With the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, we thought it might be a time to review our favourite games in the franchise. Ironically enough, that game didn’t make the cut (by a wide margin), but it’s our pleasure to give you the next list in our Eggplante Top Ten series:
10 ) The Legend of Zelda – This is the game that started it all, so it needs to be on the list. The original Zelda is widely regarded as one of the toughest game in the series; it’s quite surprising that the game lasted so long considering it has been consistently outed as one of the most confusing games of all time. The original Zelda on the NES had no real structure, no order in which to play, and certainly not enough of a health meter. Then again, it began the dungeon-overworld mechanic we know so well, and you might say that the play-in-any-order-you-wish mechanic we know of in A Link Between Worlds started with the very first game in the series.
9 ) Twilight Princess – We have an odd relationship with Twilight Princess. It was the first truly next-gen Zelda game and it arrived on the GameCube and Wii simultaneously. We love that it was a much more serious game over the previous entry, The Wind Waker (you’ll find that one later on down the list), and it was great to see Link return after so many years on hiatus. Twilight Princess also had the beautiful graphical upgrade that was promised by Nintendo earlier in the decade. Probably our biggest gripe with the game was that it billed itself as a Wii title when it was really a GameCube title with tacked-on motion controls. It wouldn’t be until years later that we realized just how much better motion controls could be. If you doubt us, check out number one on this list.
8 ) Link’s Awakening– Our first exposure to the world of The Legend of Zelda (even though A Link to the Past came first), Link’s Awakening became our favourite Game Boy title. It introduced us to an over world as we know it to exist in current games, as well as served as the platform for the portable Zelda titles for years to come. More importantly, however, it showed us how whimsical and captivating a game can be by putting everything in a dream world but not telling the player until the very end of the adventure. It was a beautiful storytelling mechanic, and seeing the world and its characters disappear as the credits began to roll was the first time we realized we could feel something for a video game.
7 ) Majora’s Mask – We know, Majora’s Mask is a treasure of a game. And truly, this list can’t be factual because it is like trying to pick your favourite children (read: impossible). However, when we think about our experience with Majora’s Mask, we realize it was outdone by the others on this list. With that said, of course, Majora’s Mask is an incredible work. Not only does it build on the near-perfect Ocarina of Time, but it also eschews what people may have thought to be the childlike whimsy of the Zelda franchise in favour of something more mature and with a darker tone. It also creeped the hell out of us.
6 ) Oracle of Ages / Oracle of Seasons– The Oracle games are some of the least recognized and most under appreciated games in the entirety of Nintendo’s catalog. Not only did the company decide to try something new by developing two different adventures alongside each other, they also brought in, for the first time in series history, a different company to manage it. Capcom was the developer of the Oracle games, and the different adventures linked together with the Game Boy Color’s infrared sensor to provide expanded gameplay. The game also provided a new world to play in, as well as introduced us to new bosses, dungeons, and abilities. It just sucks replaying these knowing we have no one to link up with. And we look pretty silly on the bus trying to hold two Game Boy Colors steady to link up. No, seriously, we’ve tried.
5 ) A Link Between Worlds – It’s not entirely rare for a Zelda game to wow us right out of the gate, but it’s been a while since that game has been on a handheld. In fact, it’s the first time we considered moving our top four titles from the list to make room for this latest adventure. We’ve only reconsidered because of how engrained the others are in our gaming memories. There’s really not much else to say. Read our review so that we can tell you about all the awesome new items, audio, and gameplay there is in A Link Between Worlds.
4 ) The Wind Waker– Leave it to Nintendo to come up with a game that everyone hates upon its initial launch but later returns to laud it as one of the best in a beloved franchise. The game, since re-released in high definition alongside a custom Zelda Wii U console, is one of the smoothest-playing, best-looking games to ever hit any platform. The cel-shaded graphics became a staple for the later handheld titles on the Nintendo DS, and while it’s not our favourite art style for the Zelda series, it is certainly unique. The audio track in Wind Waker is also very much one of the most memorable of any game, save for some key tracks in Ocarina of Time, of course.
3 ) A Link to the Past– There is a clear reason that everyone has A Link to the Past near the top (if not in the top spot) of their own Zelda list: this game is amazing. It has been re-released on both the Game Boy Advance as well as the Wii Virtual Console, with additions like the multiplayer Four Swords Adventures games as a pack-in on the portable version of the game. A Link to the Past introduced us to upgraded graphics thanks to the power of the SNES, as well as showed us how beautiful games can pack in an incredible story, magical gameplay, and a wonderful score to accompany it all.
2 ) Ocarina of Time – If there was ever a game to describe our childhood, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is it. The first time we walked into Hyrule Field, feeling the vast expanse of an incredible world upon us, the first time we saw Lake Hylia, and the first time we rode Epona over the gorge to Gerudo Valley. These are the truly memorable gaming moments we’ll cherish forever. Ocarina of Time was the first of the 3D Zelda titles, and much like Super Mario 64, Nintendo managed to get it absolutely right. The game converted what we love about the series’ top-down perspective into something that gave players more control and ownership of Link and his fate. Most importantly, it set up the Zelda franchise for the next 15 years, as we’ve yet to see a game in the series stray too far from the tropes that Ocarina of Time established.
1 ) Skyward Sword– In 2011, we got a new game in our beloved Zelda franchise. Having played it multiple times at both E3 2010 and E3 2011, we knew we’d enjoy the game, but we had no idea that it would bump off the game we thought was invincible in the Zelda universe. In fact, what shocked us the most was writing the line at the beginning of our review of Skyward Sword: “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is better than Ocarina of Time.” People were pissed. In fact, we doubted ourselves. But then we realized that Skyward Sword gave us more moments of wonder and excitement to discover a new world and go on a new adventure that we wouldn’t be doing the game justice to not make so bold a statement. And so it stands: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, with all its charm and beauty and heart, is our favourite Zelda game of all time.