In just two days, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will finally launch worldwide on Nintendo Switch and Wii U. It will be the sixth 3D title in the Zelda series, the biggest and most important launch title for the upcoming Nintendo Switch, and, by all accounts, the most ambitious game Nintendo has ever worked on.
We here at Gamnesia have been waiting for this game for a long, long time. In fact, the very first tech demo for Zelda on the Wii U was shown off almost six years ago, at E3 2011, over a year and a half before our website was even founded. As a passionate community of Nintendo fans, most of us were raised with The Legend of Zelda and rank some of the games in the series among our all-time favorites. And with the hype for Breath of the Wild growing and growing over the past few months, we've been remembering all the reasons that the Zelda series holds such a special place in all of our hearts and all the wonderful aspects of the past games that we hope Breath of the Wild is able to recreate.
So, to celebrate the release of Breath of the Wild, we decided to hold a vote and make an official staff-wide ranking of the ten greatest Zelda games of all time. In a few months' time, once we've all played Breath of the Wild, it's very possible that the game will end up at the top of each of our personal lists, so now seemed like a good time to make an official record of where we all stand.
Here's Gamnesia's official list of the ten greatest Zelda games of all time!
10. The Legend of Zelda (NES)
9. The Minish Cap (Game Boy Advance)
8. A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
7. Skyward Sword (Wii)
6. Twilight Princess (GameCube, Wii)
5. Link's Awakening (Game Boy)
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is one of the most humble titles in the Zelda series. It was originally released in 1993 on the Game Boy, a console so primitive that it could only play games in black and white. However, despite the extreme technological limitations that it was placed under, Link's Awakening told an ambitious story, and it featured eight full-sized, difficult dungeons, an entirely new overworld, and a cast of lovable characters. It had some of the strangest moment in the Zelda series (being brutally murdered by an angry shopkeeper was certainly unexpected) and also some of the most heartwarming, like the last conversation with Marin. Although it ends on a bittersweet note, it's an extremely lighthearted, enjoyable experience and is still a pleasure to play through to this day.
4. The Wind Waker (GameCube)
The Wind Waker: the game that almost caused a nuclear war against Nintendo. With its childish graphics and lighthearted tone, this game was a severe departure from its predecessors, and was met with considerable backlash from the entire gaming community when it was first revealed at Space World 2001. Once The Wind Waker launched in 2003, however, fans fell in love with its timeless visuals and unforgettable music and celebrated the game for its focus on fun and exploration. Despite what everyone first thought, the game turned out to be a serious experience with some adult themes that hadn't been seen before in the Zelda series, with important messages about time and letting things go (and, after all, the game does end with a ten-year-old child stabbing an old man through the skull with a giant sword). At its core, however, it's still a childish game, and there's nothing wrong with that: it's been almost fifteen years since the release of The Wind Waker, but playing it still makes us feel like children once again.
3. A Link to the Past (SNES)
A Link to the Past took the world by storm when it first came out in 1991. Although the original Legend of Zelda showed the gaming community what was possible in an exploration-based adventure game, A Link to the Past blew that game out of the water by introducing a more intricate story, a bigger and better overworld, a whopping twelve dungeons, and a whole new set of items, enemies, and locations that have become series staples. A Link to the Past is the title responsible for turning the Zelda series into what it is today, the title that introduced everything from Heart Pieces to the Hookshot, from the concept of alternate worlds to the legendary Master Sword. It is the quintessential Zelda game and the most important to the development of the series as a whole.
2. Majora's Mask (Nintendo 64)
After the unprecedented success of Ocarina of Time in 1998, it was obvious that Nintendo was going to have a hard time creating a worthy successor. With only eighteen months to produce a whole new game, the developers knew that there was no way they would have been able to create something on the same scale as Ocarina of Time. So they decided not to even try. Instead, they went a completely different route: rather than try to one-up Ocarina, they decided to make a game that was more emotional, more jarring, and more adult than anything the company had ever created. Majora's Mask is not remembered for its dungeons or for its grand moments, it is remembered for its chilling environments, its depressing themes, and its wonderful messages. This game features, hands-down, the most well-developed characters and towns of any Zelda game, the scariest and most emotional moments in the Zelda series, and an atmosphere unlike that of any game we've ever played.
1. Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64)
It may be a cliché to put this at the top of the list, but there's really no way around it: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is, without a doubt, the greatest game in the Zelda series and one of the most influential video games in history. This title revolutionized the very idea of 3D gaming, popularizing concepts like open world adventure and lock-on targeting. It was a seamless transition from the series' 2D roots to the more ambitious 3D adventure saga that it would eventually become. Ocarina of Time has some of the most memorable moments in the entire Zelda franchise, like the unforgettable battle with Dark Link, the destruction of Castle Town, the quest for Epona, the completely unpredictable "Sheik is Zelda" reveal, the hellish Water Temple, and the final battle with Ganon atop the ruins of Hyrule Castle. It would be hard to find a video game that is more thoroughly ingrained in gaming culture, a game that is more respected and beloved, than Ocarina of Time.
So, what do you think? Do you disagree with any of the entries in our ranking? What does your personal list look like? Once the dust has settled, where do you think Breath of the Wild will rank among all of these titles? Let us know in the comments below!
Please keep in mind that this final ranking was a compilation of each of our personal lists, and it represents the opinion of the website as a whole, not necessarily that of any individual writer.