The Legend of Zelda turns 25 today. It’s been 25 years of green tunics, dark realms, time travel, magic fairies and magic swords. So, to celebrate in this monumental event I put together my top 10 Zelda games of all-time. Let’s get into to it.
10. Phantom Hourglass
The sequel to The Wind Waker starts off the list. It was a game that offered a new way to control the hero Link as he set out, once again, to rescue the Princess Zelda (or Tetra, which is her name in this game).
The story is simple. Link and his pirate friends find a ghost ship, which takes Tetra. It is then up to Link to collect sand, which he places into a phantom hourglass. This allows him more time to explore time-limited dungeons, in his effort to find his friend. It's not really a deep story, but it works.
This is a great Zelda handheld game but falls slightly short for me. The graphics are fantastic and the presentation is top notch. The only thing that goes against it is how simple it is. I wish it was more challenging for veterans of the franchise, but it's not.
This was a game marketed to a more casual crowd. Yet, it still has great moments, like all the Zelda games that came before it.
9. Four Swords Adventures
What's better than one Link? Well, four of course, and that is exactly what you get here.
This game put together gameplay from the Nintendo GameCube and the Nintendo Game Boy Advance. This was to give gamers a more cooperative and competitive multiplayer. You would have to hook up your Game Boy Advance to your GameCube and during different events the screen would switch to one or the other. It sounds like a hassle but it worked, and it was fun.
After you had every thing hooked up, You would then try to get four friends together and journey through eight levels. The game was very linear but very clever.
People complained about the graphics and sound, but I liked it all. I won't say that these people are wrong to complain, because I understand where they're coming from, but it made me feel like I was playing a brand new Super Nintendo Game. Also, this is the closest thing to A Link to the Past sequel we ever had and that's why I love it.
8. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
The black sheep of the series and the only one not to use The Legend of Zelda title.
The story, again, is very simple. Link sets out on a quest to save Princess Zelda, who is under a sleeping spell.
The game was much different from the original 'The Legend of Zelda' and even Zelda games that came after it. It dropped it's overhead view and gave us a side-scrolling game, except when you're on the world map. Many people hated this game, because how different and ridiculously hard it was. Yet, it's not a bad game, at all.
When I played this game as a kid, it was frustrating, but as I got older I started to enjoy it more and more. It introduced certain things that would stick with the series, most notable, magic.
The other thing I really liked about it, is its combat system. It was very advanced for its time.
I don't think people should hate this game, yeah it's hard, but that challenge is what I missed so much in Phantom Hourglass.
7. Link's Awakening
The first game set out of the Kingdom of Hyrule, we come to one of the best Game Boy games of all-time.
The story begins when Link's ship is destroyed in a storm. He then washes up on Koholint Island, where he is found by a girl named Marin. Link soon sets out on a journey to return home. He gets his sword, and follows the guidance of an owl, who tells him that the only way home is to wake the Wind Fish. A fish who is in a giant egg on top of Mt. Tamaranch. This fish can only be woken up by the eight instruments of the Sirens. Yes, a lot more is happening in the story this time around.
This game really sticks out of the series, because it's one of the few titles you aren't rescuing Princess Zelda, which was a nice change. The other thing that made it stick out, was its sense of humor.
This is the perfect handheld Zelda game. The things Phantom Hourglass lacked, Link's Awakening had. The challenge remained there and being able to take the journey on the road was an amazing thing back then.
6. Twilight Princess
The first epic Zelda game on the Nintendo Wii. The story was darker and the adventure was huge.
A darkness starts to take over Hyrule, a darkness known as the Twilight. Link soon gets the ability to turn into a wolf and is helped by a twilight creature, known as Midna. They then both set off to save Hyrule and Princess Zelda.
The story does feel very familiar, but the way it's presented makes it engaging.
