each ability consumes a certain amount of Magic Points on Link's Magic Meter, and while their effects are of unlimited time, they automatically cancel after Link reaches a new area. Certain enemies drop Magic Jars that contain Magic Power which replenishes the Magic stock. There are eight Magic Spells in total:

  • Shield: Enemies inflict half of the damage.
  • Jump: Makes Link jump twice as high.
  • Life: Makes Link recover three life points.
  • Fairy: Turns Link into a Fairy, used to reach high places and pass through locked doors.
  • Fire: Makes Link able to shoot fireballs from his Sword (two at a time).
  • Reflect: Allows Link's Shield to counter stronger projectiles.
  • Spell: Turns enemies into Bots.
  • Thunder: Eliminates every enemy in the screen.


Link fighting Gooma

As Link defeats enemies, he gains Experience points. When a certain number of points is reached, Link can increase the level of his health, attack, or Magic up to level 8. The maximum Experience amount that can be reached is 8,000. After leveling all three attributes to their maximum, every time Link accumulates 9,000 points, he receives an extra life. Link can also increase his Experience points by collecting Treasure Bags.


Link starts with three lives, and when he is defeated, he loses one, afterwards resuming his quest from the same place where he was defeated. Link can increase his life stock by collecting Link Dolls, generally hidden in secret areas or dungeons. When Link loses all his lives, the game is over and the next time he resumes his quest, he will restart from the Northern Palace. However, Link retains everything he has collected.

Item Usage

Link can also collect different items, however, not all of them can be used directly by pressing a button. The Hammer and the Flute are used in the overworld by pressing certain buttons, to which said items are assigned permanently. They can be used to open new ways to new areas, whereas the Boots and the Raft are used for crossing otherwise unreachable areas without the need of a button press. Other items have permanent effects for the side-scrolling perspective. The Candle illuminates darkened caves, the Handy Glove allows Link to break blocks inside dungeons, the Magical Key can open any locked door, and the Cross allows Link to see invisible enemies.

Second Quest

The game also offers a Second Quest after completing it. However, the game is the same, only that the Experience stats, Sword techniques, and Magics learned are retained from the previous playthrough.

Game Information


Development of The Adventure of Link started with Shigeru Miyamoto's idea of creating a side-scrolling action game which used up and down movements for attacks and defense.[18] This idea was developed as a new sword and shield action game that did not follow the system seen in the first The Legend of Zelda.[19] At the end of development, the game was considered a type of spin-off until it was decided on a story where Link would be 16 years old, attaching the Zelda title to it.[20]

The leveling up system was added so players could battle enemies multiple times, while encounters on the overworld added a luck factor to the narrow map.[21] The high difficulty of the game was implemented to extend playing sessions due to the lack of content in games at the time.[22]

Regional Differences


  • In the Japanese version of The Adventure of Link, Blue Octoroks can be found inside Midoro Palace. In international versions, they were replaced with blue Aneru.
  • The location of the King's Tomb differs significantly between the Japanese and international versions of The Adventure of Link. In the Japanese version, the King's Tomb features a dark sky and enemies such as Bots and a Red Goriya. This area was revamped in international versions to feature a light sky and the enemies have been replaced by an elderly woman who explains the surrounding area. The location present in the original Japanese version was relocated southwest in international versions of the game.


  • The River Devil's sprite resembles an Oni in the Japanese version of The Adventure of Link. However, in international versions, its sprite was changed to resemble a black hexapod. As Oni were not culturally relevant to foreign consumers at the time of release, this was possibly done to avoid any connection to Satan.
  • The Trophy has a different sprite in the Japanese version compared to international versions. In the original Japanese build, the Trophy has its wings outstretched and its hands held open whereas in international versions, the Trophy has folded wings and has its hands clasped together in prayer.


  • The names of two characters, Error and Bagu, form plays on the technical terms for "error" and "bug" respectively. Though Error's name, エラー (Erā), was localized properly, Bagu's name was instead mistakenly transliterated from バグ (Bagu) and the intended meaning was lost.

Graphics and Audio

The overworld map has a similar visual style to that of the first Zelda game, but more polished and incorporating new elements that reflect the variety of the ecosystems; there is also a clear distinction between the enemy-free paths and the rest of the ground territory (grass, trees, sand, etc.). The side-scrolling visuals are more reminiscent of the platform games for the NES, especially Super Mario Bros.. Also, each dungeon has a different texture and architecture, not like in the original game.

