The best Zelda games: Eurogamer editors’ choice

You’ve already had your say on the best Zelda games since we observe the series’ 30th anniversary – and you did a mighty fine job also, even though I’m fairly sure A Link to the Past goes in the head of some record – so now it is our turn. We requested the Eurogamer editorial […]

You’ve already had your say on the best Zelda games since we observe the series’ 30th anniversary – and you did a mighty fine job also, even though I’m fairly sure A Link to the Past goes in the head of some record – so now it is our turn. We requested the Eurogamer editorial team to vote for their favourite Zelda games (though Wes abstained because he doesn’t understand exactly what a Nintendo is) and below you will find the complete top ten, together with a number of our very own musings. Could we get the matches in their real order? Likely not…

10. A Link Between Worlds

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

It helps, of course, that the template has been lifted from one of the greatest games in the series also, by extension, among the best matches of all time. There is an endearing breeziness into 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 can find more here legend of zelda ds roms from Our Articles A Link Between Worlds takes all that and also positively sprints with it, running free into the familiar expanse of Hyrule using a newfound liberty.

In providing you the ability to rent any of Link’s well-established tools in the away, A Link Between Worlds broke free of this linear progress which had shackled previous Zelda games; it has been a Hyrule which was no longer defined through an invisible course, but one which offered a sense of discovery and completely free will that was starting to feel absent in previous entries. The feeling of adventure so dear to the series, muffled in the past few years by the ritual of reproduction, was well and truly revived. MR

9. Spirit Tracks

An unfortunate side-effect of the fact that more than one generation of players has risen up with Zelda and refused to go has been an insistence – during the series’ mania, at any rate – it develop them. That resulted in some interesting areas as well as some silly tussles within the series’ leadership, as we will see later in this listing, but sometimes it threatened to leave Zelda’s unique constituency – you know, kids – behind.

Thankfully, the mobile games are there to look after younger gamers, and Spirit Tracks for its DS (currently available on Wii U Virtual Console) is now Zelda at its most chirpy and adorable. Though superbly designed, it is not a particularly distinguished match, being a relatively hasty and gimmicky followup to Phantom Hourglass that copies its structure and flowing stylus control. But it’s such zest! Link uses just a tiny train to get around and its puffing and tooting, together with an inspired folk music soundtrack, place a lively pace for your experience. Then there’s the childish, tactile joy of driving the train: placing the adjuster, pulling on the whistle and scribbling destinations on your map.

Most importantly is that, for once, Zelda is in addition to the ride. Connect has to rescue her body, but her soul is using him as a companion, occasionally able to possess enemy soldiers and perform with the barbarous heavy. Both even enjoy an innocent youth love, and you would be hard pushed to think of another game that has captured the teasing, blushing intensity of a reggae beat so well. Inclusive and sweet, Spirit Tracks remembers that children have feelings too, and also will show grownups a thing or two about love. OW

8. Ghost Hourglass

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

The exception which proves the rule, however, is Phantom Hourglass, where you draw on the route for your boomerang from the hand. Poking the stylus in the touch display (which, at an equally lovely move, is the way you control your sword), you draw a precise flight map for your boomerang and then it just… goes. No more faffing about, no more clanging into pillars, just simple, simple, improbably responsive boomerang trip. It had been when I first used the boomerang in Phantom Hourglass I realised that this game might just be something particular; I quickly fell in love with all the rest.

