When the thought of Nintendo comes to mind, we generally think of one specific series of games, The Legend of Zelda. The Legend of Zelda is a sequence of video games of open-world adventure. It is among the best iconic franchises and most successful consoles. Typically, the games are regarding a boy, Link, who needs to rescue a princess named Zelda from Ganon. Almost all the Zelda games take place in Hyrule, the fictional kingdom. The protagonist, Link, a young man or a child is destined to save the kingdom of Hyrule from the commands of the evil sorcerer Ganon or Ganon, the dark beast.
In some of the games, there were additional protagonists like the Twili Midna, the talking cap Ezlo, or the fairy Navi who served as sidekicks all over the total course of the games. There are some additional antagonists, too, such as Zant, the Usurper King, General Onax, the general of Darkness, or the Wind Mage, Vaati. The franchise’s foremost game was prepared by Shigeru Miyamoto, and was first sold on 21st February 1986. Ever since it’s release, the game has attained massive commercial and critical success with every entry in the franchise. So, most of it’s entries are considered among the greatest games ever released.
The games include adventuring, fighting, puzzle solving, item collecting, and racing. The series Legends of Zelda has sold more than 125 million games, and the series has 22 various games in the year 2017. This made it the 20th top-selling series of video games ever. With it’s latest release, the video game shows no sign of slowing down, and a sequel is presently in the works. Now, as we are waiting for the next entry, it is the best time to take you all on a trip down memory lane. Let us appreciate the masterpiece’s history. Here we have listed all the Zelda games in order of their release date and described each of the games. You must note that Cadence of Hyrule -2019, Hyrule Warrior: Age of Calamity- 2020, and various other titles have been considered spinoffs and not core entries. So, we have left them off the list.
The Legend of Zelda Games in order:
The Legend of Zelda- 1986
The Legend of Zelda was the foremost game of the Zelda series, which was first released in Japan in 1986 and later in Europe and the United States in 1987. The game was played in the perspective of a 2D overhead, and a strong focus was given to exploration. The players have to control Link, the young hero, in his attempt to save the kingdom of Hyrule and Princess Zelda from Ganon, the prince of darkness. Though considering the standards of today, it is pretty simple. But, the game was actually quite advanced for it’s time. The innovations involve the ability to utilize various items, a huge world full of secrets that needed exploring, and the ability of the cartridge to save the progress of the game with battery-backed memory.
Also, the game structures a “Second Quest” that is accessible after the game’s completion, where the placement of items and dungeons are dissimilar, and the enemies are stronger. The gameplay involved exploring a huge environment, battling the monsters in real-time, and finding items that are required to solve the puzzles. Apart from the technical innovations of the game, the gameplay was quite a successful formula that became copied broadly. The game became broadly popular in various countries, particularly in North America and Japan, and was considered a vital video game ever made in history.
The Adventure of Link- 1987
The Adventure of Link, released in 1987, was the second game of the Zelda series. This game was a withdrawal from the first game’s concept. This follow-up game sees the protagonist Link yet again trying to save Zelda, the princess. The top-down perspective was exchanged for side-scrolling, and RPG elements such as experience points were established that are not found in any of the rest Zelda installments. This game was much more action-oriented than the previous one. Among the upgraded elements is a system of leveling up, which allows Link to utilize the experience points for upgrading his abilities.
Moreover, Link also has some powers that are needed to cast spells during battle. Until Four Swords Adventure, this game is also the only title of Zelda in which the protagonist does not collect Rupees. Many considered the game as the series’ “black sheep” because of some fundamental changes. Nintendo, after this, has never released any other Zelda game like this. This game was famous for it’s gold-colored game cartridges that stood out among the usual gray cartridges of the system. In the final years, the game was later re-released with normal gray cartridges.
A Link to the Past- 1991
After four years, Nintendo returned with another game of the Zelda series named A link to the Past. It returned to a view of top-down under the perspective of 3/4. The game was the prequel to the previous two entries. It added the perception of an alternate dimension that needed exploring: the land referred to as the Dark World. The original version is noticeable because of the introduction of the Master Sword, which is a very vital weapon for the other games of the series. Among the fans, the master sword is a cult classic. The design of the game reflected that of the rest of the sequels of the Nintendo first-party that was developed at a time which took the structure of the NES predecessor.
