Hack Showcase: Legend of Zelda 2 Redux (NES)

Hack Showcases and RPG Hack Showcases are a series where I show off various game and rpg hacks. I try to stick with hacks that improve gameplay or add quality of life features, completely or partially change the plot and characters, along with dialogue, graphical and sound improvements. I try to stick with games that have enough changes in the beginning to show off, and when I can, try to show parts later in titles. Some of these i may stream or play on my own.

Zelda 2 Redux by ShadowOne333 aims to make a number of improvements to Zelda 2 for the NES, known as the black sheep of the Zelda family due to it’s higher difficulty, change from overhead to side-scrolling format and more. A lot of quality of life improvements were added too, along with optional patches to change your gaming experience to the definitive version of Zelda 2. I had finished this myself a couple years ago, after never finishing it as a kid for various reasons. Discovering this made me smile and I wanted to see what this hack was all about! ShadowOne333 is also the brains behind other Zelda redux patches for Link’s Awakening DX for Gameboy and Link to the Past for SNES. This hack was finally released after a long time in October 2020, with an update in December 2020 to bring this hack to version 2.3.

The changelog for this hack is extensive! And there’s a large assortment of optional patches to improve upon the Redux experience more!

  • Changes to the Life Meter HUD: Should have hearts now instead of the old bars it had for a life meter
  • Reworked HUD to be more in-line with other Zelda titles. It also looks much better to the eye now and is more streamlined
  • Added 1/4 heart gauge by IcePenguin. Now the life meter is reduced by 1/4 parts instead of the original sliding bar, effectively letting you know exactly how much health (no longer will the meter show no life with Link still alive)
  • Reworked title screen. Now the Sword in it is the same as the one in the original US boxart, and also the scrolling text of the title screen has been entirely rewritten to be more in-line with the canon story of Zelda II
  • Manual Save Feature: You can now save the game by Pausing and then pressing Up+A on the Pause screen (both in side-scroll pause and overworld pause!)
  • Manual saves no longer count towards the Death counter in the Selection screen! Now only Game Overs should increment that counter
  • Implemented @njosro’s Restart in Current Palace patch (as a bonus) 😛
  • Link now has a Blue and Red tunic! Upon using the Shield spell with a Defense level between 1-4, you’ll get the Blue tunic. Once you get up to level 5-8 of Defense, you will get the Red tunic
  • Text boxes now print 6 lines, giving much more space for more and detailed text
  • All text has been repointed
  • Script has been rewritten entirely and revised with a more proper translation according to the Japanese text
  • Palaces renamed to Temples for consistency with the rest of the series
  • Enemies no longer steal experience from you. (Don’t confuse this with Magic, some still steal magic)
  • Reduced the amount of HP the Bubble (and Giant Bubble) enemies have, as well as their Exp. Should now go down with like 10 Sword swings instead of a damn million (having FF in their lives was really something stupid for such a meaningless enemy), and they have also been made non-respawnable to avoid abusing grinding of these enemies, since their low EXP could still be abused
  • Reduced the amount of magic consumption by half for all levels
  • Fairy Spell transformation can be cancelled at any time by pressing the A button to transform back into Human Link
  • More common enemy drops
  • All enemies give out Exp
  • Enemies rebalanced according to their strength and annoyance factor (Those Modafokkas are no joke)
  • Dragon Quest reference restored in the crosses of Saria Town (Erdrick lies here)
  • Link’s sprite has been edited slightly to better reflect his official artwork, without compromising his original design
  • Overworld tile animation (includes water animation, grass, River Devil and others)
  • Custom animation tiles for the lava in the path towards the Great Palace (Thanks IcePenguin!)
  • “Spell” and “Life” spells renamed to “Enigma” and “Heal” spells respectively
  • Reworked Pause Pane for the Spell menu and also for the Level Up Menu
  • Changed the speed and range of the beam/fireball. Now it should have more use in-game, rather than being a slow and rather unused feature
  • You can now cast whatever spell you have selected multiple times without having to open up the Spell menu everytime between screens
  • Pausing the game on the Overworld now gives a “PAUSE!” message right above Link, like in the GBA port
  • Picking up a Link Doll now adds a life to the total amount of lives you start the game with (restart), making the Link Dolls more useful instead of just having its benefits present until you hit a game over
  • Life counter caps at 9, but you can still gather more lives via the 9000 Exp method, the counter simply won’t go past 9
  • Changed the font size to better accommodate the new changes
  • Changed the “-” in the file select alphabet to “/”
  • Cursor in the “Register Your Name” screen no longer covers portion of the text box
  • Reduced the flashes when Link dies and when you learn a spell to be closer to the NGC version. This was done so that photosensitive people can also enjoy this hack without having to worry about their health and well-being
  • Rewritten Credits for all the Staff members, now you have the proper names of the developers that made Zelda II, instead of pseudonyms
  • Saria bridge now appears automatically after giving the Guard the letter for the first time. You no longer need to talk to him every time you want to cross over
  • Moved the Basilisk in the cave North of Nabooru to the left, preventing it from doing that weird screen wrap upon entry
  • Moved the Moa at the Path of Fire entrance up, preventing a forced hit on Link upon entering
  • Moved a Red Iron Knuckle in Palace 4 that had a very high Y-position to the ground-level
  • Added text to a sign with previously unpointed text in Old Kasuto
  • Added windows to some rooms in the Maze and Hidden Palaces (Palaces 4 & 6), to add back the unused windows for those two
  • FDS Battle Theme restored! The original NES battle theme will be used in West Hyrule overworld battles, while the new/restored FDS battle theme will be used in East Hyrule overworld battles (Thanks, IcePenguin!)
  • The room with the hole in the Great Palace has been modified so it can now be accessed from all routes. You can now explore the Great Palace in any path you want, since now it has branching paths that intersect on said room. This means, you no longer have to take a required path to reach the end of the Great Palace, but can now choose at will and you will not be met with a dead end
  • D-Pad Up and Down now control the cursor in the File Selection and Elimination mode menus

