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August 24, 2011 / jwaxo

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Morning Breath)

Didn’t the first one feature an adventure with Link? How does the subtitle specify anything?

Now time for a short story with a life lesson that has lasted me for at least 15 years.

Kids grow tired of things, as they do, and while we didn’t grow tired of Zelda, we did want more… well, more of it. In complete contradiction to what we did in my last post, we rather desperately wanted Zelda II purely because it was a sequel to the game we already loved so much. Only, unlike with Super Mario Bros 2, we didn’t get this game with our system.

We did eventually find one, though. At, of course, a garage sale.

For whatever reason, while we almost definitely rushed home in glee and excitement to play that gold-cartridged game, we did not get to play it immediately. Instead it had to sit in our plastic NES cartridge holster until the next day.

You see, we had cousins visiting for the weekend. Cousins that got up to a lot of mischief, if memory serves me correctly: they were way bigger than us and picked on us and ruined my brother’s chemistry set. I may be blowing the first two out of proportion to what happened in my seven-year-old mind, but that’s what I remember.

Since we had guests, that meant we were out doing things all day, especially since it was summer. We went garage saling, visited Downtown, rafted the Boise River, watched movies. The usual boring things when people visited us.

Dangerous waterfalls the Boise does not have.

All day long us kids knew what was up. We knew what awaited us the following morning, when we all got up much earlier than our parents and crept downstairs to play games.

My family had two rules regarding mornings: if you got up early you had to be quiet, and no getting up before 7am. The 7am limit, known as “seven-oh-oh” when we were too young to tell time properly, was legendarily put in place when my sister woke the parents up at around 3am watching cartoons. Even now I feel guilty getting up before then, as if I’m being naughty getting ready to go into work early.

Of course, when we had guests over, we understood a very basic rule of physics: guests allowed you to break rules. It’s true. Guests can get away with all kinds of things, and even can prompt your parents to act strangely. Expensive restaurants? Watching TV on school nights? Staying up late? Why not? After all, guests might not have such rules in their houses, so it would be pretty rude to force them to follow the stranger rules of your house.

So, with a new game sitting on our fireplace mantle, we wanted to get up extra-early, and we had a reason to.

My brother shook me awake sometime around 5:00. It was dark outside, so much darker than I was used to. My cousins and him were grinning at the foot of the bunk bed, all of us ready to commit the ultimate heist. I was excited, too.

But there was one problem.

I was super, duper thirsty.

Softly, carefully, I crept into the bathroom and filled a cup with a trickle of lukewarm water. I gently lifted it to my lips. I oh-so-carefully let that moist thirst-slaking liquid slosh into my mouth.

Such a taste you have never experienced.

After much sputtering and spitting, some harsh whispers and near shouts, and a quiet sneak downstairs, my brother explained my problem: I had horrible morning breath. It was true, I could smell it. And that, he said, tainted the water. That’s why you never should get a drink before you eat breakfast, or at least brush your teeth. It’ll taste horrible.

And so, as I sat and watched my brother and my two much-older cousins (they were, like, twelve!) start up the Adventure of Link, I meditated on this strange fact. I drilled it into my head.

Adventure of Link, by the way, gets a pretty bad rap. It was quite the stark contrast from the original Zelda, featuring a side-scrolling environment, a world map where you could run into enemies, a rudimentary experience system, and completely insanely difficult dungeons. There are a lot of features in it that were later brought into the series proper and get no respect whatsoever. Non-player-characters to interact with, towns, special sword abilities, a magic meter: these are all things that weren’t in its predecessor and are now so ingrained in the Zelda franchise that we didn’t even think about them when they were included in Ocarina of Time.

I didn’t think about it much then, mostly because I was too busy trying to scrape that taste from my tongue, but I guess you just can’t expect a sequel to be totally awesome and just like the games before it just because it’s a part of a series.

Sorry, no time for a fourth drawing. I have to get back to Deus Ex 3.

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