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Old 08-16-2012, 02:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link


I'm a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda series. I really am. Sure, the last game I finished (prior to this review) was Majora's Mask; and my copy of Twilight Princess for the Wii still sits unopened in its shrink-wrap (and the strategy guide I purchased with it for that matter). But I have been in love with this series since I first played the original game back in 2002 when I started collecting NES games I never had the chance to experience when I was a kid.
A revolution in adventure gaming in 1986 (Japan), The Legend of Zelda set the bar for the action-adventure genre with its perfect mix of sword-swinging action and the thrill of finding the next dungeon or quest-critical item. And all of this was done in top-down overhead perspective. It was gaming as golden as the cartridge itself.

Nintendo decided to make a sequel-- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. It was originally released for the Family Computer Disk System (or FDS) in Japan on January 14, 1987. The game was then converted into a cartridge format for its release on the NES in North America on December 1, 1988-- nearly two years after its Japanese debut. Though it still had the familiar motifs of exploration, fantasy, and adventure, it also came with some drastic changes and additions that weren't well-received by all-- myself included.

The story pretty much picks up right where the first game left off. Link is now 16 years old and, thanks to strange symbol that appears on his hand, learns the true origin behind the legend of Zelda from Zelda's nursemaid Impa. Long story short-- the princess from the first adventure wasn't the original Zelda; she was just one in a long line of royal females with that name in Hyrule. The real Zelda was put under an eternal sleeping spell by an evil wizard after she refused to divulge the secrets of the Triforce to him. Ironically, the wizard died soon after attacking Zelda. Link must now find to Triforce of courage to break the spell and awaken Zelda from her slumber. Along the way, Link must also battle with Ganon's minions who plan to destroy Link and use his blood to bring Ganon back to life. It's a really bad day for Link.

Most of the gameplay elements in The Adventure of Link are a huge departure from the first game. It all but abandons the top-down overhead viewpoint and instead has a heavier emphasis in side-scrolling combat, exploration, as well as platforming elements too. The overhead viewpoint was reduced to only being used for navigating the over-world map and spotting enemies in your path. If you touch an enemy character, the scene switches to the side-scrolling viewpoint and you'll need to fight your way to either side of the screen and exit back to the over-world map.




This game was the first in the series that focused on role-playing elements to advance your progress throughout the quest. It included experience points, separate towns, and more NPCs for Link to interact with than in the previous game. After performing certain side quests, Link can learn a new magic spell from town sage or a noble knight that will be useful in battle or in reaching key areas in the dungeon palaces he must explore. Overall, the game does a good job of making the land of Hyrule more cohesive and interesting to explore with various towns and people that would help you (or harm you) and often needed your help as well. It was a template that was closely followed by all future Zelda games. What wasn't followed closely was the battle system and certain other design choices-- and for good reason.




Battling enemies is a chore; and a painful one at that. Link can jab with his sword, jump, and block most high or low attacks\projectiles with his shield, depending on whether he's standing or crouching. He also retains the ability to "throw" his sword when he has a full health meter, but the sword only floats a few inches forward (instead of making it to end of screen like in the previous game) before disappearing. It works well enough when fighting unarmed enemies like the Octoroks, but things get dicey when you have to contend with sword & shield-wielding enemies since the thrown sword has no effect on them.

Other enemies like the alligator and lizard creatures armed with axes are an absolute nightmare to deal with. They often have the advantage of striking you before you can back away to safety. Worse yet, Link's shield can't block their attacks either. To be fair, Link learns a spell early in the game which gives him some extra protection from physical damage. But it's still super easy to lose a fight unless you attack and block (where possible) with perfect precision. Link eventually learns a downward and upward slash attack which makes things a little easier going forward, but not by much.




The controls and especially certain enemy characters have a very loose "slippery" feel, and armed enemies often bounce backward from you when blocking your attack. It's especially noticeable when fighting against any variation of the annoying Ironknuckle character (the knight with the sword & shield). They seem to frequently block your attack, but quickly and easily land high and low hits on you.

Battles with these types of enemies often end up being a game of Russian roulette-- you might live...you might not. I tried to employ all manner of patience and strategy, but it just didn't work against the awful battle mechanics. And I can't help but to mention the various sections of the game where Link needs to jump over chasms and lava pits. The lava pit sections are especially aggravating when populated by these horse heads that float in that annoying sine pattern (just like the Medusa heads in Castlevania).




