The 12 games of Christmas #11: Zelda II – The Adventure of Link

Hi, my name is Jeremy, and I am and always have been kind of a jerk.

I borrowed The Legend of Zelda from a friend when I was in junior high, with a few pointers for some of the more obtuse puzzles, handily destroyed the game within the space of a couple of weeks. A few days later, I had ruined the Second Quest, too, because apparently I was some kind of video game Rain Man back then. Needless to say, I was pumped for Zelda II… to the point where I would call every department and toy store in the city (which was quite a few in a town of a quarter-million people) several times a week in search of it.


Of course, Zelda II ended up being tragically, hideously delayed, because historically Nintendo is not very good at mass-manufacturing (he says, as he scans over “sorry, we canceled your preorder!” email notifications for multiple Amiibos). It was set for initial release in the summer of 1988 but ended up not coming out until late that fall. That’s a lot of fruitless phone calls to local retailers and begging my parents to take me out shopping because I just knew they secretly had it in stock but just wouldn’t admit it on the phone.

When the game finally did ship, I barely believed it. I also didn’t have any cash to buy it with, because what the heck does a 13-year-old know about managing money? Thankfully, a friend grabbed a copy and a few days later came over to show it off.

“Can I borrow this?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said. “Bring it back to me at school next week.”

Alas, I forgot. Forgot, with little fake quote marks around the word forgot. And the week after that was the beginning of Christmas break. He was annoyed, but we lived about half a mile apart, so I promised to walk it over to his place sometime. Tragically, I “forgot”… again. Somehow, mysteriously. I figured I’d take it back his way once I finished the game, but I kept getting stuck, because Zelda II is not really a game that lends itself to rapid completion on a fresh playthrough. So I kept putting it off, convinced I’d make a breakthrough that never actually came. Not even with the help of Nintendo Power.

Once school started back up in January, he was visibly annoyed at me when I didn’t bring back the cartridge the first day back in classes. I apologized profusely… and then quietly asked around to some friends who also had the game how I was supposed to get to the last dungeon. I could get there, but the shield wouldn’t drop. They pointed me to the final Heart Container I was missing, which proved to be the final key to the dungeon. I spent the next two nights at home sweating through the final dungeon, the ceaselessly brutal Great Palace, the maddeningly unfair Phoenix/Dark Link fight.

Thankfully, my Rain Man powers — tremendous video game skill, poor social grace — came to the rescue. I watched the credits roll… and the Second Quest began. I felt an evil little twinge in my heart and considered hanging on to the game long enough to complete Zelda II twice over, but the last vestiges of good in my soul rallied to stomp out that urge. “You’ve already pushed it way beyond the limits,” it warned me. “This ends now.”

So, reluctantly, yet beneath a suffocating blanket of guilt, I handed over the game the next morning. And I had to decency never to ask to borrow another game from him.

‘Tis the season?

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