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Zelda 2 Deserves A Remake After Tears Of The Kingdom

"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" is in an unenviable position. As the direct sequel to a title often called one of the best video games of all time, "Breath of the Wild," there's been not only a lot of hype surrounding the game, but a lot of skepticism. And although critics and fans alike have greatly enjoyed the game thus far, "ToTK" is still inevitably going to be compared to its predecessor when discussing how it innovates within the franchise. As one of Nintendo's crown jewel series, the "Zelda" franchise is full of entries that were put in the difficult spot of following a game-changing title. "Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link," released in 1988 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, is one such game.

Although "Zelda 2" has long been seen as one of the worst games in the series, that reputation may actually be shifting. There have been a number of think pieces in recent years, not to mention a plethora of Reddit threads and fan forum posts, that have argued for a reappraisal of the game. Many have said that it doesn't deserve its reputation as a weak follow-up to the groundbreaking original game. For all of its faults, "Zelda 2" tried its darndest to be something new, rather than coast on the reputation of the preceding entry — and did so less than a year after the first game's launch. Adding in RPG elements and various attack stances (not to mention side-scrolling combat sequences) was seen as too radical of a departure in 1988, but some modern gamers view it as an admirable risk-taker.

It's far from a perfect game, sure, but that's also why it's totally ripe for a remake. After the success of titles like "Link's Awakening" for the Nintendo Switch and "Ocarina of Time 3D" for the 3DS, it's time for "Zelda 2" to get a second chance.

Zelda 2 deserves the same chance as Metroid 2

Nintendo has shown time and time again that it has a knack for remakes that can retain the strengths of the originals and innovate in exciting ways. Just look at 2019's "Link's Awakening," which combined elements of the original Game Boy title and the technical advancements of more recent entries, resulting in a game that some even prefer over "Breath of the Wild." If you're looking for a game that stands out from the pack and tried new things with the series' then-nascent formula, you can't do much better than "Zelda 2," warts and all. 

Many of the themes and recurring plot devices that have become so prevalent in the series were first introduced here. The cycle of reincarnation, the fact that there are many Zeldas and Links throughout time, Link's struggles with his demonic Shadow self, even the side-scrolling sections that have since popped up in newer titles like "Tears of the Kingdom" — they all started with "The Adventure of Link." Much like "Metroid 2" introduced crucial elements like the Baby Metroid to that mythos, and therefore deserved a remake to bring the story up to modern standards, so does "Zelda 2."

A remake could also refine or restore parts of the game that were lacking in the original. Beyond the obvious cosmetic upgrades that would come from modern console technology, the "Link's Awakening" remake actually managed to fix translation errors and gaps in logic from the original release. Making those kind of adjustments to "Zelda 2" could help the remake stand out as the definitive version of this story.

A remake could be more accessible (and a lot funnier)

Although the game is currently available through legitimate means, thanks to the Nintendo Switch Online's NES library, this version of the game is far from user-friendly. The original release of "Zelda 2" featured a number of hints in the game's manual, which helped with some of the more esoteric puzzles and filled in much of the story. This is all context that is sorely missing from the NSO release, and which a remake could reincorporate into the story proper. Imagine being told specifically what various items do, rather than having to go through the excruciating "try everything against everything else" exercise of trial and error.

And speaking of "errors," a remake could (and should) have fun with the reputation that "The Adventure of Link" has built up over the years. "I am error," a bizarre phrase spoken by an NPC early in the game, has become almost synonymous with this sequel (much in the same way "Castlevania 2" encourages thoughts of the mysterious "Graveyard Duck"). Perhaps this character could be given more to do beyond simply spouting off a non sequitur. Some self-referential humor could be injected into a remake that would play with the audience's expectations, poking fun at the meme-able moments while building towards something new. It could be difficult to do this without "Zelda 2" fully becoming a parody of itself, but the franchise is no stranger to taking surprising swings at humor (we're looking you, Lonely Arrow Girl).

Nintendo tends to thrive when it gets a little weird. "Zelda 2" is a weird game, one that modern audiences might truly come to love — with the proper updates, of course.