The best Zelda games: Eurogamer editors’ choice_966

You’ve already had your say on the very best Zelda games because we observe the series’ 30th anniversary – and you did a mighty good job too, even if I am pretty sure A Link to the Past goes at the head of some list – so now it is our turn. We asked the Eurogamer editorial team to vote for their favourite Zelda games (although Wes abstained since he still doesn’t understand what a Nintendo is) and underneath you’ll discover the complete top ten, together with a number of our very own musings. Could we get the matches in their rightful order? Likely not…

10. A Link Between Worlds

How brilliantly contradictory that one of the greatest first games on Nintendo’s 3DS is a 2D adventure sport, which one of the most adventurous Zelda entries are the one which so closely aped one of its predecessors.

It really helps, of course, the template has been raised from one of the greatest games in the series also, by extension, among the best matches of all time. There’s an endearing breeziness into A Link to the Past, a fleet-footedness that sees the 16-bit adventure pass as pleasurably and memorably as a perfect late summer about it from Our Articles A Link Between Worlds takes that and also positively sprints with it, running free into the recognizable expanse of Hyrule using a new-found freedom.

In giving you the ability to let any one of Link’s well-established applications from the away, A Link Between Worlds broke free of the linear progress that had shackled previous Zelda games; it has been a Hyrule which was no more defined through an invisible route, but one which offered a sense of discovery and free will that was beginning to feel absent in previous entries. The feeling of experience so precious to the series, muffled in the past few years by the ritual of repetition, was well and truly restored. MR

9. Spirit Tracks

An unfortunate side-effect of the simple fact that more than one generation of players has risen up with Zelda and refused to go has been an insistence – through the show’ mania, at any rate – that it grow up with them. That led to some fascinating areas in addition to some absurd tussles within the series’ direction, as we’ll see later on this listing, but at times it threatened to leave Zelda’s original constituency – that you know, children – supporting.

Happily, the mobile games have always been there to look after younger gamers, and Spirit Tracks for the DS (now accessible on Wii U Virtual Console) is now Zelda in its maximum chirpy and adorable. Though superbly designed, it’s not a particularly distinguished game, being a relatively laborious and laborious follow-up to Phantom Hourglass that reproduces its own structure and flowing stylus controller. But it has such zest! Link employs just a small train to go around and its own puffing and tooting, along with an inspired folk music soundtrack, place a brisk tempo for the experience. Then there’s the childish, tactile pleasure of driving that the train: setting the adjuster, yanking the whistle and scribbling destinations on your map.

Best of all is that, for once, Zelda is in addition to the ride. Link must rescue her body, but her soul is using him as a companion, sometimes able to possess enemy soldiers and perform with the brutal heavy. The two enjoy an innocent childhood romance, and you’d be hard pressed to consider another game that has caught the teasing, blushing intensity of a preteen crush so well. Inclusive and candy, Spirit Tracks recalls that kids have feelings too, and will show grownups something or two about love. OW

8. Phantom Hourglass

In my mind, at least, there’s long been a furious debate going on as to whether Link, Hero of Hyrule, is really any good with a boomerang. He’s been wielding the loyal, banana-shaped piece of wood because his first adventure, however in my experience it’s simply been a pain in the arse to work with.

The exception which proves the rule, however, is Phantom Hourglass, in which you draw the route for your boomerang by hand. Poking the stylus at the touch display (which, at an equally lovely transfer, is the way you control your sword), you draw an exact flight map to your boomerang and it just… goes. No faffing about, no clanging into pillars, only simple, straightforward, improbably responsive boomerang flight. It was when I used the boomerang at Phantom Hourglass I realised that this game might just be something special; I quickly fell in love with all the remainder.

Never mind that watching some game back to refresh my memory gave me strong flashbacks to the hours spent huddling over the screen and gripping my DS like that I needed to throttle it. Never mind I did need to throttle my DS. JC

7. Skyward Sword

It bins the recognizable Zelda overworld and pair of distinct dungeons by throwing three huge areas at the player that are constantly reworked. It’s a beautiful game – one I am still hoping will probably soon be remade in HD – whose watercolour graphics render a shimmering, dream-like haze within its blue heavens and brush-daubed foliage. Following the grimy, Lord of this Rings-inspired Twilight Princess, it is the Zelda series confidently re-finding its feet. I can defend many of recognizable criticisms levelled at Skyward Sword, for example its overly-knowing nods to the remainder of the show or its slightly forced origin story that retcons recognizable elements of this franchise. I will even get behind the smaller overall amount of area to explore when the game continually revitalises all its three regions so successfully.

