Infendo’s Top 10 Zelda Games

 LOZ

I’ve sat back down and replayed through the series to deliver what I believe to be the top ten greatest Zelda games. As a huge Zelda fan, I have loved every single title Nintendo has feed us, (minus the CD-I titles) but there are some that are just built better than others. Click over to find out if your favorite made it towards the top. (Note: This list does not include spin-offs such as the Four Swords series, etc.)

 

10. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – (2000: N64)
mmDifferent. That just about sums up Majora’s Mask when compared to the traditional way Zelda games “play out”. You are given 72 hours to complete MM’s main quests. Your goal within these 3 days is to save the land of Termina from total destruction that occurs via near-by moon. If you fail to break Majora’s “curse” within 72 hours the great moon will slam into the planet, wiping out everything. Thankfully with the help of the Ocarina, you can rewind time to the dawn of the first day and relive your travels…“Groundhog Day style”.

Though at first fans disliked the changed gameplay players soon grew to enjoy the unique element which offered a different out look on puzzle solving. One of the last great adventures on the N64, Majora’s Mask presented a more detailed world, cleaner textures, farther draw distance, and an overall darker, more mature mood. The inclusion of different Masks which could transform Link into different creatures, or allow him to manipulate time/magic really gave this title a spin. Don’t let these changes keep you away. Majora’s Mask really was a breath of fresh air, and still is today.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages – (2001: GBC)
saAfter eight painful years handheld gamers were going to finally get a new Zelda game to pop into their new Game Boy Colors. The press soon found that Flagship, a independent game developer for Capcom would be developing a entire set of Zelda handheld titles. Fans soon grew doubtful that Flagship would be able to accomplish a true Zelda game without Nintendo there to head the development. Thankfully both Seasons, and Ages were as true as 1993’s, Link’s Awakening. Originally suppose to be a trilogy, Seasons and Ages are the same games yet entirely different at the same time. In Seasons Link wields the Rod of Seasons which controls the…seasons. Ages has Link playing the Harp of Ages which manipulates time travel. Both the Rod and Harp could be upgraded throughout each quests. As a push to promote handheld multi-play the games could link up (via GBC cable) with each other and unlock new story plots, items, dungeons, and even an alternate ending. These really are a great set of on-the go Zelda titles. Dust off that old GBC, or GBA and get to playing.

8. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass – (2007: DS)
ph23Our most resent Zelda adventure took us back into the colorful toony world of Wind Waker. It was nice to go back. This time Aonuma, and Miyamoto took the reins back from Capcom and began working their magic with the DS. The main concern among fans was whether the promised touch controls could be pulled off. Zelda players were soon relieved to find Phantom Hourglass’s untraditional control scheme to work perfectly. PH will have you sailing across the ocean in search of items, clues, and dungeons, all of which have use the touch screen (and mic) to its full potential. A welcome Wifi multiplayer minigame was included in which you play a mix game of hide and seek/keep away. If you haven’t picked up Links latest’s title your missing out big time. The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass gets number eight for most innovative Zelda game.

7. The Legend of Zelda – (1987: NES)
lozThis is where it all started. Though we now have suburb titles such as Twilight Princess, and Phantom Hourglass all Zelda titles start with this game as a foundation. Free roaming overworld, mind-bending dungeons, upgradable weapons, currency system, and powerful music, all of which were unheard of back during the early days of the game industry. Yet young game developer Shigeru Miyamoto took it upon himself to create not only a game, but a adventure.

There really isn’t much to say about this excellent piece of software besides telling you that if you have not played The Legend of Zelda your missing out on your gaming heritage. Yes…it’s that important.

6. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap – (2005: GBA)
mcThis little gem is an excellent definition of an organized well built two dimensional adventure title that was accomplished by none other than Capcom. Unlike Seasons/Ages, Minish Cap takes its toony art style from The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker. This style works perfectly with the GBA to give a colorful, and lush look to a 2D Hyrule.

