I’ve sat back down and replayed through the series to deliver what I believe to be theÂ top ten greatest Zelda games. As a huge Zelda fan, I have loved every single title Nintendo has feed us, (minus the CD-I titles)Â but there are some that are just built better than others. Click over to find out if your favorite made it towards the top. (Note: This list does not include spin-offs such as the Four Swords series, etc.)
10. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask â€“ (2000: N64)
Different. That just about sums up Majora’s Mask when compared to the traditional way Zelda games â€œplay outâ€. You are given 72 hours to complete MMâ€™s main quests. Your goal within these 3 days is to save the land of Termina from total destruction that occurs via near-by moon. If you fail to break Majoraâ€™s â€œcurseâ€ within 72 hours the great moon will slam into the planet, wiping out everything. Thankfully with the help of the Ocarina, you can rewind time to the dawn of the first day and relive your travelsâ€¦â€œGroundhog Day styleâ€.
Though at first fans disliked the changed gameplay players soon grew to enjoy the unique element which offered a different out look on puzzle solving. One of the last great adventures on the N64, Majoraâ€™s Mask presented a more detailed world, cleaner textures, farther draw distance, and an overall darker, more mature mood. The inclusion of different Masks which could transform Link into different creatures, or allow him to manipulate time/magic really gave this title a spin. Donâ€™t let these changes keep you away. Majoraâ€™s Mask really was a breath of fresh air, and still is today.
9. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages â€“ (2001: GBC)
After eight painful years handheld gamers were going to finally get a new Zelda game to pop into their new Game Boy Colors. The press soon found that Flagship, a independent game developer for Capcom would be developing a entire set of Zelda handheld titles. Fans soon grew doubtful that Flagship would be able to accomplish a true Zelda game without Nintendo there to head the development. Thankfully both Seasons, and Ages were as true as 1993’s, Link’s Awakening. Originally suppose to be a trilogy, Seasons and Ages are the same games yet entirely different at the same time. In Seasons Link wields the Rod of Seasons which controls theâ€¦seasons. Ages has Link playing the Harp of Ages which manipulates time travel. Both the Rod and Harp could be upgraded throughout each quests. As a push to promote handheld multi-play the games could link up (via GBC cable) with each other and unlock new story plots, items, dungeons, and even an alternate ending. These really are a great set of on-the go Zelda titles. Dust off that old GBC, or GBA and get to playing.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass â€“ (2007: DS)
Our most resent Zelda adventure took us back into the colorful toony world of Wind Waker. It was nice to go back. This time Aonuma, and Miyamoto took the reins back from Capcom and began working their magic with the DS. The main concern among fans was whether the promised touch controls could be pulled off. Zelda players were soon relieved to find Phantom Hourglass’s untraditional control scheme to work perfectly. PH will have you sailing across the ocean in search of items, clues, and dungeons, all of which have use the touch screen (and mic) to its full potential. A welcome Wifi multiplayer minigame was included in which you play a mix game of hide and seek/keep away. If you havenâ€™t picked up Links latestâ€™s title your missing out big time. The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass gets number eight for most innovative Zelda game.
7. The Legend of Zelda – (1987: NES)
This is where it all started. Though we now have suburb titles such as Twilight Princess, and Phantom Hourglass all Zelda titles start with this game as a foundation. Free roaming overworld, mind-bending dungeons, upgradable weapons, currency system, and powerful music, all of which were unheard of back during the early days of the game industry. Yet young game developer Shigeru Miyamoto took it upon himself to create not only a game, but a adventure.
There really isn’t much to say about this excellent piece of software besides telling you that if you have not played The Legend of Zelda your missing out on your gaming heritage. Yesâ€¦it’s that important.
6. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap â€“ (2005: GBA)
This little gem is an excellent definition of an organized well built two dimensional adventure title that was accomplished by none other than Capcom. Unlike Seasons/Ages, Minish Cap takes its toony art style from The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker. This style works perfectly with the GBA to give a colorful, and lush look to a 2D Hyrule.
