On Romhack Thursdays, we bring you interesting finds from the world of game modifications.
For a game notorious for its difficulty, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link has a lot of romhacks, most of which up the challenge level still more. Amida’s Curse is more of a difficulty level in keeping with the original, which is nice, and has some interesting ideas in it.
Due to controller issues (PowerA’s cheaper wired version of the Switch Pro Controller has decided to mess up in frustrating ways) I have yet to play through the whole thing, but what I’ve seen has some interesting decisions. Amida’s Curse throws out the wandering monster encounters completely; there is no reason I can see to not wander around the landscape wherever you want. In fact you definitely should try to wander around a fair bit, for the game has bunches of secret areas waiting to be found throughout the landscape, hiding heart and magic containers, experience gems (which are a reskinned version of the original game’s P-bags) and sometimes required things.
Amida’s Curse has a bit more terrain to cover than stock Zelda II. It’s got more towns (which are much smaller, a good change) and dungeons, and is split up more by item gating than before. In the first town you have to find a key, this lets you get the candle out of a cave, this lets you see in a cave leading to the next area, which has a dungeon with a Power Bracelet that lets you break blocks, that allows you to go through the next cave, and so on. It feels a bit like you’re being led by the nose, but that is often the style with these kinds of games, and it’s not like Zelda II itself didn’t have a fair amount of it.
The overworld map takes a cue from the Famicom Disk System version of the game and has animated tiles, but instead of just animating the water, most of the tiles in the overworld are animated now. Towns have smoke coming up from them, and grass blows around. The combat scene graphics have been upgraded a little bit too.
The difficulty balancing is pretty good. Romhacks that resist the urge to make you fight through gauntlets of enemies every step of the way should be lauded. It’s not perfect, I would say, there are places like where you have to jump over a skeleton on a collapsing passage, or make a big jump while being harassed by birds. And there are places where the design could use a little more work: it’s easy to get stranded in some rooms by falling off an elevator, requiring you to reset it, or in one notable case purposely die, to get yourself unstuck. And if you’re jumping water or lava that comes right up to the landing platform, make sure you clear it by a fair margin, as the game loves to kill you if your foot even grazes the perilous liquid.
Usefully, extra lives found don’t give you a one-time extra try, but increase the number you start each session with, which is a handy little improvement. I think a non-obsessive player can make it through, or at least from what I’ve managed to see. I look forward to trying to get further into this, when my controller isn’t fighting me every step of the way.