Never mind that so many of the puzzles are based on setting a switch and then getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. Never mind that viewing a few game back to refresh my memory lent me powerful flashbacks into the hours spent huddling on the display and gripping my DS like that I wanted to throttle it. Never mind I did need to throttle my DS. The point is that Phantom Hourglass had touches of course that remain – and I’m going to venture out on a limb – totally unrivalled in the remainder of the Legend of Zelda series. JC

7. Skyward Sword

It bins the recognizable Zelda overworld and set of discrete dungeons by throwing three enormous areas at the player which are constantly reworked. It is a beautiful game – one I am still hoping will be remade in HD – whose watercolour visuals render a glistening, dream-like haze over its azure skies and brush-daubed foliage. After the grimy, Lord of this Rings-inspired Twilight Princess, it was the Zelda series confidently re-finding its own feet. I can defend many of recognizable criticisms levelled at Skyward Sword, like its overly-knowing nods to the remainder of the series or its marginally forced origin story that unnecessarily retcons familiar elements of this franchise. I will even get behind the bigger overall quantity of place to explore when the game continually revitalises all its three regions so successfully.

I could not, sadly, ever get along with the game’s Motion Plus controllers, which required one to waggle your Wii Remote in order to do battle. It turned the boss battles against the brilliantly eccentric Ghirahim into infuriating struggles with technologies. I remember one mini-game at the Knight Academy where you had to throw something (pumpkins?) Into baskets that made me rage quit for the rest of the evening. At times the motion controls functioned – that the flying Beetle item pretty much consistently found its mark but if Nintendo was forcing players to depart the reliability of a control strategy, its replacement had to work 100 percent of their time. TP

6. Twilight Princess

After Ocarina of Time came out in November 1998, I had been ten years of age. I was also pretty bad at Zelda games.

When Twilight Princess wrapped around, I was at university and something in me most likely a profound love of procrastination – was ready to try again. This time, it was worked. I remember day-long stretches on the couch, huddling under a blanket in my chilly flat and just poking out my hands to flap around using the Wii remote during combat. Subsequently there was the glorious morning if my then-girlfriend (now fiancée) woke me up with a gentle shake, asking’can I watch you play Zelda?’

Twilight Lady is, frankly, attractive. There’s a fantastic, brooding setting; yet the gameplay is enormously diverse; it has got a lovely art design, one that I wish they’d kept for only one more game. It has also got some of the top dungeons in the show – I know this because since I’ve been in a position to go back and mop the recent titles I overlooked – Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker – and also enjoy myself doing it. That is why I’ll always love Twilight Princess – it’s the sport that made me click using Zelda. JC


Zelda is a show defined by repetition: the narrative of this long-eared hero and the Lady is handed down from generation to generation, a self-fulfilling prophecy. But some of its best moments have come when it stepped out its framework, left Hyrule along with Zelda herself and asked what Link could do next. It required an even more revolutionary tack: bizarre, dark, and experimental.

Even though there’s loads of comedy and adventure, Majora’s Mask is suffused with doom, sorrow, and also an off-kilter eeriness. Some of this comes from its true awkward timed structure: the moon is falling around the planet, the clock is ticking and you also can’t stop it, just reposition and start again, a little stronger and more threatening each moment. Some of it comes from the antagonist, the Skull Kid, who’s no villain but an innocent with a sad story who has contributed in to the corrupting effect of their titular mask. A number of this stems from Link himselfa 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, far from the hero of legend.

Despite an unforgettable, surreal conclusion, Majora’s Mask’s primary storyline is not among those series’ most powerful. But these bothering Groundhog Day subplots concerning the stress of regular life – reduction, love, family, job, and death, always death – locate the show’ writing at its absolute best. It is a melancholy, compassionate fairytale of the regular which, using its own ticking clock, wants to remind you that you simply can’t take it with you personally. OW

4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

If you have had kids, you will be aware that there’s incredibly unexpected and touching moment when you’re doing laundry – stay with me here – and those little T-shirts and pants first start to become in your washing. Someone else has come to live with you! Someone implausibly small.

This is among The Wind-Waker’s best tips, I think. Connect had been young before, but today, with the toon-shaded shift in art direction, he actually looks young: a Schulz toddler, huge head and little legs, venturing out amongst Moblins and pirates as well as those crazy birds that roost around the clifftops. Connect is tiny and exposed, and thus the adventure surrounding him sounds all the more stirring.

