The Legend of Zelda series has become one of the most highly respected and established video game series of all time. With countless awards and huge critical praise, Zelda has become one of Nintendo’s mots important assets. But what are the best Zelda games of all time? Check out this list below or Adrian’s video version on YouTube:
10. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Game Boy)
Link’s Awakening is the third instalment of the Zelda series and was released in 1993.
This game is very different from most Zelda games though, as it does not take place in trusty Hyrule. Princess Zelda is nowhere to be seen and there is no sign of the Triforce anywhere. The dungeons are well constructed, with decent puzzles and challenging bosses. It’s an unbelievable achievement that such a deep and layered game was crammed into a small Game Boy cartridge. This classic 1993 title was recently remastered for the Switch, and boy, did they do a great job!
Fun Fact: The developers of the game wanted to make Link’s Awakening feel like the TV series Twin Peaks.
9. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)
‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’ was a popular movie in the ‘80s and was surely crying out for a video game equivalent, right? Well, in 2004 we got our wish! The Minish Cap allows Link to shrink to the size of a bug and embark on a huge (or should that be tiny) adventure. Full of fresh new ideas and gameplay mechanics which help elevate this Game Boy Advance title to one of the best on the system.
The shrinking mechanic is the true highlight and allows Link to access areas in dungeons and buildings that would normally be out of reach. This lends itself to introducing some interesting new enemies and thought-provoking puzzles. The game oozes a lot of charm and is a must have title for any GBA owner.
Fun Fact: The Minish Cap takes place between Four Swords and Skyward Sword.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64)
Arguably the most divisive game in the Zelda series, Majora’s Mask takes place after Ocarina of Time and introduces some very innovative and original concepts. None more so than the three-day cycle, climaxing with the moon crashing down to Earth.
The game also allows Link to wear various masks, each unlocking special abilities and powers. The game features one of the best stories ever told in a Zelda game with its darker tones and reflections on mortality.
The game’s art style is also a huge plus point, with its African inspired art and sombre tones really helping to set a morose and more mature tone never seen before in the series. The controversial three-day cycle (72 hours) which equates to around 54 minutes in game is the aspect that gets most gamers hot under the collar. Feeling the pressure of time adds extra stress to an already grim and moody game.
Majora’s Mask is a true masterpiece and deserves a lot of credit for trying out a lot of new ideas and finally allowing us to know what it would feel like to be a Deku Scrub!
Fun Fact: Majora’s Mask was the inspiration behind the infamous creepypasta Ben Drowned.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
Another crowd splitting entry, Skyward Sword came out swinging on the Wii in 2011 and has a lot of positives, but sadly, a few negatives.
The game takes advantage of the Wii Motion Plus controller and allows you to control Link in a way never seen before! Waving around your Wii Remote controls your sword, shield and other weapons. This helps you really feel part of the adventure, even if sometimes you start yearning for old school controller play.
The game’s cell-shaded/impressionist art style was certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. But it does give the game a fresh and original look and feel. Some of the temples were a tad forgettable and the motion controls weren’t always as responsive as you may have hoped.
A few elements of Skyward Sword led to many key concepts found in Breath of the Wild. These include the stamina wheel and the chance to upgrade and damage weapons. Groose also deserves a mention as one of the most memorable recent Zelda characters. The bully turned friend clearly gains a lot of inspiration from Biff in ‘Back to the Future’.
Fun Fact: Skyward Sword is officially the first game in the Zelda timeline.
6. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
Who would have thought that a small gameplay element found in Ocarina of Time (OoT) would lend itself to the major aspect of a brand-new Zelda game?!
In one small section of OoT, Ganondorf can be seen transporting from one painting to the next, allowing him to access various areas of a room and sneak up on you. This painting transportation was hugely enhanced in A Link Between Worlds. The 3DS masterpiece was created as the sequel and spiritual successor to A Link to the Past and is a worthy number 6 in our best Zelda games list.
The game also became a less linear experience as you can now tackle most dungeons in any order. The game takes place in both Hyrule (with the same map and setting found in A Link to the Past) and Lorule, with the latter only being accessible with Link’s new ability to merge and walk on walls.
This game pushes the 3DS to its maximum ability and looks and sounds amazing. A Link Between Worlds also shows off some of the most ingenious puzzles found in a Zelda title.
Fun Fact: You can rent a lot of weapons from Ravio throughout the game. In his store you can clearly see the Majora’s Mask hanging on the wall.
5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
Into the top five of our best Zelda games list! Often dubbed as the best game of all time, or at least the best SNES title ever released; A Link to the Past only comes in at fifth place on this list.
This amazing game really helped make Zelda a truly established gaming series, mixing amazing puzzles, memorable dungeons and exquisite gameplay.
A Link to the Past also boasts the introduction of many Zelda staples we all now love including the legendary Master Sword and parallel worlds. The ability to play in both the Light World and Dark World really adds a huge cherry on top. This is a game that everyone needs to play sometime in their life.
Fun Fact: Chris Houlihan won a competition held by Nintendo Power in 1991. He was awarded a secret room named after him, which was inserted into The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GameCube/Wii)
Did you ever wish to be turned into a wolf and live out all your howling dreams?! Well, in Twilight Princess, this wish becomes a reality in this stylishly dark and very mature Zelda game.
