It’s time to do my first ever written top 10 list. Today I’ll be listing my favorite Legend of Zelda games for you all and explaining my rankings. Keep in mind that these are MY top 10 FAVORITE Zelda games and not necessarily the top 10 best ones. Feel free to share your own opinions on your own favorites and why you agree or disagree with my placements. I’ve loved this series for years. It’s my favorite game series because it combines exploration, action, puzzles, and progression all into one interest package. So let’s just see what makes the cut, where they fall, and why. Enjoy.
#10 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Many of you know A Link to the Past as the first Zelda game you ever played. It’s also the game that basically invented what we know today as the Zelda formula. The way you use items for overworld progression and puzzles, the way you go between two versions of the overworld, the way you go through dungeons in order, the way you get hints about things in the game if you’re stuck… all of the Zelda tropes are here. And that’s good, because I love the formula. It’s not broken so I don’t see any need for them to fix it. The game is incredibly solid. The main problem I had with it, which is why it’s way down here at number 10 for me (please don’t kill me for that), is because it was played out before I even began. I heard about it a ton, I saw playthroughs of it, and I had played a bunch of Zelda games before ever trying it. It was more of the same, but it was also in the SNES aesthetic and the swordplay wasn’t that great in my opinion. It has some stiff competition that brought my reasoning to nitpicks. It’s still a great game, but it’s not flawless. And being number 10 in a list of Zelda games in no way means it’s a bad game. So put away the pitchforks.
#9 The Legand of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Seeing this just above A Link to the Past probably feels like a sound kick to the testes, but if you haven’t clicked away in rage by now then I’m going to assume you’re mentally stable enough to hear me out. Skyward Sword does… well… the same thing basically every other Zelda game does, yet it’s the only one that gets flak for it. The real problem isn’t in the formula, even if it IS admittedly executed a bit more lazily than other titles. The problem is in the motion controls. It’s not that they don’t work. They’re not perfect, but they do work very well and in interesting ways. The way you swing your sword, aim your bow, roll your bombs, and tilt weight around are all implemented into the combat, the puzzles, and the adventure of the game. All of this is much unlike Twilight Princess, which made motion controls act as glorified and less accurate button inputs. The problem is that motion controls in general are different. They aren’t like playing with a controller. So naturally, anyone who didn’t want to use motion controls in the first place and maybe begrudging put up with it in Twilight Princess decided Skyward Sword was the last straw. They wrote off the entire game, making fun of shortcomings that most of the series had in the first place along with nitpicky things that don’t really matter, all because of these motion controls. Sure, it’s not the most innovative title in the series, but the integration of the motion controls was done very well and makes for some of the most interesting combat in the series.
#8 The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
As one of the two games released at the same time on the Game Boy Color, Oracle of Seasons is essentially one half of an interesting game-link cable experience for the Zelda series. It features many assets of Link’s Awakening but puts them in a whole new adventure. This game is focused more on action and skill-based challenges while still adhering to the basic Zelda formula. That, along with manipulating seasons to your advantage and meeting some familiar faces along the way, made this game stand out as a wonderful little addition to the Zelda series to play on the go.
#7 The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
The other part of the Oracles duology, Oracle of Ages, puts more of a focus on solving puzzles within the Zelda formula. I found that the time traveling mechanic made for interesting exploration puzzles as well. Plus being able to go to underwater screens in both the past AND present made the game huge. Even some of the items seem designed just for puzzles. And you know Nayru is a cutie. Plus, there are some more familiar faces here as well. I find the balance of puzzles to action here to be very satisfying and engaging. If you’re torn on which of the two to get, I’d put my vote for this Oracle.
#6 The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Even though I ragged on it earlier a bit for the controls, I can’t knock the gameplay at all. Twilight Princess takes the standard set by Ocarina of Time and raises it by improving on everything people loved about it. The darker, more serious tone goes along with the newer graphics to create the Zelda game everyone was hoping for. And for the first time, I felt like there might possibly be a Zelda game that’s BETTER the Ocarina of Time. It got me thinking. It offers lots of great atmosphere and solid gameplay to sell it. Now I just wonder how that HD version is because… well maybe it’s even a tad better than this one. Oh well, perhaps someday.
