There's a flash game called "Chibi Knight" that's pretty much an exact copy of the game. I remember it being a lot easier than Zelda II, but It's pretty fun, and the artwork is rather impressive. (I can't remember whether or not I liked the music) Check it out if you get the chance, here's a link if you're too lazy to Google it (I know I am) http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/526470
I remembered I asked this same question years back. One game that is real similar that never gets mentioned is Gargoyles Quest II. The setting is different, but the gameplay style is the same.
^Whoops, sorry, I have to reply to this thread for the express purpose of saying that guy had it backwards. If you can play only one, play Secret of Mana -- it's one of the best video games of all time IMHO. Evermore has superiority in some ways, but overall I can't compare it or even the Japanese-only true sequel to SoM to the original. It's just too good.
As for games 'like Zelda II', the obvious ones are Battle of Olympus and Rambo for NES, which are basically ripped from the same engine. However, there are others that are fairly similar, such as Ys III: Wanderers from Ys and Faxanadu. Then there's KINDA similar stuff like Legacy of the Wizard, the Wonder Boy games (other than the first) and Super Adventure Island II. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of platformer/RPGs out there, despite the fact that IMO it was a fantastic subgenre idea that died off too quickly.
One game you'd definitely want to check out is Legend of Princess, a freeware technically-not-Zelda game that looks, sounds and plays like what a much more modern iteration of Zelda II would be like. Except it's really short, and has less RPG elements than Zelda II. But it's awesome. And speaking of online freeware Zelda II stuff, there's actually a 3d, first-person Zelda II freeware game out there somewhere, though it was only completed up to the first part of the first continent -- I forget the exact name, but it shouldn't be tough to find.
Also, as some people started getting into general action-rpg territory, aside from the aforementioned "secret of..." games for SNES, there's Crystalis for NES, all the Ys games BESIDES part 3, and of course stuff like Hydlide and every roguelike ever made, though that's more like Zelda 1 with RPG elements than Zelda II.
Anyway, I hear ya -- for some reason not a lot of people like this game but it's always been one of my absolute favorites. Though Miyamoto promised to never make a Zelda like this again, I wish someone out there would try the formula again sometime, but perhaps redone a bit for a modern audience. Sadly, even Ys 3's remake, Oath of Felghana, which just recently came out on Steam, was retooled to feel more like the other Ys rather than being side-scrolling -- I still hold out hope, though, especially with stuff like Legend of Princess and, really, even popular titles like Cave Story and La-Mulana, which are on the right track.
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THAT SAID! the best game like this is Ghouls and Goblins.
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Jeez, just mail me the game and I'll beat it for you. - BubbRubb
I can read the backwards part, but the typos are throwing me off and I doubt it's worth the effort.
I tried to like Secret of Mana, but I ended up doing things out of order and several hours in I went somewhere I wasn't supposed to go yet. I didn't have the item I needed to proceed, and I couldn't leave. Awesome game design, bro. I haven't tried it again since... and that was at least 4 years ago.
Currently playing: Rocksmith, Resident Evil 6, Resident Evil
Most of the Wonderboy games on the sega systems are similair to Zelda II.
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The most obvious comp is Battle Of Olympus. That game is practically an unlicensed Zelda II sequel. Your main character is virtually identical to Link in appearance and play control.
Faxanadu would be next on the list. Very fun game to play, fair amount of difficulty. There are a number of bad glitches (like a required-to-get item that's supposed to increase your attack power but instead decreases it) and a hilariously bad translation, but these don't stop the game from being loads of fun.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was an attempt to make Castlevania more like Zelda II. It's infamously confusing and difficult, but since you're already on Gamefaqs, you know where to find help.
Gargoyle's Quest 2 is a game I haven't played, but from what I understand has a lot in common with Zelda II's rpg/action hybrid.
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The Battle of Olympus. It's engine is really similar to AoL, but it's more fleshed-out (IMO). Plus if you enjoy Greek Mythology it's pretty accurate.
Just imagine an AoL with more weapons and different items and no overhead view world map and that's BoO.
Equin: The Lantern, a Dragon Quest / Roguelike game!
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