Moreover, it was built using SNES’s hardware capabilities. Though it improves various concepts and mechanics of the first game, it has introduced it’s own concepts like making arrows separate items. The protagonist was provided the ability to walk and run to obtain Pegasus Boots diagonally. Improvement in combat was also seen as Link could swing his sword sideways along with his default forward attack. In 1991, the game was first released for the Super NES, then in 2002, for Game Boy Advance, it was later re-released in North America, on the cartridge the first multiplayer Zelda with Four Swords. And then in January 2007, it was released on the virtual console Wii.
Link’s Awakening- 1993
Link’s awakening, the next game, was the foremost game of Zelda for The Game Boy of Nintendo that was handheld on the 6th June 1993. This was the game of the series that took place outside Hyrule. The game also does not feature the Triforce or Princess Zelda. The game occurs after the proceedings of the previous game. It shows us that the protagonist is roving by a boat while a dreadful storm left him stranded on the island of Koholint. For leaving, Link has to wake the guardian of the island by collecting eight Instruments of Sirens.
This was later re-released in 1998 for the Game Boy Color as Awakening DX of Link with a few additional features, including Photoshop, which allowed interface with the Game Boy Printer and an added color-based dungeon. With completely recreated HD visuals, Nintendo announced the remake of Link’s Awakening in February 2019 for the switch. The remake introduced some new features like the ability to create custom dungeons.
Ocarina of Time- 1998
The series has made a transition from 2D to 3D after another hiatus with the installment of Ocarina of Time. This was released in the US and Japan in 1998 and Europe in 1998. Initially referred to as Zelda 64, this game retained the main gameplay of the earlier 2D games. It became among the most successful video games of all time, both critically and commercially. Widely considered the best-created video game, the Ocarina of Time scored quite well in various publications on video games. Some of the innovations include an innovative gameplay mechanics focusing on the camera on an adjacent target and changing the actions of players in relation to the target and the usage of lock-in targeting.
These mechanics permit accuracy-based sword fighting in the large Hyrule kingdom in the 3D space, which was revolutionary at that time. The game was famous as it was released on the limited gold cartridge edition of the Collector and a traditional gray cartridge too. Considered ambitious for it’s time, Ocarina of Time introduced features like the horse of Link named Epona, which allowed him to travel quickly and fire arrows at the time of riding, and the lock-on “Z-targeting”. In 2011, this Zelda game was later remade on the Nintendo 3DS as Ocarina of Time 3D added Boss Challenge, 3D effects, and improved graphics, and the Master Quest was also included.
Majora’s Mask- 2000
Using the 3D game engine same as the earlier Nintendo 64 games, in November 2000, Majora’s Mask, the follow-up title, was released. A unique novel concept based on time was added, leading to some successful and mixed reactions. However, the gameplay was quite similar to the earlier games but has significantly changed. It also added the form of a time limit, and Link can also use masks to transform into various creatures having unique skills. The Majora’s Mask engaged the graphical style of the previous game. It was a departure, especially in the atmosphere. This game is quite darker and deals with tragedy and death in a way not seen previously in the series.
The game also consists of a sense of imminent doom because the big moon descends slowly on the land of Termina. In this game, the protagonist is forced to re-live the similar three days again and again. The game introduced Groundhog Day-style for preventing a huge falling moon from finishing the land. Every copy of this game is a gold cartridge. In 2015 the remake was released on the Nintendo 3DS as Majora Mask 3D. The other changes include improved control and graphics, a finishing minigame, and 3D effects. The game was recognized for it’s more mature undertones and darker themes compared to the other entries.
Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons – 2001
The games Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were simultaneously released for Game Boy Color. The interaction is done using Game Link Cable or passwords. After the completion of one game, the players get a password that allows them to play the other game as a sequel. In conjunction with Nintendo, they were created by Capcom with supervision from Miyamoto. These two games are separate games that are set in various locations. The Oracle of Ages is more based on puzzles and the Oracle of seasons is more action-oriented.
