Yep, got the bug from Jeremy Parish's excellent Anatomy of Zelda 2 series. I've started replaying Zelda 2.
Jeremy commented on the general unfairness of the game and said that he's using savestates. I'm using authentic NES hardware, but I do have a Game Genie.
When I played through the game as a kid, I only used one Game Genie cheat code: infinite lives. It's amazing how much it does for the game's balance to eliminate the outmoded concept of a limited number of lives (a holdover from the arcade age, of course). Frankly it's odd, in hindsight, that Zelda 2 played the old "3 lives and then Game Over" meme, given that the original game didn't. I mean, sure, 2's a side-scrolling platformer, but Metroid was too, and it didn't bother with giving you a limited number of lives either.
So I resolved to take a crack at Zelda 2 on my NES, once again cheating a bit against its unfair difficulty with the use of the infinite lives code.
And when I went to look it up, I found, via Game Winners, two more codes that weren't in the official Game Genie book and which serve to mitigate the game's lopsided leveling system. So here are the three codes I'm using:
|Link has unlimited lives||SZKGKXVK|
|Do not lose all experience when leveling||SZVOUNSE|
|Do not lose experience when hit by enemies||SXESIKSE|
I think that, on the whole, those three codes go a long way to balancing out the difficulty of Zelda 2 and allowing its strengths to shine. It is a solid game.