The Legend of Zelda is among the most influential video game franchises of all time, paving the way for countless industry up-and-comers who pledge to make role-playing games equally as stellar as Link's epic conquests over Hyrule. Ever since the series first found its feet way back in 1986, Nintendo has continued to staple more branches onto its flourishing kingdom of phenomenal tales, effectively making it a tree with countless best-selling twigs and arches.
Of course, with great power, comes great responsibility. Oh, and a whole lot of spin-offs, with thanks to loyal fans eating up practically anything that dares breathe from Nintendo's general direction. Although nowhere near as many stories in the book as its mainline counterpart, there have been enough to bridge a few gaps in the timeline. But as far as the greatest chapters go, well, that's another question. A question that, in all honesty, we think we might've cracked.
5. Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland
Before Nintendo went ahead and put the wannabe fairy in one of the weirdest romance video games of all time, Tingle actually had a pretty good standalone adventure. A far cry from perfection, of course, but a surprisingly well-rounded package that was unexpectedly replayable. And there within idled a genuinely inspiring tale, believe it or not.
Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland centered its world around the self-proclaimed fairy, Tingle. After being put on a breadcrumb trail leading toward a make-believe paradise called Rupeeland, the middle-aged man worked to shovel through a thread of islands, each packed with obstacles and encounters. Sort of like Link's adventures. Sort of. But then again, not really. And yet, still an entertaining game on the DS.
4. Four Swords Adventures
Unlike its former standalone entries that predominantly used a single hero to tell the story, Four Swords Adventures opted for four. Four clones, funnily enough, all of whom could be controlled via the game's multilayer mode. Similar to its classic top-down predecessors, the co-op story gave way to a series of worlds, dungeons and bosses, all of which came wrapped beneath the iconic Hyrulian trademark.
While not incredibly long in terms of story, its eight worlds were all vastly different, and each as replayable as the other. Plus, as far as GameCube games go, it was perhaps one of the best for its time, as well as a solid choice for those looking to indulge in a multiplayer world. And hey, given the fact it was actually coined as the 48th best game on the system, it just goes to show how much of an impression it made back in its heyday.
3. Hyrule Warriors
Long before Hyrule Warriors was put on paper, Omega Force's Warriors kingdom was unmistakably known for setting the benchmark in the hack and slash genre. Fused with over-the-top combat, ridiculously fast-paced gameplay, and lengthy power metal solos, the franchise quickly became something of an ambassador for the community, and one that was instantly recognizable from all corners of the industry.
Hyrule Warriors was everything we expected it to be, and then some. With Link at the helm, along with Hyrule's other prominent heroes and villains, the beloved Nintendo universe sprung to life in a textbook fashion, backed entirely by Omega Force's signature style. Narrative-wise, it was equally as vigorous as its Warriors counterparts, as was the electrifying combat that felt eerily nostalgic for all the right reasons. All in all, it was a spin-off many would say was needed. A spin-off that, in later years, would go on to inspire countless other hack and slash wannabes.
2. Cadence of Hyrule
Cadence of Hyrule was the rhythm-based crossover nobody really knew they needed until it came out for the Switch in 2019. It wasn't long after its release, of course, that it garnered a rather healthy relationship with fans from both Zelda, as well as Crypt of the NecroDancer, which the game used as a sort of Bible to help lay the foundations for its gameplay.
On the surface, Cadence of Hyrule was this roguelike adventure that incorporated famous landmarks from the world of Hyrule. Beneath it, however, was a musical waiting to unravel for every time you brushed shoulders with an enemy. Combined, the journey became far more than a top-down game reminiscent of its NES siblings, to the point of being an original experience that relied on surprises to keep its flame alight.
1. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Shortly after the success of its former creation, Omega looked to reinforce the flagship by adding another lick of paint. Age of Calamity soon followed up, quickly establishing itself as a worthy successor to the hack and slash throne. Bundled in with another epic adventure over Hyrule, it become the hallmark of quality, as well as a sturdy staple that fans of the series could happily accommodate.
Similar to its predecessor, Age of Calamity centered its tale around glorious battles, ravenous armies, and a world of loot. Consequently, the Zelda spin-off wound up becoming one of the most enjoyable in the library. And, for the record, one we happily returned to time and time again, if only to relive the highlights. No regrets.
So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? Which Zelda spin-offs would you have put up here? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.