The Legend of Zelda series has entranced gamers since its NES beginnings. The level of detail Nintendo adds to the world, in addition to the masterful puzzle design keeps players coming back time and time again. Here are the best Legend of Zelda games to ever grace our screens.
10 - The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Back in 2004, the publisher of Devil May Cry, Resident Evil, and Mega Man Capcom decided to develop a new game in The Legend of Zelda series. While it may sound strange to offload development of such a critical franchise for Nintendo, Capcom's effort is a success.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap has an outstanding 89% Metacritic ranking, with G4 TV at the time stating, "It's an excellent and faithful Zelda game, and one of the best Game Boy Advance games to date." It also introduced the villain Vaati, steering a refreshing change from the usual Ganondorf-focused storyline.
9 - The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure
Continuing on the Game Boy Advance trend, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure uses them as controllers while the game is played on a GameCube. Ever since the game's release, it's been lauded by fans for its thrilling co-op gameplay and excellently crafted puzzles.
"This game is easy to learn, innovative, and can appeal to people of all ages," Siliconera said in its review in 2004, according to Metacritic. "The use of GBA connectivity and all of the extra mini-games just fill this game to the brim with replay value." It's been so popular since its release that an anniversary edition launched on the 3DS. Maybe Nintendo should release this co-op title on the Nintendo Switch as Square Enix did with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, but this time with online connectivity.
8 - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is probably the most controversial game in the series for fans. It excels with its puzzle mechanics, but returning to the same areas over and over again grew tiresome for some players of the Wii title. Some others didn't enjoy the motion controls, but with the recent Nintendo Switch port, they are now only an option.
The earliest game in The Legend of Zelda canon does have a lot of benefits, however. Players have praised it for their best depiction of Link and Zelda, who have great story moments together. The watercolor-like look also makes Skyward Sword look unique and beautiful for some. We also love riding around in the loftwings among the clouds of Hyrule.
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7 - The Legend of Zelda: A Link To the Past
A Link To The Past from the Super Nintendo era is heralded as a timeless classic by many The Legend of Zelda fans, and they're right to do so. Despite the lack of pixels, this treasured SNES game is packed with personality and color. The dungeons were designed intricately and the storytelling kept Zelda fans compelled from start to finish.
NintendoWorldReport, according to Metacritic, called the game a "flawless masterpiece" as it provided a "more linear framework for the player to explore" and a "better interface and controls" scheme. In short, it's the reason why The Legend of Zelda still exists on modern platforms as the formula shifted to a more linear, mainstream experience.
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6 - The Legend of Zelda
But none of these best The Legend of Zelda games would exist without the NES original. The Legend of Zelda ignited the imagination of players around the world as you triumph over great bosses, discover new areas, and save the princess from certain doom. While some of the mechanics can be a little cryptic, like having to use a bomb in a certain area to get to the next objective, The Legend of Zelda is timeless for its tight gameplay mechanics and an array of well-crafted puzzles.
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5 - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess might be still the most atmospheric game in the series to date and is one of the best The Legend of Zelda games Nintendo has created. The art style takes on more of a darker feel as the world shifts between the twilight realm and the typical daytime. It feels unique in the series and truly adds character to Hyrule as you explore, and the epic music by Koji Kondo helps bring that darker mood to life as well. We can't forget about Midna either, who has a slightly creepy laugh and a strange sense of humor to keep that atmosphere seeping into The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
The combat also was given an upgrade with more intense swordplay and techniques. You also have access to a few neat items, such as the Gale Boomerang, which helped make the puzzles so exciting to figure out, and the addition of a wolf form made the game unique among the series.
4 - The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Twilight Princess may have some dark imagery, but while playing Majora's Mask, the constant threat of a moon crashing down was absolutely terrifying, especially if you were a kid when you first played it. Majora's Mask is a wild detour of the series, and yet it's one of the best The Legend of Zelda games as it revolves around time.
You only have a certain amount of time to fulfill tasks and then you'll have to reset, learning more about the town you're trying to help. It wasn't as wide open as its predecessor Ocarina of Time, but it sucked a lot of players into the world and storyline with its unique gameplay premise and darker tones.
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3 - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
The one Hero of Time adventure that will be the most timeless is The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. At first, it was controversial by some in the community as it was a complete change to the usual graphical design. However, as time has gone on, more have accepted and even love the graphical art style Nintendo went with this GameCube title. Moving around the world in your ship to all sorts of islands is a thrill as the waves crash upon your boat. You'll also be met with entertaining battle scenarios, thrilling boss battles, and a lot of treasure to find around the relatively big world.
The Wii U version is the best on offer as it increased the boat's speed and fixed some flaws from the GameCube version. The art style also lends itself perfectly to an HD display with its bright and pleasing visuals with more powerful software. For the love of God, Nintendo, please release The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD on the Nintendo Switch so more people can experience this version rather than it being stuck on the Wii U.
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2 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time, and while it has aged slightly, it still strikes us as one of Link's best adventures yet. This Nintendo 64 gem has inspired countless games over the years from its open-world design, engaging storytelling, and above all phenomenal puzzle design (except for the Water Temple). The music by Koji Kondo is legendary with charming themes for Kokiri Forest and then haunting songs like the one for Temple of Time, which help keep you hooked in this adventure.
It was also exciting to play around with two timelines between Child Link and the Adult Link to solve unique puzzles and tell intrepid narratives between the characters and the world they reside in. We still are haunted by the zombie-like creatures that walk around Hyrule Castle.
Read more about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
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1 - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Finally, the greatest The Legend of Zelda game to date would have to be the open-world title Breath of the Wild. It reinvigorated the series as it made the environment itself a puzzle. You'll need to figure out how to get across the water, to keep Link from staying warm in freezing weather, set the grass on fire, cook ingredients, and climb up mountains to get to higher-up areas.
While temples have been lost in the progress, we were able to explore shrines that provide some challenging puzzles along the way. It was fun to roll balls around an obstacle course to get to the end. As you go through the story of Breath of the Wild, you'll find four champions that each have a fun personality. Prince Sidon especially is a character that many love during their playthrough of Breath of the Wild.
However, if you're a risk taker, you can skip the entirety of the story and go straight to Ganon for the final boss fight; it will be tough, however, without the Master Sword and each of the Champions backing you up. If you have not played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, what are you doing? Pick up a copy and experience the majesty of the best Legend of Zelda game in the series.
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That's it for our list of the best Legend of Zelda games since 1987. Are there any that we've missed? We know Link's Awakening and A Link Between Worlds will be brought up, but there are only so many we can include! The series is that good.