What made Minish Cap unique was…well…the Minish Cap. Link could put on an ancient talking green cap which in turn would shrink Link down to ant-size. This new aspect created very innovative dungeons and environments in which you have to think small. Though a bit on the short side, Minish Cap proved that Nintendo could let third parties handle one of their biggest franchises. Be sure to pick this one up to fill your DS’s GBA slot. It’ll be there for quite a while.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – (2006: GCN, Wii)
tplozVery few games are in the development cycle for over three and a half years. One of those few is the Nintendo’s most recent console adventure Twilight Princess. And boy does it show! First announced at E3 2004, Twilight Princess has been through enough polish to make Mario blush. Known best for agreeing with fans who longed for a more “mature” direction after Wind Waker’s cel-shaded artstyle. Nintendo paid attention and delivered a game that is not only the most beautiful Zelda, but an epic one at that. You’ll easily spend hours upon hours crossing Hyrule on the back of Epona in search of your next massive dungeon. Each element is so finely built that it just feels great to boot this game up. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess gets number five for best art direction and epic scope.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – (1993: GB)

laAt a time when Game Boy was “the” handheld market, Nintendo’s handheld fans had a knack to bite into a good adventure for on the go. Once again Nintendo listened and rolled out Miyamoto’s favorite Zelda title, Link’s Awakening. Fans of A Link to the Past felt right at home with Link’s Awakening with it’s trap filled dungeons and new abilities. LA also pushed a feature that has been used in every Zelda game after it: Trading-side quests. Though this Zelda lacked color, no one cared, because it’s Zelda…in my pocket! The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening gets number four for best portable Zelda adventure.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – (2003: GCN)
lozwwThose of you that may remember Spaceworld 2001 most likely recall the upset Wind Waker caused to most Zelda fans. Zelda fans had just come off of two excellent “mature” titles (Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask) and were just shown a trailer of a cel-shaded Link running through what looked like a cartoon. Though at first glance you might doubt it as a “true” Zelda game, once you hit that bright blue ocean to sail to a new unknown island dungeon…your hooked. This is one of those Zelda games that must be physically played to understand how great it is. Screen shots and video just won’t give it justice until you hold that GC controller in your hands. For starters, who doesn’t like pirates and the open sea? Exactly! Add the refined, classic Zelda gameplay, new items, and a boat, you’ve got one excellent adventure! Do not pass this one up folks. This Zelda is a keeper.

2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – (1992: SNES)
alttpSome of Nintendo’s most respected and best titles graced the Super Nintendo. A Link to the Past is no exception. ALttP set the standard for all (both 2D and 3D) Zelda games preceding it. This is really the blue print for all adventure game developers at the time and still is today. The hookshot was first introduced here along with many continuing staples including the infamous Light/Dark world storyline which has been rehashed in so many ways over the years (see Twilight Princess). Like other SNES titles, A Link to the Past is filled to the brim with bright colorful textures that inspired the art direction of many titles including Square’s , Secret of Mana. The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past takes number two because it set the standard for 2D innovation and level design.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – (1998: N64)
ootSurprised? I didn’t think so. Ocarina of Time almost always wins on not only top Zelda lists, but on top overall game lists. It’s no surprise either. The legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time is THE best Zelda game, period. Prior to writing this top ten list I sat down and played through OoT once again. It just never gets old. Story, Graphics, Music, Puzzles, Gameplay, it’s all there! So much was packed into a little grey cartridge that it’s a wonder they didn’t split it into two titles. What Super Mario 64 did with 2D Mario games, Ocarina of Time did for 2D Zelda games. Yet every single element whether it be traps, enemies, dungeons, or weapons revolve around one item…the Ocarina. If you seriously haven’t played through this game you’re missing out. Big time. I ask you to please go find the cartridge, or download it off the VC, and play it. As for the rest of us old Zelda fans…it doesn’t hurt to take one more ride through Hyrule Field.

Finally, I’d like to thank Mr. Miyamoto for creating such an amazing series. You’ve got some serious skills. Thank you.

What do you think? What’s number one on your list?

31 Responses to Infendo’s Top 10 Zelda Games

  1. quadkid says:

    pretty good list. although oracle of seasons and ages are completely different. I would put Wind Waker first though. still need to buy phantom hourglass also.

  2. Red Mozzie says:

    (You might want to check the “more” tag near the first heading – it’s inside the “strong” tag and causing problems on the front page…)

  3. Drahken says:

    Really? The Oracle games at 9? I wouldn’t even rank them. And ESPECIALLY not above Majora’s Mask. Other than that, I really can’t argue with your rankings. I personally would have put Majora higher, PH above the original LoZ, and WW at number 1, but that’s just because of my love for the Wind Waker style. Obviously in games, gameplay is king. But with Zelda games, that’s not really anything you ever need to worry about, so really it comes down to storytelling; which WW just oozes. In OoT, Gannon is just, “Yep. I’m the bad guy. Rawr.” But in WW, he’s got personality. When he goes into his monologue about his motivations and especially when you first meet him and he says, “It’s been a while, boy.” Wow. Gives me goosebumps. This is also why I would have ranked Majora over OoT. I agree wholeheartedly that OoT is an amazing game. But I think people over-idealize it and then compare Majora to that. I think Majora is a hell of alot better than people give it credit for, and personally like it more. Once again, it’s because of storytelling and how it’s presented. Majora is all about character development. Just like in Groundhog’s Day, you find out about all of the residents of this little world little bit by little bit until you know them intimately, even though they wouldn’t know you from Adam. You get a feel for their characters and their motivations, which is further reason to save them from armageddon. But this is all alot of stuff you’ve all probably heard before.