There is so much content in this game that it will make your head spin. You can easily spend over 30 hours playing through the main quest, but close to 70 if you try and collect everything. Nintendo packed so much into this world, showing us how much they actually care.
Twilight Princess also sports a very grown up look and feel. Like I said above, its dark. Yet, it's not so dark where you loose that Zelda charm, but this story is definitely targeted to a more adult crowd this time.
5. The Wind Waker
Hyrule is underwater and this time we get a boat.
This game takes place 100 years after The Ocarina of Time. Hyrule has suffered from a great flood, leaving most of the kingdom underwater. Link originally sets out to rescue his sister, which he does, but is ultimately pulled into journey that has him saving Princess Zelda and stopping Ganondorf.
The Wind Waker got a lot of negative feedback about the way it looked. After the more realistic approach during Nintendo 64 days, fans wanted Nintendo to continue making real looking Zelda games. What we received was the total opposite, we got a cartoon looking world.
This didn't bother me, because once you started playing, this was the same old Zelda. Yes, the adventure was a lot less challenging but the world it was set in made up for that. The Wind Waker is huge and there is no loading times, it all goes together so smoothly.
4. A Link to the Past
We return to form in the third game of the series.
The story begins when a magician named Agahnim kidnaps young maidens in Hyrule in the effort to open a seal that imprisons Ganon. Link is pulled into the adventure by Princess Zelda. He then has to save her, the maidens and Hyrule.
This is the true sequel to the original 'The Legend of Zelda'. The overhead view is back and side-scrolling is kicked to the curb. This game was the real evolution of the series and one that I play over and over again.
There is so much to love here, the gameplay is fantastic, the quest is long and challenging and the story is actually told during the game. That's right this was something different, because stories were usually told in the manuals.
I could gush over this game for hours. I loved the music, I loved how felt connected to the characters, it was just a special journey.
3. The Legend of Zelda
The timeless classic that started it all lands in the number 3 spot.
The story was explained in the games manual. The evil Ganon has brought chaos to the land of Hyrule and is after the Triforce. He kidnaps Princess Zelda and it's up to Link to stop find the triforce pieces, stop Ganon and rescue Princess Zelda. All these story elements would come back again and again in the Zelda series.
The overhead view, dungeons, magic swords and puzzles were all here. The game also offered a save function, because the adventure was too big to complete in a few hours (This was something new for consoles).
After you completed the first quest you unlocked the 'Second Quest', this one was more difficult. You could also access this quest by entering your name as ZELDA, when creating a new save file.
2. Ocarina of Time
Yes, the Zelda masterpiece does not make it to my number 1 spot.
I can already feel the angry emails being sent to me right now. Yet, the truth is, even though this is considered the best game of all-time, it's not my favorite Zelda game.
The story centers around Link. He is a Kokiri that lacks a fairy. Don't worry he soon gets the awesome Navi, who guides him through this adventure. Link sets out with his new fairy friend to rescue Princess Zelda and stop Ganondorf, again. Yet, this time we travel through time.
After we saw Mario step into the world of 3D, we all anticipated what Link could do in 3D. What we received was nothing short of amazing.
Considered to be one of the best games of all-time and for good reason. Everything in this game is tuned. The gameplay is smooth and the world is large.
The only reason I didn't pick it for my number 1 spot is because I connected more with the next game.
1. Majora's Mask
You have only three days to save the world.
The story takes place in Termina, where masks are scattered and you relive the same three days over and over. You get to live them over and over because you have the Ocarina, which controls time. In these three days you must help people, track down masks and stop the moon from crashing into the world.
I like this game the best because I felt connected to the world. The town of Termina is filled with people with their own stories and you get to participate in them. I also loved how the game was darker than Ocarina of Time, and the underlying theme was about healing the world.
I know people felt limited and that the game felt repetitive to them, but not for me. I thought the three day time limit made you feel the pressure.
Majora's Mask is a great game and deserves the same amount of attention that Ocarina of Time gets.