The Legend of Zelda is one of the most successful video game franchises of all time, and has developed a massive and loyal fanbase. That’s not a big surprise, considering all that those games have to offer: challenging enemies and bosses to keep you on your toes, puzzle solving to keep you thinking, and a storyline that makes you wonder what’s going to happen next. With those things in mind, here are my top 5 Legend of Zelda games.
5) Skyward Sword
Some hardcore Zelda fans might shun me for even thinking about putting this game on a top 5 list, but allow me to explain. In the Legend of Zelda timeline, Skyward Sword is the game that started everything. Even though it came out in 2011, this game tells the origin story of the land of Hyrule and the Master Sword. If you’re a Zelda fan, it is very important for you to play this game at least once.
Another great thing about this game is its art style. The bright, beautiful colours make playing this game seem like walking through an art gallery. Everything about this game’s style from the beautifully made scenery to the incredibly detailed characters and items makes it an amazing playing experience.
Some of you might be wondering why I put this game so low on the list if there are so many things I like about it. If you have ever actually played this game, you will understand why.
Have you ever had a friend that you love to be around because they’re really amusing and fun, but you also can’t stand them because they’re annoying? That’s Skyward Sword.
Despite the beauty of the game and the insightful story, Skyward Sword is as annoying as an aunt that won’t stop pinching your cheeks. I forced myself to play through it twice, and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Let me tell you about the game’s controls. Since this game came out for the Wii, you had to use the Wii remote. Along with that, you had to use a Wii Nunchuk to move around and a Wii MotionPlus to make the Wii remote’s movements more precise. The Nunchuk was used to move the character around, and the Wii remote was used to attack. The addition of the Wii MotionPlus made it nearly impossible to play through the game without yelling the words “I didn’t want to do that” at least 20 times. Whichever way you swung the remote, your sword would swing that way. If you swung too much, it would stop working properly. In a lot of cases, you’d have to stop in the heat of battle to fix the controls, which was very annoying. If it wasn’t for the controls, this game would definitely be higher on the list, and probably be about 50 times more enjoyable. Thanks, Nintendo.
In almost every Zelda game, the main character, Link, has an acquaintance that helps and accompanies him on his quest to save Zelda. In Skyward Sword, we meet one of the most annoying sidekicks in all of Zelda history. I present to you, dear readers: Fi. This overgrown, soulless Smurf seems to think you need a reminder every two minutes. Whether it be for what you’re supposed to do,
or that your Wii remote needs batteries, Fi is an overprotective mother bearing down on you and making sure you know exactly what to do at all times. As if this game wasn’t linear enough, Fi holds your hand through every challenge you face and doesn’t allow you to stray from the correct path. Thanks for caring about us, Fi, but we know how to take care of ourselves.
All in all, Skyward Sword is an okay game, but it could definitely use some revamping. Take away the motion controls and make Fi slightly less annoying, and you got a great game about the history of the Legend of Zelda. As for right now, though…it lands itself the 5th spot on my list.
From this point on, my choices are extremely close together, and I had a lot of trouble picking what places they would take. The following is what I finally decided on.
4) Ocarina of Time
Every Zelda fan knows this game. Every Zelda fan loves this game. Every Zelda fan has continuous nightmares about the evil water temple and its mind-melting puzzles… I might have lied about the last point, but you get the idea.
Ocarina of Time made history by being the first 3D Zelda game ever made, and quickly became what was seen as “the best” in the franchise. My question to you is: Is it actually the best? In my opinion, no, but I still love this game like a mother loves her children. It just so happens that this is the ugly, dumb child, but I digress. Still love it.
Let’s talk pros first. This was during one of the golden eras of Zelda, when motion controls were far from Nintendo’s mind. This being said, the controls didn’t make you want to throw the game out the window, and that’s always a plus. It was easy to move around, easy to attack, and easy to use items (as long as you had that item equipped). This was also the first Zelda game to include a control that allows the player to target which enemies they wanted to attack, which proved to be extremely useful. Overall, the controls in this game made playing it easy and fun.
You know what I hate most about video games? Long, unnecessary travel time. If I want to go somewhere, I want to get there quickly. I want to keep playing the game and having fun instead of sitting around waiting to get to my destination. Ocarina of Time understood this. This was the first Zelda game to introduce Epona, Link’s horse. You can get Epona later in the game, so some travel time is still long and tedious, but once you get her, everything becomes smoother and more fun. Why walk somewhere when you can ride an awesome horse there? Thank you, game.