What made Minish Cap unique wasâ€¦wellâ€¦the Minish Cap. Link could put on an ancient talking green cap which in turn would shrink Link down to ant-size. This new aspect created very innovative dungeons and environments in which you have to think small. Though a bit on the short side, Minish Cap proved that Nintendo could let third parties handle one of their biggest franchises. Be sure to pick this one up to fill your DS’s GBA slot. It’ll be there for quite a while.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – (2006: GCN, Wii)
Very few games are in the development cycle for over three and a half years. One of those few is the Nintendo’s most recent console adventure Twilight Princess. And boy does it show! First announced at E3 2004, Twilight Princess has been through enough polish to make Mario blush. Known best for agreeing with fans who longed for a more “mature” direction after Wind Waker’s cel-shaded artstyle. Nintendo paid attention and delivered a game that is not only the most beautiful Zelda, but an epic one at that. Youâ€™ll easily spend hours upon hours crossing Hyrule on the back of Epona in search of your next massive dungeon. Each element is so finely built that it just feels great to boot this game up. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess gets number five for best art direction and epic scope.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – (1993: GB)
At a time when Game Boy was â€œtheâ€ handheld market, Nintendoâ€™s handheld fans had a knack to bite into a good adventure for on the go. Once again Nintendo listened and rolled out Miyamoto’s favorite Zelda title, Link’s Awakening. Fans of A Link to the Past felt right at home with Link’s Awakening with it’s trap filled dungeons and new abilities. LA also pushed a feature that has been used in every Zelda game after it: Trading-side quests. Though this Zelda lacked color, no one cared, because it’s Zeldaâ€¦in my pocket! The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening gets number four for best portable Zelda adventure.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – (2003: GCN)
Those of you that may remember Spaceworld 2001 most likely recall the upset Wind Waker caused to most Zelda fans. Zelda fans had just come off of two excellent “mature” titles (Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask) and were just shown a trailer of a cel-shaded Link running through what looked like a cartoon. Though at first glance you might doubt it as a â€œtrueâ€ Zelda game, once you hit that bright blue ocean to sail to a new unknown island dungeonâ€¦your hooked. This is one of those Zelda games that must be physically played to understand how great it is. Screen shots and video just won’t give it justice until you hold that GC controller in your hands. For starters, who doesn’t like pirates and the open sea? Exactly! Add the refined, classic Zelda gameplay, new items, and a boat, you’ve got one excellent adventure! Do not pass this one up folks. This Zelda is a keeper.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past â€“ (1992: SNES)
Some of Nintendo’s most respected and best titles graced the Super Nintendo. A Link to the Past is no exception. ALttP set the standard for all (both 2D and 3D) Zelda games preceding it. This is really the blue print for all adventure game developers at the time and still is today. The hookshot was first introduced here along with many continuing staples including the infamous Light/Dark world storyline which has been rehashed in so many ways over the years (see Twilight Princess). Like other SNES titles, A Link to the Past is filled to the brim with bright colorful textures that inspired the art direction of many titles including Squareâ€™s , Secret of Mana. The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past takes number two because it set the standard for 2D innovation and level design.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time â€“ (1998: N64)
Surprised? I didn’t think so. Ocarina of Time almost always wins on not only top Zelda lists, but on top overall game lists. It’s no surprise either. The legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time is THE best Zelda game, period. Prior to writing this top ten list I sat down and played through OoT once again. It just never gets old. Story, Graphics, Music, Puzzles, Gameplay, it’s all there! So much was packed into a little grey cartridge that it’s a wonder they didn’t split it into two titles. What Super Mario 64 did with 2D Mario games, Ocarina of Time did for 2D Zelda games. Yet every single element whether it be traps, enemies, dungeons, or weapons revolve around one itemâ€¦the Ocarina. If you seriously haven’t played through this game youâ€™re missing out. Big time. I ask you to please go find the cartridge, or download it off the VC, and play it. As for the rest of us old Zelda fansâ€¦it doesn’t hurt to take one more ride through Hyrule Field.
Finally, I’d like to thank Mr. Miyamoto for creating such an amazing series. Youâ€™ve got some serious skills. Thank you.
What do you think? What’s numberÂ one on your list?