So, I'm in the swamp Palace (which i'm pretty sure is the 2nd one) and I having an insanely difficult time with the boss. I cannot for the life of me get him below his first 'bar' of health. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Use shield and do a jumping crouch stab to his head. You can also get the life spell before you go there if you haven't gotten it already and if you get the hammer there is another heart and magic container you can get but if you're having trouble with the boss you'll probably have trouble getting the hammer.
I'm with TTF. Anyone having trouble with the game should go for Down Thrust as early as possible. Getting it is a pain, but having it makes all the difference. It slaughters Helmethead, makes tons of other enemies easier, and just generally makes the game more fun.
I think a lot of players assume, as I did my first time through, that you should tackle the second palace as soon as it's accessible. It's like Final Fantasy for NES -- there are a few places you can go after beating Lich, but the natural thing to do is take on Kary. When you know the game better, you know you can make your life much easier if you instead go for the Ice Cave (the Death Mountain of FF1, a pain whenever you do it) and get the Airship, which breaks the rest of the game wide open and makes Kary a breeze.
All games are like this to some extent; you pick up tricks as you go. But it's a pity that the learning curve for these two is so steep. Many's the player of Zelda II or FF1 who ends up quitting because it's too hard... and never learns how to make it easy.
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Isn't the natural tendency to explore as soon as you're able? For experienced video game players I assume this is the case.
Personally I like to do palace 2 after the hammer, Mido etc, meaning I go straight from 2 to 3. If anyone chooses to use down thrust against helmethead (or any other enemy for that matter), press down rapidly as you connect with him for a bunch of extra hits per attack.
To me, the obvious question is what are your levels? If you are new to the game, an attack level of 3 or 4 is typically what you need in order to do well in the second palace. Make sure you cast Shield (but not Jump). Then stay back, block one of his energy balls that he shoots out, then rush him and jump while crouching like someone said earlier. Then back off, block another energy ball, and rush him again. Hastiness is a sure way to die here because of all the projectiles.
As for completing the palace before or after Death Mountain, I'd imagine it's easier to do Palace 2 before Death Mountain than it is to do Death Mountain with really low stats (as in post-Palace 1 stats). Put another way, entering Palace 2 at levels like 3-3-4 is easier than entering Death Mountain at 3-3-4.
Oh, and are you finding all the secret red magic jars in Palace 2? Use your sword to strike some of the statues!
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