The Legend of Zelda is hands down, one of the greatest video game franchises in history. Almost every title is a landmark achievement in gaming, and I have fond childhood memories of playing as Link and exploring through Hyrule. To honor this beloved franchise, we’re taking a look at the Top 10 Best Legend of Zelda Games.
10. The Legend of Zelda (1986)
Though this game doesn’t quite hold up today, the series’s first game is still considered a classic. With its top-down gameplay and pioneering open-world exploration, The Legend of Zelda was revolutionary when it was released. For those who love playing old video games, this one is a must-see.
9. Skyward Sword
While its motion control mechanics had some issues, there’s no denying that this game was amazing when it first came out. Skyward Sword serves as the first game in the Zelda Timeline, taking place before all the others and exploring the origins of Link, Zelda, Ganon, and the kingdom of Hyrule. With colorful graphics, beautiful music, and epic gameplay, Skyward Sword stands out as a marvelous chapter in the Zelda series. It also delves into the personal and romantic relationship between Link and Zelda, which still stands the test of time.
8. Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess stands out within the franchise due to its dark tone, bleaker atmosphere, and realistic design. When creatures from the Twilight Realm invade Hyrule, Link must travel across the land and return light to the kingdom.
While the game makes use of motion controls, it doesn’t lean too heavily on them like Skyward Sword, creating a smoother experience for players. It also pairs you with the fan-favorite character, Midna, who makes the journey all the more enjoyable.
7. Link’s Awakening
This game is where Zelda explored stranger territory. When Link gets stranded on an island crawling with monsters, he must defeat them all and wake up the Wind Fish in order to leave. While this game takes place outside of Hyrule, with little mention of the titular princess, it is still a blast to play. It features an iconic twist that will make you question the nature of your quest.
6. A Link Between Worlds
Decades after A Link to the Past was released, Nintendo launched this nostalgic sequel and broke new ground. Experimenting with non-linear gameplay and rentable items, A Link Between Worlds allowed players to explore the realms of Hyrule and Lorule in the order they choose. With improved graphics and the ability to merge with walls as a painting, this game is guaranteed to satisfy any Zelda fan.
5. A Link to the Past
While A Link Between Worlds was a fantastic sequel, nothing is quite like the original. A Link to the Past improved on the first Zelda game and presented a more detailed and expansive experience. With a variety of complex dungeons, multiple items at your disposal, and parallel worlds to explore, A Link to the Past was the definitive Zelda game of its time.
4. Majora’s Mask
While Twilight Princess was a dark addition to the franchise, it couldn’t replicate the sense of impending doom portrayed in Majora’s Mask. In this haunting sequel to Ocarina of Time, Link must save the land of Termina from being destroyed a demonic moon in three days. You also have the power to rewind time, so you must start the clock over as you explore Termina.
Majora’s Mask is one of the weirdest and darkest games in the series. You encounter many colorful characters who struggle under the weight of despair in the face of the apocalypse looming above them. While the game has a relatively small amount of dungeons, the expanded mechanics and large amount of side quests more than make up for it.
3. The Wind Waker
Believe it or not, this game was actually hated before it came out, as the cartoonish art style was something entirely different for Zelda. Nevertheless, Nintendo eventually proved the fans after the game was released. Wind Waker has Link sailing across the Great Sea, providing a vast and colorful world with countless islands for players to explore. It also succeeded in making the villain Ganondorf into a complex and sympathetic character.
2. Ocarina of Time
For years, Ocarina of Time was considered the best game in the Zelda series for many good reasons. All in all, it pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible in gaming.
With its sprawling and diverse 3D world, gamers felt like they were actually exploring the kingdom of Hyrule. They became more invested in the characters, as they became more fleshed out and lovable. At the same time, the game’s layered and extensive time-traveling story makes the game even more magical.
For many gamers, it was like Zelda was brought to life before their very eyes. Before the next entry came out, topping the achievements of this game seemed impossible.
1. Breath of the Wild
Gamers had to wait years to play this game, and boy, was it worth it. Breath of the Wild follows Link after he wakes up in a post-apocalyptic Hyrule without any memory of his life before. With nothing but the clothes on your back, the player must travel through a gigantic open world, gather materials, and acquire enough strength to defeat the Calamity Ganon.
While Ocarina of Time perfected Zelda, Breath of the Wild broke it down to its core, creating an entirely new game that revolutionized the franchise. Breath of the Wild is an immersive experience that’ll make you feel like you’re stepping in Hyrule for the first time.
Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait for the sequel for six years.