Why is the Zelda series one of the most iconic videogame franchises of all time? Zelda’s first release was in 1986; from that day, more than one Zelda game has been nominated for the best game of the year award. So, that makes us think which is the Best Zelda Game?
The gameplay of all Zelda’s games consists of action, adventure, and puzzle-solving. The gameplay fascinates a lot of people and sets a high-quality standard for all of the gaming industry.
Zelda’s first two videogames featured 2D graphics, which Nintendo quickly replaced by 3D graphics setting the trend for upcoming games. The Zelda videogames observe a side-scrolling or overhead view gameplay.
Zelda is the 16th best-selling collection of video games, with around 70 million total copies sold. Zelda games are also known for their adventures and fun-to-play stories.
The Zelda series never disappoints; the franchise is proliferating, releasing games with the stories that keep us addicted to the screen.
Best Zelda Games Ranked In 2023
#1 – The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
Since the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, everybody knew that this title would break records. The game development lasted for almost five years; no doubt this game was going to be amazing.
Nintendo introduced many game elements such as modern game titles like attention to detailing, voiceover, and excellent graphics. Breath of the Wild received great feedback claiming to be the greatest Zelda game.
This game is slightly different from previous Zelda games as many items can be used again for secondary purposes. The game introduced Paraglider, which is essential as it’s the fastest mode of travel in-game.
The story starts before the first game. It focused on how Ganon destroyed Hyrule kingdom by turning Huryle’s guardians against themselves. Link’s journey begins as he is on a mission to stop Ganon from destroying the World.
Nintendo released Breath of the Wild in March 2017 for Nintendo Switch and the Wii U. The game received dozens of awards as people consider this game as the best game of the decade. This title’s rating is phenomenal as very few sites have not given them full stars, while hundreds of sites gave full score.
#2 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Released in November 1998, Ocarina of Time is the game-changer in Zelda’s World. Zelda introduced their first 3D game, which then later made out to be an all-time classic.
The 3D era brought many challenges for the players to experience. This game was the breakthrough for the developers. Ocarina of Time received great feedback, and people expected more. There is no doubt in saying that this game was way ahead of its time.
Ocarina of Time featured brilliant mechanics like a target locking system called ” Z-targeting, “which removed manual aiming. It introduced Context-sensitive buttons, which helped to perform many tasks using one button. These features have become standard in all 3D games now.
This game offers many side quests to gain unique abilities, apart from the great storyline. The game’s storyline makes it much more fun to play, from claiming Master Sword to time traveling to learning different melodies to solve various puzzles.
Nintendo published this game on Nintendo 64, GameCube, and iQue Player. It received a rating of 99% from Metacritic, 10/10 from IGN, and many more. People still claim that this game is the best in the series. Later, Nintendo made a remake version of the game, which was released in 2011.
#3 – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Despite getting criticized for the cel-shaded graphics when released, people came over it eventually. They appreciated the game’s story and what role it played in the timeline of Zelda.
The Wind Waker is an action-adventure title. The game is mostly set on islands, sending players across the great sea in King of Red Lions (A talking boat!). It also featured the Ocarina of Time target locking system.
The game’s story is based mostly on sailing between islands. The sea offers unique challenges from the land, which makes it more exciting to play. Furthermore, Link will collect sea charts to find the location of quests.
The story follows as Link tries to save his sister from Ganon (A Sorceror!). Allies join him as his mission progresses. They travel to different islands and conquer various dungeons to gain the necessary power to defeat Ganon. Wind plays an important role, and the Wind Waker is the magic tool used to control it.
The Wind Waker was first released in December 2002 in Japan and later released to the rest of the World in 2003. Nintendo published it for the GameCube Console. They released the remastered version of the game Wind Waker HD in 2013 for Wii U.
#4 – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The thirteenth game in the Zelda series is still considered to be the best of them all. This title was deemed to be unique because of the direction and graphics. A remastered version of the game was published in 2016.
Twilight Princess is an action-adventure game based on exploration, conquest, and puzzle-solving abilities. The gameplay featured new mechanics such as Link auto jumped while moving near a ledge, view focus system, which keeps Link’s view focused on enemies.