For me, the storyline is my favourite part of every Zelda game. A good story makes a good game, and Ocarina of Time followed that rule. They gave fans on the franchise a more in-depth story to follow compared to previous games, and kept the players intrigued. Even if you got frustrated with the puzzles, you wanted to keep playing to find out what happened next.
Music makes the world go ’round. It also makes a good game into a great game. Every Zelda game has a beautiful soundtrack, but there’s just something about Ocarina of Time’s short, simple, and catchy melodies that I love. Out of all Legend of Zelda songs, my favourite comes from this game. I present to you, the Song of Storms:
I don’t know why, but there’s something about its upbeat melody and haunting harmony that makes the Song of Storms impossible to stop listening to. Bravo, Koji Kondo. You made a beautiful and memorable soundtrack.
As with Skyward Sword, you might be wondering, “Why is this game at number 4 if you’ve said all this good stuff about it?” Well, dear reader, I am so glad you asked. Allow me to explain.
As I mentioned earlier, almost every Zelda game has a sidekick that accompanies Link. It just so happens that most of said sidekicks are annoying. Exhibit A: Fi. Exhibit B: Ocarina of Time’s very own Navi. Navi is a cute, glowing blue ball with wings that calls herself a fairy. Navi is also well-known as “the most annoying character in Zelda history”. While I think Fi is the most annoying, there is no doubt that Navi takes second place. Every time you target an enemy, she’ll tell you to “watch out!” Every time she wants to tell you something, you’ll hear, “hey, listen!” What makes this worse than it sounds is Navi’s high-pitched voice.
Annoying, right? Now imagine hearing that almost 24/7 while trying to fight enemies, solve puzzles, and play the game. The struggle is real.
Let’s talk about everyone’s favourite temple, the Water Temple! I talked about it briefly in the beginning , but I had to stop because I was getting horrible flashbacks and started twitching uncontrollably. Putting all jokes aside, to those who don’t know anything about Zelda games, the main objectives are completing things called “temples” or “dungeons”, which are basically just huge buildings with lots of enemies and some useful items. To those who don’t know about Ocarina of Time, the Water Temple is said to be the hardest and most frustrating temple in not only Ocarina of Time, but all Zelda games. And I’d have to agree with that statement, because of how much trouble this temple caused me. I’ve
played through this game many times, and that temple has never gotten easier. Except that one time I glitched the game, but that doesn’t really count. This temple still sucks. Not to mention the mini-boss, which is an exact replica of Link, except has more skill, the power to phase through the ground, and the ability to jump on Link’s sword. Can a fight be any more unfair?
The biggest disappointment for me was the ending of this game. I’ve never heard of anyone else having a problem with it, so this is just a personal thing, but the way they ended it left me with so many questions. Spoiler warning! After Link saves Hyrule and peace is restored, Link goes back in time and warns Princess Zelda of what is to come, and the whole thing is prevented. Or, at least, that’s what it looks like. We never really get any clarification. The whole ending is left to interpretation and a bit of information from the Zelda timeline. Based on what the timeline says, the ending of Ocarina of Time splits off into 3 categories: the adult Link timeline, where Link
saved Hyrule, and everyone regarded him as a hero for thousands of years after; the child Link timeline, where Link goes back in time and prevents the events of Ocarina of Time from happening; and the death timeline, where Link is defeated in battle and evil takes over Hyrule. But the ending we see in Ocarina of Time is the child Link ending, which bothers me because since Link prevents everything from happening, what was the point of the game? Based on what the ending tells us, the whole game was pointless, and you saved Hyrule for nothing. It may just be a personal thing, but I want something more out of a great game like Ocarina of Time.
3) Majora’s Mask
Majora’s Mask has met with a terrible fate by being placed third on this list, since it is my favourite game at the moment. I have very specific reasons why it is third, which will be explained later. As for right now, I’ll tell you why I love it.
Majora’s Mask is definitely the creepiest of all the Zelda games, and, in my opinion, the most tragic. There are so many aspects of this game that make it both beautiful and sad at the same time. Since I love this game so much, I’ll briefly describe a part of it. (For what I’m about to explain, here is some background on the game: You only have 3 in-games days to complete the game, since the world’s moon is falling down to destroy the town. You can go back to the first day at any point by playing the Song of Time. After the third day, there is a carnival, and people are setting up for it on the three in-game days.) One of the side quests you
can do involves a couple, whose names are Kafei and Anju. Spoiler warning! Kafei was turned into a child by the game’s antagonist, Skull Kid, who also stole Kafei’s mask which would be used during the wedding. Kafei and Anju were supposed to get married the day after the carnival, but Kafei cannot face his future wife without the mask. Link talks to Anju who, find Kafei, gives Anju a pendant from her fiance, and helps Kafei
retrieve his mask on the final day. When there is only a short time left until the world ends, Kafei and Anju meet each other, say their vows, combine their masks to create the Couple’s Mask (which is given to Link), and then wait to die together. I’ll be honest, that last part made me cry. I’m a sucker for sad love stories, and Kafei and Anju take the cake. That was just one of the sad stories that makes Majora’s Mask so memorable. All of the stories in Majora’s mask are tragic and beautiful at the same time, which is why I love this game so much.
