Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 19, 2014

Email: Black Sheep? Huh?

That last emailer is looney.  Just because HE doesn’t like Zelda II does not mean the rest of the market felt the same way.”People call Zelda 2 the black sheep because it is.”

Sorry dude, but the NES generation (myself included) would disagree with you BIG time.  We voted in FAVOR of Zelda II back in the day.  The game sold like crazy and sold systems left and right.

Sean, when you said “Six year old kids beat Zelda 2 without any guides or maps,” you were spot-on.  I was one of those kids, and I was about that age when I beat the game.  I had no Nintendo Power and no guides.  I don’t even know how I learned to beat the game, other than I must have talked to other kids who owned the game.
The game was not that difficult.  It was one of the few NES games I could beat back then.  Hell, it had a save feature and you could heal yourself!  Other NES games were so hard because they had no save feature, you had a limited ability to heal yourself (if any ability at all), and you had limited continues (if any at all).  Zelda II saved your stats and items and gave you unlimited continues.  You could even collect little dolls to gain extra lives!
I never see people talking about this, but I remember that I specifically used death as a tactical advantage to beat the game.  I would frequently drain my mana bar by casting too many spells, then die so I could empty it and cast more spells.  Dying was useful!  That was how I got through the Great Palace as a kid.  I’d kill those bird knights with Thunder (very useful!) then die if I needed mana for a later portion of the palace.  I would also use fairy to get through that treacherous road to the Great Palace.  I’d just fly through enemies instead of dealing with platforming and lava pits.  Then when I got to the Great Palace, I’d use the continue feature to my advantage by starting the palace with 3 lives.
I don’t need to use these tactics anymore, but back then, they were really helpful.
Zelda II is a masterpiece.  We need another game like that.


When was the last time a Zelda game has been called a ‘masterpiece’? Zelda 1 and 2, LTTP, Link’s Awakening, and Ocarina of Time are certainly masterpieces. But no one describes later Zelda games with that word. Even the few fans of Aonuma Zelda never call the games a ‘masterpiece’. They might say they are ‘good games’ (whatever they mean by that), but not even they would place an Aonuma Zelda next to Ocarina of Time or even LTTP.

Zelda has lost something.

I also get the sense that Nintendo is more interested in making ‘momentum’ than in making games. The modern Nintendo games all feel half-assed. For example, Mario Kart 8 lacks a proper Battle Mode. 2d Mario lacks a decent soundtrack and punching graphics. The earlier Nintendo games never felt half-assed to me. Consider Zelda 1. They find out they only used up half the memory. OK, so they add in a Second Quest. Today’s Nintendo would never do that. They’d say ‘ship it! We need the momentum!’ and then sell Legend of Zelda Quest 2 as another release for ‘more momentum’ or as DLC.

I think a reason why Nintendo may feel the need for ‘momentum’ is because they feel completely outgunned by the rising tide of asset generation. It only took a few people to make a NES game. But with 3d games, it took many, many more. Now, with HD games, it takes WAY more people. Masterpieces are not made when developers feel outgunned. Shakespeare was never outgunned by the theater for example.



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