The game takes Link on an adventure starting as a teenager, then a teen wolf and finally a fully-fledged adult. You must hunt down and revive the light spirits to banish evil.
The game’s main villain is Zant, an evil and flamboyant sorcerer who sadly never quite fills the boots of Ganondorf. The gameplay elements where you get to be a wolf are quite fun but some of the jumping aspects can be a tad cumbersome. The wolf howling tasks also can be annoyingly finickity. The water temple is very challenging soon becomes a laborious challenge.
The game has a few neat gimmicks including snowboarding with a yeti, some great fishing challenges and addictive mini games scattered across the map.
Twilight Princess excels in telling a deep and powerful story that will keep you hooked and rewards you with some of the best weapons found in any Zelda title. The Iron Boots and Double Clawshots give you access to previously unreachable areas. The game also allows you to upgrade your swords and armour, pushing the RPG elements up a few notches.
It’s one of the darker Zelda titles and shows off some neat features and gameplay mechanics that makes it a true winner and worthy of fourth spot in your best Zelda games top ten.
Fun Fact: This is the first game (Wii version) to feature Link as right-handed. This was done to make swinging your sword with the Wii Remote appear more natural.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U/Switch)
Breath of the Wild (BOTW) blew fresh air into the Zelda series and ripped up the rule book to help create a divisive yet beautiful game. The open-world setting allows you to explore most parts of the huge world map practically straight away, a far stretch from some previous titles.
BOTW also replaces traditional dungeons with Shrines and Divine Beasts. Shrines are best described as mini dungeons where you need to complete either puzzle or battle-based missions. When completed, the Shrine will reward you with a Spirit Orb. These Orbs help you gain additional heart pieces or extra stamina. The Divine Beasts are major parts of the story and will are more like traditional temples – however, they do seem to lack some of the charm of previous temples.
The open-world aspect is where the game really shows off. You must hunt to survive, forage fruit and vegetables and build up your weapons and armour. All this across the amazing landscapes found in the Kingdom of Hyrule. Another reason the game is so highly praised is the multitude of little secrets hidden across the map. However, the game is certainly not for the faint-hearted! In the early parts of your adventure, you will die. A lot. The puzzles can also be very challenging, especially in some of the Shrines that are unlocked with the games DLC.
Did you expect it to be higher up in our best Zelda games top ten? This launch title for the Switch (also released on the Wii U) won numerous awards and praise and rightly so! This is a quest that will leave your clambering for more, long after you’ve defeated Evil Ganon. Plus, you can finally unlock a Hylian motorbike! What more could you ever ask for in a Zelda title?
Fun Fact: If you befriend a dog in Breath of the Wild, they will lead you to buried treasure.
2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube)
With animation that Walt Disney himself would be proud of and a storyline and charm ramped up to the max, Wind Waker is a true gaming masterpiece. It’s also possibly the best title on the GameCube.
The cell-shaded art style certainly divided critics early on but seems to have aged better than other 3D Zelda games. Wind Waker takes Link on a pirate-based adventure where you must travel the seas of Hyrule and visit numerous islands in your quest to rescue your sister and defeat Ganon.
This game boasts a huge map and countless islands to tackle and explore. The secrets you can uncover through various puzzles and hidden secrets makes exploration a huge part of the game’s appeal. The dungeons are also well designed, offering devilising and skilfully designed puzzles which reward you with great weapons and upgrades. These dungeons are easily some of the greatest found in any Zelda game.
The story is expertly told and deserves a lot of recognition. Some of the sailing aspects of the game can become a little laborious but apart from that it’s practically a faultless game from start to finish.
The overall setting and feel of the game is somewhat hard to explain in words, but it oozes so much love and charm you can’t help but get swept along on the crest of its wave. But does it deserve to be runner-up in our best Zelda games list?
Fun Fact: The game’s initial popularity diminished after a tech demo displaying the GameCube’s graphical capabilities showed off a realistic and grim duel between Link and Ganondorf.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
Ocarina of Time is the best game ever made. This is the first Zelda game to go 3D and show-off the true capabilities of the N64 console in all its glory. A worthy number 1 in our best Zelda games top ten.
Take on an unforgettable journey with Link as you travel through time and rescue Princess Zelda from Ganondorf. The game starts off with Navi the fairy waking you up from your slumber.
With the help of a magic ocarina, and guidance from memorable characters, you must find and recover the seven Sages to finally battle your great foe. Koji Kondo also does a masterful job on the game’s iconic soundtrack.
Ocarina of Time highlighted what a video game could truly be. The only slight negative of this near perfect game is the annoyance of the great owl, who offers advice on an often too repeated basis.
You can play Ocarina of Time on any Nintendo platform from the N64 onwards, so there’s little excuse not to give this work of art a playthrough.
Fun Fact: Ocarina (the instrument) sales increased a lot after the release of this game.
Do you agree with my rankings? Have I omitted your favourite Zelda game? Please feel free to get in contact and share your views. And please check out my best Zelda games list on YouTube.