  4. Will says:

    Most people don’t understand that this is only an opinion of a top 10.
    Everyone has there own top 10 in themselves, it’s just a matter of who has a website and the time to compose a list.

  5. wiizy says:

    a couple switches need to be made.. twilight princess need to be number 3 and wind waker number 4… the rest is ok to me. oh by the way i agree that super mario bros 3 was the best mario game of all time. no other mario game had the level design nostalgia. and mario galaxy after that.

  6. johnnymilkshark says:

    I can’t get into Ocarina of Time. I prefer Twilight Princess.

    We got that Infendo didn’t fall in love with Twilight Princess when it was said last year, you can stop reporting on that now.

  7. frstOne says:

    It’s nice to see Wind Waker up there. Good list, but I’d have placed majora’s mask higher.

  8. ChunkyB says:

    I’d switch #1 and #2. Link to the Past is probably the best game of all time, IMO, let alone the best Zelda game.

  9. I finally gave in to the hype and picked up Phantom Hourglass. I’m not typically a Zelda fan, but dang that game is a ton of fun.

  10. Guch says:

    OOT all day at the top for me. “Magic” as Infendo Radio would say.

    Good list, but for me, I would switch Twilight Princess and Link’s Awakening and also switch OOA/OOS with Majora’s Mask. Majora’s Mask was awesome.

  11. Joltman says:

    Boy, was this surprising.
    I couldn’t believe some of the titles listed on this list – I really don’t think they should be there, but as stated above, it’s their opinion.

    Here’s mine:
    1) Twilight Princess
    2) Ocarina of Time
    3) A Link to the Past
    4) Phantom Hourglass
    5) The Minish Cap
    6) The Legend of Zelda
    7) The Windwaker
    8) Link’s Awakening
    9) Adventure of Link
    10) Majora’s Mask

  12. actraiser says:

    i’m glad someone mentioned Adventure of Link. that game was probably the most untraditional of all the zelda games (except the CD-I ones; which i was happy not knowing existed). in any case this game was challenging and i loved/hated the concept of side scoller (loved because it was new to and i was young, hated because i sucked at judging the sword’s distance). i also enjoyed the magic aspect. many hours were spent trying to get to and beat shadow link. great list overall.

  13. Jake says:

    Don’t get me wrong, readers. I LOVE Twilight Princess. I just feel that WW was a little better.

    Overall, I enjoy playing every single game on this list. They’re all great!

  14. Derek says:

    Good list, Jake. Nice work.

    I would have definitely placed Twilight Princess higher; it would likely have been #1 or #2, for me. I really think Nintendo perfected the franchise with Twilight Princess. The game oozes quality and polish, as you noted, but I also think it is the most engaging and dramatic Zelda since Ocarina, maybe ever.

  15. deepthought says:

    yeah- I’m in for switching 1 and 2, though that’s just nitpicking. theyre really close in my mind. I also loved Zelda II, but then, there’s no accounting for taste.

    also… twilight was a pretty big dissappointment for me. I’m as far as the water temple and I’ve stopped. Out of boredom. I find the world so absurd, childish, and internally inconsistent that I can’t get into the story. It really bothers me that everyone is a mute. And Link has less personality than ever.

    So many games out there manage to make almost every single character significant, with interesting motivations and development. After Jade Empire, where character development and story development is king, it’s hard to accept a world where most characters feel like ornamentation. And where the story is so fragmented, rarely interwoven into the adventure. You get story, adventuring, story. And the adventure bits seems so unrelated to the story, it could be any game with any backstory when you’re in a temple. About hour 1.5 in any temple, I kept imagining Link looking around wondering ‘wait, what’s my motivation again?’

    Also, I get terminal deju vu around every corner. I’ve done it all before. Seen it all before. Even the sounds feel are recycled. Is there really any reason to continue on? When there are much more rewarding and thoughtful game out there?

