The best Zelda games: Eurogamer editors' Option

You’ve already had your state on the very best Zelda games as we celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary – and you also did a mighty fine job too, even though I am pretty sure A Link to the Past belongs at the head of some record – so now it’s our turn. We requested the Eurogamer editorial staff to vote for their favourite Zelda games (although Wes abstained since he still doesn’t understand what a Nintendo is) and below you’ll get the whole top ten, along with a number of our own musings. Can we get the games in their rightful purchase? Likely not…


How brilliantly contradictory that among the very best original games on Nintendo’s 3DS would be a 2D adventure sport, which among the most adventurous Zelda entrances would be the one that so closely aped one of its predecessors.

It really helps, of course, the template has been lifted from one of the greatest games in the show also, by extension, one of the best games of all time. There’s an endearing breeziness to A Link to the Past, a fleet-footedness that sees that the 16-bit experience pass as pleasurably and memorably as a perfect late summer about it phantom hourglass ds rom from Our Articles A Link Between Worlds takes all that and positively sprints together with it, running free into the familiar expanse of Hyrule using a newfound liberty.

In giving you the capability to let any one of Link’s well-established tools in the away, A Link Between Worlds broke with the linear progress which had reverted past Zelda games; it has been a Hyrule which was no more defined through an invisible course, but one that provided a sense of discovery and free will that was starting to feel absent from previous entries. The sense of adventure so dear to the series, muted in the past few years by the ritual of repetition, was well and truly revived. MR

9. Spirit Tracks

An unfortunate side-effect of the simple fact that more than one generation of players has grown up with Zelda and refused to let go has been an insistence – during the series’ mania, at any rate – it grow up with them. That resulted in some fascinating places in addition to some absurd tussles within the series’ direction, as we will see later on this listing, but sometimes it threatened to depart Zelda’s original constituency – that you know, kids – supporting.

Thankfully, the portable games have always been there to take care of younger gamers, along with Spirit Tracks for the DS (now accessible on Wii U Virtual Console) is now Zelda in its most chirpy and adorable. Though superbly designed, it is not a particularly distinguished match, being a comparatively hasty and gimmicky follow-up to Phantom Hourglass that copies its structure and flowing stylus controller. However, it’s such zest! Link uses just a small train to get around and its puffing and tooting, along with an inspired folk music soundtrack, place a brisk pace for your adventure. Then there is the childish, heavenly joy of driving the train: setting the adjuster, yanking the whistle and scribbling destinations in your own map.

Most importantly is that, for once, Zelda is along for the ride. Connect has to save her entire body, but her soul is using him as a constant companion, sometimes able to possess enemy soldiers and play with the brutal heavy. Both even enjoy an innocent childhood romance, and you’d be hard pushed to consider another game which has captured the teasing, blushing strength of a reggae beat also. Inclusive and candy, Spirit Tracks recalls that children have feelings too, and will show grownups a thing or two about love. OW

8. Ghost Hourglass

Inside my mind, at least, there has long been a raging debate going on regarding if Link, Hero of Hyrule, is actually any good with a boomerang. He has been wielding the loyal, banana-shaped piece of wood since his very first adventure, however in my experience it’s simply been a pain in the arse to work with.

The exception which proves the rule, nevertheless, is Phantom Hourglass, in which you draw the route for your boomerang from the hand. Poking the stylus in the touch screen (which, in an equally beautiful transfer, is the way you control your own sword), you draw a precise flight map for the boomerang and it just… goes. No more faffing about, no more clanging into columns, just easy, simple, improbably responsive boomerang flight. It had been when I used the boomerang at Phantom Hourglass that I realised that this game could just be something particular; I quickly fell in love with the rest.

Never mind that so many of the puzzles are derived from setting a switch and subsequently getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. Never mind that watching some gameplay back to refresh my memory gave me powerful flashbacks into the hours spent huddling over the display and gripping my DS like that I needed to throttle it. JC

7. Skyward Sword

Skyward Sword is maddeningly close to being good. It bins the recognizable Zelda overworld and pair of distinct dungeons by hurling three enormous areas in the participant that are constantly reworked. It is a gorgeous game – one I am still expecting will be remade in HD – whose watercolour visuals leave a shimmering, dream-like haze over its blue heavens and brush-daubed foliage. Following the filthy, Lord of this Rings-inspired Twilight Princess, it was the Zelda series confidently re-finding its feet. I am able to defend many of recognizable criticisms levelled at Skyward Sword, like its overly-knowing nods to the rest of the series or its slightly forced origin story that retcons recognizable elements of the franchise. I can even get behind the bigger general amount of area to research when the sport continually revitalises each of its three regions so ardently.