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

Best of all, it attracts that unending sense of discovery and renewal, one challenge down along with another awaiting, as you hop from your boat and race the sand up towards the next thing, your miniature legs glancing through the surf, your eyes fixed on the horizon. CD

3. Link’s Awakening

Link’s Awakening has been near-enough a great Zelda game – it’s a huge and secret-laden overworld, sparkling dungeon layout and memorable characters. Additionally, it is a catalyst dream-set side-story with villages of talking creatures, side-scrolling regions starring Mario enemies along with also a giant fish that participates the mambo. It was my very first Zelda adventure, my entry point into the show and the match against which I judge each other Zelda name. I totally adore it. Not only was it my first Zelda, its own greyscale world was one of the first adventure games I truly playedwith.

There’s no Zelda, no Ganon. No Guru Sword. And while it feels like a Zelda, even after playing so many of the others, its quirks and personalities set it aside. Link’s Awakening packs an astounding amount onto its small Game Boy cartridge (or even Game Boy Color, in the event that you played with its DX re-release). TP


Bottles are OP in Zelda. These humble glass containers can turn the tide of a struggle if they contain a potion or even better – a fairy. If I had been Ganon, I would postpone the evil plotting and also the dimension rifting, and I would just set a good fortnight into traveling Hyrule from top to bottom and smashing any glass bottles I came across. Following that, my terrible vengeance are all the more terrible – and there’d be a sporting chance I might 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 in Link to the Past, every one which makes you that bit more powerful and that bit bolder, buying you assurance from dungeoneering and hit points at the middle of a bruising manager experience. I can’t recall where you receive three of those bottles. But I can recall where you get the fourth.

It’s Lake Hylia, and if you’re like me, it’s late in the game, using the major ticket items accumulated, that wonderful, genre-defining second at the top of the mountain – where a single excursion becomes two – taken care of, and handfuls of streamlined, inventive, infuriating and educational dungeons raided. Late match Connect to the Past is all about looking out every last inch of this map, which means working out how the two similar-but-different versions of Hyrule fit together.

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

Link to the Past feels like an impossibly clever game, fracturing its map into two dimensions and asking you to distinguish between them, holding both arenas super-positioned on your mind as you resolve one, vast geographical mystery. In truth, however, someone could probably replicate this layout when they had enough pencils, sufficient quadrille paper, enough energy and time, and if they had been smart and determined enough.

The greatest loss of the electronic era.

But Link to the Past is not simply the map – it is the detailing, as well as the characters. It is Ganon and his evil plot, but it is also the guy camping out under the bridge. Perhaps the entire thing is a bit like a jar, then: the container is critical, but what you’re really after is that the stuff that is inside . CD


Perhaps with the Z-Targeting, a solution to 3D battle so simple you barely notice it’s there. Or perhaps you speak about an open world that’s touched with the light and shade cast by an internal clock, where villages dancing with activity by day before being captured by an eerie lull through the nighttime. How about the expressiveness of that ocarina itself, a superbly analogue instrument whose music has been conducted with the control afforded by the N64’s pad, notes bent wistfully at the push of a stick.

Maybe, however, you just focus on the second itself, a great photo of video games emerging sharply from their very own adolescence as Connect is thrust so abruptly into a grownup world. What’s most impressive about Ocarina of Time is how it arrived thus fully-formed, the 2D adventuring of previous entrances transitioning into three measurements and a pop-up book folding swiftly into existence.

Because of Grezzo’s unique 3DS remake it has retained much of its verve and impact, as well as putting aside its technical accomplishments it is an adventure that still ranks among the series’ best; emotional and uplifting, it’s touched with all the bittersweet melancholy of climbing up and leaving your childhood behind. By the story’s end Link’s childhood and innocence – and that of Hyrule – is heroically restored, but after this most radical of reinventions, video games will not ever be the exact same again.

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