The audience highly appreciated the character of a mysterious creature named Midna, who assists Link when he transforms into Wolf and Hylian. Twilight Princess takes place hundreds of years after Ocarina of Time.
The game contains nine dungeons where a large overworld connects all the dungeons, where Link can travel through teleportation with the help of Midna. Link fights different enemies to protect Hyrule from being transformed into a parallel dimension.
Twilight Princess is still the second best selling game after Breath of the Wild; it sold over 8 million copies worldwide. Twilight Princess would have released in 2005 for Gamecube. Still, Nintendo delayed it to improve the game’s quality, thus launching the game in 2006 with the Wii version.
#5 – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
After Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask was heavily burdened by expectations. However, it didn’t disappoint, but it was way above those expectations. Majora’s Mask was the first title to brought a split in Zelda’s timeline.
Majora’s Mask is a sequel to the previous title and the second Zelda game to use 3D graphics after Ocarina of Time. It contained enhanced visuals and some gameplay changes, although it used a few elements like previous Zelda games.
The gameplay introduced a three day or 72-hour time period in-game and 54 minutes in real-world time. If the game is not finished and the time ends, the moon will destroy everything, and all of Link’s accomplishments, which he acquired in three days, will be gone.
The story starts as Skull-Kid ambushes Link in Hyrule’s forest; he steals Link’s horse and Ocarina of Time and cast a curse on him, changing him to a Deku Scrub. Tatl (A friend of Skull-kid) joins Link’s; as she wanted to find Skull-kid.
They followed Skull-kid into a clock tower. Link finds a salesperson who offered Link to lift the curse. At the same time, he returns Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time from Skull-Kid in exchange. Link accepted the offer and waits for the right time to attack Skull-Kid.
Majora’s Mask was released in April 2000 for Nintendo64 and GameCube. The videogame sold over 3 million copies globally, and Majora’s Mask won the Game Design of the Year award in 2001.
#6 – The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past
A link to the Past is the third game in the Zelda series. The fans considered it to be the best Zelda game when it was released in 1991.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link had a side-scrolling perspective replaced by an overhead view like in The Legend of Zelda. It introduced many new gameplay features; for instance, walking was more enhanced than the previous Zelda.
They improved the sword attacking to swing sideways, not only forward, making combat easier. It introduced two parallel dimensions called Dark World and Light World, in which Link fights different enemies.
Link’s journey starts as he tries to save Princess Zelda from Agahim (A Wizard!). He conquers eight dungeons in the Dark World to fight the ultimate boss Ganon to save Hyrule.
Nintendo released A Link to the Past for the Super NES console. It sold around four million copies worldwide and received a rating of 4.8 out of 5 from the audience.
#7 – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The trailer release for Skyward Sword featured Link and Zelda with a romantic song. The fans became very excited. It became the most significant selling point of the game, as fans wanted to see the duo for a long time.
Skyward sword introduced motion control; for instance, Nunchuck controlled the camera as they assigned other general binds to the Wii remote. The game featured both perspectives, first-person view while performing Dawsing scans while being the rest of the camera view as third-person.
It takes place on Skyloft (A floating island) and three overworld surfaces where most fights occur. The Link can travel through a portal from clouds to different areas of overworld surfaces.
Link head on a quest to save his friend Zelda kidnapped and held captive on one of the overworld surfaces. The story unfolds as he tries to keep Zelda safe while stopping Ghirahim (A Dark Lord) as he attempts to bring back master Demise to life.
Skyward sword received a 4.6 rating from the audience as it was released only on one console. The development took five years as this was the next title after Twilight Princess. The skyward sword was released in November 2011 by Nintendo on the Wii console.
#8 – The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons / Oracle of Ages
Both games, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, were released on the same date; however, both the games have different stories. Moreover, you can’t complete one story without finishing the other.
Both games have similar gameplay. They both featured bird-eye view while having the same basic controls and graphics as the previous Zelda games. Each game contains two different worlds in which Link can travel through a time hole.
