The experiment: "The Adventure of Link"
Following the huge success of "The Legend of Zelda," Miyamoto and his team got right back to work on a sequel. The result, released in 1987 and titled "Zelda II: The Adventure of Link," was known as "the weird one" of the "Zelda" franchise, at least until "Majora's Mask" came around in 2001.
Fans were surprised by how different "The Adventure of Link" was from the beloved "Legend of Zelda." The new game used a side-scrolling perspective within levels instead of the top-down angle of its predecessor, and added a leveling system, wherein players accrued experience points from battles — which they could use to upgrade Link's attack, magic and health stats. What's more, "The Adventure of Link" was very, very hard, which, coming from the same era as "Super Mario Bros." and "Contra," is saying quite a lot.
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Despite being the black sheep of the "Zelda" family, "The Adventure of Link" still introduced a number of concepts that would become staples of the series, such as a "Dark Link," a magic meter and the use of spells, and an artifact known as the Triforce of Courage, which became a sign of Link's heroic destiny.
Today, you can still purchase "Zelda II: The Adventure of Link" through the Nintendo Virtual Console (a part of the Wii Shop Channel and Nintendo eShop) for the Wii, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.