I couldn’t, unfortunately, ever get along with the match’s Motion Plus controls, which required one to waggle your Wii Remote in order to do combat. It turned out into the boss battles against the brilliantly bizarre Ghirahim into infuriating struggles with technologies. Into baskets that made me anger stop for the rest of the night. Sometimes the motion controls worked – the flying Beetle item pretty much constantly found its mark – but if Nintendo was forcing players to depart the reliability of a control strategy, its replacement needed to work 100 percent of their moment. TP

6. Twilight Princess

I was pretty awful in Zelda games. I really could throw my way through the Great Deku Tree and the Fire Temple fine but, from the time Link dove headlong into the Great Jabu Jabu’s belly, my desire to have fun together with Ocarina of Time easily began outstripping the pleasure I was really having.

When Twilight Princess rolled around, I was at college and something in me – most likely a deep love of procrastination – was prepared to test again. This time, it was worked. I remember day-long stretches on the couch, huddling beneath a blanket in my chilly flat and only poking my hands out to flap about using the Wii remote during battle. Resentful seems were thrown at the pile of books I knew I needed to at least skim over the next week. Then there was the glorious morning when my then-girlfriend (now fiancée) woke me up with a gentle shake, then asking’can I watch you play Zelda?’

Twilight princess is, honestly, attractive. There is a fantastic, brooding air; yet the gameplay is hugely diverse; it’s got a beautiful art design, one I wish they’d kept for just one more match. That’s why I’ll always adore Twilight Princess – it is the sport that made me click with Zelda. JC

5. Majora’s Mask

Zelda is a show defined by repetition: the narrative of the long-eared hero and the princess is handed down from generation to generation, a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, some of its greatest moments have come when it turned outside its framework, left Hyrule and then Zelda herself and asked what Link could do next. It required a much more revolutionary tack: weird, dark, and experimental.

Although there’s lots of comedy and experience, Majora’s Mask is suffused with doom, regret, and also an off-kilter eeriness. Some of this stems from its true awkward timed structure: that the moon is falling around the planet, that the clock is ticking and you also can’t stop it, only rewind and start again, somewhat stronger and wiser each moment. Some of it stems from the antagonist, the Skull Kid, who is no villain but an innocent having a gloomy story who has given into the corrupting impact of the titular mask. A number of this comes from Link himself: a kid again but with the increased man of Ocarina still somewhere inside him, he rides rootlessly into the land of Termina like he’s got no better place to be, so far in your hero of legend.

Despite an unforgettable, most surreal decision, Majora’s Mask’s most important narrative isn’t among those series’ strongest. But these poignant Groundhog Day subplots about the stress of ordinary life – loss, love, family, job, and death, constantly passing – locate the series’ writing at its absolute finest. It is a depression, compassionate fairytale of this everyday that, with its ticking clock, needs to remind one that you can not take it with you. OW

4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

If you have had children, you’ll know there’s unbelievably strange and touching moment if you’re doing laundry – stay with me – and those tiny T-shirts and pants first start to become in your washingmachine. Someone new has come to dwell with you! Someone implausibly small.

This is one of The Wind-Waker’s greatest tricks, I believe. Connect had been young before, but now, with all the toon-shaded change in art management, he really looks youthful: a Schulz toddler, huge head and little legs, venturing out among Moblins and pirates as well as those mad birds that roost across the clifftops. Link is tiny and exposed, and so the experience surrounding him sounds all the more stirring.

The other great trick has a lot to do with those pirates. “What’s the Overworld?” This has been the standard Zelda query since Link to the Past, however with all the Wind-Waker, there did not appear to be just one: no alternate dimension, no switching between time-frames. The sea was controversial: so much racing back and forth across a enormous map, a lot of time spent crossing. But consider what it brings with it! It brings pirates and sunken temples and ghost ships. It attracts underwater grottoes along with a castle awaiting you at a bubble of air down on the seabed.