Unlike most other games in the series, none of the music in this game was composed by famed composer Koji Kondo with the exception of the overworld theme, which was partly based on his original overworld theme. Perhaps for this reason, almost none of the music in this game was brought back in other games. The Temple music, however, has been remixed several times, and can be heard in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and notably returned to the Zelda series as the "Streetpass Battle Theme" of A Link Between Worlds. An alternate slower version of the temple music also serves as the Victory theme. The only other Zelda game to include music from The Adventure of Link is The Minish Cap. Since both games contain scenes of Zelda awakening, the music was reused from Adventure of Link. The miniboss music in The Minish Cap is also a remix of a song from The Adventure of Link: the Famicom version of the battle theme. The composer of this game is Akito Nakatsuka, who also composed the music for Ice Climbers.

As for sound effects, there are also many differences in the Japanese version. A few examples include different music for the title screen and for when Link encounters an enemy. In the Famicom version, the bosses also roar, and the sound effects are harsher sounding than in the NES version.


Overworld of Hyrule

Hyrule in The Adventure of Link consists of two continents and two islands. It features eight towns, which names were later used to name the Sages in Ocarina of Time. Four Towns are located in Western Hyrule and four are found in Eastern Hyrule.

Like the first game's incarnation of Hyrule, the world of Adventure of Link is not landlocked, meaning that Link will have to travel overseas to move from one side of Hyrule to the other. Death Mountain, which was in the north in the first game, is now in the southwest. While it was a simple mountain region in the first game, it is now a complex rocky labyrinth.

Timeline Placement

Both this game and the first are linked in continuity, since the first game revolves around retrieving two of the major fragments of the Triforce, and Ganon is fought in order to rescue Princess Zelda; the second game revolves around finding the third major fragment in order to revive an incarnation of Zelda that was sleeping for a very long time, and to impede the revival of Ganon.

In the timeline revealed in Hyrule Historia, The Adventure of Link takes place in the "Downfall" branch after Ocarina of Time. It is the latest entry in the timeline that has its roots in Ocarina of Time, and starts with A Link to the Past. After Ganon is defeated again in A Link to the Past, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, and A Link Between Worlds, Hyrule then entered The Golden Era, in which the wise Hyrule monarchs used the Triforce to govern the land. After the last king's death and the attempt of the Prince of Hyrule to assemble the complete Triforce, Hyrule was lead into the Era of Decline. The Prince of Darkness Ganon was revived, leading to the events of The Legend of Zelda, but ultimately defeated by Link. The events of The Adventure of Link take place a few years later, but refer back to the Princess Zelda that was put under a sleeping spell at the beginning of the Era of Decline.

Completion Records

Main article: Speedrun Records
Time Performer Date Notes
17:34[23] Lite May 4, 2021 Any%
57:36[24] dood September 22, 2019 Any% - No warps or deaths
49:00[25] dood November 26, 2020 Any% - No Major Glitches
1:06:40[26] dood November 23, 2018 Any% - No Door Fairying
41:35[27] dood November 26, 2020 Any% - No Scroll Lock
51:31[28] dood December 12, 2020 100%
1:13:46[29] dood March 10, 2019 100% - All Keys, 1CC














The Adventure of Link was commercially successful, selling 4.38 million copies worldwide and being the fifth best-selling Nintendo Entertainment System game of all time;[30] however, it sold less than its predecessor, which sold 6.51 million copies.


In terms of critical reception, IGN reviewer Lucas M. Thomas gave the Virtual Console version a score of 8.5/10, encouraging players to give it a try and forget about the common belief that it is a "bad game";[31] he praised the sound, the gameplay, the length and the presentation, but admitted that the graphics "did not age very well". Kristian Reed from Eurogamer, when reviewing the Game Boy Advance version, justified the game being underrated, saying that the game was "an ill-fated experiment", and that it aged "badly".[32] When reviewing Spirit Tracks, Game Observer editor Jacob Crites cited The Adventure of Link as one of the black sheep in the series, along with Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker and Spirit Tracks itself.[33]

The original version earned a score of 36/40 from Famitsu, and was placed 110th on Nintendo Power's Top 200 best Nintendo games of all time (however, in the December 2009 Issue, they changed their mind and placed it last in their list of best The Legend of Zelda games).

Fan Reception

Years after its release, The Adventure of Link has received positive feedback from fans of the franchise. It currently holds an average reader score of 9.4 at IGN,[34] as well as a current average user score of 8.0 in GameSpot.[35]

Ports and Remakes

In 2003, Nintendo released a bundle for the GameCube which included Collector's Edition, a disc which featured, amongst other games, The Adventure of Link. A port for the Game Boy Advance for the "Classic NES Series" was also released.

The Adventure of Link has also been released for download on the Wii's Virtual Console. The game became available on August 31, 2011 as one of the games eligible for free download over the Virtual Console as part of the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program, a service available to players who bought a 3DS before its price dropped on August 11, 2011.[36] It was officially released in the US on November 22, 2013. The game has also been released for download on the Wii U Virtual Console on September 12, 2013.

The NES Classic Edition included The Adventure of Link as one of the 30 games available.