#5 The Legend of Zelda
The one that started it all. This game, which has itself become a legend, is still one of the most unique entries in the Legend of Zelda series. At the time it was revolutionary for having battery backup for saving, top-down adventuring, and free flowing action while still allowing you to progress your character. An open world RPG without all the RPG nonsense getting in the way. The game has since been ported as much as possible throughout Nintendo systems and, as a true testament to its importance and lasting design, it has yet to be officially remade. Again, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. I also played it a lot as a kid, being the first Zelda game I ever played and one of the first games I got to experience in general. So I have some nostalgia for it as well.
#4 The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
I love the original Link’s Awakening a ton still, with its grey visuals and all. However, Link’s Awakening DX adds a lot of lively color as well as some extra content to the classic. Being on this island, trying to wake the mysterious Wind Fish, and finding all kinds of weird things along the way… it’s just a delightfully different Zelda adventure. The formula is there, but the lore goes out the window as you do your best to figure this game out. Plus, it’s a big middle finger to the timeline. I can hardly believe such an amazing game as the original could even exist on the Game Boy of all systems. Love, nostalgia, and great game design rolled into one, baby!
#3 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
I’m just being specific. I grew up on the original Ocarina of Time on N64. It was incredible to me. Basically, it takes the formula of A Link to the Past, throws in more cinematics, and makes it 3D. That’s pretty much it. So if you liked A Link to the Past… you’ll probably like it. It became the standard for 3D Zelda games after that. But if it’s already 3D, what does Ocarina of Time 3D have to offer? Well, it has better graphics, improved interface with the touch screen, both the original quest and master quest, all available to play wherever you go with your 3DS, AND it recently became part of Nintendo Selects so it’s available brand new for just 20 bucks! It’s a steal, even if they DID manage to make Navi MORE annoying. The main problem of giving you way too many hints for an adventure game where you should want to find things yourself.. wasn’t fixed either. But hey, it’s still a damn good time.
#2 The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
A Link Between Worlds might have the same overworld as A Link to the Past, but it’s a whole new game. It takes the best elements of 2D and 3D Zelda games and pushed them together in such an excellent blend that… it’s simply amazing. You can get hints, but they aren’t forced upon you. You solve puzzles, but you also fight enemies. You explore the world and tackle dungeons as you please, but you will always be able to beat the dungeons you can enter. There’s even a few new mechanics thrown in to make the game more convenient and add to all of the other elements. While it’s not quite my favorite Zelda game, I’d say it is the best designed Zelda game there is.
I haven’t played every Zelda game. I have yet to try out Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, and the two Hyrule Warriors games. Though I will admit I’m not planning on trying the CD-I titles nor do I expect to get Link’s Crossbow Training. Plus there will always be new Zelda games to play. I played the first bit of Wind Waker before my Wii broke and I’ve seen all of it. I think it has a great sense of adventure put back into the series, even if sailing looks tedious. I did play Four Swords Adventure, and I liked it a lot as a linear, focused Zelda game that was more about puzzles and combat challenges in the single player state I player. Tri Force Heroes was fun, but ultimately become too tedious to want to play again. Minish Cap was okay, but it felt like it didn’t take advantage of its potential and ended up being too short of a solid experience that was stretched with tedious side quests, not to mention a terrible approach to secrets. And Zelda II: Adventure of Link is my least favorite of them all. I didn’t finish it, but it gets way too hard out of nowhere. The grinding and leveling up return to make it less like the unique title prior and more like every other RPG, and then also stops short on that so the leveling systems barely even matters after a point. It’s also annoying to explore rather than fun. But hey, that’s all I can speak for. Onto number one.
#1 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
I love this game! This game is so dark and morbid without pushing that idea down your throat that you might even miss it if you’re not paying attention. With the world about to end, you get attached to these people as you continually watch them try and deal with their impending death. Some are sad, some are happy, some are scared, some are mad… and they’re all different types of people. You might love some and hate others, but none of them deserves to die. You fight to save these souls against a misunderstood antagonist while trying to do some rather challenging Zelda-eque gameplay. It’s beautiful. A few parts of the game were even able to move me to tears. Anything that can touch you like that is definitely something special. You CAN beat the odds. You CAN save the world. You CAN save these people. You CAN overcome.
Well, that’s all of my picks and reasons why these are my top 10 favorite Zelda games. I do look forward to your comments about what are your favorites and why… or even just why you think mine are wrong if that’s your thing. Feedback is always appreciated. If nothing else, I hope you enjoyed reflecting on this legendary series with me and thank you for reading. Oh, and I’m going to link an older video down here that I don’t think is consistent… but… well positions are bound to change since I’ve played and thought about this more so… don’t judge me!