I was about eleven or twelve and killing time in an EB Games when I first touched a Zelda video game. There was a trial version of Phantom Hourglass on a Nintendo DS that was anchored to the wall. At that time, I was a big Pokemon fan, a big Mario fan, and a big Kirby fan, but I had never even heard of Zelda. But the 20 minute trial I played piqued my interest so much, that I eventually got my hands on the full version and I fell in love with the world of Zelda.
Since then I’ve bought and played several other Zelda games and read the mangas. However, I had yet to complete all my games. I had started Twilight Princess and Wind Waker but never actually beat them, and at a garage sale several years ago I got Ocarina Of Time and Majora’s Mask but our N64 was at my grandparents’ house and by the time I got it back, I wasn’t really gaming anymore. So when Coronavirus hit and quarantine began, I decided to revisit my Zelda games and beat them all. Plus, a friend lent me two other games I didn’t own. So now here I am, ranking the Legend Of Zelda games I’ve played from least to most enjoyable (but it’s Zelda, I did enjoy them all!).
Majora’s Mask (Nintendo 64)
I’m starting with an unpopular opinion, I know. This game had a very different concept: all the gameplay takes place over three days that you keep reliving over and over. I can’t say I loved this. It’s original and way ahead of its time as an N64 game, but it just does not align with my play style. I like to take my time and explore at my own pace, and this game rushed me so much to the point where I didn’t care about collecting masks or any side quests. I just wanted to get through it and therefore leaned on walkthroughs probably too much. (P.S. Peep this Majora’s mask I made in high school)
Four Swords (Gamecube)
This game was cute but basic. Its selling point is its ability to be played multiplayer, but I did it solo. I found the story weak. There weren’t any side quests and you had no freedom to do any side exploring, so it felt not like a typical Zelda game but more like a Mario game, which is fine but not what I want from the franchise. That being said, I had a decent time being able to control all four Links, even if I could only hold one item at a time. I have no desire to ever replay it on my own, though.
Wind Waker (Gamecube)
This game was cute and colourful and I enjoyed everything that took place on land, but I hated sailing so much. The maps were hard to use, the canon was hard to use, and the second half of the game required a lot of it. Speaking of the second half of the game, I found it a lot harder. The first part was very straightforward: go to these spots and get the pearls. But then it was like “sail around and find maps and then find shards and we’ll give you no hints as to where they may be or what you need to do to get them!” I had no issues with the art style, though, as I know that was a highly criticized thing when it came out.
Spirit Tracks (DS)
Spirit Tracks wasn’t awful, but it just wasn’t as magical as other games. The train theme was weird and boring. While I liked that there were some side quests, they were all just taking people/things on your train, which I did not want to do because I did not like the train. What I did like was collecting stamps and going through the Spirit Temple because I enjoyed the challenge of controlling Zelda in the armour as well as Link. I found the game overall to be similar to Phantom Hourglass where it was on the easier side.
Minish Cap (Gameboy Advance)
This game was alright. The small, colourful Minish world was interesting to explore while exploring the full-size world, plus it had cute Pokemon-style graphics which I love, but the game wasn’t anything special in terms of the world or the story. It wasn’t long or all that memorable, really. It’s decent and could be a solid intro-to-Zelda game, but there are better handheld ones out there.
Ocarina Of Time (Nintendo 64)
Ocarina Of Time was a lot of fun and I was impressed at its graphics and 3D world considering the game was from 1998. Time travelling between being a kid and an adult was neat for the most part but underused. I wish I hadn’t read the manga for this game because the reveal of Zelda as Sheik was obviously ruined for me. I understand why this game is a favourite for a lot of people as it is really a must-play and introduced so many things that are still iconic in the franchise like the Gorons and Epona.
Skyward Sword (Wii)
I had heard this was a middle-of-the-road kind of game, but I loved it. It was bright and colourful and the game was hard enough that I had to face the bosses a few times to win but not so hard that I spent days wandering around lost. Fi was not my favourite sidekick but she was by far the most useful. I know people had issues with the use of the Motion Plus on the Wii, which I guess is valid, though I had no issue with it, but I don’t know if its finicky-ness was the game’s fault or just a weakness of the tool itself. My biggest issue with this game was that there were kind of only four areas to explore and you had to do them each several times, so it got kind of tiring and predictable.
Twilight Princess (Wii)
This was the first ‘darker’ more mature game in terms of art style. It was very interesting though. I liked switching between wolf and human, though it was underused overall and I feel like they could have used a cooler animal than a wolf. I did think this game took a while to pick up as it had you do like 20 minutes of farming before anything interesting happened. But the world was vast and exciting once it got going, so I really liked exploring it, and there were some fun side quests.
Phantom Hourglass (DS)
This game holds a special place in my heart as it’s the first one I played, but let the record state, I think it’s a great game. I’m very comfortable with a DS, so I didn’t struggle with controls at all. In fact, I really liked how you could utilize the touch screen to draw and make notes. I thought the story was fun and you didn’t need to know anything going in, even if it is a spinoff of Wind Waker. I will say it’s one of the easier games, but it wasn’t so easy that I didn’t have to think. I didn’t love going through the Ocean Temple multiple times, but each time it was different as you had new items to help, and the time limits did apply pressure, but not so much that it wasn’t doable.
So that’s it! Those are the nine Zelda games I’ve played ranked. I’ve truly had a great time exploring the worlds and fighting the beasts over the past few months. Zelda is a wonderful franchise with games that anyone can pick up and love, so if you’ve never played one, I suggest it. I know there are many other Zelda games out there that I would 100% love to play, but the only other games I have the console for are the Game Boy Colour ones. But who knows, maybe one day I’ll get my hands on a new system. Or try emulators.
I know I have some unpopular opinions in my ranking here so feel free to argue with me in the comments.
P.S. No one asked for it, but here’s my ranking of Zelda games based purely on their use/involvement of dragons: 1. Skyward Sword, 2. Wind Waker, 3. Twilight Princess, 4. Ocarina of Time, 5. Phantom Hourglass. You’re welcome.