The Adventure of Link was added to the Nintendo Switch Online Service on January 16, 2019. A special save file was also added to the service which started the player with all Experience maxed out at level 8.[37] This version was named "Zelda II - The Adventure of Link: Link, warrior without equal."[38]


Despite featuring many radical changes from the previous Zelda title, the game also offered canonical elements to be part of the series' standards. It contributed largely to the overall storyline and gameplay of the series. For instance:

  • The ability of Ganon to be revived/return after defeat/death.
  • The introduction of the Triforce of Courage.
  • The first appearance of Dark Link.
  • A magic system, even though it was never used so excessively after this game.
  • The introduction of several new enemies and one boss (aside from Dark Link) that return in later games, such as the Iron Knuckle.
  • The ability to learn new moves (though still limited to only two). More generally, the existence of distinct sword techniques at all, as opposed to the single forward strike of The Legend of Zelda.
  • The Sages in Ocarina of Time are named after the towns in this game (in-game chronology, however, indicates the opposite: The towns were named after the Sages).
  • The need to do tasks outside the main mission Quest like having to save a trophy or finding medicine for a sick child.
  • This is the first game where Link shapeshifts (into a Fairy) as well the first game where the process is voluntary and beneficial.
  • Contrary to popular belief, this is not the only Zelda game to feature side-scrolling gameplay. It is used briefly in the first game when taking secret passages. It is also used in the Game Boy games Link's Awakening, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, and in Four Swords Adventures when taking underground paths, as well as certain boss fights.
  • Bosses have their own battle theme. They lacked it entirely in the first game.
  • This is the first game where villages and towns appear.
  • This is the first appearance of an adult Link in the series. Link is officially sixteen in this game.
  • All of the dungeons in this game are known by the word for temple in Japanese, and this naming convention is reused in English as well as Japanese and most other languages in some other entries in the series, like Ocarina of Time. The English localization of this game changed it to palace due to Nintendo of America's then-current policy concerning religious references in games.
  • Certain recurring types of item, such as the hammer and boots.
  • The suggestion of romantic interest between Link and Zelda, as implied by the ending.
  • Enemy characters disguise themselves as NPCs to ambush Link, which would later be reflected with the Yiga Footsoldiers in Breath of the Wild, and to a lesser extent Blind the Thief and the Cubus Sisters in A Link to the Past and Phantom Hourglass, respectively.


The Japanese intro with typos

  • Although the Japanese title for The Adventure of Link uses the English name of The Legend of Zelda, and the game's backstory explicitly defines The Legend of Zelda as a plot concept, the English language game is the only one in the main series not to include The Legend of Zelda in its title.
  • The Adventure of Link marks one of the few times where Link speaks in a main game, by saying "I found a mirror under the table" while in Saria Town and "Looks like I can get in the fireplace" in Kasuto.
  • The Famicom Disk System version of the game uses the infamous "Gannon" spelling in the intro, as well as other typos such as "Tryforce." This intro was largely re-written in the North American release.
  • Acording to series creator Shigeru Miyamoto, The Adventure of Link is the only The Legend of Zelda game he considers a failure,[39] this due to the limitations of the hardware.[40]
  • Ganon's laugh on the game over screen in the English version is also used in the NES game Punch-Out!! as Soda Popinski's laugh.


TMC Forest Minish Artwork.png Names in Other Regions TMC Jabber Nut Sprite.png
JapanJapaneseリンクの冒険 (Rinku no Bōken)[41]The Adventure of Link
This table was generated using translation pages.
To request an addition, please contact a staff member with a reference.


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External Links


  1. This game was referred to as The Legend of Zelda II in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword — Prima Official Game Guide by Prima Games.[16] However, as this contradicts the name of the game, it is not considered Canon.


