Best Zelda games ranked: every Legend of Zelda game ranked from best to worst


EVER since it was released in 1986, The Legend of Zelda was beloved by fans, and the series to date has not disappointed.

While not every game was a winner, there are so many games in the series which have inspired generations of gamers.

Not all of the Zelda games have a great art style.

There are more than 20 mainline games in the series, and some are certainly better than others.

Here’s our definitive ranking of all The Legend of Zelda games best to worst.

Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild not only changed how Zelda games are thought of, but it changed how open world games are designed.

Experts can head right to Ganon’s castle, Deku Stick in hand, and simply try their luck.

Most will want to explore the wide open world, and take down the four mechanical beasts and the blights inside.

This freer style of exploration made fans fall in love immediately, and games have been compared to it ever since.

Majora’s Mask

This is a controversial choice, but Majora’s Mask is truly one of Zelda’s finest.

The three-day countdown set players on edge, and added to the dark atmosphere of the world that will be shortly crushed.

Things you discover before resetting the days, helps you on your next run, as you try again and again to get all the pieces in place.

It’s a completely fresh take on the series and one that hasn’t been seen before or since.

Ocarina of Time

Considered one of the greatest games of all time, Ocarina of Time took the series into 3D for the first time.

Functions that are still used in action games today, such as the ability to lock on to enemies, all started with this story.

The story and dungeons don’t offer much that games like A Link to the Past didn’t, but the transformation into 3D was perfectly executed.

Not only is it known for its innovation, but it’s a classic game that stands up even when played today.

The Wind Waker

Wind Waker doesn’t have the strongest dungeons, as many end up a confusing maze of tangled spaghetti.

Despite this, it is undoubtedly one of the best looking Zelda games, which plugged into the idea of a grand adventure.

Toon Link and Tetra soon found their way into our hearts as they set out across the open seas.

While it’s not perfect, what it does do right is enough to allow us to forgive and forget.

Twilight Princess

Technically, Twilight Princess is better than Wind Waker, the level design and the game mechanics are tighter and more controlled.

However, as a more ‘realistic’ looking Zelda-game, it blends into a few of the others, without a unique art-style or mechanic to make it stand out.

Twilight Princess often deserves more credit than it was given. It expanded Hyrule vastly and brought with it some excellent characters.

And the dungeon design? Some of the best the series has ever offered.

Link’s Awakening

Whether you play the Game Boy version or the Switch remake, Link’s Awakening stands as the best handheld Zelda game of all time.

It’s short but perfectly paced, and the visuals are excellent in both versions; being ahead of its time for the Game Boy, and unique on the Switch.

Awakening was inspired by supernatural series like Twin Peaks, and the island has an eccentric cast of characters that will stay in your memory.

Skyward Sword

The main complaint about Skyward Sword was the awkward motion controls, and Skyward Sword HD allowed us to use buttons like big boys.

You can now choose which method you prefer and it gives a whole new way to play this surprisingly delightful adventure.

Great dungeon designs, and clever ways of reusing the same maps, means that Skyward Sword remains one of the best.

A Link to the Past

A Link to the Past is many people’s favourite Zelda game, and had a massive world compared to other SNES games at the time.

With the Dark World, Hyrule was twice as big to explore, and it had some difficult yet interesting puzzles to solve.

This is where the Zelda series became what it is today. Towns, dungeons, and a connected story remains the Zelda formula to this day.

The difficulty has aged it a little, but it’s one that all Zelda fans should try.

Minish Cap

We love Toon Link, and Capcom took that cute look and turned it into a top-down Zelda game with a shrinking mechanic.

The ability to change sizes is the main gimmick of Minish Cap, and brought a big change that delighted fans.

It was a refreshing take on Game Boy Zelda games, and one that is fondly remembered.

A Link Between Worlds

This is a sequel to A Link to the Past that was released two decades after the original.

It changed the view to a top-down 3D style, and could even be played in 3D on the 3DS.

This complements the playstyle, where you switch between 3D and 2D worlds to move around the map.

It allowed people to take on dungeons in any way they wanted, by renting essential tools from the shop.

Oracle of Ages/Seasons

This pair of games released late in the Game Boy Colour’s life, and were very different games despite sharing a name.

If you play both you will get the most out of these, but obviously that comes at a price.

Each game has its own set of delightful secrets to discover and you even get to ride a kangaroo.

Spirit Tracks

People were turned off by Phantom Hourglass and ended up not picking up the sequel Spirit Tracks.

However, it does have a number of strengths including its excellent dungeon design.

While at first glance you may think trains are less fun than boats, it still gives callbacks to Wind Waker for that nostalgia hit.

Phantom Hourglass

Being able to draw a line on the map and follow it with your boat was a stroke of genius that manages to capture the feeling of Wind Waker.

However, because Phantom Hourglass asks you to return to the central dungeon over and over, fans soon got bored of it, and passed over the superior Spirit Tracks as a result.

Four Swords Adventures

Adventures has the advantage over the original Four Swords as you can play it on one game cartridge via your Gamecube.

This is the first multiplayer Zelda game that really worked, but as a Gamecube exclusive that required four Game Boy Advance to play, hardly anyone played it.

If you do play it solo, you miss out on everything that makes it interesting and unique. A sad fate for the four swords.

The Legend of Zelda

The original Zelda of the NES is incredible and influenced so many games that followed it.

It does not hold your hand, and with no clear direction on what to do or where to go, it is difficult to play as a gamer today.

For its time though, it was an unimaginable adventure and still one that’s fun today if you have some maps to help you out.

Four Swords

Unlike Adventures, the way you play this one does not only require four Game Boy Advances, but also four copies of the game.

To compound this issue, you also need four link cables to connect your games together, and four friends with steady hands that won’t pull them out.

It’s a solid game but the technical issues mean it’s one that’s hard to enjoy.

The Adventure of Link

Luckily for us, this rare misstep in the Zelda series did not deter Nintendo from making more games.

Put simply it’s a mess. A top-down overworld with side-scrolling dungeons and towns, and the lack of clear direction turned up to 11.

It couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be an action game or an RPG and as such failed at both.

The series went back to its roots after this, and Zelda 2 is now thought of as a simple failed experiment.

Tri-Force Heroes

Tri-Force Heroes had some good ideas but didn’t include them well.

You could play the full game with a friend for free by downloading the demo which was a nice touch, but you still need three friends complete with 3DS consoles.

It has great puzzles, but is often forgotten by fans. As we’ve seen before multiplayer and Zelda just don’t mix well.

The CDi games

Watch the cutscenes and laugh, but please don’t actually play these.

Written by Dave Aubrey and Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.


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