Holy crap! In three weeks or so, we are getting the first brand new home console Zelda game for the first time in nearly 6 years! I am pumped, especially since it comes along with a brand new, amazing looking console! What more could you ask for? To celebrate the occasion, I will be ranking every Zelda game that I happen to own from worst to best. Don’t worry, I own nearly all of them, so the list is close enough to complete. After all, I can’t rate a game I have never played before, though that seems to be quite a common thing to do now by many gamers.
I have also ranked all the Nintendo Consoles, if you want to check that out.
But anyway, here is all the Zelda games I own, ranked worst to best. I will be listing also the console they were on, the year released and number of times I’ve beaten them, just so you can get an idea of how much I’ve played them.
#20 The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition (DS, 2011)
This is the only Zelda game that I have played that I can honestly say I didn’t like. But that’s really because it’s not really a Zelda game. You just run around with 4 Links and solve little puzzles and it’s over before you know it. It was really just a quick cash grab and a way to show off the multiplayer capabilities of the DS using a big franchise to draw people in. I honestly don’t remember too much about it though.
#19 Link’s Crossbow Training (Wii, 2007)
Again, this is not a real Zelda game, but a bonus game that came packaged with the Wii Zapper, which was a gun shaped device that allowed you to insert the Wii Remote and nunchuk into it so that shooter games could be played more…realistically I suppose! Nothing gets you higher than really feeling like blasting away people.
Anyway, this game was surprisingly a lot of fun. It’s very short, but it manages to give you a feel for the Zapper, and having a good time in doing so. The developers put a lot of effort into such a small project, and that is always a great thing to see.
#18 The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS, 2007)
Our first actual Zelda game on the list. This is the only real Zelda game I can say I almost don’t like. It was just annoying to always go into some tower, avoiding some evil mist and Darknuts while finding special lantern fuel or whatever. I haven’t played it in a very long time, and am honestly in no hurry to do so again. But it is not a bad game by any means.
#17 Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES, 1988)
This is the black sheep of the Zelda family. It changed up the formula to a sidescrolling RPG. It’s hard as hell, but very rewarding. The challenge comes from losing all your XP when you die, but if you manage to level, you can pick various stats to level up. It actually is quite a fun game.
#16 The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64, 2000)
If Zelda 2 was the black sheep, consider this the half-black sheep. This came out a mere year after Ocarina of Time to capitalize on the success of that game. What we got was something completely different, and quite good given the short development time. Instead of collecting tons of items, you collect masks instead (while still getting a large variety of items anyway). Each mask gives you some new type of ability or has some other effect. Some masks turn you into beloved Hylian races that you can go around and kill stuff with. It’s a unique twist on the Zelda formula and keeps up with the time traveling aspect born in Ocarina of Time. It is probably one of the hardest Zelda games too. This all being said, I wasn’t really wowed by this game, however enjoyable it is. I may have only beaten it twice, but I’ve played through more or less half of it at least two other times, each time liking it more and more.
#15 The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Ages (Game Boy Color, 2001)
Nintendo pulled a pokemon with this game, releasing a sibling alongside it. The story is driven away from the main “rescue Zelda” bit, dealing with other villains and the like as well. This game has a focus on puzzle solving, and let me tell you, some of them are indeed quite tricky! This game included tons of new and returning items, and the ability to switch to different ages. Lot of fun!
#14 The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (Game Boy Color, 2001)
Released alongside “Ages,” this was more or less the same game, but with a different villain, different oracle, and instead of traveling through ages, you could change the seasons. The items may have been a little different too. Another great game, this time more focused on action than puzzle solving. If linked with “ages” it would unlock a new dungeon where you could fight Ganon.
#13 The Legend Of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS, 2009)
This game was very similar to Phantom Hourglass, except a whole lot better. Driving around in customizable trains was a great idea and made traveling sort of fun. I don’t really remember too much about it, but I know I really liked it. Playing the flute thing you got was really cool too.
#12 The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (Game Boy Color, 1998)
The original game for the Game Boy was the first handheld Zelda game. And let me tell you, they came out swinging. It is an amazing game that is every bit as fun now as it was 20 years ago. I used to have it, but I don’t know what happened to it. But that is okay, because the Director’s Cut version made it all much better. The added color allowed for new tunics found in a “color dungeon” as well as some other minor adjustments. The game has a ton of content for such an old game and can keep you busy for hours on end. It took the incredible fun of the first Zelda game and made the transition onto handheld flawlessly.
#11 The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Gamecube, 2003)
This is another unique Zelda game, but not so much in the gameplay aspect of it. It’s story and setting are what really set it apart. It is a lot of fun and the cel shaded graphics are gorgeous. There are a bunch of new races included, as well as some familiar ones. The amount of content is enormous, spread out over the equally big world. That is where the problem with this game comes in too. The world takes forever to travel on, and collecting the maps and pieces of the Triforce is awfully tedious.