Some items are exclusive to one game, like In Oracle of Seasons; the powerful weapon is the Rod of Seasons, which Link obtains in Oracle of Seasons. He can change different seasons by swinging the rod. Whereas, in Oracle of Ages, the powerful item is Harp of Ages by which he can time travel.
Season’s story begins as Link meets Din (A dance group leader) in a dark forest. Din is soon kidnapped by a giant cloud sent from Onox (General of Darkness). Impa then instructs Link to visit the Maku tree to get the Maku seed, which will help Link enter Onox’s Castle.
In Age’s story, Link heads for the forest where he meets Impa. Impa then asks for Link’s help to find a missing singer named Nayru, possessed by Veran. Link then travels to the Maku tree to seek help; Veran destroys the tree; Link then time-travels to prevent this and to get the Maku seed.
Nintendo released Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages in February 2001 for Game Boy Colour. Both videogames sold approximately 4 million copies each and got excellent reviews from critics.
#9 – The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The seventh game in the series, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, received a considerable amount of appreciation for its 3D graphics.
A Link Between Worlds takes place in two kingdoms of Lorule and Hyrule. Hyrule was featured in A Link to the Past. Many elements are similar to the same title, for instance, enemies and soundtracks.
There are many friendly characters included in the game that assists in the quest. New gameplay features were added, such as items found in dungeons that can now be purchased and rented to the merchant. The ammunition is removed, too, so a weapon now has unlimited firepower.
The timeline is set after Link to the Past. Link’s main objective is to restore peace in Hyrule’s Kingdom, where Yuga (An Evil Sorcerer!) kidnaps Princess Zelda and takes her through the rift to Lorule’s Kingdom. As the story continues, Link acquires an ability to merge into walls.
Nintendo published Link Between World, and it was released in November 2013 on Nintendo 3DS. It is an action-adventure single-player game that received a 9.4/10 rating from IGN. In the first five months of its release, it sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide.
#10 – The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Phantom Hourglass has similar gameplay to other Zelda games. The gameplay is mostly divided into two parts: exploring the dungeons on foot and sailing between different islands. While exploring dungeons, he finds weapons such as boomerang and bows.
The title also features a local multiplayer mode where two players battle by player 1 controlling Link and the other player and player 2 controlling three Phantom Guardians. Each game consists of three rounds where each player takes a turn at both the attacking and defending side.
The story follows as Tetra gets disappeared and Link is set off to a different island by a fairy Ceila. Link finds an hourglass and a man named Ohsus, who helps Link find Tetra. Captain Lineback and his ship also assist him in his journey by sailing him to various islands.
The control scheme of Phantom Hourglass was very praised while getting criticized for its basic online features. The game was released in June 2007 on Nintendo DS and Wii U. the title sold over 4 million copies globally while receiving various awards.
Metacritic gave a rating of 90/100 and 88.8% rating from GameRankings.
#11 – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Links’ Awakening was a little bit of a different game; there were only a few past game characters. New characters were introduced, and the game takes place on an island other than Hyrule.
Like most of the Zelda games, Link’s Awakening also focuses on combat and exploration. The difficulty level increases as you progress in the game by conquering dungeons. It was the first overhead view game that allowed Link to jump.
Link’s Awakening was the first Zelda game to brought trading. A player gives an item in exchange for different things. Link’s Awakening takes place on Koholint island completely. The island contains many secrets and pathways that are all connected. Link’s Awakening takes place after A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time.
A voice character named Ulria was introduced who gives direction and hints through the telephone. The title contains cameo appearances of enemies from Super Mario Bros.
The game now focuses on Link saving himself rather than saving others. He is stuck on the island due to the wreckage of his ship. Eight instruments are needed for Link to wake Wind Fish at the top of MT. Tamaranch. Link then has to defeat Wind Fish for him to return home.
#12 – The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
This title’s unique thing is that every boss is defeated with the item found in his dungeon. The game offers various side quests; by completing them, Link can upgrade his equipment.