Experience points are gained primarily by defeating various enemies. Once Link gains a level, you can choose to enhance either his attack strength, stamina (the life bar), or magic points. Oddly enough, Link has a limited number of lives. Once you lose all your lives, the game starts you back at the castle where Zelda is sleeping. You'll also lose any experience points you had worked so hard to attain.

This design element was what frustrated me the most about The Adventure of Link. It already takes a considerable amount of EXP grinding to get close to a level-up once you've gained a few levels, then the game just takes it all away from in the blink of an eye if all lives are lost. It's super frustrating having to slog through the same countless battles while trying to continue on your journey at the same time.

In contrast to the not-so-great gameplay elements, the visual presentation is one of this game's few redeeming qualities. Link's character sprite is more detailed than in the previous game and he definitely looks more like a maturing young adult in contrast to his diminutive stature in the previous game. In my opinion, this was probably the best part about the side-scrolling design choice—it allowed for Link to be shown in greater detail than was accomplished before.

The same goes for the various environments and enemies throughout the land of Hyrule. Whether you're fending off assaults in a dense forest, fronting the perils of 'Death Mountain', or navigating the dangerous catacombs of a palace temple on the latest leg of your adventure, the surrounding backgrounds nicely accentuate the experience.




The audio, in my opinion, is just okay. The music listenable, but didn't quite have the same impact of most Zelda games for some reason. Maybe it was just the aggravation of the awful battle system messing with my head. Or maybe it was because the musical quality sounded like something that belonged in Tecmo Bowl instead of a Zelda game. Whatever it was, I didn't enjoy most of the tunes as much as would have hoped. However, I did like the tune that plays in the palace temple areas; it was very Zelda-worthy. That was really the only musical piece that significantly connected with me.




Needless to say, I didn't enjoy playing through The Adventure of Link all that much. Even so, the game generally garnered much praise upon its initial release and there are still plenty of nostalgic fans out there that adore this offbeat entry in the Legend of Zelda series. And to give credit where credit is due, this game started a semi-craze of side-scrolling\RPGs that practically cloned every element from this game through the remainder of the late 80's.
If you're interested in playing this chapter of Link's ever-changing (and never-ending) quest to be involved in Zelda's affairs, then you can find it on the Virtual Console on the Wii for 500 points. It's far from the worst game out there. But the best was a far cry from this one.




If you enjoyed this review, be a pal and hit that 'thumbs up' button, would ya? Danks!




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Old 08-16-2012, 02:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

I can't believe there are so many people out there with the audacity to criticize this amazing game. Did AVGN talk crap about it or something? Where does this all stem from?

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  I agree. LoZAoL rocks!
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

This game has always been the ugly duckling, where have you been? I remember people not liking it back when I was a kid. I also remember I didn't play it much because it was frustrating, this review seems to echo that sentiment.
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

I had this game as a kid along with the first and I didn't like it. So for me it stemmed from the first being great anticipating the second and than being disappointed.
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dudebro View Post
I remember people not liking it back when I was a kid.
Sorry DB but you had bad taste in games, the game is probably among to top 10-20 games released on the NES, and for arguments sake, it's easily in the top 50. This is not up for debate, this is fact, I know because I've played them all.

---------- Post added at 07:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:07 AM ----------

Nevermind, AVGN did cover it: Angry Video Game Nerd - Angry Video Game Nerd: Zelda II | Gametrailers
Game on sheeple!
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

Maybe in the top 50, certainly not in the top 10 by any means. Not even close. I know because I've also played them all. You know I dislike AVGN just as much as anyone with good sense does, so now what?

Here's the problem, Zelda II is a good game, it's just a bad Zelda game.
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Old 08-16-2012, 10:22 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevencassidy13 View Post
I can't believe there are so many people out there with the audacity to criticize this amazing game. Did AVGN talk crap about it or something? Where does this all stem from?
I agree. I don't get the hate. I like Adventure of Link more than the original Legend of Zelda which gets somewhat boring for me. I can go back and play AoL over and over. When I was young, it was one of the first games I ever played that was a challenge due to the combat system. The way you had to find the weak spot in the enemies defense, was unlike anything I had ever played before (at least until the amazingly epic Sinbad and the Throne of the Falcon for the Amiga).