These two games narrate one interconnected story, which players can only understand if they play through both. The idea for these games’ structure is based on the interconnectivity of the various worlds within the Zelda Universe. Originally planned as a trilogy, the project was not successful as the system of password linking for the three games proved very troublesome. Then as per Miyamoto’s suggestion, it was again downsized to these two. The third game that was cancelled was named Mystical Seed of courage.
The Wind Waker- 2002
With a debut on the GameCube, this Zelda game “The Wind Waker” characterizes a unique style of cel-shaded art, setting it apart from it’s predecessors. There was a shift in visuals that complemented the world of the game, which sees the Hyrule Kingdom being buried at the Great Sea’s bottom. Most of the game spends time around sailing between the islands of the boat of Link, King of Red Lions, which uses a magical tool named Wind Waker, which permits the users to have control of the wind’s direction. Miyamoto felt that The Wind Waker would extend the reach of Zelda to all ages. To the surprise of Miyamoto, the media reported the shift of Zelda to a younger audience.
The Wind Waker was well-received. This gameplay focused on wind controlling with Wind Waker, the magical baton, and sailing a little boat over a huge island-filled ocean. Though initially the game created a controversy but was successful and beloved. The cartoonish visuals proved to be quite divisive to the critics and fans. Later the game was considered among the best entries in the Zelda series. In 2013, for Wii-U, the game was re-released, adding faster sailing and improved graphics, and online interaction with Miiverse and Hero Mode.
Four Swords Adventure- 2004
Four Swords Adventure came in the series next for the GameCube. The game was released in America and Japan in 2004 and in Europe in 2005. Based on Four Swords, this game was yet another deviation from the earlier gameplay of Zelda that focused on level-based action and multiplayer gameplay. The game shows that Link is attempting to restore peace in the Hyrule Kingdom following the creation of his evil copy named Shadow Link. 24 stages are contained in this game, and there is a map screen with no connecting overworld. For the multiplayer characteristics of the game, every player needs to use the system of Game Boy Advance that is connected to the Nintendo GameCube through a GBA-GCN cable.
Though the focus is on multiplayer, a single-player campaign is also featured in this game, where it is optional to use Game Boy Advance. The Four Swords Adventure is two games combined into one: Shadow Battle where a battle mode, a free for all melee pits the links against one another when the players are struggling for dominance in the Hyrulean arenas, and the other game is Hyrulean Adventure where the action and storyline are somewhat same as traditional Zelda Adventure. The versions of Korean and Japanese also included a third segment, Navi Trackers, which was originally designed as a stand-alone game named Tetra’s Trackers. The game upholds many concepts and mechanics of it’s GBA incarnation and takes advantage of GameCube’s hardware capabilities by including improved atmospheric visual effects.
The Minish Cap- 2004
A new game was released in November 2004 in Europe and Japan for Game Boy Advance by Nintendo named the Minish Cap. The main concept of this game is the ability of Link to shrink in size with the help of Ezlo, a mystical sentient hat. Tiny Link can view the portions of the dungeon explored before with a new perspective and can enter into innovative areas through impassible openings. The Protagonist Link can also switch from size small to big and vice versa at particular portals all over the land. This gives Link another world to play in.
This game is really unique where Link, who is down in size, is able to interact with a race of people miniature in size named the Minish. The Zelda games normally offers players a huge world for exploring, but The Minish Cap is set apart in achieving the exact opposite. The capability of Link shrinking down in size is exclusive to this game only, and the makers have not incorporated this in any of the later entries. Capcom also developed this game under the supervision of Nintendo.
Twilight Princess- 2006
Twilight Princess in November 2006 came as the foremost Zelda game on Wii. Originally, it was supposed to be the only title of GameCube. In the next month, the game was released on Nintendo GameCube. This new game strives once again for an improved, realistic look beyond the aforesaid SpaceWorld demo. Twilight Princess takes the adventure of Link in a direction that is much darker. The game accounts for the struggle of Link, who is now more mature, Hero of Time’s descendant, to get rid of the Hyrule of Twilight Realm and a mysterious force that is troubling the land. After Link enters the realm, he is transformed into a wolf. Midna, a mysterious creature, acts as a guide to Link all over his adventure. There is a radical shift in the gameplay.
