When Zelda II and Castlevania II done fell off (nod to Seth Romatelli) they should have taken a page from the Battle of Olympus.playbook. Battle of Olympus is an hack and slash platformer that seamlessly incorporates RPG elements without slowing down the action or making you wander aimlessly and talk to people who have nothing to say. Battle of Olympus just did things right, and they deserve a lot of credit for it.
Battle of Olympus is set in ancient Greece. You are the hero (of course) who makes his way from Greek city to Greek city slaying enemies both large and small. Along the way you'll meet up with Greek gods such as Zeus, Poseidon, and Hermes. The gods will give you weapons and armor to help you kill some of the harder enemies in the game. I particularly like the sandals of Hermes that not only allow you to jump higher in general, they allow you to walk on the ceilings and treetops (like the picture above) if you want.
There are always plenty of enemies to slash through, but you'll actually want to stop and talk to the townspeople. None of the townspeople throw out superfluous information. Everything they say is in some way relevant to what you're doing. The beauty of the townspeople in this game (aside from not giving meaningless info) is that their words scroll quickly and they never use a dozen words when two will do. If you listen to the townspeople, they'll let you know who you need to kill and what weapons you'll need and where to get those weapons. It's mind-blowingly refreshing to not have your time wasted by pointless exposition and info that has no bearing on the task at hand.
Anyway, lest I make myself completely unlike the townspeople in this game, here's the skinny: this game is a whole lot of fun. It's simple to learn, and it's satisfying to slay mythical Greek creatures. Maybe I'm overcompensating because I've been so disappointed with Castlevania II and Zelda II, but I still feel like giving Battle of Olympus...