Can the 3DS become the console of Zelda?

With the advent of the eShop and the recent 3D remake of Ocarina of Time, 3DS owners with a soft spot for our beloved teen-in-green have plenty of options when it comes to purging Hyrule and it’s outlying realms from the forces of evil.

Right now, no less than four Legend Of Zelda games are available on the handheld- and the 3DS’s backwards compatibility with the DS library adds two more to the mix. Zelda lovers across the world who purchased a 3DS before the price cut currently have six different ways of questing to their cucco-abusing, moblin-disemboweling, princess-saving hearts’ content.

This got me thinking- what Nintendo console can play the most Zelda games? Which console deserves recognition as the “Console of Zelda”?

If you list all of Nintendo’s consoles based on how many Zelda games they can play, the 3DS falls in at a humbling fifth place. In fourth is the DS Lite with the capability of playing seven Zelda games. In third is the stalwart GameBoy Advance, which, when you take its backward compatibility and the NES Classics series of rereleases into account, can play eight Zelda games, all of them 2D. When this November rolls around and Skyward Sword makes its debut the Wii will boast the ability to play nine (No, Link’s Crossbow Training doesn’t count) which puts it in second place. And at the top of the list is the Gamecube, with the ability to play thirteen Zelda games, some in multiple incarnations- making it the de facto Console of Zelda- that is, if you happen to have the Game Boy Player add-on peripheral… and a copy of the limited edition Windwaker pre-order bonus disc on hand.

But the Gamecube isn’t getting any new games, whereas the 3DS is. This puts Nintendo’s latest handheld in the unique position of potentially being able to play more Zelda games than any of it’s living room based brethren.

Follow me here.

The Four Swords freebie for DSiWare will be out this fall, and it’s only a matter of time before the duet of Oracle games hit the Gameboy Color section of the eShop’s Virtual Console.

That would bring the 3DS’s Zelda count up to nine games, surpassing the DS Lite’s seven and the GBA’s eight.

With the eventual public release of NES games on the eShop it’s a safe bet that Nintendo plans on eventually adding SNES games to the their Virtual Console lineup as well, so you can count on A Link To The Past making an appearance on your home screen at some point in the future.

That’s ten- one more than the Wii.

Nintendo has stated they have no current plans to make GBA games publicly available… yet. But with the 10 GBA freebies being gifted to 3DS Ambassadors later in the year we know this isn’t because of any technical issue. So Minish Cap, the Capcom-developed gem we’ve all come to love remains, at least for now, a possibility for the eShop.

And should Operation Moonfall prove successful (or if Nintendo realizes that Ocarina of Time’s ability to print money justifies the same 3D treatment for its sequel) we might find ourselves treated in a year or two to a romp through Termina with a 3D remake of Majora’s Mask. Fingers crossed.

That’s a potential of twelve Zelda games (Count ”˜em, TWELVE)- 75% percent of the franchise- in your pocket. On the train. On the bus. Heck, on the summit of Mount Everest if you want…at least for approximately 3.5 hours anyway (on lowest brightness).

And that’s not counting any original Zelda games that Nintendo may release on the 3DS in the future. The DS saw two- Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. The 3DS will certainly get one, but if Aonuma and R&D 3 go the same route as they did with the DS, the Gamecube could find itself dethroned.

That is, however, a hell of a lot of “ifs”.

Besides, how should one define the criteria for what constitutes the Console of Zelda (a title which, let’s face it, I just totally made up)? Is it as simple as counting the sheer number of Zelda games available to play? Is it how many games you can play out of the box without any peripherals, the ability to play the games chronologically or on the go? Or is the Console of Zelda defined by how many of the well known and more immersive Zelda adventures can be played on it?

You decide. Which console do you think deserves to be labeled The Console of Zelda?