The Best (and Worst) Legend of Zelda Games

Three different ranking systems tell us the best and the worst of The Legend of Zelda
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One of the longest running and most highly regarded series in gaming, attempting to rank the titles of The Legend of Zelda is quite the tall order. While I consider it to be one of my personal favorites, I won’t pretend that I have played every single one of these titles, or that I even remember some of them well enough to be able to judge them fairly.

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So I did the next best thing: cull scores from Metacritic, GameRankings, and GameStop users and try to write something personal for each one of them. Please enjoy your walk through Zelda history; comprehensive lists can be found at the bottom.

The Legend of Zelda

Metacritic: 84 (#12)

GameRankings: N/A (N/A)

GameSpot User Rating: 9 (#T-11)

The only reason I played this was because it was part of the Gamecube copy of Ocarina of Time copy. “Playing it” is probably not the right way of putting it. “Watching it load and then wondering why I wasn’t playing Ocarina of Time” is probably more accurate.

But it was pretty enjoyable!

The Adventure of Link

Metacritic: 73 (#13)

GameRankings: 68.88 (#15)

GameSpot User Rating: 7.8 (#16)

When I started making this list, I decided that I would try to play this game; I can see why it’s ranked that way that it is. After these first two titles I have to be glad the series wasn’t smothered with a pillow right there and then. Instead, it survived and led to…

 
 
 
 
A Link to the Past

Metacritic: 95 (#T-5)

GameRankings: 92.87 (#5)

GameSpot User Rating: 9.3 (#T-3)

I’m well aware of the acclaim that this title receives within the Zelda community, but I have to admit that I was a little late to the party on this one. When I was growing up my SNES was used solely for Mega Man X, Super Mario RPG, and Mega Man Soccer.

Sure, I watched my neighbor play this from time to time before we would go practice fatalities, but it wasn’t one that I grew up with, per se. My experience with it came later in the form of Game Boy, and I understand the love, but by missing out on the childhood experience I can’t add much other than to say that the fact that it wasn’t 3D and the other great Zelda games I played were.

There, I said it; at least I’m honest.

 
 
 
Link’s Awakening

Metacritic: N/A (N/A)

GameRankings: 89.82 (#11)

GameSpot User Rating: 9 (#T-11)

I actually loved this one as a kid before really knowing what the series was. I didn’t even realize that until now, but still, screw you, ranking systems.

 
 
 
 
Ocarina of Time

Metacritic: 99 (#1)

GameRankings: 97.54 (#1)

GameSpot User Rating: 9.7 (#1)

The fact that this is the unanimous number one puts me in a bit of an awkward position that I wish I could express without being hypercritical. Is this one of my favorite games of all time? Yes. Have I been ruminating for three-ish years on the best way to get a reference to this game tattooed on my body? Yes.

 

Do I think I might like Majora’s Mask just a teensy bit better? I’m pretty sure.

It’s too easy to just point to the fact that all three scoring systems have this as number one, in addition to a majority of fans holding it up as the apex of the series. This game was a revelation and probably is a game that I’ll tell my grandchildren about in lieu of having a war story to tell, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little surprised that it was the unanimous #1.

I’m also being annoying by not just rolling with the fact that this game is amazing.

 
 
 
Majora’s Mask

Metacritic: 95 (#T-5)

GameRankings: 91.95 (#7)

GameSpot User Rating: 9 (#T-11)

I just got done complaining that my probably-second-favorite-game-of-all-time is blowing out my probably-favorite-game-of-all-time in this contest, so there’s not much else to say other than I still hate Gyorg so, so, so much.

 
 
 
Oracle of Ages

Metacritic: N/A (N/A)

GameRankings: 92.20 (#6)

GameSpot User Rating: 9.1 (#T-7)

I never played this personally, but this is the one with the blue cover, and since I played Pokemon Blue as a kid, I’m glad to see this one edge out Oracle of Seasons.

Oracle of Seasons

Metacritic: N/A (N/A)

GameRankings: 91.74 (#8)

GameSpot User Rating: 9.1 (#T-7)

Then again, Pokemon Red had its perks.

