Something it seems gamers and gaming websites love to do is rank things. Don’t worry though, unlike all the other ranking articles, I’ll keep my list to one page. What else better to rank than the Zelda series right?!? Not to sound cocky, but I think I’ve got a pretty good feel for the series. I used to sit in my diaper for hours at a time watching my dad solve both Zelda 1 and 2 on the NES before I had even learned talk. By the time I was 3, I was able to take on Zelda by myself. My dad would clear the dungeons and then hand the controller over to me for the boss battles. At age 4 I was able to complete the game in its entirety by myself. You can probably understand why Zelda would become my favorite franchise, and eventually would lead me to creating a group of gamers that would speed run the entire franchise.
The rankings after the jump
10. Oracle of Ages/Seasons
I was a huge fan of Links Awakening, so when I heard that there would be another handheld Zelda game, I was ecstatic. Oh the countless school nights I spent hiding underneath my blanket with a worm light attached to my Game Boy Color. This was the first handheld Zelda to be made originally with color and it really helped illustrate the change of seasons and time. Ages/Seasons had a unique item set that I had a lot of fun with. I’d like to see an original take on items in the next Zelda much like these titles. Magnetic Gloves and cape….that’s what I’m talking about.
9. Link’s Awakening
Playing a Zelda title in the palms of my hands for the first time blew my mind. Its graphic style followed A Link to the Past, and for a handheld I’d say it succeeded in emulating that look. The dungeons were on the shorter side, but what more could you expect from a gameboy cart.
8. Phantom Hourglass
This is where I think I will receive the most friction from the readers. I strongly believe Phantom Hourglass is THE BEST of the handheld series. It has a feel like none of the other Zelda games, while also keeping to the Zelda formula. What gives the game such a different experience is its control scheme. It plays like an action point and click pc game such as Diablo. The control scheme basically reinvents the way you use the classic items in Zelda. What also sticks out about PH is its boss fights. They’re not as epic in comparison to the full 3d boss fights of Ocarina or TP, but the features of the DS are implemented well, and don’t come off as gimmicky.
7. Adventure of Link
Widely recognized as the hardest game in the series, Adventure of Link completely changed from the top down view in The Legend of Zelda to a hybrid overworld / side scroller RPG. I nearly ripped my little hairs out going through the hammer maze as a youngin. The level designs were awesome and not as linear as you would think for a side scroller. I enjoyed the overhaul and the added fresh new beats. “Bagu is my name. Show my note to River Man.
6. A Link to the Past
The sole reason why I wanted a snes was to play A Link to the Past. Seeing the brighter color scheme and hearing the sounds and music I was accustomed to in the two previous NES titles had me drooling. A Link to the Past reverted back to the overworld look of the original Zelda and abandoned sidescrolling. For the first time you could walk diagonally with Link and his swords range was broader. Many items would be recycled from ALTP in future Zelda titles.
5. The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda defined what an adventure game should be and set standards that are still being measured against today. Having to find key items that you must use to complete dungeons and complicated puzzles that took days to solve without the convenience of google hooked gamers and will be reformulated throughout gaming history. Speed runners have their completion times under half an hour now, but for many, Zelda was month’s worth of headaches and brainteasers.
Boy did Nintendo ever take a leap of faith with the drastic art change…and nailed it.
There’s a select few that hate the look that Windwaker adopted, but I’m with the majority, and I say it looks gorgeous. The fetch triforce quest towards the end of the game drags it down below Twilight Princess for me, I really don’t dig that style of stretching a games length. Just throw in a couple of more temples or something! Don’t get wrong though, Windwaker is amazing, and a must add to any gamers collection.
3. Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess went back to Ocarina of Time’s roots and succeeded in conjuring up some of the feelings I got from playing Ocarina. I think Nintendo made a very safe and smart move by giving constant fan service and tying in game lore of the past games, more specifically Ocarina of Time. You visit all the familiar zones (Zora’s Domain, Death Mountain, Hyrule Castle…ect) reworked with a darker tone. What holds TP down is it’s too predictable, and sticks to the Zelda blue print a little too much.
2. Majora’s Mask
I was so close to bumping Majora’s Mask to number 1 on my list, but I just couldn’t go through with it. Majora’s Mask is every bit as enjoyable as Ocarina, maybe even more so… however, it lacks the feeling that Ocarina of Time gave you the first time you played it. This is because you had seen a similar game not but 2 years before, nothing groundbreaking about a 3D Zelda game by the time you played Majora’s Mask. It’ basically on the same graphics engine as Ocarina, but with slight upgrades because of the addition of the expansion pack that was released for the Nintendo 64. Not to knock the game at all, like I said in the opening I find it every bit as enjoyable as Ocarina of Time, BUT, I like to think of Majora’s Mask as an expansion of Ocarina of Time, just like Brood War was an expansion to Star Craft or Wrath of the Lich King to World of Warcraft. When you are the expansion of the best game of all time though (Ocarina of Time), you’re sitting pretty. The game is Ocarina of Time at its core, but strays from touching the main storyline of Zelda since it takes place in another dimension. The over world quests are the best in the series, along with the character interaction. You really get to know the characters if you do the dirty work and complete the game with all of the masks. I consider it to be the darkest of the series and add a flare of original humor. I know a lot of people who loved Ocarina of Time but for some reason won’t touch Majora’s Mask. If you’re reading this article and are in the same boat, do your self a favor and play this game.
1. Ocarina of Time
I don’t think it will be all that hard defending my choice of the number 1 Zelda game of all time. Playing Zelda for the first time in 3D is easily the most dominant of gaming memories for me. I was already a huge Zelda fan, but the N64 took Zelda to new heights. Dungeons were longer, puzzles harder, music and sound more abundant, overworld’s bigger, and a storyline that played like a movie. After I un-wrapped Ocarina of Time Christmas morning in 1998, I went unseen for hours.