Finally got round to crossing off another NES game on my list, and its ended up as a surprise highlight of its respective series. The game is none other than Legend of Zelda 2: Adventure of Link.
Often sited as the black sheep of the franchise, it stands out as a major departure for the series as its a side scrolling platformer/action game rather than a top down action RPG.
The barrier I remember having when I played the game originally back in the day was the combat. I remember finding it hard to defeat even the most basic of foe but as it turns out I'd been playing it wrong all those years... Its one of the few Zelda games that really feels like it requires you to use the shield, while you always have a shield in the series I really never used it unless a puzzle called for its use. Here you need to use it a heck of a lot to deflect attacks and projectiles which the enemy relentlessly throws at you. Iron Knuckles are your main adversary throughout the game, getting more and more dangerous as you go. You have to swap between attacking their unguarded area and blocking their own attacks. Its incredibly fast paced and damn satisfying each time you strike one down.
The game has an EXP system which lets you level up your attack, magic and health but its also pretty evil in that when you get a game over, its back to the north palace - stripped of any EXP earned in your last run and you have to head back to whichever area you were in (though mercifully the final castle has a save point right outside of it).
The game could have been absolutely terrible but thanks to the incredibly solid and responsive controls I never had any issues with attacks or platforming. It feels sorta like Castlevania in a way, just with a more responsive main character.
Its one of my favourite games in the series now. It can proudly sit alongside 1, 3 and the GB game as my favourites in the series. Now onto Kirby...