Twilight Princess focuses more heavily on mounted battle scenarios that include boss battles and horseback transportation than in earlier installments. In addition, the game revisits the idea of multiple dimensions in the Zelda universe by introducing a parallel world named Twilight Realm. Though the version which Wii released was criticized heavily because of it’s motion controls’ poor implementation, the version released by GameCube provided players with a traditional Zelda experience with the use of a gamepad.
Phantom Hourglass- 2007
Phantom Hourglass released on 23rd June 2007 and featured some unique, innovative controls that made utilization of the hardware capabilities of the Nintendo DS. A 1-on-1 multiplayer battle mode is incorporated that supports the players both online and legally via the Wi-Fi connection of the Nintendo. The new control scheme permitted the players to make a path for the Link boat with a touchscreen and handheld stylus. The story of the game is the continuation of a previous part, The Wind Waker. It shows that Link is on a quest to save Tetra, his friend, taking the assistance of Captain Linebeck along with his ship.
At the end part of the last game, Tetra and Link set off to locate a new kingdom, and, in this game, the same pair is shipwrecked, unfortunately, and the trouble ensures then. Really, the Phantom Hourglass is a strange one because the game is more of a mini-game rather than the full entry in a franchise. A major impact is not made on the timeline, and almost everything takes place as a part of a dream. The emphasis is more on the alien world’s great adventure rather than the plot itself. If you do not wish to play everything, this one you may skip.
Spirit Tracks- 2009
The Spirit Tracks is set on the Hyrule, which is newly found and a century has passed after the incidents of The Phantom Hourglass passed. Link appears in a new style wearing an outfit and hat of a conductor. Previously in this game, Link gets the Hero’s Clothes. The modified version of the previous game narrates a new story where spirit tracks the railroads that imprisoned an ancient evil, which are vanishing all over Hyrule. Spirit Tracks characterize the similar style of the cel-shaped graphics previously seen in the Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. The game also features various new songs along with some melodies from the previous version. Released around the end of December 2008, a trained mechanic is featured in the game, replacing the Phantom Hourglass’s steamboat.
Zelda and Link are seen to work together, which is happening for the first time in the Zelda series. The main villain here is Cole, who is possessed by a resuscitated Ganon. The new Hyrule is terrified of disorder when one of the retainers of Zelda, Chancellor Cole, betrays her for reviving the demon Malladus. In the process, Zelda loses her life, but later, he accompanies Link for the later part of the game. The Spirit Flute, Tower of Spirits, and the backstory behind Lokomo gives the plot a unique taste. More importantly, the relationship between Zelda and Link is the most developed that has ever been shown before.
Skyward Sword- 2011
The Skyward Sword was released on 19th November 2011 in Europe and on 20th November 2011 in North America. In this game, Link resides in Skyloft, a land floating high above Hyrule. Link learns that the Hyrule Kingdom is in danger, and he travels to the ground to save the kingdom. The gameplay aims heavily at using Wii Motion, which allows the players to get a greater control over the protagonist Link. A new flying mechanism was added to the game. A villain named Ghirahim raises some argument in Skyloft that leads to Zelda’s, Link’s friend, kidnapping.
As the game proceeds, it is discovered that Zelda is goddess Hylia’s reincarnation. Link, along with Zelda, defeats Demise, who pledges to return as the evil power again. The Wii MotionPlus has been released by Nintendo, an improved version of WiiMote, offering much greater accuracy. The game became famous because of it’s widespread use of motion controls along with the chances of exploring the sky word with Loftwings, a flying mount. In spite of it’s success critically and commercially, this game received extensive criticism for the motion control application and some other aspects of the design.