Past Zelda characters also make appearances in side missions. Moreover, it returns general gameplay from the previous titles of Zelda. By using one of the Minish portals, Link can transform himself into Minish size.
After converting, he gets very tiny, and small things are now big for him, such as grass is now a flexible wall to him. He back and forth transforms into the human size and Minish size, human height to get the regular quests done while Minish size gets complex quests done.
The journey begins when the king of Hyrule chooses Link to search for the light force that destroyed the Picori blade and released evil monsters into Hyrule. During Link’s journey, he finds a magical talking cap called Ezlo. Ezlo assists Link’s in his objectives to find four-element artifacts.
Minish Cap was released in November 2004 on Game Boy Advance. The gamed earned around 22 million worldwide, becoming the highest-selling game on Game Boy Advance. The Minish Cap received a score of 90.3% from GameRankings and 89/100 from MetaCritic.
#13 – The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
The gameplay of Spirit Tracks is divided into two parts, Link exploring the overworld and traveling around dungeons. Link travels between overworld using Spirit tracks, whereas, in dungeons, he travels by foot. Gameplay includes the player taking notes on their map to help solve puzzles and quests.
Link travels through a train in the overworld by controlling it and protecting it from the attackers using a canon. Progressing further in-game, we can control Link using a stylus. It can be used to perform an attack while using items like bombs and boomerangs.
There is no multiplayer in Spirit of Tracks; however, four players can play together via DS Download Play. Spirit track is the direct sequel at Phantom Hourglass.
The game’s story progresses as Zelda calls Link to investigate the vanishing of tracks where Cole (Zelda’s Chancellor) reveals himself as a demon and stealing Zelda’s body for Malladus (Cole’s Master). The story then advances as Link and Zelda’s ghost tries to get the body back for Zelda.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit of Track was released in December 2009 for Nintendo DS. The title scored a rating of 89/100 from MetaCritic and 8.5/10 from GameSpot. It sold over 2.6 million copies globally. The game was re-released in 2015 for the Wii U console.
#14 – The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure
There are three different modes in Four Swords Adventure “Hyrulean Adventure.” It is a campaign mode that can be played with four friends, and it contains eight worlds, each with three levels and a boss battle.
The second mode is “Shadow Battle,” where two players play with each other until one is left standing. There are five battle arenas additional five can be unlocked if you are playing after finishing “Hyrulean Adventure.” The third mode is ” Navi Tracker,” which is only available for the Japanese version.
The story starts as Link is assigned to protect maidens, but maidens get kidnapped by a shadow. The shadow seals the Maiden in their crystals. Link follows the shadow to four swords, and he pulls out the blades resulting in three doppelgangers of Link.
Four Swords Adventure was released in March 2004 for the GameCube console. The game was North America’s third best selling game in the year 2004. The game received appreciation for his Game Boy Advance experience and got a score of 86/100 from MetaCrirtic and 85% from GameRankings.
#15 – Classic NES Series: The Legend of Zelda
This game didn’t have any high-definition graphics or great gameplay. But it was loved by people like us for its great story and its characters.
The legend of Zelda was a mix of action, puzzle-solving, and exploration gameplay. The dungeons offered many useful items to solve multiple puzzles. The game keeps the players addicted to its story, although the story was short.
The gameplay offered Rupee a currency to buy weapons; Link can collect Rupee by opening chests or defeating enemies. The game provides a more challenging version of the story after finishing the level in normal mode. The Legend of Zelda introduced the save and load feature, which is now very common in new games.
The story starts as Princess Zelda gets kidnapped by Ganon (Prince of Darkness). She then sends her nursemaid Impa to find a brave boy who could save her. She then meets Link when he saved Impa from Ganon’s goons.
Link’s journey starts as he tries to find eight Triforce of Wisdom pieces in eight dungeons to save Princess in the ninth jail by defeating Ganon.
A great era began in 1986 when the game was released on Famicom Disk System and Nintendo Entertainment System. The title sold over 6.5 million copies. It received a rating of 5 out of 5 from AllGame and got selected for multiple awards.
