When people think of Nintendo’s most iconic characters, two names typically come to mind: Mario and Link. Link is the star of The Legend of Zelda series, a franchise that has expanded with epic new entries over the years. But which is the best The Legend of Zelda game? The series boasts a diverse range of titles, from the original NES classic to the open-world adventure Tears of the Kingdom on the Nintendo Switch. In this ranking, we’ll evaluate The Legend of Zelda games based on gameplay, characters, world-building, story, popularity, and more to determine which ones shine the brightest.
- Tears of the Kingdom
Tears of the Kingdom demonstrates how to craft a sequel to one of the most impressive games of all time. It takes everything that made Breath of the Wild great and enhances every aspect. The game world is significantly larger, offering a wealth of activities that breathe life into every corner. The powers at Link’s disposal are the finest in the series, ensuring that players can spend years exploring and still uncover unforgettable moments. This game not only tops the list of The Legend of Zelda games but also ranks among the must-play games in the history of the medium.
- Ocarina of Time 3D
When discussing the greatest games of all time, Ocarina of Time consistently rises to the top. It’s a prime example of successfully transitioning a 2D series into the 3D realm. The game showcases the quintessential Zelda gameplay, complete with temple dungeons and a richly detailed world filled with content. The narrative, which follows Link at two pivotal points in his life, delivers incredible twists and introduces memorable characters.
- Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda series is known for revolutionizing gameplay, and Breath of the Wild is no exception. This entry brought the series back to its open-world roots, allowing players unparalleled freedom to explore and shape their adventure. While it forgoes traditional dungeons and a linear story, its quiet and immersive world is an experience like no other.
- Majora’s Mask 3D
As a direct follow-up to one of the top Zelda games, Majora’s Mask 3D offers a stark departure from its predecessor. It immerses players in the twisted world of Termina, where Link has only three days to prevent the moon from crashing into the planet. The sense of impending doom permeates every character, making for a riveting and emotional adventure.
- The Minish Cap
It’s noteworthy that one of the most impressive 2D Zelda experiences didn’t come from Nintendo but from Capcom. The Minish Cap is a GBA title bursting with color and unique style. It perfects 2D dungeons and combat, offering a deeply rewarding handheld experience with its puzzles and items.
- Twilight Princess HD
This entry, originally released for the GameCube and Wii, stands out for its rich, mature style and storyline. While it suffers from pacing issues, it’s one of the darker entries in the series, catering to those seeking a departure from the whimsical tone of The Wind Waker. Tight combat and an engaging storyline center on Midna and Link, while the inclusion of Wolf Link adds an extra layer of intrigue.
- A Link to the Past
For many fans, A Link to the Past remains a favorite in the series. This third mainline installment features charming pixel art and a gameplay style that set a precedent for years to come. Its twists and turns were groundbreaking during the 1990s.
- A Link Between Worlds
A Link Between Worlds is a modern take on A Link to the Past, serving as a sequel. While it improves certain elements, like the freeform progression system, it doesn’t quite capture the charm of the original. Its relative lack of notoriety places it just below its inspirational predecessor.
- Skyward Sword HD
Skyward Sword marked a significant comeback for the franchise. While the Wii release faced criticism for its motion controls and gameplay, the Switch version provided a second chance. Improved gameplay shines, making it one of the standout entries, especially in terms of the emotional connection between Link and Zelda.
- The Wind Waker HD
The HD remake of one of the series’ most controversial games allowed it to reach its full potential. The cel-shaded graphical style has aged exceptionally well, and the sea-based traversal and whimsical characters secured its spot in the top 10.
These are the top 10 Legend of Zelda games, showcasing the diversity and evolution of the franchise. Stay tuned for the next part, where we’ll continue to rank the remaining games in the series, from Link’s Awakening to Triforce Heroes.