 
 
 
The Wind Waker

Metacritic: 96 (#2)

GameRankings: 94.43 (#3)

GameSpot User Rating: 9.2 (#T-5)

Probably the most enjoyable game I’ve ever played without remembering a single character’s name–outside of the three main ones, of course. I’m not unearthing anything profound here by saying this game is simply insanely fun and the graphics that were polarizing at first worked fantastically.

 
 
 
Four Swords Adventure

Metacritic: 86 (#11)

GameRankings: 84.51 (#14)

GameSpot User Rating: 8.5 (#15)

Never played it; probably won’t.

 
 
 
The Minish Cap

Metacritic: 89 (#9)

GameRankings: 90.36 (#10)

GameSpot User Rating: 9.2 (#T-5)

Here’s this list’s token “this game is far too low ” moment. Granted, it’s low-ish ranking is due to the fact that all the games ahead of it got rated so highly rather than being a product of The Minish Cap receiving low scores, but this game was awesome.

 
 
 
Twilight Princess

Metacritic: 95 (#T-5)

GameRankings: 94.58 (#2)

GameSpot User Rating: 9.3 (#T-3)

I basically paid 300 something dollars for this game because it was the only reason I bought a Wii. It was worth every penny.

Phantom Hourglass

Metacritic: 90 (#8)

GameRankings: 88.82 (#12)

GameSpot User Rating: 9 (#T-11)

Never played it; probably will.

 
 
 
 
Spirit Tracks

Metacritic: 87 (#10)

GameRankings: 87.05 (#13)

GameSpot User Rating: 8.6 (#14)

I watched a trailer for this and decided it was best for both parties that the experience ended there.

 
 
 
Skyward Sword

Metacritic: 93 (#6)

GameRankings: 93.25 (#4)

GameSpot User Rating: 8.9 (#T-13)

To put it bluntly, I really didn’t care for this one. I had stopped playing video games for about a year or two before this one sparked my interest in picking up my old hobby, but I just couldn’t get into it. All it did was make me want to play Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask again. And so I did. And they were great.

I’m glad to see a lot of people apparently enjoyed it, though. Weirdos.

 
 
 
A Link Between Worlds

Metacritic: 91 (#7)

GameRankings: 91.91 (#9)

GameSpot User Rating: 8.9 (#T-13)

I’m just going to be honest with you guys: I don’t own a 3DS. The playthrough videos on YouTube look pretty sweet, though.

 
 
 
Hyrule Warriors

Metacritic: N/A (N/A)

GameRankings: N/A (N/A)

GameSpot User Rating: N/A (N/A)

Erik Points: 100 (#1)

Seriously, you guys. This is going to be fan-freaking-tastic. There’s no worldly way that this could even begin to satisfy my expectations, but it hasn’t disappointed me yet.

And my number one choice from this list just made the cut, so YEAH!

Comprehensive Rankings

 

Metacritic Rankings:

1. Ocarina of Time

2. Wind Waker

T-5. Twilight Princess

T-5. Majora’s Mask

T-5. A Link to the Past

6. Skyward Sword

7. A Link Between Worlds

8. Phantom Hourglass

9. The Minish Cap

10. Spirit Tracks

11. Four Swords Adventures

12. The Legend of Zelda

13. The Adventure of Link

 

GameRankings Rankings:

1. Ocarina of Time

2. Twilight Princess

3. Wind Waker

4. Skyward Sword

5. A Link to the Past

6. Oracle of Ages

7. Majora’s Mask

8. Oracle of Seasons

9. A Link Between Worlds

10. The Minish Cap

11. Link’s Awakening

12. Phantom Hourglass

13. Spirit Tracks

14. Four Swords Adventures

15. The Adventure of Link

 

GameSpot User Rankings:

1. Ocarina of Time

T-3. Twilight Princess

T-3. A Link to the Past

T-5. The Minish Cap

T-5. Wind Waker

T-7. Oracle of Seasons

T-7. Oracle of Ages

T-11. Phantom Hourglass

T-11. The Legend of Zelda

T-11. Majora’s Mask

T-11. Link’s Awakening

T-13. Skyward Sword

T-13. A Link Between Worlds

14. Spirit Tracks

15. Four Swords Adventures

16. The Adventure of Link

 


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Erik Greeny
okay-looking graduate from the University of Washington; Mariners fan; Y2K survivor