The Legend of Zelda is easily my favorite franchise in video games. While the series has certainly waxed and waned over the years, the essence remains. Being thrown into a world, where apparently only 30 people live, and acquiring the power to vanquish an evil foe has always resonated with me. While some of Link’s adventures have faded from memory (Phantom Hourglass), many have marked the best moments in my gaming career. Here is my top 5 Zelda games.
5. Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons
These were the first handheld Zelda games since Link’s Awakening on the original Game Boy. The Oracle games did something I have yet to see reproduced. Each game supplied a complete adventure, both with unique hooks. It was when the games ended did it become interesting. Regardless of the order completed, the second one would include passwords to take back to the other, unlocking all manner of upgrades. This lead to the true final dungeon and boss. The two games came together to become greater than their parts.
4. Skyward Sword
Like many others, I was immensely skeptical of the gameplay for this. Having played Twilight Princess gave me a preconceived notion. Thankfully, I ignored my reservations and dove in. The game controlled perfectly. While there was plenty of fun to be had sword fighting throughout the game, it was the final battle I still remember. Holding the sword up to charge my blade gave me goosebumps. I will never forget that moment.
3. Majora’s Mask
I can count on one hand the number of times a Zelda game has broken away from the established formula, and every time it’s divisive. Zelda II on the NES is a prime example. Majora’s Mask is the second time they experimented with the mechanics, and I thought it was brilliant. A Groundhogs Day Zelda game? What’s not to love? This completely changed the puzzle logic. While I do think having 30 masks was a little overboard, it was worth it to have the Fierce Deity mask.
2. Ocarina of Time
It was a long 4 year wait for this title. This was the first game I hunted for every scrap of news I could find. It was worth the wait. I’ve already chronicled the days I lost upon its release. I can’t describe the sense of awe upon reaching Hyrule Field, wielding the Master Sword, or finally defeating Ganon. This game set the mold for not only 3D Zelda games forward, but all 3D games as well.
1. A Link to the Past
If there’s a game I could play blindfolded, it’s this. I wasn’t able to secure my copy of this until it was released a few years after as Player’s Choice. In the mean time I memorized all the tips and strategy guides I could find. To this day I remember the location of all the Heart Containers. For me, the Zelda series as a whole peaked here. While A Link Between Worlds did its best to recapture that magic, nothing has come close to repeating this success.
What are your favorite Zelda games? Anything I wrongfully omitted? Comment below!
Deru deru zeruda no densetsu.