A Link Between Worlds- 2013
On 22nd November 2013, A Link Between Worlds was released in North America, and on 26th December, it was released in Japan. For the 3DS, A Link Between Worlds is the 17th game of the Zelda series. The world is the same as that of A Link to the Past and it is the sequel of quite an old SNES game. The plot takes place some hundreds of years after when Hyrule is invaded by the militaries from the parallel universe named Lorule and turns the sages of Hyrule into paintings. The open-ended attribute of the game makes it quite remarkable.
Link can buy or rent key items from Ravio without locating them in dungeons. This allows him to finish dungeons in every order. Link can also turn himself into a painting so that he can cross wide chasms and slip by obstacles. This mechanism led to puzzling designs that were more inventive and delivered the players an innovative way of sneaking past enemies. The game features the support of StreetPass which allows the rest of the players of Zelda games to arrive in the game as Shadow Links which Link is able to defeat to get a large prize.
Tri Force Heroes- 2015
The plot starts with the same Link who has fled the Hyrule Kingdom and masked himself to avoid recognition. The game shows that he is stumbling around the Hytopia land, the land whose princess was given a curse by a villainous witch to wear ugly clothing. Teaming up with the two same heroes, Link proceeds on the journey through the Drablands. The princess of the kingdom Styla is trapped by Lady Maud, the witch in her hideous jumpsuit. This game utilizes internet connection to permit three players to communicate with icons and work together. The three players together work to clear dungeons tormented with various puzzles.
Each Link can also stack on each other’s top, which is an ability that can be used all over the game. This game is also based on fashion, where the players with Madame Couture can craft outfits to gain special abilities. For some additional customization options, this game stands out compared to the previous entries. Same as the Four Swords Games, this game was also designed keeping in mind multiplayer, but this game features an appropriate campaign of single-player for a change.
Breath of the Wild- 2017
The game perfects the design, ideas and mechanics. Link awakens from a 100-year-long deep sleep and is given the task to destroy Calamity Ganon before there is the destruction of the world and save Hyrule. This game is similar to the first Legend of Zelda game, but the concept is a much more open-world adventure. Here Link is free to discover the world in all directions at a given moment. The major dungeons that were found in the earlier games are now replaced with four small Divine beasts and various small Ancient Shrines that are scattered all over the land. Various new elements were introduced like registering wild horses, taming, cooking, creating makeshift snowboards, repairing gear, durability, and more. The map has in store some adventures, puzzles, environmental storytelling, details, and secrets.
Some abilities such as Guard, Perfect Dodge, and Shield Surfing were also introduced. On 3rd March 2017, this was simultaneously released for the Nintendo Switch and the Wii. This game captures the feelings of Zelda. Breath of the Wild features the most detailed and largest world of any video game of the series and has various hidden secrets for gamers to discover. You must be aware that it is taking place over 1000 years after the previous defeat of Ganon. The lack of exits and entrances in most sites illustrates a greater sense of freedom. A limitation is the stamina bae that determines the capacity of Link to Spin to attack, glide, climb, sprint, and swim. The other limitation is that the enemies dwell in each area. There is a system of light crafting which permits Link to obtain survival items. There is a broad spectrum of weapons and tools to explore and combat.
Breath of the Wild 2-2022
Actually, Breath of the Wild 2 is not out yet. Fans anticipate the release of the game. However, the game footage shows reverse raindrop transfers and Link traveling to the sky in a new look with his degraded Master Sword. Link is seen here in a brown and green tattered outfit with the right chest exposed that is full of markings and tattoos. The footage looks amazing.
The trailer shows that Link is skydiving to some amazing adventures with a strong thrilling. The trailer concludes that a gigantic mass of malice lifts the total Hyrule Kingdom into oblivion. Clearly, there are some mysteries to discover and evil to fight. You need to wait a bit longer to know if Zelda will get a bigger role this time. It is wise that you remain grounded and never let your hopes up.
By now, you have gone through every Zelda game. We hope that you have added them to your collection. The Legend of Zelda is an action-adventure as well as RPG title. Though Link does not level up, he unlocks new skills, weapons, gadgets, and tools for growing his character. We consider the series as an action-adventure hybrid. It seems that Nintendo intends to create another masterpiece with the return of Zelda. Based on the successes of the previous games, gamers can expect a thrilling ride with innovative enemies and characters.
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