Best of all, it attracts that unending sense of renewal and discovery, 1 challenge down along with another awaiting, as you jump from your ship and race the sand up towards the next thing, your tiny legs popping through the surf, and your eyes fixed over the horizon. CD

3. Link’s Awakening

Link’s Awakening is near-enough that a great Zelda game – it has a huge and secret-laden overworld, sparkling dungeon layout and unforgettable characters. It’s also a fever dream-set side-story with villages of speaking animals, side-scrolling areas starring Mario enemies and a giant fish that sings the mambo. This was my very first Zelda encounter, my entry point to the show and the match where I judge each other Zelda title. I absolutely love it. Not only was it my very first Zelda, its own greyscale universe was among the first adventure games that I truly playedwith. I can still visualise a lot of it today – that the cracked flooring in the cave in the Lost Woods, the stirring music as you input the Tal Tal Mountains, the shopkeeper electrocuting to an instant death in the event that you dared return into his store after slipping.

No Guru Sword. And while it feels like a Zelda, even after playing many of the other people, its quirks and characters set it aside. Link’s Awakening packs an astounding amount onto its small Game Boy cartridge (or Game Boy Color, if you played with its DX re-release). TP

2. The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past

Bottles are OP in Zelda. These humble glass containers can turn the tide of a battle if they have a potion or – even better – a fairy. If I had been Ganon, I’d postpone the wicked plotting and also the measurement rifting, and I would just set a solid fortnight into traveling Hyrule from top to base and hammering any glass bottles I’ve came across. After that, my terrible vengeance would be all the more dreadful – and there would be a sporting chance I may be able to pull it off also.

All of which means that, as Link, a jar may be real reward. Real treasure. I believe you will find four glass bottles Link to the Past, each one which makes you that bit stronger and that little bolder, purchasing you assurance from dungeoneering and hit points at the midst of a tingling manager encounter. I can not remember where you get three of the bottles. But I can recall where you get the fourth.

It is Lake Hylia, and when you’re like me, it is late in the game, with all the major ticket items collected, that lovely, genre-defining second near the top of the hill – in which a single map becomes two – cared for, along with handfuls of streamlined, inventive, infuriating and enlightening dungeons raided. Late match Connect to the Past is about looking out every last inch of this map, which means working out the way the two similar-but-different variations of Hyrule fit together.

And there’s a difference. An gap in Lake Hylia. An gap hidden by a bridge. And under it, a man blowing smoke rings with a campfire. He feels as though the greatest key in all Hyrule, and the prize for uncovering him is a glass boat, perfect for keeping a potion – plus a fairy.

Link to the Past seems like an impossibly clever match, divides its map into two dimensions and requesting you to flit between them, holding equally landscapes super-positioned in your mind as you solve a single, vast geographical puzzle. In truth, though, somebody could probably copy this design when they had enough pens, sufficient quadrille paper, enough time and energy, and when they had been determined and smart enough.

The best reduction of the electronic era.

But Link to the Past is not merely the map – it’s the detailing, and the figures. It’s Ganon and his evil plot, but it’s also the man camping out beneath the bridge. Maybe the whole thing’s somewhat like a bottle, then: the container is vital, but what you’re really after is that the stuff that is inside it. CD


Where would you start with a game as momentous as Ocarina of Time? Maybe with all the Z-Targeting, a solution to 3D combat so effortless you hardly notice it is there. Or maybe you speak about a open world that is touched by the light and color cast by an inner clock, even where villages dance with activity by day before being seized by an eerie lull through the night. Think about the expressiveness of the ocarina itself, a delightfully analogue device whose music was conducted with the new control afforded by the N64’s pad, which notes bent wistfully at the push of a stick.

Maybe, however, you simply focus on the moment itself, a great snapshot of video games appearing sharply from their very own adolescence as Link is throw so abruptly into a grownup world. What’s most noteworthy about Ocarina of Time is the way that it came therefore fully-formed, the 2D adventuring of past entrances transitioning into three dimensions as gracefully as a pop-up publication folding quickly into existence.

Thanks to Grezzo’s exceptional 3DS remake it has retained much of its verve and impact, as well as putting aside its technical achievements it is an experience that ranks among the series’ best; emotional and uplifting, it’s touched with all the bittersweet melancholy of climbing up and leaving the youth behind. By the story’s end Connect’s youth and innocence – and of Hyrule – is heroically restored, but once that most radical of reinventions, video games will not ever be the same again.

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