Also, I think that other than the main theme in LoZ, AoL has the best music and atmosphere of any of the early 8-bit Zeldas. In my view, the reviewer is way off in most areas, and is probably saying what he is because it's popular to hate on Adventure of Link. Fie on him!

---------- Post added at 10:22 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:51 AM ----------

I just reread the review, to make sure I had the proper perspective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weakling Girly Man Reviewer
Needless to say, I didn't enjoy playing through The Adventure of Link all that much.
I realize now that this is another way for the reviewer to say, "The game cheated!!!! I never could beat it, so I hate it and everyone else should too!!!"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiteful Reviewer
Even so, the game generally garnered much praise upon its initial release and there are still plenty of nostalgic fans out there that adore this offbeat entry in the Legend of Zelda series. And to give credit where credit is due, this game started a semi-craze of side-scrolling\RPGs that practically cloned every element from this game through the remainder of the late 80's.
This is the reviewer's way of trying to somehow discredit the popularity of AoL and its monumental influence on RPGs by begrudgingly giving it a little credit while still maintaining his bitterness over never beating the game. What a rube!
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

I played through the original Zelda and thought it was an awesome game so I checked out the sequal. I thought it sucked and I've never played another Zelda game since. It's been so long ago I can't even really tell you why I didn't like the game. I just remember being really disappointed.
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

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Originally Posted by D.B. Cooper View Post
I played through the original Zelda and thought it was an awesome game so I checked out the sequal. I thought it sucked and I've never played another Zelda game since. It's been so long ago I can't even really tell you why I didn't like the game. I just remember being really disappointed.
Sorry to hear that. I know not everyone likes every game, but I was sort of the opposite. I played LoZ and AoL for the first time the same weekend way back when. I remember thinking "meh!" about LoZ, but then when I played Link the whole series came alive.

I think the rest of the series is pretty good except for the Zelda Wind Waker series. I think every copy should be rounded up and burned because of the horrible Teletubby style graphics they employed in those. I hate those games!

If you liked LoZ 1, you should try Link's Awakening or Link to the Past on RU. They are more similar to the first game, but without the mindnumbingly awful graphics and repetitive game play of Legend of Zelda for NES.
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

Personally I liked the game and challenge. I think some people were expecting more of the same with a Zelda sequel and thus couldn't warm up to it.

It may also be why Link to the past was so beloved as it was closer to the play style of the original.
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

i played it for a few hours and didnt really care for it, it just felt realllllllly bland
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

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Originally Posted by elrod21 View Post
Personally I liked the game and challenge. I think some people were expecting more of the same with a Zelda sequel and thus couldn't warm up to it.
Well done. Excellent taste ER. You are a gentleman and a scholar as always.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Elrod
It may also be why Link to the past was so beloved as it was closer to the play style of the original.
It could be. I personally liked Link to the Past quite a lot because there was more variety in play. I know LoZ was very instrumental for its day, it just feels so boring and bland to me now. Plus, the grid system of the levels got old to me. LTTP had this to a point, but they did it much better in my opinion.
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:04 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevencassidy13 View Post
Nevermind, AVGN did cover it: Angry Video Game Nerd - Angry Video Game Nerd: Zelda II | Gametrailers
Game on sheeple!
A little off topic, but, you have watched the video, right? Right of the bat he starts praising it and questions the negativity that it receives.

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  THAT POSITIVE REVIEW IS SO NEGATIVE! lol
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Old 08-16-2012, 04:45 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

I finally watched the AVGN review. That was pretty funny.

My favorite part was
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where he was talking about how much he hated the monsters throwing the rocks over the fence. I remember thinking that as a kid. It was just random.
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Old 08-16-2012, 05:01 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

I liked when he was making fun of the dumb names in Zelda 1. I remember looking at that book as a kid and being all confused. A Like Like? Really?
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Old 08-16-2012, 05:11 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

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Originally Posted by Dudebro View Post
I liked when he was making fun of the dumb names in Zelda 1. I remember looking at that book as a kid and being all confused. A Like Like? Really?
Yeah. That part was awesome too. I like the "What is a Tektite?" part where he showed the picture next to the definition.
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Old 08-16-2012, 06:33 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

The kids don't remember what AVGN said, they just remember that he did it.

