Six of the best Legend of Zelda games

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The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is right around the corner and it has had me thinking about where Breath of the Wild sits within the Zelda franchise. Which, as it often does, had me trying to pick what I consider the best Legend of Zelda game of all time. It is an impossible task since that list changes as I get older and grow to appreciate some of the previous games a bit more.

When you’re done trying to unravel the branching timeline of the series, don’t skip these titles. They aren’t always the most obvious choices but these are the best Legend of Zelda games ever, in my (not so) humble opinion.

Majora’s Mask

Majora's Mask Link in a Deku mask

It is easy to see why Majora’s Mask is one of the most misunderstood Zelda games out there. It is dark and twisted and plays with the concept of a time loop in a brilliant way. The things that make it stand out in the series are also the things that make it so special. It’s one of the best Legend of Zelda games because it lets the player grieve and feel, giving us a villain who isn’t the embodiment of absolute evil but is a kid who just didn’t want to be alone. There is a nuance that the series isn’t necessarily known for, which makes this game so special.

Twilight Princess

best legend of zelda game link and midna

Zelda fans have been clamouring for a more mature Zelda game for years, ignoring the fact that we already got one for the Wii. Twilight Princess drops players into a world that is being overwhelmed by literal darkness and does more to expand the lore of Hyrule than almost any entry in the franchise. Link’s design looks like wonderfully functional armour and the combat has a great depth to it – provided you can get your head around the motion controls. If there is any Zelda game I’d love to see get a remake with more updated controls, it’s Twilight Princess.

Ocarina of Time

No list of the best Legend of Zelda games is complete without Ocarina of Time. While the Nintendo 64 had some foibles, it allowed the franchise to jump into 3D. This was the most alive Hyrule ever felt, giving us one of the most terrifying Zelda dungeons as well as one of the versions of Zelda with the most agency. This game redefined the series and is where many fans believe it peaked. It certainly became the template that other Zelda games followed for several console generations.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

age of calamity

Yes, I know this game doesn’t exist in the Zelda canon, but do you know how hard it is to surprise jaded, old players like me? I went into Age of Calamity thinking I knew exactly how it was going to play out. For the first half, I was absolutely right. Then, they hit you with one of the best time-travel twists of all time, bringing characters from the future to save the Champions of the past and it was just perfect. This game takes the Musou series formula and gives it a wonderful, emotional heart.

Breath of the Wild

You can’t escape the popularity of Breath of the Wild. Moving away from the dungeon formula that had carried the franchise since its inception and giving Link a big, open world to explore was a risk, but no other game embodies the sense of wonder and exploration like this one. That spirit of discovery has always been at the heart of the franchise since you first stepped out of the cave at the start of the original. Breath of the Wild delivers on that promise and then some.

Link to the Past

best legend of zelda game link to the past

For me, playing A Link to the Past is like going home again. It was one of the first Zelda games I played from start to finish, marvelling at how big the world was and how beautiful the music was. This is one of the best Legend of Zelda games because of its Light and Dark world concept, allowing you to effectively explore Hyrule twice over. While many of the mechanics and puzzles seem dated by today’s standards, the sprites still look gorgeous in all their colourful glory. Link to the Past remains a nearly flawless journey through Hyrule.

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