The Legend of Zelda is one of those franchises that has never really dipped lower than a perfect score. Ever since the eighties, where developers only really started to test the waters of open-world gaming, Nintendo used the new franchise to scour the potential and revolutionize gaming as a whole. Since then, The Legend of Zelda has gone on to achieve glorious results that never fail to make a rival blush. Whether it be on the Nintendo 64 or the Switch; this franchise knows how to captivate an audience and produce diamonds.
There’s a reason why The Legend of Zelda is such a household name in the gaming universe. It isn’t only due to its familiar faces and publicity reach, but more because of the actual experience itself. Things like the heavenly score as we press into new vast meadows filled with luscious grass and beaming rays of sunshine. Or even the countless spine-shattering moments of joy when defeating an enemy and collecting a fraction of a heart. It’s the little things like that, that just bundle together to make every new epic journey an instant classic. But, what are the five most influential games in the entire series? It sure seems tough to have to select only a few — but we think we can crack it.
5. The Legend of Zelda (1986)
Every story has to start somewhere, right? For The Legend of Zelda, in particular, the roots were first established way back in 1986 on the NES. Featuring the beloved Link and an epic quest in search of the eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom, this first chapter managed to tap into a whole new sphere that would eventually become one of Nintendo’s favourite children.
Introducing the original franchise line-up including the antagonist, Ganon — The Legend of Zelda lay the foundations to what would eventually become a rinse and repeat pattern. Although taking a similar approach to the plot in later games, Nintendo would always alter almost every square inch of every other detail. Take the world, for example; it might usually take place in Hyrule — but each instalment to the series is practically in another dimension altogether. And honestly — that’s how they get away with it. Still, it never feels as if a single mechanic is being replicated, and every aspect of every game feels like a whole new world.
4. Majora’s Mask
After Ocarina of Time reached platinum status on a global scale, it was only natural that Nintendo would follow up with another sensational hit. Majora’s Mask, thankfully — was the product of that inspiration. Although not amassing as much stardom as the predecessor, Majora’s Mask still accrued full marks from millions of critics and is still regarded as one of the greatest in the series to date.
Taking place over only a few days, which the player must keep track of and use strategically, Majora’s Mask combines well-written narrative with thought-provoking gameplay. Plus, with a beautiful soundtrack proving to be years ahead of its time, this second segment to the Nintendo 64 series truly builds an atmosphere unlike any other in the genre.
3. Twilight Princess
There’s a reason why Twilight Princess became such a hit back in 2006. Not only was it a fantastic entry into the series, but it was also one of the last games to be released onto the GameCube; making it somewhat rare as the console stopped publishing games and disappeared without a trace. But, thanks to the Nintendo Wii, Twilight Princess lived on as one of the major launch titles that continued to raise the flag for years to come.
Taking a slight gameplay curve compared to other titles in the series, Twilight Princess focused a lot more on motion controls, unlike previous instalments. And thankfully, the Wii edition proved worthy with its new course of gameplay style. Plus, by bringing in the fan favourite maps, characters and weapons — Twilight Princess didn’t struggle in finding a spot on the podium.
2. Breath of the Wild
There’s no hiding the fact that Breath of the Wild is one of the Switch’s highest-selling games of all time. But, even with the mouthwatering figures — it only just about touches the surface of the highest podium. Breath of the Wild is, of course, a beautiful addition to the series, with just as much stunning illustration, fluid gameplay and striking audio to boot. But, without the decade long tenure, it has yet to reach that iconic status. That’s not to say the Switch entry isn’t phenomenal in its own ways, though.
Breath of the Wild gives you a whole ocean of freedom in the palms of your hands. With Hyrule in dire need of a hero and a boatload of things that need checking off the tick list — you are left to carve your own path and uncover the reckoning of the kingdom and reclaim what Ganon stole. How or when you do it, on the other hand — is entirely up to you. That alone makes Breath of the Wild a fantastic entry that can be re-experienced countless times and still feel wholesome.
1. Ocarina of Time
We’d be lying if we said Ocarina of Time hasn’t made an impact on our gaming lives at one point or another. If not for the memorable story or gorgeous Hyrule landscapes — then for the epic soundtrack that, even today — still delivers the most sensational shivers down our spines.
Ocarina of Time provides the whole package that millions of games have failed to replicate over several decades of desperate attempts. Laughter, fear, sadness, anger — and a whole tonne of nostalgia as every cherished element of the franchise strings together to form the perfect masterpiece within adventure gaming. Every slice of the game hits all the right levels and keeps us coming back to it even after years and years of completing the first run-through. And, although more than twenty years old — Ocarina of Time still stands as one of the greatest games to ever grace the industry. And, you know — it deserves that celebrated title.