Let's take a look a a few things.

All the people here who said they disliked it, not one of them was able to say anything specific at all, other than, "I didn't like it" can someone please give me an actual reason they dislike the game?

The game is excellent: Lot's of great exploration, levels to build and spells to acquire. Visit towns and meet villagers, collect neat items, tons of instantly iconic enemies. Top rate gameplay with excellent controls, and once you get the upwards and downwards thrust things really pick up. It's a epic journey from start to finish.
Compare it to other similar games on NES: Conquest of the Crystal Palace, Clash at Demonhead, Battle of Olympus, Whomp 'Em... These all came out 2,3,4 years later, and they all borrowed, to varying degrees, from Zelda 2, these are all great games in their own right, but none are quite on the level of Zelda 2.

It being different from the original Zelda is not a valid reason to call it a bad game. Are you suggesting if the game had a different Name it would instantly be a good game? Think about how ridiculous that sounds.

It is great game, and sorry to be blunt but, if you say otherwise you are wrong.

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  Good points Essie!
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Old 08-16-2012, 07:31 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

@Steven: I did not say it was a bad game, in fact I said it was a good game. I'm not willing to enter some silly, contrived argument over semantics with you. I'm nearly always very, very careful of my wording. Read what I wrote and respond accordingly, if you wish to respond at all.

I dislike it as a Zelda game because Zelda II is a complete disruption of the entire core mechanics of the first Zelda game which I love. It incorporates functional, yet sub-standard platforming. Zelda II integrates it with a less than adequate dueling/sword-play battling system that can be found in (maybe borrowed from) games that predate it by nearly two years such as Trojan.

The very fundamental aspects of what made Zelda a classic (exploration, puzzle solving, dungeon delving) while still present in Zelda II, take a backseat, as Zelda II "showcases" it's new combat and controls mechanics. And that, there-in, lies the problem in Zelda II.

The Legend of Zelda does not have nearly as challenging combat as Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The reason for this being is because Zelda is not about the combat. The combat is simply there to offer small challenges while the player journeys from one dungeon to the next, or from one puzzle to the next. In Zelda II it feels like the exploration and puzzle solving is just tacked on to offer small respites against the highlighting of a combat system that isn't even that original in the first place.

Zelda II is a good game, but as a Zelda game, while enjoyable, it really has its priorities screwed on backwards.

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Old 08-16-2012, 09:11 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ten
Zelda II is a good game, but as a Zelda game, while enjoyable, it really has its priorities screwed on backwards.
I can see your perspective on this. I am probably a bad judge of what is and isn't a "good" Zelda. I think I mentioned earlier, but I played both games for the first time over the same weekend in 1989, so I had no idea of what should constitute a good Zelda game. I have always preferred side-scrolling games to top-down ones, so there is another thing that I liked better about Legend of Zelda II. I truthfully don't see why Legend of Zelda I is so popular. I think it is a decent game, and I can appreciate its influence, but it's not a game I go back and play very often.

Zelda II is a different story. I can go back and play it endlessly. Alot of it is I like the combat, the music, the atmosphere, and the challenge.

I suppose I can see, though, how many people might be disappointed if people wanted Zelda to be overhead and employ more elements from the first game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Essie
The game is excellent: Lot's of great exploration, levels to build and spells to acquire. Visit towns and meet villagers, collect neat items, tons of instantly iconic enemies. Top rate gameplay with excellent controls, and once you get the upwards and downwards thrust things really pick up. It's a epic journey from start to finish.
Compare it to other similar games on NES: Conquest of the Crystal Palace, Clash at Demonhead, Battle of Olympus, Whomp 'Em... These all came out 2,3,4 years later, and they all borrowed, to varying degrees, from Zelda 2, these are all great games in their own right, but none are quite on the level of Zelda 2.
I do think Essie had some good points here. Zelda II was very influential game, and if you are into the style it brought, I think it is excellent. If you wanted it to be more like Zelda I, then again I can see why people would be sad.