Majora’s Mask is the direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, so it’s obvious that many things are the same. Many things that made Ocarina of Time great, such as its easy controls and beautiful music, made their way into Majora’s Mask, making it a great game as well. One great addition to Majora’s Mask was the opening song, before you start the game.
This is my second favourite song from the Zelda games, after Song of Storms (which is also in Majora’s Mask). This song symbolizes the people in Majora’s Mask. In the beginning, they’re happy and think everything’s okay. But by the end, they realize that something dark and evil is happening. This song was the perfect choice to have before the start of the game.
As opposed to other games in the series, one of your goals in Majora’s Mask is to collect masks. Shocking, isn’t it? The main objective of the game that you receive is to retrieve the Majora’s Mask for the Happy Mask Salesman, but Link needs to collect all of the other masks to fully complete his quest. As I was playing through the game, I found it very fun to collect every mask.While other
Zelda games’ collecting quests are boring and tedious, collecting the masks in Majora’s Mask amused me. I couldn’t wait to see what mask I would get next; what it would look like, what it would do, and how it could help me get other masks. When I finally found every single mask there was, I felt like I accomplished something greater than beating the game. The reason for that is the final mask, known as the Fierce Deity mask, makes Link the most powerful he has ever been in any game. With that mask, I beat the final boss in one minute (the first time I beat it, it took my around 10 minutes). The Fierce Deity mask makes me wish every game in the series had something like that.
Every time I received a new mask, I had helped someone in need. I made their problems go away. Even though they would be sad again once I went back to the first day, it felt good to see the sad characters smile and feel good. Majora’s Mask makes even simple sidequests seem almost as fun and important as the main quest.
Now here’s where things take a turn for the worst, for Majora’s Mask. I love this game – it’s my favourite – but I don’t really like it as a Zelda game. It has all of the things that make Zelda games great: the music, the temples, and the iconic items. However, it lacks the proper structure of a Zelda game. Majora’s Mask is the only game in the series to have the whole game time-based. With only three in-game days to complete the quest, and having to repeat those same three days over and over, it is extremely different from everything else the series has done. When I played through Majora’s Mask, it felt like a Zelda game, but it didn’t at the same time. As a fan of the Zelda series, I was appreciated the addition of classic things like Link, Link’s horse, the music, and the temples. However, the time-based aspect made the game very different from anything I had ever played before. While that isn’t a bad thing in most cases, because of that different in structure, I couldn’t but this game any higher on my list of my favourite Zelda games.
The video below shows the message that appears every time the three days are restarted.
2) Twilight Princess
As the first Zelda game I have ever played, Twilight Princess holds a spot close to my heart. I’ve played it more times than I can’t count, beaten it at least 7 times, and tried to discover all of its secrets. It is a beautiful game, and it was my favourite for a very long time. Perhaps I loved it so much because it was my first, but I will convince you that this is one of the best Zelda games.
First of all, the thing I love most about this game is the animation. This is the most realistic-looking of all the Zelda games, and I love it. The dark art style, the solid lines, the detailed shading. Everything about the animation is beautiful, and it makes me feel like I’m a part of the game. I loved exploring this game because everything looked beautiful. Some things were beautiful in a pretty way, and some things were beautiful in a creepy way. The villages in the game are all so beautiful, and they all look like places I would want to live. Even the open fields, the desert, and the snowy mountains were all places I’d love to be because of how gorgeous everything was. The animation made me feel immersed in the world.
