Once again, I'd like to tell that I haven't read any of Zenic's posts about the game, and I don't remember how he graded it. I'll look at his review of the game afterwards. Should be interesting to see if we agree or disagree on this one.
First, the MAMA for this game goes to : The Blue Iron Knuckle!
|Heavy armored MAMA|
Let's go for the ratings :
P for Pleasure/Enjoyment
I sure had a good time through this adventure of Link. As I've said before, the combat system is highly enjoyable and the overworld is huge. The sense of adventure is definitely there and you have this feeling of tackling a huge quest, one palace at a time. However, and that's a pretty big however, the endgame is infuriating. Once you gain access to the second continent, you die often, progress slowly, and you can easily get stuck for a long time on a few subquests or mandatory hidden items. The game is good, and I appreciate the fact it does not take you by the hand, but losing hours because you can't find a Magic container or just because you have to start all over again after being pushed in a lava pit by an unavoidable flying skull is NOT fun. The gaming pleasure is quite lowered by these defaults. I'll go with the middle ground here.
Rating : 5
|For example, here, whatever my skills are, I'm gonna get hit by something in one second.|
I for Intelligence
Here is another area where Link alternatively shines and fumbles. Exploring the overworld is great, and the inclusion of the subquests adds nicely to the variety. However, the player is not really often required to use his brains to solve them. A lot of the subquests are simply resolved by walking into a cavern, taking down foes and retrieving the trophy/elixir/kidnapped child. The mirror quest is a cheap one and don't get me started on the waterboy quest. When you put the game back in the context, though, it holds quite a few nice ideas for a 1988 adventure. The big black spot here is the dungeons. They are dull and repetitive, and mostly require you to dispatch enemies and try not to get lost. The alternative paths in them are much too rare and don't really require an effort from the player until the sixth or seventh palace. I said enough about the mandatory hidden items to find, and the XP system is a nice idea but doesn't really change a lot of the overall experience. I'll go with the middle ground here too, considering I would have given a 7 for the overworld and a 3 for the dungeons.
Rating : 5
Rating : 5
|Yay, a kid! Come on, get in the bag, with the rest of my stuff.|
C for Controls/Inventory
Controls are slick and responsive, and the battle system is a joy. You really feel in control of your movements and besting a difficult foe is always great, especially since so many of them have access to a lot of your moves, making a lot of battles feel like duels. Inventory use is almost nonexistent, which is weird for a Zelda game. You can use the hammer and the flute on the overworld, but all the other items are used automatically. The magic system adds variety to the mix, but relies on the overuse of Shield and Life spells for the majority of the game, asking you to cast the other ones at some points in order to progress. The occasional misstep of letting an enemy push you in a lava pit can almost always be avoided and the overall feeling of the battle system is definitely one of the greatest feats of the game, so it's a pretty good grade here.
Rating : 7
|Shame the Fairy spell never made it to another game of the series...|
A for Appeal
The graphics of the game are crisp and colorful, and the size of the sprites is a nice accomplishment for the NES firepower. They don't feel as stable as the first Legend of Zelda, but it's mainly because of the fact that a lot of the action takes place on the same horizontal lines, and we know the NES doesn't like that. The bosses are not particularly imaginative and the overall art style didn't strike me as much as the first game's, though. Much of the enemies/bosses are humanoid creatures and I kinda miss the dodongos or Digdogger. The music is good but not as catchy as the Legend of Zelda overworld and dungeon themes... Nothing much to say here, but thanks to Nintendo's magic, it's still a clear step ahead the majority of contemporary NES games anyway.
Rating : 6
|The floating horse is kinda classy, though.|
S for Storytelling
The story itself is nothing special. It's still "go in a number of places, battle guardians, get treasures and vanquish evil". Granted, you have to put crystals into place instead of retrieving things, but otherwise, it's the same recipe as ever. However, where this game is a huge improvement over the first one is that Hyrule feels a much more lively place. The towns are nice to explore and talking to people is an interesting touch. One great thing is the difference of ambiance between the first and second continent. The people seem to live in a time of peace on the first continent, even if the monsters are an issue, while the people on the second continent seem much more desperate, asking Like to save Hyrule. The reduced size of dialog boxes and occasional translation missteps drag the whole thing down, and all the towns look like the other ones, with a few exceptions. Nice step in the right direction, though.
Rating : 4
|I understand, invisible monsters can be a pain for the neighborhood...|
O for Optional Stuff
Well, sorry guys, but nothing much to see around here. There are four heart containers and four magic containers, and only the hearts can be considered optional, because you need magic to go on (I rambled about that quite a lot). They are not often hidden in obvious places too, asking you to search every tile instead of sending you on optional paths in order to find them. I guess getting the Shield and Life spell is not mandatory, but I think that trying to complete the game without them is the video game equivalent of repeatedly smashing your fingers with a hammer. No second quest this time neither, even if you can go for a "New game +" after finishing the game, restarting all over again while keeping your experience levels, but I'm not sure this is worth it. We're really far from the first game in this category.
Rating : 2
|You sometimes tumble upon XP bags or lives, but that's about it...|
FINAL PICASO RATING : 48
For its second outing, the Picaso rating pleases me and the grade is coherent with my vision of the game. It's still a good game, but we're far from the first one (and miles from A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time). Should the endgame be less irritating, I would probably have gone with a few extra points, but I'm comfortable with this rating. Now I'll allow myself to go look at Zenic's review again, and see how he rated this one.
But now I'm pretty excited to play through the next game on my list. I've never played Soul Reaver and it's supposed to be a really good game. It's time to go back to vampires and gothic worlds!