Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

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SDAlogo runner.png This game has a run page on SDA!

Experience and Leveling

If you do not level properly in this game, it gets harder, and harder, and the game quickly gets out of hand. Getting Attack 4 or 5 in your first palace is very important in most categories. This requires some luck, and some practice. Know your 6 counts. Know your P bags.

It’s critical to learn how to manipulate your experience, to ensure the biggest possible payoffs at the end of each palace. Level Attack early, and make sure your “Next” level is Attack every time you put a gem into a statue at the end of a palace. Know the experience chart, and know what monsters are left to kill in each palace.

Drops and 6 Counts

Drop Group Chart via Red Candle

There are three kinds of enemies in this game: Enemies with no drops, enemies in the “small” group, and enemies in the “large” group. This is important to know, because when the enemies drop items is not random.

Every sixth enemy you kill in a group will drop an item. Kills in one group to not affect kills in the other group. So, if you kill 5 Bots, then an Iron Knuckle, killing another bot after will cause a small drop. Likewise, killing 4 Iron Knuckles, then killing some Bots, then killing two Stalfos will cause a large drop on the second Stalfos.

The kind of drop you get, however, is random. Small drops will usually be a blue jar, but have a 1/8 chance of being a 50-point P Bag. Large drops are equally likely to be a red jar or a 200-point P Bag.

This means if you kill the same enemies, in the same order, every time you play the game, you will get drops at the same times. This is an important fact in routing the game, as well as in recovering from bad luck or mistakes.

Combat Techniques

The most important thing to know is to keep your momentum. If you’re moving forward, you can keep hitting enemies, instead of letting them hit you while staying alive. This means that generally, the worst possible attack to make is the standing sword attack. It’s slow because of the backswing, and you stop to make the attack.

Better is the crouching sword attack. It’s faster than the standing attack, but it also kills your momentum. However certain enemies are bad to crouch stab, such as the ever-annoying Tin Suits, who have top-heavy hit boxes.

Jumping is the key to combat in Zelda 2. Often a jumping crouch thrust is best. Sometimes you will want to jump, crouch, and then thrust on your way down from your jump. Against other enemies, or for a final attack, you may want to attack while you’re coming up in your jump.

Enemies like Iron Knuckles need special techniques. Jump at them, do not crouch, and then thrust on the way down to hit them in the visor. However in a two square-high corridor, there isn’t room to jump. Instead, when facing an orange or red Iron Knuckle in this situation, press A then B right after, very quickly, to get attacks in. A blue Iron Knuckle can defeat this. Instead do jumping crouch stabs (most notable at the last key in palace 5).

The Jackhammer

The downstab is a powerful attack. While the game limits the frequency of sword stabs that are possible by pressing B, it does not limit the number of stabs possible by pressing down to do a downstab. This means that getting on top of an enemy and mashing down will get in many hits quickly. The Jackhammer is possibly most notable against Iron Knuckles in three tile high corridors (often seen it front of items). By jumping into the iron knuckle and doing a downstab, it's possible to get *inside* the enemy doing a downstab. By mashing down, one can hit the enemy over and over, killing the Iron Knuckle (or getting through it with a lot of damage done at least) without doing any damage at all to Link.

Other useful jackhammer opportunities: Dragon heads, Bubbles (in a casual run or a no-reset run where 50xp is needed), Barba, (in theory) Boss Gooma, Horsehead, Helmethead (after the helmets are removed), and the final red Lizalfos before the Great Palace.

A variant is also doable to Rebonack.

The Whirlwind and the Panicked Dolphin

Related to the jackhammer is the whirlwind. Primarily used in TASes, the whirlwind does aerial crouch stabs, while alternating pressing left and right. Similarly to how mashing down will create multiple hits, so too will constantly changing directions. It's rare that this is doable and practical in a live run, but there is one enemy whom it is useful to attack in this way, or at least try: Thunderbird.

Sometimes, you'll just get lucky by mashing around like a panicked dolphin.

Healer Glitch

Some quick notes about the Glitch Town and the Healer Glitch, which is a way of getting into Glitch Town without getting onto the eastern continent with Fairy.

To start off, an explanation of this and other glitches in the game is provided by Inzult, who as of this writing holds records in Zelda II TAS categories, as well as the New Game+ glitched live speedrun category.

When the game gets confused about where Link is supposed to go, it will sometimes send the player to a fall back map. In towns, that fallback map is known as Glitch Town. The first door in Glitch Town is a door to nowhere… back to Glitch town. However, entering the door corrupts Link’s position slightly (shifts it to the left). Entering it five times creates a condition known as ‘Scroll Lock,’ which lets some crazy wrong warps and other effects happen.

The existence of glitch town and out of bounds warping was known in the old days of Nintendo Power, where it was documented that a player could jump with the Jump spell off of a high building in Darunia, cast fairy when in the HUD, and get into Glitch Town. However Darunia is far enough in the game that it’s suboptimal for speed run use of Glitch Town. Enter the Healer Glitch.

It can be done on any healer, medicine, or spell lady, but due to convenience and routing optimization, it’s usually done on the Healer lady in Rauru, hence the name. To glitch in Rauru, one must stand in right front of the door (with a few pixels of leeway), talk to the lady on the first frame her nose touches the window (she’s on each pixel for two frames), then talk to her again on the last frame before she opens the door, and cannot be talked to anymore.

The image here is an annotated version of an image by Inzult posted to the SDA Forums. It shows the pixels you need to press the talk button on, in order to trigger the glitch. First you talk to her while she is walking away from you, as her nose is hitting the window (You can look at any pixel you want, but that’s what I look at). Then you talk to her at the last frame before she opens the door. In learning the glitch, I would watch her hand as it moves on the brick background.

More images, videos, and information are available at Red Candle


There are two types of overworld encounter spawns that can happen. One spawn is based on steps, one on time.

The overworld random encounter timer always counts down, even in a side scrolling area. When it reaches 0, enemies spawn. If you are on a path, it stays at 0 until you step on terrain that can spawn enemies.

The timer resets to 8 ticks upon exiting a side scrolling area. If you are standing on the overworld when it reaches 0, it resets to a new number of ticks. The number of ticks is based on what terrain you are standing on when the time encounter is spawned.

  • Grass, Swamp 32 Ticks
  • Desert, Forest 24 Ticks
  • Graveyard 9 Ticks
  • Lava 3 Ticks

When a tick counts down is based on a global timer, usually every tick takes 21 frames. However, the first tick will be variable. It could be 1 through 21. Only where you are standing when the counter is set from 0 affects the time. Moving to a new terrain has no effect once the timer is already counting.

Link moves at about 1 tile every 16 frames, so this works out to be between 10 and 11 steps (~2.8 seconds) before you can expect an encounter when coming out of a side scrolling area. This will always be the first type of spawn you see.

Overworld step counter for random encounters counts up from 1 to 255, increasing by 16 each step. When it rolls over 255 it resets to 1 and monsters spawn. This means every 16 steps there will be an encounter spawn. Terrain does not affect steps-- the path also counts as a step, so if the 16th step is on a path, no encounter will spawn for that cycle. Resets to 1 upon exiting a side scrolling area.

In northwest Hyrule, the area around north palace and palace 1, the step counter isn't active and as such you can never get a step encounter there.

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