Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- #20 The Legend of Zelda The Adventure of Link
- #18 The Legend of Zelda Tri Force Heroes
- #17 The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks
- #16 The Legend of Zelda Four Swords Adventures
- #15 The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass
- #14 The Legend of Zelda The Minish Cap
- #12 The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds
- #11 The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Seasons
- #10 The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages
- #9 The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker
- #8 The Legend of Zelda Links Awakening Remake
- #7 The Legend of Zelda
- #6 The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword
- #5 The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask
- #4 The Legend of Zelda A Link To The Past
- #3 The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess
- #2 The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
- #1 The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda franchise is one of the greatest in all gaming. But if you look at the mainline titles, which ones are the best, and which are the worst? We’ll give you our list!
#20 The Legend of Zelda The Adventure of Link
There are a few “black sheep” of the Zelda family, and The Legend of Zelda The Adventure of Link is the first and arguably the worst. It’s not a bad game; this wasn’t a CD-I title, but it didn’t FEEL like a Zelda game.
It ditched the top-down perspective for a side-scrolling feel like Mario. It also restricted how Link did combat and thus made him more rigid. Another quirk was the lore changes, such as how Zelda had a brother who betrayed her because only she could get the Tri-Force and so on.
The game sold well, but not as much as the original, and that style of gameplay was never used again.
#18 The Legend of Zelda Tri Force Heroes
As you’ll see in this list, the franchise has taken some swings over the years, and not all of them hit. The Legend of Zelda Tri Force Heroes is an excellent example of this. This was the last handheld title of the series, and Nintendo tried to make it unique. But perhaps they made it a little too unique.
You play as three characters in it, all claiming to be Link. You have to control them or team up with friends to play with them, to get through puzzles.
There also was an odd costume mechanic that allowed for special abilities. Again, not a bad game, but it felt too different from the others.
#17 The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks
Nope, we’re not done with the black sheep yet. Behold The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks. The title was the third and last title in the cell-shaded line and perhaps the oddest of the bunch.
The game takes place a hundred years after the events of Wind Waker, where Tetra and Link settle in a new land. The new Princess Zelda and Link find themselves in an adventure involving the titular Spirit Tracks and the Demon Train trying to rule the land.
The title was fun in its own right, even having Zelda accompany Link in spirit form after certain events. But it comes at a cost, and the game sales weren’t as good as other handheld titles in the line.
#16 The Legend of Zelda Four Swords Adventures
Not to be confused with the multiplayer mode from a particular remake, The Legend of Zelda Four Swords Adventures puts you and up to three friends on a unique journey with Link.
After Shadow Link has been created, you must embrace the Four Sword and divide yourselves to face the game’s challenges. You can play the whole game by yourself, or you can play it with your friends; totally your call. The change-up in the gameplay is welcome, and it does help keep things fresh. But not as many people played this title as you might think. Mainly because you needed to link your Gamecube to your Game Boy Advance.
#15 The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass
With that, we are out of the “black sheep” and onto the mainline titles that are universally beloved for one reason or another.
For example, the Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass was a direct sequel to Wind Waker, something that doesn’t happen too often with this franchise. Either way, you once again played as Link. Tetra has been taken after venturing into a ghost ship, and now Link must collect compasses to find the vile Bellum.
Overall, the title made great use of the Nintendo DS. Its biggest flaw was that the main dungeon had a time limit, and you often had to start from the beginning to earn more time later on. It was annoying.
#14 The Legend of Zelda The Minish Cap
The Legend of Zelda The Minish Cap is arguably the best-kept-secret of the whole franchise. Because most people agree it was an incredible game, it’s just not many people played it.
The game brought another twist to the land of Hyrule via the Picori people, who saved it with a powerful light and sealed monsters away. Fast forward 100 years and the evil Vaati tricked the people of Hyrule so he could shatter a sacred sword and free the monsters. Oh, and he turned Zelda to stone.
With a unique cap, that’s alive; Link went to stop Vaati, including going to the realm of the Minish.
The game was fun, so if you have the opportunity to play it, do so.
13 The Legend of Zelda Links Awakening
To be clear, this is the Game Boy version of the title, not the remake.
The Zelda team actually made the original title after hours! Some of the team wanted to make something special for the Game Boy, so they did!
The game featured Link washing up on a mysterious island where only a sealed-away deity could help him get off it. The game was just as deep as a console and had one of the most famous twists in video game history.
Because of how fun this game was, we got all the other Zelda games on the future handhelds. So not unlike certain other titles in the franchise, this one paved the way for what was to come.
#12 The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds
The spiritual successor to the SNES classic, The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds, features a fun twist on the formula by presenting the alternate universe of Lorule. There, the characters we know and love have very different counterparts, and Link must travel between them to save both from a familiar, yet new, threat!
The 3DS was the perfect title for this game, as it used its graphics to help illustrate the world beautifully. Plus, there were new mechanics like renting items from the mysterious Ravi. It told a deep story and had some fun twists along the way. It may not stack up to all the past and future titles, but it did a great job.
#11 The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Seasons
Nintendo has made the vast majority of Zelda titles, but there were a few exceptions. Including when Capcom was hired to make three different titles for the Game Boy Color. They made two and had a “linked adventure” that few got to work. But The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Seasons was a fun experience in a different part of the game’s universe.
Sent to the land of Holodrum, Link soon meets a fiery dancer named Din, who happens to be one of the Goddesses of the Land. General Onyx captures her, and Link goes on a quest to save her and free the land from the erratic weather patterns her capture has created.
Capcom went to town on this game to make it grand, and it worked. The graphics are beautiful, the dungeons are complex, and it feels like a Zelda game.
