The Legend of Zelda franchise has left an indelible mark on the world of video games and pop culture. From its inception in 1986 to its latest sequels, here’s a list of essential Legend of Zelda games you should delve into after completing Tears of the Kingdom.
The Legend of Zelda (1986)
The Legend of Zelda, released in 1986, marked a pivotal moment in gaming history. This classic introduced us to Link, an elf-human boy on a quest to rescue Princess Zelda from the clutches of the evil sorcerer Ganon. Despite its age, this NES game set the bar high and is revered as a timeless classic that every gamer should experience.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to The Past
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A Link to the Past, released in 1991, solidified the franchise’s status as a pop culture phenomenon. In this installment, Link embarks on a quest to save Hyrule and its protectors, the Seven Sages, from Ganon’s clutches. It reintroduced the top-down perspective of the original game while improving gameplay and introducing iconic elements like the Master Sword and parallel worlds.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Link’s Awakening, released in 1993 for the Game Boy, takes players to a mysterious island where Link must awaken the Wind Fish. This handheld gem proved that portable console games could be just as immersive and enjoyable as their console counterparts, earning its place as one of the greatest video games of all time.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Ocarina of Time, released in 1998, revolutionized the series with its third-person perspective, targeting system, and open 3D world. It’s considered a cornerstone of gaming history, inspiring countless other titles. Link’s quest to stop Ganon from obtaining the Triforce stands as a testament to the game’s enduring legacy.
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The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Majora’s Mask, a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, presents a unique challenge as Link races against time to prevent the moon from crashing into Termina. It introduced innovative mechanics such as time-sensitivity and transformative masks, earning a place in the hearts of fans as one of the most beloved games in the franchise.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
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The Wind Waker, released in 2002, transports players to a vast sea dotted with islands, a departure from the usual Hyrule setting. Despite initial skepticism about its cartoonish graphics, this installment earned praise for its captivating gameplay, story, and unique cel-shaded art style, eventually becoming a beloved Zelda classic.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Released for the Game Boy Advance in 2004, The Minish Cap acts as a prequel to Four Swords and provides the origin story for the Four Swords. Link, with the help of a magical hat named Ezlo, embarks on a quest to save Princess Zelda from her petrified state. This handheld gem garnered positive reviews and solidified its place among Zelda’s portable adventures.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess, released for the GameCube and Wii, marked a return to the series’ earlier tone and gameplay style. Link battles to save Hyrule from a dark parallel dimension known as the Twilight Realm. While it didn’t introduce groundbreaking innovations, it received positive reviews and accolades, including several Game of the Year awards.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Skyward Sword, designed for the Wii’s MotionPlus system, offered precise control over Link’s sword movements, making it a standout entry in the series. Set in the floating city of Skyloft, this game utilized innovative mechanics and artistic inspirations, resulting in high sales and a later remastered version for the Nintendo Switch.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild
Breath of the Wild, released in 2017, redefined open-world gaming. In this masterpiece, Link awakens after a century-long slumber to face Ganon and save Hyrule. The game’s liberating approach allows players to explore a meticulously detailed open world, experimenting with physics, weather, and countless possibilities. Praised by fans and critics alike, it sets a new standard for open-world video games.
These essential Legend of Zelda games offer a captivating journey through Hyrule and beyond, showcasing the series’ evolution and enduring impact on the gaming world. Each installment contributes to the legacy of Link, Zelda, and the timeless adventure that has enchanted gamers for decades.