The Legend of Zelda has captured the hearts of fans for over 35 years. There are plenty of games in the franchise to play, but which ones stand out from the rest? The answer to that is undoubtedly biased depending on whom you ask; my list won’t be exactly the same as someone else’s list. However, it’s always fun to rouse a spirited debate and try to determine what makes a good game in the beloved franchise. We’ll be doing just that here, ranking the Top 10 best Zelda games of all time.
The Top 10 Best Zelda Games of All Time, Ranked
10. Link’s Awakening
Link’s Awakening is one of the more unique entries in the franchise. Familiar characters and locations don’t make an appearance this time around, making room for other lively characters that do a good job of filling in the gaps. It helps that the game is full of color, too, bringing us into this classic world for what feels like the first time.
The 2019 remake ticks all the right boxes for Zelda fans, new and old alike. The dungeons are solid, and the items are some of the most unique in the series. While nothing about it is revolutionary, it forms a solid foundation for what makes a fun Zelda experience.
9. Link Between Worlds
Link Between Worlds is the best modern 2D Zelda experience. Hands-down. This game honors A Link to the Past while adding fun and unique mechanics that help it stand on its own. The dungeons are top-tier and the ability to tackle them in any order is one of the best parts of the game. Its puzzles are also a highlight, with Link having the unique ability to phase into walls.
8. Skyward Sword
Skyward Sword is another entry that’s proven divisive over the years. Though the motion controls turned a lot of people off when it first came out, I thoroughly enjoyed them and thought they added a nice wrinkle to the classic mix. However, it’s seen a comeback in recent years, primarily thanks to the HD remaster that was released on the Switch in 2021.
Overall, Skyward Sword has great level design and some of the best characters in the franchise (Groose — we were all thinking Groose). The dynamics between the characters are some of the strongest parts of the game, and the orchestral soundtrack has gone unmatched since its release.
7. Ocarina of Time
The biggest hot take on this list, is me deciding to put Ocarina of Time this low. But hear me out. This isn’t to say it’s a bad game. Indeed, it’s actually a fantastic experience that set the standard for Zelda games to follow across generations. But since the series is filled with so many good experiences, I think that others deserve to be listed higher.
Assuredly, it can’t go unstated how revolutionary this game was when it first came out. Ocarina of Time built the structure for 3D Zelda games It does have an epic journey, and the gameplay still holds up. The iconic music remains legendary, and how the Ocarina mechanic expanded here can’t be overlooked.
6. Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess was the answer to the controversy around Wind Waker. Where some fans saw it as too cartoony and childish, this adventure leans into the darker, edgier side of Zelda. Sometimes too literally, since it can be hard to see with how dark everything is!
Despite that, Twilight Princess is an epic entry for the series. While it’s not the best, it set the standard for what a good Zelda game should be. Great dungeons, fun items, fast combat, and a compelling story. Midna is one of the best companions to date!
5. Majora’s Mask
Did I put Majora’s Mask above Ocarina of Time? Yes, I did. And for one main reason: the story. It’s so compelling and deep and delves into themes that no other Zelda game has touched since. The characters you interact with bring the world to incredible life. Each deals with their impending doom differently, and by the end of it, you sympathize with them all.
4. Link to the Past
A Link to the Past holds up as the best 2D Zelda game in the franchise. It was only the third game in the series but was instrumental in setting the overall tone for moving forward. The story is solid and still has some of the best puzzles yet. The gameplay is loads of fun, and the pixel art has stood the test of time. My favorite aspect of Link to the Past is the way it perfectly balances both combat and puzzles.
3. Wind Waker
Now this is where my own personal bias might show a little. Wind Waker was the first Zelda game I beat. That aside, it actually deserves to be this high on our Top 10 best Zelda games list despite its divisiveness. If we can overlook the art style (which is the capital M main issue within the fandom), Wind Waker has aged the best. That includes the original Gamecube version and the HD remaster.
Link is the most expressive he’s ever been, truly feeling like a real character instead of your regular silent protagonist. Wind Waker also has a great sense of exploration. Sailing the open sea and discovering what each island holds is an almost calming experience. And you can’t deny the music —Dragon Roost Island is an absolute banger of a song.
2. Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild was revolutionary for the series and open-world games. It returned to the original Legend of Zelda premise, where exploration is the main focus. However, what Nintendo managed to do was surpass that, creating a world full of incredible freedom and actionable choices that let us all create our own, indelible experiences. It also made Zelda an interesting character with agency. It wouldn’t be hard to say that this version of the Princess is the best iteration of the character.
1. Tears of the Kingdom
Tears of the Kingdom took everything that made Breath of the Wild fantastic and somehow managed to improve it in every way possible. With the Sky and Depths to explore, you basically have three full Hyrules to adventure through. All of the new abilities are leaps and bounds better than the old ones, and the Ultrahand is a fantastic addition that takes creativity to the next level. My favorite part about TotK is how alive it feels and how much personality is infused into each character you meet.
That’s our list of the Top 10 Best Zelda games of all time, ranked. Here’s to looking to whatever the next entry brings. though it will be hard to top these, you never know what Nintendo has up its sleeve.