  1. 「ゼルダの伝説 夢をみる島」開発スタッフ名鑑 (from Nintendo Official Guide Book – The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening pp. 120–124), GlitterBerri.com, published July 1993/May 4, 2011, retrieved September 29, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books) pg. 7
  3. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link sur Nes, jeuxvideo.com, retrieved September 27, 2017.
  4. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Nintendo Europe, retrieved June 10, 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Nintendo Europe, retrieved June 10, 2014.
  6. Zelda II - The Adventure of Link, Nintendo of America, retrieved June 10, 2014.
  7. Virtual Console, Nintendo Korea, retrieved May 6, 2016.
  9. Wii U|リンクの冒険|Nintendo, Nintendo.
  10. Nintendo, Nintendo Entertainment System - January Game Updates - Nintendo Switch Online, Youtube.com (Video), published 8 January 2019, retrieved 21 March 2019.
  11. Nintendo, ファミリーコンピュータ Nintendo Switch Online 追加タイトル [2019年1月], Youtube.com (Video), published 8 January 2019, retrieved 21 March 2019.
  12. "New #NES games have been added to #NintendoSwitchOnline – Nintendo Entertainment System! Wipe out hordes of radioactive mutants in Blaster Master, and seek out the Triforce of Courage in #Zelda II: The Adventure of Link." — Nintendo UK, @NintendoUK, Twitter, published January 16, 2019, retrieved August 8, 2019.
  13. Nintendo, Nintendo AU NZ on Twitter, twitter.com, published 16 January 2019, retrieved 21 March 2019.
  14. Ryan Craddock, Nintendo Adds New NES Games And SP Versions To Switch Online Earlier Than Planned, Nintendo Life, published March 12, 2019, retrieved August 8, 2020.
  15. Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books) pg. 10
  16. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword — Prima Official Game Guide (Prima Games) pg. 7
  17. Nintendo Virtual Console: Adventure of Link
  18. "Development started with Mr. Miyamoto saying he wanted to make a side-scrolling action game that made use of up and down movements for attacks and defense. It's rooted in actions like jump strikes, downward strikes, and high and low shield defense moves. Types of moves that weren't possible in the first game." —Tadashi Sugiyama (Zelda II – The Adventure of Link director on how development started, title, difficulty, and more)
  19. "Rather than being a continuation of the series, it started as a new sword and shield type of action game. We were experimenting while producing the game so we didn't really have the first game's systems in mind while developing it." —Tadashi Sugiyama (Zelda II – The Adventure of Link director on how development started, title, difficulty, and more)
  20. "As for it being unique within the series, we were searching for new ways to play so you could say it's like a spin-off. At the end of development we decided on a story and that Link would be 16 years old then attached [The Legend of Zelda 2] and released it as the second game in the series." —Tadashi Sugiyama (Zelda II – The Adventure of Link director on how development started, title, difficulty, and more)
  21. "There were various restrictions at that time so we put in the level up system as a way to have players battling enemies time and time again. As for the symbol encounters, the field map was narrow so the system added a luck factor to it." —Tadashi Sugiyama (Zelda II – The Adventure of Link director on how development started, title, difficulty, and more)
  22. "The foundation of action games at the time was to feel difficult for everyone. Games didn't have a ton of content at that time so in order to have them played for as long as possible we felt like we couldn't make them easily clearable." —Tadashi Sugiyama (Zelda II – The Adventure of Link director on how development started, title, difficulty, and more)
  23. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Speedrun.
  24. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link - Any% Deathless, Speedrun.
  25. https://www.speedrun.com/zelda_ii_the_adventure_of_link/run/me6l428z
  26. https://www.speedrun.com/zelda_ii_the_adventure_of_link/run/y6po6ejm
  27. https://www.speedrun.com/zelda_ii_the_adventure_of_link/run/m7506pez
  28. https://www.speedrun.com/zelda_ii_the_adventure_of_link/run/y6reod6y
  29. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link - 100% All Keys, 1CC, Speedrun.
  30. RPGamer - Japandemonium: Xenogears vs. Tetris
  31. http://wii.ign.com/articles/793/793966p1.html Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Wii Review at IGN]
  32. Classic NES Series - Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Review (GBA)
  33. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks - Zelda at its Finest
  34. IGN: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
  35. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link User Reviews for NES - GameSpot
  36. Official Nintendo Website - Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program
  37. "Start this version of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link with your Attack, Magic, and Life all maxed out at level eight!" — N/A (Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online)
  38. "Zelda II - The Adventure of Link™
    Link, warrior without equal.
    " — N/A (Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online)
  39. "Compared to Legend of Zelda, Zelda II went exactly what we expected... All games I make usually gets better in the development process, since good ideas keep coming, but Zelda II was sort of a failure..." —Shigeru Miyamoto (SUPER PLAY MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS SHIGERU MIYAMOTO ABOUT THE LEGEND OF ZELDA)
  40. "I think specifically in the case of Zelda II we had a challenge just in terms of what the hardware was capable of doing, [...] So one thing, of course, is, from a hardware perspective, if we had been able to have the switch between the scenes speed up, if that had been faster, we could have done more with how we used the sidescrolling vs. the overhead [view] and kind of the interchange between the two. But, because of the limitations on how quickly those scenes changed, we weren't able to. The other thing, is it would have been nice to have had bigger enemies in the game, but the Famicom/NES hardware wasn't capable of doing that. Certainly, with hardware nowadays you can do that and we have done that, but of course nowadays creating bigger enemies takes a lot of effort." —Shigeru Miyamoto (Shigeru Miyamoto's 'Bad' Game)
  41. The Adventure of Link manual, pg. 3, 42 Nintendo Classic Mini Family Computer - Manuals, Nintendo. Nintendo Switch Online - Famicom & Super Famicom Collection, Nintendo.
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