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10 Best The Legend of Zelda Games of All Time, Ranked

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For lovers of action-adventure games who rarely let a new title slide since childhood, The Legend of Zelda is a magical series whose thrill brings such vivid memories. The title has been a runaway success since the first installment over three decades ago, with all the new releases following in the footsteps, if not going a leap higher from the predecessors. Here are the top-ranked Legend of Zelda games of all time.

10. Link’s Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Link’s Awakening presents itself as a unique title in The Legend of Zelda series in multiple ways, making it one of the best Legend of Zelda games. First, it was the original overhead-perspective game that allowed Link to jump and the first Zelda game installment that supported handheld console gameplay. Second, you don’t see anything like the fictional world of Hyrule and Princess Zelda or the powerful Triforce relic. 

9. The Legend of Zelda (1986)

Wii U - NES Remix - The Legend of Zelda STAGE 8: [Defeat Dodongo!]

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 favorite children.

Although the game received multiple entries thereafter, the original stands out strongly. In fact, it never feels as if a single mechanic is being replicated, and every aspect of every game feels like a whole new world.

8. Majora's Mask

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Trailer

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 garnered full marks from millions of critics and is still regarded as one of the greatest in the series to date.

7. Twilight Princess

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD Official Story Trailer

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.

6. Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017 Trailer

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 its 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.

5. Ocarina of Time

Nintendo 3DS - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Remake Trailer

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 ton of nostalgia come together as every cherished element of the franchise strings together to form the perfect masterpiece within adventure gaming.

4. The Wind Waker

Wii U - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD E3 Trailer

The Wind Waker is a 2002 release that definitely set high bars in The Legends of Zelda series. This episode continues the narrative of Ocarina of Time. In addition to providing one of the best gameplays, this sequel introduced the exact features that brought out realistic animation characters.

3. Tears of the Kingdom

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – Official Trailer #3

Nintendo developed and published The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom to unveil a sequel to the 2017 Breath of the Wild. As a 2023 release, Tears of the Kingdom definitely presents a pretty immersive experience compared to the early versions of the Legend of Zelda series that spanned decades ago. Players can only marvel at the modifications made to the locales to suit the new title. The gameplay still happens in the land of Hyrule but with new map locations and link abilities, perhaps to feature the ideas that exceeded the scope of the prequel’s DLC.  

2. A Link to the Past

Wii U Virtual Console - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

A Link to the Past came out in 1991 as the third installment in the series. Thanks to its simple and straightforward gameplay and additional features, it ranks highly among the series' many iterations, giving it great applause from fans who experienced the titles before it. However, its story is set several years before its prequel titles, immersing players in the previous installation’s gameplay but with better mechanics. You still control Link, the main protagonist, in a top-down overview, much like it was with the original series. 

1. Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Official Game Trailer - Nintendo E3 2016

Coming to the scene in 2017, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild scaled up the list to become one of the best The Legend of Zelda games of all time. You will love the game right from the visuals immediately after you launch it on consoles. And for the lovers of exploration, you have a whole unstructured world for exploration, including non-linear adventures into the world of Hyrule. The game is regarded as a landmark of open-world video game design. 

The gameplay events happen after the Great Calamity, where Link is gravely wounded in his quest to protect Princess Zelda and taken to safety to heal. After a century in the Shrine of the Resurrection, he reawakens to find a ravaged Hyrule. His 100-year-long slumber claims the kingdom and his memory, which he must now fight to regain. Explore the colorful, vast land, climbing mountains, shrines, and towers to find answers and resources. You have enough travel options that make the playthrough quite enriching. Navigate the waters on a raft, cross the land on horseback, soar through the skies with your paraglider, or surf down the mountains and slopes on your shield. 

So, what are your thoughts on our picks for the best The Legend of Zelda games of all time? Let us know your thoughts here on our socials or down in the comments.

Cynthia Wambui is a gamer who has a knack for writing video gaming content. Blending words to express one of my biggest interests keeps me in the loop on trendy gaming topics. Aside from gaming and writing, Cynthia is a tech nerd and coding enthusiast.