Released for the Philips CD-i system in 1993, Link: The Faces of Evil was a departure from what had made the other Zelda games a success. Complaints range from the cheesy plot to the awkward, difficult controls. While some elements of game play from Zelda II: Link's Adventure are present (most notably the side scrolling mechanic), the game was unanimously panned by critics at the time. As Nintendo had no role in the actual creation of the game, Nintendo does not acknowledge the events or characters within it to be official canon of the series.
Link: The Faces of Evil plays like Zelda 2: Link's Adventure, but not as smooth because of the way the CD-i controller behaved. Like in Zelda II, Link visits towns and places doing stuff to get items that can help him on his quest to save the King and Zelda as well. Controlling Link in The Faces of Evil can be an exercise in frustration requiring a lot of patience, as it is nearly impossible to get Link to do what you want him to do and the fact that enemies pop up every time their spawn points move off-screen doesn't help.
It's not at all that bad once you get the controls down, but after playing it for so long you'll get tired of having to do the endless fetch quests. But at least unlike in Zelda II there are no pits in which you die instantly, you can only be killed by the enemies in the game.
The plot in Link The Faces of Evil is pretty simple and straightforward.
It starts one day in Hyrule Castle with Link complaining about how boring it is there and the King tells him "This peace is what all true warriors strive for."
As Link tells him he wonders what Ganon is up to, an old man suddenly arrives on a flying carpet and tells the King the Island of Kordia is under attack from Ganon. Why exactly the King of Hyrule should care is unknown.
The man, Gwonam, shows the King and Link a piece of paper saying that only Link can defeat Ganon. This excites Link, who has nothing better to do, and he says he'll go to grab his stuff, but Gwonam ignorantly tells him his sword is enough. Before Link goes off he asks Zelda for a kiss for luck, but is turned down by her, telling Link he must be kidding. Link sets off to stop Ganon and liberate Kordia.
In his adventures in Kordia, Link meets a colourful cast of characters, including a fat shopkeeper named Morshu who will sell Link lamp oil, ropes, and bombs as long as he has enough rupees, a pig that turns people into animal slaves, a weird fat woman who wants Link to find something for her, and a guy in a metal suit who hardens people into robots with fire(?)
Finally after all is said and done Link finally faces Ganon in a duel in which Ganon offers Link to join him or he will kill him. Link refuses and throws a book at Ganon and seals him in it, rendering Ganon the easiest boss fight in the game, and after that he rescues Zelda, who was not known to be missing previously. Gwonam tells Link he did a good job. Link tells Zelda that's worth a kiss, but Zelda just laughs and the game ends.
Being the first licensed games for the CD-i, Phillips took advantage of what they had and gave the game a low budget of 600,000 dollars for the game and a little over a year to create this and Wand of Gamelon. The team that created the game consisted of four artists, three programmers and one musician. The FMVs in the game were created by a team of Russians animators that were flown in to help on the project as well. Even Link's catch phrase from the Zelda cartoon was thrown in as well.
Link: The Faces of Evil was panned as one of the worst Zelda games ever made (matched only by fellow crappy CD-i games Zelda's Adventure and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon) because of the controls and the gameplay and the basic cheesiness of the game itself and the voice acting, which is considered to be some of the worst in gaming. What also made the game bad was the fact that the enemies in the game were cheap and sometimes you would die for no reason, but despite all the negatives of the game some misguided idiots praised it because of the artwork, and the FMVs were technically good for their time. But the music was considered low-average compared to the main games. A lot of websites have listed the CD-i Zelda games in their lists as some of the worst videogames ever as well.
- The ridiculous FMV cutscenes from the Zelda CD-i games are popular today because of the " Youtube Poop" concept.
- Despite being some of the worst games ever made, the games sell for a high price on eBay, with copies of Link: The Faces of Evil going for as high as $100.