#10 The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages
The other side of the Capcom coin, The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages, took you to the land of Labrynna, where you meet one of the three legendary goddesses in Nayru.
She’s soon possessed by the sorceress Veran and goes back in time to start her age of darkness. Link must use Nayru’s special harp to travel back and forth in time to undo the damage done, free the goddess, and save the world. The time travel mechanic got many twists here and helped the game feel unique compared to its brethren.
Most people agree that this is the better of the two Capcom titles. Both were fun and had unique stories, and many would be up for modern remakes featuring them. That includes us!
#9 The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker
After the success of the N64 titles, all eyes were on Nintendo to see what their next console Zelda title would be. First, a teaser was shown of a stunning 3D battle between Link and Ganon, but then, not long after, The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker showed up, which wasn’t what people expected.
The cell-shaded look took many aback, and many wondered what Nintendo was thinking. But once the gameplay was shown off, people realized that this was still their beloved franchise.
The story was one of the darker entries in the franchise as it featured a flooded world, hidden protectors, a king that was also a boat, and so on. The reason that it’s a bit lower on this list is that sailing around to get the Tri-Force was such a chore. Yes, they fixed it in later iterations, but it was still a problem.
Everything else about the game? Fantastic.
#8 The Legend of Zelda Links Awakening Remake
It says a lot that a remake of a classic game is higher than the classic game itself.
The Legend of Zelda Links Awakening Remake for the Nintendo Switch was a surprise when it was announced for 2019. It had an anime-style opening, only to be swapped out with a Chibi-style of art.
The cute look might dissuade you at first, but don’t be fooled; the game is a classic in any art form it has. Plus, with the Switch, you can take the game on the go. Add to that; there’s a new dungeon creator feature that you can have fun with.
Everything from the original is here. It’s just more stunning.
#7 The Legend of Zelda
Every franchise has a beginning. But who knew that such a title would spark a legacy decades later? The Legend of Zelda was created from the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto due to his love of exploring his home area. Based on that experience, he made the story of Link and his quest to save Princess Zelda.
The game was revolutionary in so many ways it’s hard to count them all. Plus, the title has classic lore right from the start, including Ganon, the Tri-Force, and more.
The overworld and the expansive dungeons were the most significant advancement. Games had never done such things with the screen before. It set the tone for numerous games in the future.
It sold 6.5 million units on the NES, and a legend was born.
#6 The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword is arguably one of the more divisive entries in the franchise. Most critics loved it when it came out on the Wii and even praised the motion controls. Fans, though, were a bit mixed. Looking back, you can see the flaws, but you can also see the successes.
Case in point, the game is the origin story for the series. We learn the truth behind Zelda, Link, and Ganon’s connection and how the realm of Hyrule was founded. We even see how the Master Sword was forged and the cost it took to make it.
The characterization of Zelda here is easily one of its strongest. As she’s not just a “helpless princess” here, she’s a deep character with personality and strength.
Plus, it was fun flying through Skyloft and diving deeper into the future lore of the franchise.
#5 The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask
After the success of a certain title, which we’ll talk about later, Nintendo wanted to capitalize on the 3D style that they had success with. So they charged the Legend of Zelda team to make a new title in under a year. The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask was the result of that.
The game doesn’t take place in Hyrule but the land of Termina, and that’s just one of many significant differences in the game.
Instead of 7 dungeons to overcome, you have four. What’s more, you have time travel elements that help you repeat the last three days before the moon comes down and destroys everything.
The mask mechanic and the “3 Days Remain” dynamic made this game fun, weird, and challenging. Most fans agree it’s one of the best.
#4 The Legend of Zelda A Link To The Past
Certain games out there build upon what the previous title did in such a grand way that they become the standard bearer for all games to come after. The Legend of Zelda A Link To The Past was for this franchise in many ways. Even when you compare it to later 3D titles, this game had everything a Zelda would have in the future and more.
An expansive world? The game had it. Traveling to different dimensions? The game had that. Wielding all manner of items to get through dungeons? Yep. Ganon? Oh yeah, he’s here, and so is the Master Sword for the first time!
Just about everything you love in this franchise is tied to The Legend of Zelda A Link To The Past, which makes it legendary.
#3 The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess
This next pick might be controversial for some of you, but it’s our list!
The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess is easily one of the best games in the series. Above many others, you could argue that this game pushed things into darker and more dramatic territory. Even with the underpowered Wii system, the game looked great, and the motion controls weren’t as bad as many remember.
Plus, this was the game that had Midna, Wolf Link, the Twilight Realm, and some great dungeons and boss battles. The plot’s ending is easily one of the saddest out there, punctuating a deep story you must experience.
#2 The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
The newest entry in the franchise is also the one that nearly took the top spot. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild was announced during a dark period in Nintendo’s history. Yet when they announced it, everyone was in awe.
Then, when it was the launch title for the Nintendo Switch, everyone knew they had to have it. As a result, the game is the best-selling title in the franchise’s history, far outpacing all that came before.
The big crux of the game was the open-world aesthetic and how you could freely do what you wanted instead of following a set path. For example, you could do all the mini-dungeons before touching the main ones.
Add that to the voice acting, crisp visuals, and fun spin on the lore, and the game was a joy from start to finish.
#1 The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
It was definitely close here at the top. We could’ve easily put Breath of the Wild here, but when you think about it, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time is the trendsetter. It’s the one that people often refer to as the greatest game in Zelda’s franchise, if not all of gaming history.
This was the one that brought the series into the 3D realm, and it crushed it! We got to explore Hyrule in a new light and even bounce between two different periods to save Hyrule from Ganon.
The new musical tunes and the introduction of Shiek, Epona, and many other classic characters were legendary.
Yes, the Water Temple sucks, but every game has its faults! Yet this game stands atop the mountain and earns its spot there.