#16 – Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link gameplay was somewhat similar to the first Zelda. Changes were added as Link now gains experience points to upgrade his attributes. Nintendo boosted the gameplay to show a different type of enemies, easy and hard ones, and a fairy to refill his heart.
The game offers two types of camera angles; side-scrolling when entering towns or buildings and top-down view while playing the rest of the game.
The second edition of Zelda has complex combat than the previous title as enemies change tactics and try to weaken your defense. Magic spells play an essential role as they are learned from eight different men from eight other towns; they can heal Link and assist him in his battles.
Link notices an unusual mark on his left hand; when shown to Impa, she takes him to the North Castle, where they found a sealed door. The door opened instantly after placing Link’s left hand on the door where they both finds Princess Zelda sleeping.
Link’s mark on the hand meant that he was the hero chosen to awake Zelda. Link then continues his journey to find the six crystals needed to wake Zelda.
Zelda II was released in January 1987 for Famicom Disk System, Nintendo Entertainment System, GameCube, and Game Boy Advance. The game got a rating of 78.1% from GameRankings and 75/100 from MetaCritic.
#17 – The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
Tri-Force Heroes had similar gameplay to previous titles. The game focuses much more on multiplayer. Three players start the game; every player gets an item that is required to solve the puzzle. Use of tactics will get the mystery solved quickly, like three players climbing on one another to get the height to finish enemies.
The title supports multiplayer and single-player mode. Nintendo introduced the new communication method in-game; players can communicate through game chat using 3DS touch controls.
Nintendo released a free DLC (downloadable content) for the users, including a dungeon called ” The Den of Trials.” It was more challenging than the original dungeons as it offered more levels.
The story takes place in Hytopia. The daughter of the Kingdom’s ruler gets cursed as a brown jumpsuit locked her. The ruler then found Link as a true hero and was given the objective to lift the curse. Link and the other two teammates progress by solving puzzles and conquering dungeons.
The game was released in October 2015 for Nintendo 3DS. The title won the Game Critics award and the best 3DS game award from IGN.
My Final Verdict:
The leading series has changed the dimensions for gaming over time. They introduced 3D graphics and players to save their progress; these features are now a must for a game.
The Legend of Zelda follows a loose timeline, which gives its breathing room for originality. There’s no doubt that Zelda’s games incrementally changed the way games were played.
One thing that is unique about the Zelda series is its never-ending ability to evolve and introduce new gameplay. Each game has its fun and uniqueness, so it is the most remarkable gaming series of all time.
It is challenging for a franchise to reach the height and then to maintain that level of engagement. But Zelda had impressed the audience by their evolution and transformation.
Zelda games are one of Nintendo’s oldest and most beloved franchises. It continues to live a successful life after 30 years from the first release.
The franchise is well-loved by millions for its unique approach to the games. The legend of Zelda games will always have a place in our hearts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question 1: What is the best Zelda Game?
According to our list, the Best Zelda game is Breath of the wild. Not only me but thousands of people consider Breath of the Wild as the best. The game has received quite a few awards, such as seven game of the year records.
Question 2: What is the best selling Zelda Game?
Talking about numbers, the Breath of the Wild once again takes the lead as this game single-handedly sold around 4.5 million copies in North America and approximately 3 million copies in Europe. It also sold about 2 million copies to the rest of the World.
Question 3: Which Zelda game has the best story?
The best story, in my opinion, and many others too, is Wind Waker (2002). The game didn’t have any great graphics, but this game’s story was fascinating and fun to play. The audience loved the character of the talking boat Red Lions.
Question 4: What is the longest Zelda Game ever?
The longest story of a Zelda game is Breath of the Wild, which takes about 60 hours to finish this game. Breath of the wild has a lot to offer, a great storyline, and beautiful graphics that will keep you addicted to exploring more.
Question 5: Will there be a Zelda game in 2023?
Breath of the Wild 2, the name is still not decided, but you get the idea. The game is planned without official dates yet as the franchise’s 35th anniversary draws closer. The audience highly anticipates the game as Nintendo has announced the game in E3 2019.