#10 The Legend of Zelda (NES, 1987)
Holy crap! If ever there was a game that was ahead of it’s time, aspiring and/or innovative, this was it. For the time, this game was massive and unique. Nothing had ever been done remotely close to this. It was a huge undertaking and blew everyone away. Like seriously, the only game that could come close to being as amazing as this for the time is Super Mario Bros. 3. But that was the fourth game in that series and this was the first. It is still just as fun today, and honestly, it holds up to the standards of today’s games as well. It is truly a masterpiece and the best game to come out of the 80’s.
#9 The Legend Of Zelda: The Minish Cap (Game Boy Advance, 2005)
I am not going to lie, I don’t remember much about this game, other than that it is really good, it has like an origin story to it, and a fun shrinking ability which makes puzzle solving and exploration a lot of fun. A very solid game.
#8 The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS, 2013)
Say hello to the best handheld Zelda game. My goodness, it is good. Lots of new items, some weird, new renting system for the items, a fabulous story, and great gameplay. It is essentially a remake of A Link to the Past, and actually is a linear sequel. Really wonderful game. It falls just short of its prequel however.
#7 The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past (SNES, 1992)
Heh, funny to see I have only bothered to beat this game 3 times, when I must have at least started new games like 15 times over the years. I had commitment issues as a small child.
Anyway, this game did for it’s generation what the first Zelda did for the 80’s. This game floored everybody. I still remember playing it for the first time and being completely blown away. It took what made the first game perfect and improved upon that perfection. Tons more items, a larger map to explore, all sorts of new tricks and people. It was just crazy. The story was a bit deeper for back then as well, always pushing you to the next challenge, anxious to see what happens next, what new item you will find and how you would get to use it. Just awesome…
#6 The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Gamecube, 2006)
Breath of the Wild is in a very similar situation to the one Twilight Princess was in. It got delayed for about two years and then was released on Gamecube, and as a launch title for the brand new Wii. But whereas both versions of BotW are coming out at the same time, they actually released the Gamecube version a few months later to push Wii sales. But if you were like me, it took about a year to actually get hold of a Wii, so I gave up and bought it on Gamecube. I was really looking forward to this game and was not disappointed. There was tons of new features, a unique and beautiful graphical style, and just an overall great atmosphere to it. This game also features some of my favorite dungeon designs, for they sort of varied from past games.
#5 The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U, 2013)
This game is phenomenal. It took everything that made the original version annoying and remedied it. It fixed every little issue, making this one of the best Zelda games ever. I couldn’t believe how much better it was. The gamepad made accessing maps and items very quick and easy as well. Suddenly a game I was not that crazy about became one of my favorites. And the cel shaded visuals are just stunning in HD.
#4 The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, 1998)
Times Beaten-Around 10
Nintendo did it once again. They took everyone by surprise and completely blew away everyone’s expectations. Just like Zelda and Link to the Past, this game was something truly ambitious and unheard of. And it also is incredibly fun to this day. Tons of items, songs, locations and people make this one to remember. The best part is the time travel however. Being able to play as Young Link and Adult Link is such a great feature that makes any of the other games have a hard time comparing to it.
#3 The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time Master Quest (Gamecube, 2003)
If I remember correctly, this was a preorder bonus for The Wind Waker. Much better than today’s “bonuses” I must say. Needless to say, I preordered it immediately. The master quest is essentially the same game, except with much more difficult puzzles in it. It was a breath of fresh air, playing one of my favorite games with new adjustments to it. It was truly a great feeling. So that is why it tops the original.
#2 The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D (3DS, 2011)
A classic game that benefits from updated visuals, slight motion control and a touchscreen? Obviously this is the best version. It makes quite a few improvements to a masterpiece. Ocarina of Time just continues to shine through and through.
#1 The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii, 2011)
Here it is, the best Zelda of all time. Thanks to the Wii’s motion controls, it put Link’s sword and shield in your hands. Though the controls were a bit tricky to figure out, once you learned how to hold the controllers and how to move them, it was a breeze, making for some truly satisfying gameplay. There was a great story and the Loftwing’s were a lot of fun to travel on. Lots of cool and memorable characters, both ally and villain, made the game even better. And this game actually had challenging fights in it. Most 3D Zelda games were quite easy, focusing more on puzzle solving than action. This had a nice balance of both. Tons of brand new items were thrown in the mix as well, along with a new upgrade system for most of your items. I never thought any game would top Ocarina, but this game just makes it feel so dated.
Skyward Sword truly has a unique feel, while having that familiarity as well. As do all the games for that matter. That is what makes them so good. That is why we all crave for another release, for Breath of the Wild looks to fit that formula perfectly. I also love how every game has that awesome gold cover to it, just holding that in your hands gives you a great feeling.
So there you have it. If memory serves correct, the only games I was missing in this list were TriForce Heroes, Link’s Awakening, Twilight Princess HD, Majora’s Mask 3D and Four Swords Adventure.