I don't have a problem with the logical reasons you gave Ten for why it isn't what you wanted in Zelda. I feel the same way about the Wind Waker games. I hate the graphics so much they literally make me nauseous, and I have always refused to to play through the whole thing due to this. In my case, I guess I wanted it to look more like Ocarina of Time and the other later gen Zelda games. I guess it might come down to style preference.
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:12 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

@Ten, none of what I said was directed at you, or anyone specific, it was an open post for all to read.
Now to respond to you directly, your points are all valid, I would probably share the same sentiments had I enjoyed the first one as much as you, but that's going too deep beyond the surface of my point. My beef is simply with people saying it is a bad game. You have made it clear that you think it is a good game, so as far as I'm concerned, we are on the same page.
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Old 08-17-2012, 12:56 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

Quote:
not one of them was able to say anything specific at all, other than, "I didn't like it"
Not true. I said it was frustrating. Warghoul said it disappointed him because of how much he liked the first one. DB Cooper was also disappointed for the same reason. Katz said it was bland. Those are all valid reasons to dislike a game whether you agree with it on not.

But, I didn't actually say I dislike the game. I said I didn't play it much because it was frustrating. Instead of accepting that valid criticism you decided to amp up the fanboy and say I have bad taste in games. It's hard to have a rational discussion with you about stuff you feel strongly about because of that kind of thing.

Quote:
he kids don't remember what AVGN said, they just remember that he did it.
Also stuff like that. Instead of just admitting you were wrong you go twist it so you're still right, or not as wrong, or something.

I'm not looking to fight about this. You obviously have something to prove and I don't care enough to get into it anymore than I already have. Btw the ugly duckling thing was a reference that must've went over your head. It starts off mocked and scorned by it's peers but goes on to be appreciated for it's unique beauty. Next time I won't be so subtle.
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Old 08-17-2012, 02:39 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

@DB, So do you think it is a good game?

---------- Post added at 06:39 AM ---------- Previous post was at 06:35 AM ----------

Ya'know in hindsight I should probably just shut my mouth, considering I think the overall most highly regarded title in the series (OoT), is total garbage. Kinda the same thing I guess.
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Old 08-17-2012, 02:45 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

I wouldn't go that far, but I'm not a big fan of platformer games anyways. I've defended this game before though so that should count for something.
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Old 08-17-2012, 04:01 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

I played it when I was really young, probably like 6 or 7, and it was really difficult for me. So much so that I shied away from it. Later on I found Battle of Olympus and I thought that was a sweet game. I never really thought about playing AoL ever since, but I'll give it a shot later this week.
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Old 08-17-2012, 09:21 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Classic Game Essay: The Weakest Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by jozman3000 View Post
I played it when I was really young, probably like 6 or 7, and it was really difficult for me. So much so that I shied away from it. Later on I found Battle of Olympus and I thought that was a sweet game. I never really thought about playing AoL ever since, but I'll give it a shot later this week.
You should give it a go. I am in the opposite camp. I have always thought about Battle of Olympus, but have yet to play it. I should do that.

---------- Post added at 09:21 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:53 AM ----------

As to the main topic, I know people will always have different views (it's why we call them opinions), but I feel fairly passionate about Adventure of Link as well.

The thing that I don't get is why the hate seems to have settled in more over time. When it came out, the game was a massive hit with mostly universal praise, but somehow over the years people have started to hate on it more. I'm not talking about RU people here, but in general.

Here is what my current Zelda list would probably look like. I left a couple off the list because I haven't tried them.:

1: Ocarina of Time
2: Link to the Past
3: Adventure of Link
4: Skyward Sword
5: Link's Awakening
6: Majora's Mask
7: Legend of Zelda
8: Link: The Faces of Evil
9: Zelda: Wand of Gamelon
10: Zelda's Adventure

(Left space for future games)


57) Wind Waker & Phantom Hourglass
( Click to show/hide )
Teletubby Link should be erased from history in my opinion.


As an aside, I don't get the extreme hate for the CD-I games. I own them all, and though they aren't amazing, I think they have better stories and tried for more content wise than most of the Nintendo ones of the same era. As much as I love the Zelda games, I don't know why Nintendo felt the need to keep remaking the same game over and over again. At least the CD-I ones tried to do something new.
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