After the vast enterprise that was the first game, one would think this would have essentially been A Link to the Past; fixing the issues and improving on the original model. The biggest issue with this game is that it was designed as a separate entity from the Zelda name, and only had that slapped on at the end of production. Both of the games are massively hard, but this one does not feel like an improvement over the original, and the platformer gameplay is incredibly clunky and has not aged well at all.
Virtually all of the enemies are so hard to hit that they are in themselves bosses, I wanted to kill myself every time I ended up having to face a Blue Iron Knuckle, and without save states I just would not have been able to beat it at all. Most of the level designs are pretty straight forward (except the last two), but just in case you don't want to miss an important item (which are hidden in hilariously random areas all over the map) you better be reading right out of the manual or you will miss something.
The leveling system was complete garbage and most fights were lost if I even lost health at all. I had to spam Bots constantly for magic to be able to heal myself, and that process alone would take 10-15 minutes to farm. The Link Dolls as continues were a ridiculous nuisance because if you run out of them you get shoved back to the beginning of the game. There was basically no game mechanic here that was something that should have been passed on to future Zelda games, and that ought to show how worthless this experience really was.
The boss fights were tedious and repetitive, with every one requiring that you hit said boss in the head. The only fights that were interesting at all were the Thunderbird fight (easily the best designed thing in the entire game) or Shadow Link, but personally I was so done with the title that I just spammed Shadow Link the cheap way so it could just be over. No plans to play this again, but there are worse ways to spend a weekend and this was financially successful enough to help push in an era of gaming that I love, so it gets a little bit of mercy for those points alone.
Difficulty of bosses in order of easiest to hardest: Shadow Link (I hear he is hard if you don't button mash on the left side of the screen, but he is easier to beat then 90% of the enemies in the game... soooo....), Barba, Carock, Horse Head (this is the turning point where the bosses mentioned are harder than the Blue Iron Knuckles) Helmet Head, Rebonak, Thunderbird, and Gooma. Gooma was probably the only boss harder than the Blue Fokkas. Blue Fokkas are freaking evil.

Reviewed on Jul 28, 2019