My Top 5 Legend of Zelda Games
I have been eagerly awaiting the release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ever since it was announced. In order to make the wait a bit more manageable, I've been replaying as many games from the Zelda franchise as I can. It really got me thinking about which games are my favorite, so I finally buckled down and made choices. These are my five favorite Zelda games.
5. The Legend of Zelda (1986)
I think the game that started it all is a good place to start this list. If I had to describe the original Zelda game in one word, it would be "exploration." The game is full of secret areas and hidden rooms and there is little to no indication of where these rooms are located. Finding them was so much fun and incredibly rewarding. Given the immense size of the world, it can take a lot of time to explore it all, but it never felt like a chore to me.
The Legend of Zelda exudes a sense of adventure not many games can achieve.
4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
I got to A Link to the Past much later than the other games, because I never owned a Super Nintendo when I was a kid. The first time I got to play it was when it got ported to the Gameboy Advance. This game had a major influence on many of the future games to come.
The first and most obvious way was the soundtrack. Many of the iconic songs used in subsequent Zelda titles had their start in A Link to the Past. These include "Zelda's Lullaby/Princess Zelda's Theme", "Ganondorf's Theme", "Hyrule Castle/Royal Family Theme", "Kakariko Village", and "Select Screen/Fairy Cave."
The iconic Master Sword was first introduced in this game along with many other weapons that became commonplace in later games.
A Link to the Past is also a very beautiful game. The graphics are crisp and colorful. The world really feels alive and vibrant.
As is the norm, A Link to the Past was filled with enjoyable boss fights and interesting puzzles. My personal favorite boss fight is the Helmasaur King.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
This is the first and only 3D Zelda game to make my list. I was actually rather surprised that this was the case, since I really have enjoyed many of the 3D titles. At the end of the day, I suppose I really just prefer the 2D games and their mechanics.
Ocarina of Time was one of the first games I can remember playing on the Nintendo 64. The world was so fantastical and massive and full of things to find. I've never quite understood how the developers managed to fit a world so massive on a N64 cartridge.
The designers made a lot of really smart choices with Ocarina. The addition of Z-targeting was a godsend. The problem with a lot of 3D games at the time was that there was no good way to center the camera easily. Z-targeting fixed that. The cool thing is that Z-targeting has only been improved in the subsequent releases of Ocarina of Time.
Ocarina of Time is an amazingly immersive experience. I distinctly remember being very scared as a kid while facing many of the enemies (those stupid stalchildren that come out at night in Hyrule Field scared the crap out of me the first time I played).
The final boss fight against Ganon is, in my opinion, the best boss fight in any of the Legend of Zelda games. I will always remember the triumphant feeling of slamming the Master Sword right into Gannon's stupid face.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages (2001)
I somehow convinced my parents to buy me both of these games when they came out. It's way too hard for me to choose between the two so I included them together. It also helps that they can link together so you can get a whole new ending where you get to fight Ganon.
My favorite thing about the games are the different gimmicks used in each game. Oracle of Ages revolves around going backwards and forwards in time to solve puzzles and beat dungeons. In Oracle of Seasons you can change the seasons at will.
I suppose if I really had to choose between the two games, I would choose Seasons. I like the season changing element more than the time travel one. It also has a lot of throwbacks to the original Zelda game.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX
Link's Awakening is my absolute favorite Zelda game of the whole series. There are so many cool aspects to this game and it was surprisingly influential on the whole series.
Link's Awakening includes a lot of new features that would be implemented in future games. It was the first game in the series to include the now iconic talking owl, who shows up periodically to give the hero information to help him on his quest. It was also the first game to have unique background music for each dungeon. The first fishing sequence was in Link's Awakening (leading to infinite frustration in later games). One of my favorite items in the 2D Zelda games, Roc's Feather, was introduced in this game as well.
This was also the first game to use a location other than Hyrule as the setting. Link's Awakening takes place on the island of Koholint and it is super weird. The weirdness is probably my favorite part of the game. The island is very dreamlike and surreal.
The bosses are some of my favorites of the whole series. They are unique and reflect the strangeness of the island.
Those are my five favorite Zelda games. What are yours?