I’ve never been a fan of the Smash Bros. series. I spent one tween summer getting my ass handed to me by my friend Ross and that was enough to put me off the frenzied “jumpy-bouncey-bounce” mechanics of the series. Because of Ross’s gaming excellence and my lack of an N64 to practice on to exact my revenge, I never revisited the series because it was too hard for me. Fast forward almost 20 years from the original N64 release and I’ve lost 20 hours of my adult life to mostly playing as Link and tricking my brain into thinking I’m indulging in a loose follow-up to the side-scrolling-and-also-excellent NES game, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
If you’re unfamiliar, Zelda II was the follow-up to the Very Good NES classic, Legend of Zelda. The sequel, in which, the titular Princess Zelda is dead/asleep/comatose, bucked the top-down view of the original to create a sort of 2D side-scrolling, overhead world map hybrid of what could easily be called the first “western RPG-style” game (straight from Japan, no less). You begin on a 2D plane and walk to the right or left, jumping (a series first) and stabbing a tiny sword that seemingly only swings one direction. When you exit your initial staging area where the princess lies dormant, you’re treated to an overhead map with a tiny Link character who can no longer attack — all he can do is walk in the four cardinal directions. After a few steps, tiny black sprites of enemies appear on the map and move around in random patterns. Walking into one triggers a “battle” where the game reverts to a 2D plane again, changes music queues, and you’re free to jump and swipe at a low-level enemy like a blob that looks like the Dragon Quest slimes.
Link gains experience for every kill and levels up, giving the player their first peek at a progression system that echoes the “character builds” of modern RPGs. Investing in magic or health nets you more HP or MP respectively. Link equips new items, armor, levels up his jumps so he can stab upward and downward — and THAT, my friends, is why I’m writing this article about Smash Bros and haven’t mentioned it yet. Because I can basically do all of this and more with the new Smash Bros. Ultimate and I’m bloody loving it.
Link is the only character in Smash Bros that matters. I know you like your Nesses, Pikachus, and Peaches, but you’re wrong. Because what Nintendo secretly gifted you was a sequel to Zelda II in the World of Light mode. Think about it:
- A world map with an overhead view
- 2D battles trigger
- Link does downward stab and upward slash
- Jigglypuff is kind of one of those blobs
- You can level up your spirits to have more health/attack/magic, etc.
- You can even go into the extras and turn on the OG Zelda II tunes while you play.
Apparently there are other modes to this game. And yes, I’ve played them, but they’re Smash Bros. The World of Light Mode is meant to be Zelda II: The Sequel. Don’t @ me.
Honestly, though, I’m really enjoying the game and can’t wait to unlock all 70 fighters sometime by mid 2019.