SO HOW IS IT? WOW! This is a very top tier hack and the 2 years of love between the base hack and the optional patches really shows! Seeing the landscapes move was a wonderful touch and was something in the FDS version of Zelda 2. The graphical improvements are lovely and look sharp. Link looks better and his sword is longer too and doesn’t look like a butter knife to stab everything, and his sword beam when at full life goes a lot farther too. Text looks cleaner and moves faster, and the design of your inventory for spells looks better too.The change where link’s tunic turns either blue or red depending on your defense level when you use the Shield spell is a wonderful touch! The new HUD at the top of the screen showing your life in hearts like other Zelda games is wonderful, and showing your exp in the top middle and your attributes on the right look better too.

Link still controls as he did in the original game, as does easily selecting spells to use, and you no longer have to keep selecting a spell to use it every time! One of the optional patches revamps the exp system, hitting up and start brings up the exp screen and you can select which attribute to level up if you have enough exp for it instead of being forced to select one or nothing and wait till you hit the next max.

Enemies all give xp now and there’s more chances for magic pots and xp bags to drop. Many enemies have been rebalanced, but there’s optional patches to bring their behavior back to what it was before. With the rebalancing some enemies will be easier but others still annoying and you can find yourself dead fast. This makes some long trips like through Death mountain and the Great palace a bit easier than the original game.

You also now have a manual save by hitting pause and up and a to end or continue! Sadly it doesn’t carry over your exp though. One of the optional patches lets you restart after a game over from where you left off, instead of having to restart from the start of a temple or the North palace in the overworld.

In general, I highly recommend this labor of love if you’ve been intimidated to play Zelda 2 in the past, or if you want to take it on again in a new way!

GAMEPLAY VIDEO:

I GIVE ZELDA 2 REDUX 5 OUT OF 5 HEART CONTAINERS!!

Links:
https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/5440/

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