To go along with animation, there is character design. Everyone looked realistic compared to the cartoonish style of other games in the series. When the characters look that realistic, it makes me feel like I’m saving real people. It might sound a bit strange, but I feel more connected to those characters because of how realistic they are. This game contains many of my favourite designs for characters, especially Link and Zelda. In most games, Zelda has blonde hair. In Twilight Princess, however, Zelda was given brown hair. In my opinion, it suits her better than blonde. It makes her look less like Princess Peach from the Mario games
(Zelda looking like Peach has always been one of my pet peeves). Next, there’s Link. The fine detail in Link makes him look older than in most games. I have always had a slight problem with how young Link always was in the games, but this game shows him as a strong young man; how Link should be. However, Link’s animation also shows the young, innocent side to him. His large blue eyes show us that he has never been violent before being awakened as a hero. He is still sweet, clueless even. This game captures Link’s emotions better than any other game. We get to see sides of him that other games never see. As a fan of Zelda games, I love seeing the emotional side of Link.
The last point I have for animation is the style of the enemies and items. Since every character looks realistic, every monster looks realistic as well. Fighting all of the different monsters makes me feel like I’m really helping. The more realistic they look, the more I feel like I’m a hero. All other Zelda games have a cartoonish style, so the enemies don’t look as threatening. In Twilight Princess, they look truly evil and frightening. As for the items, I think they all look beautiful. The realistic style of Link’s sword and every item he wields is absolutely gorgeous. My favourite items are the rupees (the currency in the Legend of Zelda) because they look like real jewels, as opposed to the fake-looking jewels from other games in the series. Overall, every bit of animation in this game is breathtaking.
I complained about Link’s sidekicks in both Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time, but Twilight Princess is one of the only games whose sidekick I don’t hate. Her name is Midna, and she originally came from somewhere called the Twilight Realm. She comes to Hyrule because Ganondorf, the game’s main antagonist, takes control of the Twilight Realm. Midna starts off hating Link, but she eventually grows fond of him. I love her because of all her sarcastic and shrewish comments directed towards Link and other characters throughout the game. She is also very manipulative, which is a characteristic not seen in many protagonists throughout the series. Midna makes the game seem fresh and new, compared to other Zelda games.
As I have done with every previous game on this list, I will be talking about the storyline. Twilight Princess was the very first Zelda game I have ever played, and the story captivated me so much that I want to play every other game in the series. As with Majora’s Mask (but not quite to that extent), the story is dark and unsettling. Throughout the game, Link has to save the kingdom of Hyrule from being completely covered in permanent darkness. When parts of the kingdom are covered, the people living in those areas turn into bodiless spirits, floating around without a clue what has happened to them. Link, however, is not made into a spirit. He is transformed into a wolf whenever he enters the darkness. To add to the sadness, Link’s childhood friend, Ilia, loses her memory of him.
In Twilight Princess, Link not only has to save Hyrule, but he also has to save the Twilight Realm from Ganondorf. Link starts off as being just a humble farmhand, and then out of nowhere he has to become a hero and save two different worlds from evil. We can even see during the game that Link is still very young. We can see it in his eyes and his face; his emotions are that of a young, sweet boy, not an adult. This game makes me feel sympathy for Link, because he is forced to become a hero when we can clearly see how young and innocent he is. He is manipulated by Midna, driven crazy by a vision, forced to save two different worlds, and has to defeat countless monsters just to keep himself alive. While Link has to save Hyrule and defeat monsters in most Zelda games, this is the only game I have played that truly shows Link’s emotional side. I feel bad that he has to do all of that, when he seems so sweet and innocent.
On a brighter storyline note, Twilight Princess sees the return of Link’s horse, Epona, from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. The addition of Epona makes the game seem less dark, because Link has his horse for comfort. Just like children are allowed to see their pets in the hospital in certain cases, Link had Epona.
To top everything off, the music in this game is absolutely beautiful. I have listened to the full soundtrack (all 6 hours of it) at least 5 times. Every song perfectly fits the themes of the game: darkness, helplessness, and the occasional burst of happiness. The music was beautifully crafted, just like everything else in this game. The video below is one of my favourites from the soundtrack.
The beauty of this game’s story, mixed with the beauty of the animation and the beautiful music, makes this game one of the best in the series.
1) A Link Between Worlds
Many people believe that the original Legend of Zelda is on of the best in the series. Those people, in my opinion, are somewhat right. What makes a Zelda game great to me? All of the things I’ve talked about: animation, music, sidekicks that aren’t annoying, no motion controls, and storyline (including dark themes). This game has given me all of that, and more. But before I go into that, let me bring your attention to the title of the game: A Link Between Worlds. It’s a pun. The hero’s name is Link, and he’s the link between two worlds. With that out of the way, let’s jump into the details.