  16. Jim says:

    nice. mine top 5 games would be.

    1. Ocarina of Time ex aequo A Link to the Past
    3. Windwaker
    4. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
    5. Phantom Hourglass

    please note: Twilight Princess was a disappointment to me because it’s really nothing more than Ocarina 1.5 (bigger…) IMHO.

  17. Rabbitduck says:

    Great list… VERY close to my own opinion. I would’ve put Phantom Hourglass above Twilight Princess, and Majora’s Mask below Windwaker, though, roughly. My only beef with Hourglass is that it was too short, but other than that I have been EXTREMELY pleased with it (I just bought it a short while ago). Ocarina of Time is KING, with Link to the Past trailing barely behind. And I’m glad I’m not the only person who isn’t an ignorant graphic-focused folk who loved Twilight Princess. I thought DEEPTHOUGHT nailed how I felt about that game. Just didn’t do it for me. Which is really really sad. If they only would have made Twilight Princess more compelling… *sigh*. I try not to think about what could have been in some Nintendo games… it only makes me sad… if only there wouldn’t have been doubled or lame Final Smashes for some characters in Brawl… Stop it, Rabbit!

  18. greatslack says:

    Oracles games higher, phantom hourglass lower.

  19. nil says:

    My list:
    1. Link to the Past
    2. Ocarina of Time
    3. Minish Cap
    4. Phantom hourglass
    5. Wind Waker
    6. The Legend of Zelda
    7. Oracle of Seasons
    8. Majora’s Mask
    9. Link’s Awakening
    10. Oracle of Ages

  20. Etrain says:

    Majora’s Mask may be different, but there is nothing in the world quite like it. Either that, or I have some serious gaming to do. Ocarina of Time is still quite amazing even by today’s standards, who knew there was so much control in a ten year old game. First-person arrowing, climbing ladders, diving off cliffs, swimming/walking under water, grappling from platform to platform, classic story…it all blows my mind. Still, I make Majora’s Mask my number one game of all time for 35+ unpublished pages containing my reasoning.

  21. MM>EVERYTHING says:

    this list sucks I mean OoS and OoA PH LoZ and LA above MM WTF the rest are prefernce but MM should be at least 4.!!!!

  22. ooburns says:

    For the record, the 72 hours in Majora’s Mask aren’t even close to realtime.

  23. XCWarrior says:

    Maybe its the nostalgia in my talking, but I would think the original should be higher than #7. And I still don’t understand the super love for Wind Waker. Good game, but getting lost in the ocean on that boat was a pain. Plus I preferred being a bigger version of Link than a smaller one. But it’s a great game nonetheless. Good list.

  24. […] 10 Zelda games Infendo made up a list yesterday on what they believe to be the top 10 Zelda video games released thus far. Ocarina of Time sweeps the number 1 slot… You’d think Twilight […]

  25. Logan Predy says:

    Pretty much agree with everything. Good list. 🙂

  26. DmNt says:

    Woah woah, Majora’s Mask at 10? It should at least be in the top five and it better darn well be over that piece of fluff called Phantom Hourglass. Seriously, Phantom Hourglass…bored me. For one, they shouldn’t have made online for it. The DS’s online is terrible; no game should ever be online for it. Also, where was that Zelda polish? The dungeons sucked. The environments were repetitive, the sailing sucked, oh and the story was horrid too.

    Other than that though the list was pretty good, Wind Waker should have been a bit lower though, the sailing ruined that game too.

    Here’s my top Zelda list:
    1. Majora’s Mask
    2. Ocarina of Time
    3. Twilight Princess
    4. Oracle of Ages
    5. Minish Cap
    6. Oracle of Seasons
    7. Wind Waker
    8. Link to the Past
    9. Link’s Awakening
    10. Legend of Zelda (original)

  27. Albo says:

    Ooh ooh, I wanna play!

    My top 5:

    1) Link to the Past
    2) Ocarina
    3) Minish Cap
    4) Twilight Princess
    5) Wind Waker (really just for the visuals, sailing bites)

    That being said, I haven’t played Majora’s Mask, I’m holding my breath for the VC release!

  28. PR says:

    I’ve REALLY wanted to sit down and start Link to the Past over again, and I believe this post has given me the necessary push I needed to get started. It was absolutely a phenomenal game for it’s time and even today. If I were to choose, LTTP would be number 1 on my list.

    Also, you’ve got another vote from me to get Majora’s Mask higher on that list.

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