The Legend of Zelda series is one of gaming's most revered franchises. It also happens to be my favorite video game series of all time. Through the years Nintendo has given us some truly amazing Zelda titles. It has also managed to obtain a fiercely loyal and devoted fan base. Today, I am going to piss off a significant portion of that fan base by listing my Top Ten Zelda Games. It is likely that I am risking my life in writing this list, but it must be done! So without further ado, here are my choices. I have ranked them based on how innovative they were, how fun they are to play, and how well they have stood the test of time.
10. The Legend of Zelda
First off we have the game that started it all. Light on story, heavy on exploration this game was one of the first open-world adventure games. As a kid, I would often find myself in really scary situations as the game lets you tackle the dungeons in any order you want. Which means that stupid little Leonard would immediately head for the centaurs. Also, this game had some of the most hilarious Japanese to English translations found in a Nintendo game.
Uh, what the heck are you talking about?
9. Link's Awakening
This game is weird as all get-out. It's even weirder than me using the phrase "all get-out" and that's saying something. With Goombas, Kirby and a Chain Chomp showing up at various points in the game, it definitely makes for a unique Zelda experience. Even more memorable are the NPC's. This game set the precedent for the odd, instantly memorable character's that have since become the norm in the series. Also, here's a fun fact: Marin and Tarin served as the inspiration for Malon and Talon. Of course Mario was also a source of inspiration for Tarin and Talon.
8. Oracle of Ages
I suppose I could lump Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages into one entry, but I honestly enjoyed Ages slightly more than Seasons. Both games were masterfully crafted by the good folks over at Capcom, and both manage to recapture a lot of the magic Link's Awakening had. Ages had the unique mechanic of being able to travel between the past and present in a land called Labrynna. If you have a 3DS and you are looking to get a Zelda fix now that you have beaten A Link Between Worlds, I highly recommend going over to the eShop and picking this game up for the virtual console.
7. Skyward Sword
Skyward Sword does a lot of things really well. It also does a lot of things very wrong. I am sorry, but I rarely feel like fighting the same boss twice in one game is fun. This game makes you fight it's most frustratingly annoying boss three times. I remember being mildly annoyed when I faced The Imprisoned the second time. I nearly chucked my beautiful gold Zelda-themed Wii Remote through the TV when I had to face him for the third time. In fact, the Imprisoned is the only reason why I never got the Hylian Shield, as I would have to face him again. If it's not a fun boss-fight the first time, it won't be the second or third time! But I'm not bitter.
I could go on about how obnoxious Fi is at times, and how the game insults the player's intelligence by giving the explanation of what spoils are every time you start a new play session, but I feel like I should move to the positives of the game, as they make up for a great deal of the negative aspects. The music is beautify, as are the environments and the story.
The game's biggest strength is, without a doubt the emotion it brings. Fi's dances at the end of dungeons were breathtakingly beautiful. And the ending of this game was so touching, it marked the first and only time I actually cried in a Zelda game.
6. Twilight Princess ( Wii Version)
I feel like this game gets more hate than it deserves. Sure, Hyrule Field was empty, with little to nothing to do, the main villain turned out to be a bit on the crazy/lame side and our favorite Gerudo thief was shoehorned into the plot. Despite all that the game's dungeons were well designed, there were a couple interesting new items and the game had a killer soundtrack. Also, and I know this is such a nit-picky small thing, the game has the best sound design of any Zelda game. Seriously, go back and play that game, paying attention to the sound effects and you'll see what I'm talking about.
I have one last thing to say about the game, and this is directed toward Nintendo. Don't you ever put weird sexy blue women that make me feel weird things in a Zelda game again!
5. Majora's Mask
My relationship with Majora's Mask is really complicated. On the one hand there are things in this game that just didn't jive with me. I didn't really care for any of the dungeons, with the exception of the Stone Tower, the time limit mechanic just stressed me right the heck out, and the Goron race. The stupid effing Goron race.
Despite all of the things that I did not enjoy, this entry is, without a doubt, the most profound Zelda experience in terms of story and characters. There are tangent story lines in this game that are so poignant and sometimes downright grim, you forget you are playing a game that was targeted toward children. Need proof?Check out this cutscene which concludes a story line in which Link reunites a cursed man and his lover just in time before the moon hits Termina, destroying everything. This clip does contain some spoilers.
4. A Link to the Past
After a somewhat odd step in a different direction with Zelda II: The Adventures of Link Nintendo returned to the roots of the series to get inspiration for the Super Nintendo's first and only Zelda title, A Link to the Past. The result was a game that changed many a gamer's lives. This title set down the foundation for the complex mythos the Zelda series is now known for. On top of that, it offered the player not one, but two gigantic worlds to explore. With perfectly designed dungeons, and engrossing story and a legendary (sorry) soundtrack, this game is an absolute classic!
3. A Link Between Worlds
What?! A Link Between Worlds is ranked higher than A Link to the Past?! This man is absolutely insane! Let me assure you that I am perfectly sane. The fact is, this game is just pure fun. It combines the freedom of the original Legend of Zelda with the aesthetics, level design and story telling of A Link to the Past.
I felt as though this game was just so fresh, in terms of puzzle ideas and progression. I know that putting this title in my top three is incredibly controversial, but I simply love this game too much.
2. Ocarina of Time
You've heard it all before. This game is a masterpiece. In fact I have stubbornly defended this game as being the best Zelda title since I first played it back in 1998, that is until I recently replayed...
1. The Wind Waker HD
In 2000 the world got it's first real good look at the Nintendo Gamecube during Spaceworld. During their presentation Nintendo aired sizzle reel showcasing the graphical power of their new system. In the midst of that reel there was this:
Okay, so now it doesn't look like much, but to an 11-year-old who watched a very grainy version of the video on his computer over and over again this looked like the most epic thing ever! I could not wait for this new Zelda game to hit shelves! Fast forward a year or so and Nintendo released new screenshots of the game they had been so diligently developing:
As a burgeoning adolescent, this art style elicited a reaction from me that was not unlike this:
After actually playing the game I fell in love with the utterly huge ocean that was mine to explore as I pleased. I loved the game's humor, surprisingly epic story, incredible soundtrack and awesome characters. The dungeons, though few in number, are a joy to play through and there is plenty to do while sailing the Great Sea.
The game has been re-released on the Wii U recently with improved graphics, faster sailing and a much less painful (or expensive) Triforce quest. These improvements have helped the game edge out Ocarina of Time in the running of my favorite Zelda games.
If I was a betting man, I would bet at least $1,000 rupees that you disagreed with the placement of some of these games on the list. Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite Zelda Titles. Please just try to keep it civil.
For more "Top Ten" lists and other awesome trivia, reviews and interesting articles regarding pop culture from the 90s and beyond, keep it locked on theninetieskid.com!