The Legend of Zelda 2: Link no Bouken
Zelda II was released less than a year after the first game, and decades later, is still regarded as one of the black sheep of the series. The main reason has to do with the shift to a side-scrolling perspective for the action and dungeon scenes, a Dragon Quest-inspired overworld, and stronger RPG elements, including an experience and leveling system. It's also quite difficult, though not to the level of the more infamous NES action games. Even though the Zelda series went in a vastly different direction, improving and refining the formula of the original game instead of this one, it's still a fantastic action-RPG, if you have the patience. There are actually significant differences between the Japanese FDS release and the English cartridge version. Again, the title screen music sounds vastly different due to the extra sound channels. The battle theme is completely different, though the NES one is a substantial improvement. The sound effects are much different, too. The bosses in the Japanese version make roaring sound effects, which are totally gone in the English version. Conversely, the English version adds a laughing sound, taken from Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, at the game over screen, in addition to a shadowy portrait of Ganon. The battle transition sound is also different, as is the text display noise for when villagers talk. The balancing, particularly the leveling system, is likewise totally overhauled. When you gain a level in the Japanese version, you can pick to increase one of three categories – Life, Magic, or Attack. The thing is, when you die, your levels are reset down back to the lowest level of your other stats. For example, if you have 5 Life, 4 Magic and 3 Attack, upon continuing, all skills will revert back down to level 3. If all of your skills are at level 4, you won't lose anything. In other words, it makes it riskier to improve certain stats above others, giving you an incentive to improve them equally. In the American release, each level requires a different amount of experience points, and you can no longer lose levels, either. There are a whole ton of other changes, too, including animated water/lava on the overworld, a new boss (Gooma, added to the fifth palace), and some changed and added sprites (including more villager types, and different enemy sprites on the overworld). The dungeons use different brick patterns too – the Japanese game has the same bricks, just with different color palettes. In general, the American release is more polished, having benefited from some extra development time.