After following up on a comment legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto made about making a "bad game," Kotaku got a fairly surprising answer: that game was Zelda II. Miyamoto confirms this outright stating, "I wouldn't say that I've ever made a bad game, per se, but a game I think we could have done more with was Zelda II: The Adventure of Link."
He goes on to state the limitations of the NES as a reason for his personal failure, saying, "I think specifically in the case of Zelda II we had a challenge just in terms of what the hardware was capable of doing. It would have been nice to have had bigger enemies in the game, but the Famicom/NES hardware wasn't capable of doing that. 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..."
Now, I know people are fairly divided on this entry in the Zelda franchise, with some critics citing the poor translation or high barrier of entry as reasons to avoid it -- but frankly, I loved it. Like Actraiser, Zelda II blends 2D platforming sequences with top-down old school JRPG map exploration. Encounters on the world map are not random, and if an enemy touches you, the game springs into a 2D confrontation.
It was weird, especially after following the instant classic in the original Zelda. But there was something about the game that I really connected with, especially given the fact that the action portion was enhanced from the original, and it had a full-on experience system. Specifically, a lot of the enemies were brilliantly designed with concepts that continue to be used today, including the defensive oriented Ironknuckles. While it could have used a bit more polish, it's easily one of the more unique games in the franchise, and shouldn't be missed.
Don't be so hard on yourself, Miyamoto.
Shigeru Miyamoto's 'Bad' game [Kotaku]
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