Breath of the Wild is already out and millions of players have already enjoyed the experience. It is time to compare the top Zelda games and decide which is the best one in the famous Nintendo series.
Best Legend of Zelda game
The Legend of Zelda is one of the most popular video games series in history, and according to our previous debate, Nintendo fans' favourite. The Legend of Zelda are fantasy action-adventure games published by Nintendo and created originally by Japanese designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. The first installment, which gave the name to the series, The Legend of Zelda, was released in Japan in 1986 for the Famicom Disk System and arrived to the USA and Europe next year in the NES cartridge platform. It was the first title for the console to include an internal battery for saving data. The game was extremely successful and sold over 6.5 million copies, paving the way for the following 18 titles of the saga which cumulatively have sold some 80 million copies over the last 3 decades.
The Legend of Zelda games successfully combine typical role-play game elements such as exploration, magical items and combat, with a very well written narrative and extraordinarily clever puzzles. Although there have been variations over the years, most games of the series display an intuitive gameplay, a wide variety of locations and some of the best designed dungeons in the video game industry. Players interact with many different characters and fight all sort of enemies. But, without any doubt, the most iconic character of the series is Link, the Hero of Time. This young (and silent) protagonist is usually dressed with a green tunic and pointed cap, and armed with a shield and sword. He is the bearer of the Triforce of Courage. Link's goal is to save Zelda, Princess of Hyrule and guardian of the Triforce of Wisdom, from Ganondorf (a.k.a. Ganon), Link's evil antagonist and bearer of the Triforce of Power.
Let's compare Link's adventures and decide which of them deserves to be considered the best.
Watch the trailer of the latest Nintendo Zelda game: Breath of the Wild
Top Zelda games
Based on critics' reviews (Metacritic), we have shortlisted the top Zelda games to help you make up your mind and vote for the best of them. We compare the main innovations and contributions of each of these titles to Nintendo's action-adventure franchise.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991, SNES): this game introduced some of the most iconic elements of the saga, such as the Master Sword and spin attack, as well as a linear plot with characters guiding the Hylian adventurer, Link, through the story. The adventure unfolds through both the light and dark worlds.The game sold 4.61 million copies worldwide.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998, Nintendo 64). This remains for many fans the best Zelda game ever. It introduced a 3D world and a combat targeting system, later used by many other games within and outside the series. In Ocarina of Time Link uses three types of swords (Kokiri, Master and Biggoron's) and shields (Deku, Hylian and Mirror). However, the Ocarina is probably the most memorable item in the game. Its powerful songs allow Link to transport to different locations and trigger other important events. Ocarina of Time sold more than 7 million copies on Nintendo 64.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000, Nintendo 64). The game gives a dramatic twist and a darker tone to the series and introduces gameplay innovations. In Majora's Mask Link has three days to save Termina, a parallel world to Hyrule. He needs to find the dark and powerful Majora's Mask and prevent a moon from crashing into Termina. Through the game, Link uses diferent masks to transform himself and enhance some of his abilities. Majora's Mask ramped up difficulty level and enhanced graphics. It sold 3.36 million copies on Nintendo 64.
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons / Oracle of Ages (2001, Game Boy Color). Nintendo followed the successful Pokémon formula and released in parallel 2 similar games. While Oracle of Season focuses on the action-adventure element, Oracle of Ages devotes more effort into puzzle-based challenges. Players had to complete both games to reveal the entire plot. In Oracle of Seasons, Link explores Holodrum in search for the Rod of Seasons. In Oragle of Ages, his adventures lead him to Labrynna, where Link uses the Harp of Ages to manipulate time and space. Near 4 million copies were sold of each of the games.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003, GameCube). Set in a great sea with many small islands, The Wind Waker, introduced cel-shaded cartoony graphics and very interesting story. The game starts with a completely flooded Hyrule. Link uses the power of the Wind Waker, a magical baton, to sail across the ocean in her quest to save his sister Aryll with the help of a young girl called Tetra. Link, once more, faces his nemesis Ganon in this game featuring an enhanced control system and innovative visual design. The Wind Waker sold more than 3 million copies on GameCube.
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004, GameCube). This is a multiplayer Zelda game and a very original addition to the series. It used 2D graphics and a cartoony art inspired by The Wind Waker. This game was heavily inspired by Four Swords, the multiplayer Zelda game that was released with A Link to the Past's cartridge. It included an episodic cooperative campaign for 1 to 4 players and the competive Shadow Battle mode. Link is split into 3 clones which accompany him in his quest to defeat the Sorcerer of Winds, Vaati, and rescue Princess Zelda. The game sold nearly 1 million copies worldwide.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006, GameCube, Wii). This game takes place hundreds of years after Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Link, assisted by a mysterious creature called Midna, fights to prevent Hyrule from being completely engulfed by a dark dimension called the Twilight Realm. The Wii version of the game enabled some motion control features in combat. In Twilight Princess Link is able to shift forms between his normal Hylian and wolf forms. The artificial intelligence in this game is more advanced. Although Link remains silent the entire geme, the noises he makes and facial expressions help the character convey more emotions than in previous titles. The game sold almost 9 million copies.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011, Wii). This game heavily relied on the use of Wii MotionPlus controller, which turned combat in a very exciting experience. Skyward Sword exploited the technical capabilities of Nintendo's Will much more than Twilight Princess, which had been originally conceived for GameCube. Visually, its inspiration may be found in Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker. Link who lives in a floating town called Skyloft, goes in a quest to rescue his friend Zelda and fight a powerful Demon Lord called Ghirahim. Link is armed with the Goddess Sword and aided by a spirit named Fi. 3.4 million copies of the game have been sold worldwide so far.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017, Nintendo Switch and Wii U). The new Zelda game has been universally acclaimed by critics. This long awaited new installment of the series introduces an open-world environment and much improved high-definition visuals and physics-driven gameplay. Players enjoy the capacity to explore freely very beautiful and varied lands in Hyrule. 10,000 years after a hero and a princess defeated and sealed Ganon away, the world is again in danger. An amnesiac Link travels to recover his memories and prevent Ganon from breaking free from his confinement in Hyrule Castle and destroying the world. Breath of the Wild has sold 1.5 million copies in less than one month from its release.
- Other Zelda games: Legend of Zelda (1989, NES), Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988, NES), The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (1993, Game Boy), The Legendo of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004, Game Boy Advance), The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (2007, Nintendo DS), The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009, Nintendo DS), The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (2013, 3DS), The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (2015, 3DS)
If you change your mind, you can change your vote simply by clicking on another option.
Best The Legend of Zelda game - Top games comparison, poll and debate
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