I consider myself to be a huge Zelda fan, so with the release of Skyward Sword this Sunday, I have decided to rank each of the console Legend of Zelda games from best to worst. I am going to be excluding the CD-i games, since I don’t consider them true Zelda games, as well as Four Swords Adventure on the Gamecube (haven’t played it), Link’s Crossbow Training on the Wii (not a true Zelda game) and the Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition (remake collection). Now that that is out of the way, here is my ranking of the Legend of Zelda games.
1. Ocarina of Time
This is my favourite game of all time, so of course it is going to come out at number one. The game has one of the best stories in any Zelda game, plus it features some of the most notable bosses (Bongo Bongo, Twinrova, and Volvagia). Not to mention it has some of the best dungeons in any adventure game (Forest, Shadow, and Fire Temples).
The main reason why I consider it the best Zelda game is the controls. Not only are Ocarina of Time’s controls great, they greatly improved the transition from 2D to 3D on a console. The worst part is that until this video game generation, very few games have come close to Ocarina of Time’s controls.
The biggest criticism that most people have of Ocarina of Time is the fact that it is a 3D version of A Link to the Past, but that is not neccessarily a bad thing, especially considering that it is up next.
2. A Link to the Past
This is quite possibly the best SNES game ever and one of my favourite 2D adventure games of all time. It was the first Zelda game to include an alternate dimension, a mechanic that has been utilized in almost every Zelda game since. As said before, the game is basically the original Ocarina of Time, so if you didn’t have ALttP, you would probably not have any other Zelda games in the series.
The biggest thing going for it, however, is the fact that it significantly improved the combat system over the NES versions, with the ability to attack and move diagonally, making it possible to use the spin attack, one of Link’s most iconic moves.
3. Wind Waker
Wind Waker is possibly the best looking Zelda game out there, and although people have stated that the game looks too “kiddie,” it is possibly the most mature Zelda game in the series, especially when you consider the violent ending – a sword through Ganon’s head. Also, the cel-shaded character models allowed characters to have the most expressions in any Zelda game. You knew when Link was happy, angry, upset, or sad because his face showed emotions not seen in any Zelda game.
The game might not have looked like the infamous trailer, but it definitely lived up to many people’s expectaions. It is also one of the few Gamecube games that I liked. The only reason it is not higher is because of the endless ocean you have to traverse through.
4. Majora’s Mask
This is probably the most different out of all the 3D Zelda games. Most people either love it or hate it, but I am kind of in the middle: I like it, but I do see where it has flaws. The three day time limit was a good idea that was implemented very well, but it became a bit of a nuisance when you had to complete some of the side quests. Also, the game was basically 75% side quest, so that meant to 100% the game (get every mask and heart piece), you had to replay the same three days over and over again.
There were only four temples, but each one was better then the last. The Great Bay Temple is probably the best water level in any Zelda game, and the Stone Tower Temple is my favourite Zelda temple of all time. Plus, the Stone Tower Temple’s boss is one of the most iconic Zelda boss fights ever. That being said, I thought the ending boss fight was a little underwhelming. It had to be one of the worst boss fights in any Zelda game. If it weren’t for that fight, I might have considered putting it higher on this list.
5. Legend of Zelda
The game that started it all, Legend of Zelda is a great game, but seeing that there have been several games since, most of which have been better, I had no choice but to put it in the fifth spot. The game was possibly the first great console action adventure game. One of the best features was the new game plus mode, which included harder bosses and different dungeon designs, which was pretty innovative at the time. All in all, it is a great game, but it only ends up at #5 on my list.
6. Twilight Princess
Personally, I think Twilight Princess is a great game, but everything in it has pretty much been done before; the game felt like an easier Ocarina of Time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except the puzzles, which Zelda is known for, weren’t challenging in the least. If I had to choose a version to play, I would pick the mirrored Wii version because I like the layout and map design, plus I prefer the Wii’s controls. Talking about the Wii controls, Twilight Princess‘ controls are one of the best on the console, which is sad considering it was a launch title. Not the worst Zelda game but definitely not the best.
7. Zelda II: Adventure of Link
Zelda 2 is by far the most different and worst Zelda game ever: there is a reason why Nintendo never went back to Zelda 2‘s design. The platforming combat is one of the most difficult to master, not to mention the most frustrating part of the game. Personally, I don’t consider Zelda 2 to be a good game, almost to the point that it isn’t playable. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to sit down and play it, only to quickly shut it off.
That being said, not everything about the game is bad. For example, it was the first game to feature a magic meter, something used in every Zelda game since. Zelda 2 was also the first game in the series to include the hammer, which is one of Link’s most powerful items. Of course, those two things aren’t enough to make me like it any better.
All in all, Zelda is quite possibly my favourite series of all time. With exception to Zelda 2, every game in the series is worth playing at least once. I want to hear from you the reader: which Zelda game ia your favourite, and which is your least favourite?