Boasting to be the 'Biggest ZZT Game Ever' on its title screen (which is correct-not only was it the biggest single-file ZZT game at the time but also the max size a single ZZT world can be), Link's Adventure is a massive classic ZZT action game, fondly remembered by several ZZTers. In this first part of a trilogy, you travel various castles, towns and worlds as Link, killing pre-made enemies before facing a Kong boss to unlock progress to the next area. This goes on for ten bosses, ending with a hook for Link's Adventure 2.
The gameplay is as described above. While most of the gameplay revolves around killing built-in enemies, enemy placement is thoughtful enough to never get outright boring. The large numbers of enemies can accidentally liven things up at times by breaking parts of the boards they're on, phasing through line walls, creating slippery 'black holes' or outright destroying the player due to stat limits imposed by ZZT.
Supplies are generous, but you'll need them to defeat the cheap bosses the game throws at you. Almost every boss hurls stars at you in empty rooms, forcing you to run rings around them (risking more stars being thrown in the process) or blocking stars by shooting at them. Eventually you'll get a line of fire for the boss and then they go down in a few shots.
While the game gives you ammo and gems the conventional way, you also get them (and health and torches) using treasure chest objects which encourage you to take a second peek (i.e. interact with them a second time) to pick up anything you 'missed' the first time, a nice touch on Russell's part.
I don't know if Russell was aiming for a 'castle wall' look with an all-linewall aesthetic for most of the areas you play in, but in doing so the game avoids the visual monotony of large blocks of solid walls. Colour schemes are consistent across levels as well. The majority of these boards lack any personality except for the graphical high point of the game-the world of Skyrule, literally set in the clouds. While drawn pre-STK and without any sophisticated drawing techniques, the boards in this world truly give you the sense of being in a floating kingdom in the sky. STK colours make a brief appearance at the end of the game. And. There. Are. No. Default. Yellow. Borders. In. Any. Board.
Ultimately, what makes this game memorable is its coherence, simplicity, and even ambition. In spite of buggy boards due to large enemy numbers, there are no board or passage linkage errors, something I applaud the author for. To players unfamiliar with the editor and correcting such errors themselves, this must have been a big plus point.
The action-oriented boards ensure gameplay is brisk (except for those damn bosses). This beast can be finished in an hour and a half at one go if you know what you're doing, and the linear nature of the game means you can save anywhere without worrying about backtracking or softlocking your progress. This simplicity, coupled with the generous supplies of ammo AND health must have endeared this game to several young players and perhaps served as an inspiration to those that wanted to make their own. "Here's a game that fun with a lot of gameplay that doesn't have intimidating slider or object-based puzzles!", some must have thought. "AND it's not locked, and doesn't make fun of me! Maybe I can do the same." Also, no fast slimes to outrun.
A final thing to consider about Link's Adventure's popularity is how it rises head and shoulders above the bulk of user-made ZZT worlds at the time. As more old worlds are being recovered and collected on the Museum, players these days can look at the whole scope of AOL-era games and be reminded of Sturgeon's Law. Something as ambitious, unintimidating and coherent as this is impressive-if only due to its structure to this more modern ZZTer who didn't play it as a child.
As the title screen points out, this is the first in a trilogy. The second is broadly 'more of the same', with some boards being much less inspired than this one. The third is more sophisticated object-wise but is a mixed bag as a result of this.
(note: I'm reviewing the entire trilogy to save time)
This game series isn't terrible, but it does get rather mind-numbing at times, even if you do like shooting action. There are a few puzzles, secrets, and general fun innovations, but the bulk of the games is this: Shoot up big blocks of enemies before your health and ammo run out, then fight a stupid boss who appears to be related to Donkey Kong and who either shoots loads of bullets, throws loads of stars, or does both. I was hoping for a boss who's interesting to fight, but instead I ended up pushing back walls of stars in an effort to hit the Kong with rapid-fire. Not really all that fun.
My other big disappointment was how little the game actually has to do with The Legend of Zelda. Sure, it has Link, Ganon, and the Triforce thrown in as token references, but that's all.
The graphics and board design are very nice, though. They're worth seeing.
My little boy, I don't think you're in any place to call ANYBODY a newbie. And besides, there's a large difference between a 'newbie' game and a game from 1994.
The three Link's Adventure games made up for their poor graphics with great gameplay. Lots of action with a few RPG elements thrown in. There's literally tens of dungeons to visit, and each one is challenging in it's own little way.
But on the graphics front...hey, when I downloaded this from AOL in 1995, I thought it had pretty damn good graphics, compared to everything else that was out there. And it did.
So why don't you make a game, before you go around calling 7 year old classics "NEWBIE GAMES OMG OMG"
This is made by a complete newbie. Large, mostly blank rooms, repeting scripts, overwealming(sp?) opposition, the usually newbie stuff. He also claims that this is the biggest ZZT game ever, but that's only cause he stretches out each 'castle' to it's limit(you know, many, many, many pointless keys). Also, just in the 3rd room of the first castle, I had to cheat, because there were just so many fields of enemies. Plus, he scripted these stupid 'Tigers' that just shoot much much more(I actually believe he ripped the shooting script from someone else). This HAD to be his first game, cause, well, it sucks ***(I'm new here, I dunno if swearing is allowed). I really hope he realizes how bad it is, and is able to produce better games in the future.