First, the animation. This game takes place in two worlds: Hyrule, where Link is from; and Lorule, the exact opposite of Hyrule (for example, Hyrule has Princess Zelda, and Lorule has Princess Hilda). Even though Lorule is mostly destroyed, it is just as beautiful as Hyrule. Lorule is gorgeous in a dark and evil sort of way, whereas Hyrule is gorgeous in a pretty and good sort of way. The characters are also beautifully animated. They are animated to suit their personality: happy, bubbly characters have
bright clothes and hair; and mysterious, creepy characters have dark clothes and hair. However, my favourite thing about this game’s animation are the paintings. 7 people are transformed into paintings, and Link must save them. The paintings were beautifully animated, and looked like real works of art. Walking around each kingdom and seeing all of the characters and scenery made my love this game. Occasionally I would just wander around, looking at everything. I was never bored, because there was always something nice to see.
Another beautiful thing about this game is the music. Every song did exactly what they were supposed to: they made the player feel how they were meant to feel while playing. The music was catchy, fitting, and beautifully composed. My favourite songs were the ones played by a man with a guitar and a boy with a flute. I loved their songs because they remixed songs from previous games, like Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time. It always made me smile listening to whatever remix they would play. The video below is a remix of the main theme song for the Legend of Zelda:
Next on the list is one of my favourite things about this game: Link has no sidekick! Praise Princess Zelda, because that alone made this game 10 times better. One of the things I hate most about Zelda games is constantly being annoyed by Link’s helper. I just want to play the game. A Link Between Worlds gets that. This game knows that sidekicks are annoying, so they made Link fly solo. He can get help, however, but only by paying a price. I think this is a good thing to do in Zelda games, because it encourages the player to explore and figure things out on their own. Whereas the addition of a sidekick for Link removes the player’s ability to wonder what to do, because they are
told exactly what they have to do. This game allowed the player to be free, which is something that all games in the series should do.
This game also did something else all Zelda games should do: not have motion controls. Since this game came out on the 3DS, there are absolutely no motion controls involved. Everything is done on the DS, so there’s no arm swinging required. This allows the player to focus on the enemies and environment, rather than their own movements.
Now, the story. In every game, there is something called the Triforce, which is the source of all the power in all of Hyrule. Spoiler warning! The kingdom of Lorule used to have a Triforce like the one in Hyrule, but it was destroyed. When this happened, Lorule became a wasteland. When Princess Hilda found out about Hyrule and their Triforce, she wanted it for her kingdom. When she and her minion, Yuga, were defeated, she gave up on trying to take Hyrule’s Triforce for her kingdom, because it was the right thing to do. When Link and Zelda returned to Hyrule, using the power of their kingdom’s Triforce, they were able to give Lorule a new Triforce. Beautiful, isn’t it? In my opinion, it was the perfect end to the perfect Zelda game.
That covers everything I talked about with the earlier games, but there are a few things about this game that make it special. Going back to what I said in the introductory sentence for A Link Between Worlds: many people think the first Legend of Zelda game is one of the best. The reason people say that is because that game allowed the player to explore anywhere they wanted to go, and enter whichever temples they wanted to enter. There was no order. That game encouraged exploring more than any other game in the series. Until, dear reader, A Link Between Worlds came out. Take everything great I had explained about this game, now add the fact that you can basically explore wherever you want, whenever you want. I think I need a tissue, because that’s just too darn beautiful. The player gains access to almost every single item in the game very early on, so that allows for limitless exploring. There are a few temples you have to go in before others, but for the most part, you get to choose which one you enter next. This game is bringing Zelda back to its roots, and I can’t wait to see what the next game in the series can give us.
While this game did go back to original Zelda ideas, it also gave us a brand new idea. A Link Between Worlds used StreetPass (a feature on the 3DS which allows other people with a 3DS near you to connect to yours) to allow players to battle against other players. Did you hear that? My mind just exploded. The enemy you face is called a Shadow Link, and it is the exact replica of the other player’s Link. As the name “Shadow Link” implies, yes, they are difficult to beat like Dark Link from Ocarina of Time. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like fighting them. It gives me a chance to test my skills, and allow myself to get better. I hope the next Zelda game includes a feature similar to this.
Nintendo did amazing with this game. Everything was perfect, and I can see myself going back to play with game countless times throughout my life. Now all I have to do is wait for the next game in the series to come out. If that game can have everything this game has, and somehow make them better, then that game will become the best thing since sliced bread. Get to work, Nintendo!
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a giant Legend of Zelda fan. These games have been a part of my life growing up, and it will continue to be a part of my life until either I die, or the series dies. Tell me, is anyone else a fan of this franchise? If so, let me know what you think of my choices, and tell me what your top 5 would be. Or, if you would prefer, keep it a secret to everybody.