I couldn’t, unfortunately, ever get in addition to the match’s Motion Plus controllers, which demanded one to waggle your Wii Remote to be able to do battle. It turned out into the boss battles against the brilliantly eccentric Ghirahim into infuriating fights using technologies. Into baskets that made me anger stop for the remainder of the evening. On occasion the motion controls functioned – that the flying Beetle item pretty much consistently found its mark but if Nintendo was forcing players to depart the reliability of a well-worn control strategy, its replacement needed to work 100 per cent of their moment. TP

6. Twilight Princess

After Ocarina of Time came out in November 1998, I was ten years old. I was also pretty awful at Zelda games.

When Twilight Princess rolled around, I had been at college and something in me – most likely a profound romance – was prepared to test again. I remember day-long stretches on the couch, huddling beneath a blanket in my cold apartment and just poking out my hands to flap about with the Wii remote during battle. Then there was the glorious morning if my then-girlfriend (now fiancée) awakened me with a gentle shake, asking’can I watch you play Zelda?’

Twilight princess is, frankly, captivating. There’s a fantastic, brooding setting; the gameplay is hugely varied; it has got a beautiful art fashion, one I wish they’d kept for just one more game. It’s also got a number of the top dungeons in the series – I know this because since then I’ve been able to go back and mop the current titles I missed – Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker – and also love myself doing this. That’s why I’ll always adore Twilight Princess – it is the game that made me click with Zelda. JC

5. Majora’s Mask

Zelda is a succession defined by copying: the narrative of this long-eared hero and the princess is handed down from generation to generation, a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, some of its best moments have come when it stepped out its own framework, left Hyrule and Zelda herself behind, and inquired what Link might do next. It required an even more radical tack: bizarre, dark, and structurally experimental.

Although there’s loads of comedy and experience, Majora’s Mask is suffused with despair, sorrow, and an off-kilter eeriness. Some of this comes out of its admittedly awkward timed structure: that the moon is falling around the world, the clock is ticking and you also can’t stop it, just reposition and begin, a little stronger and more threatening each time. Some of it comes in the antagonist, the Skull Kid, who is no villain however an innocent having a sad story who has given in to the corrupting effect of their titular mask. Some of this comes from Link himselfa child again but with the increased man of Ocarina still somewhere inside himhe bends rootlessly to the land of Termina like he has got no better place to be, far in the hero of legend.

Mostly, it comes from the townsfolk of Termina, whose lives Link observes moving towards the close of the world along their appointed paths, over and over again. Regardless of an unforgettable, most surreal decision, Majora’s Mask’s key narrative is not one of those series’ strongest. However, these bothering Groundhog Day subplots about the stress of regular life – loss, love, family, job, and death, constantly death – find the show’ writing in its absolute finest. It’s a depression, compassionate fairytale of the regular which, with its own ticking clock, needs to remind you that you simply can not take it with you personally. OW


If you have had kids, you’ll be aware that there’s incredibly unexpected and touching moment if you are doing laundry – stick with me – and these little T-shirts and pants first begin to become on your washingmachine. Someone new has come to reside with you! A person implausibly small.

This is one of The Wind-Waker’s greatest tips, I believe. Connect was young before, but now, with all the toon-shaded shift in art direction, he actually appears young: a Schulz toddler, enormous head and little legs, venturing out among Moblins and pirates and these crazy birds that roost across the clifftops. Link is tiny and vulnerable, and thus the experience surrounding him seems all the more stirring.

Another fantastic trick has a good deal to do with those pirates. This has become the normal Zelda question since Link to the Past, but with all the Wind-Waker, there did not appear to be just one: no alternate measurement, no shifting between time-frames. Rather you had a wild and briney sea, reaching out from all directions, an infinite blue, flecked with abstracted breakers. The sea was controversial: so much hurrying back and forth throughout a huge map, a lot of time spent crossing. But look at what it brings with it! It attracts pirates and sunken temples and ghost ships. It attracts underwater grottoes and a castle waiting for you at a bubble of air back on the seabed.

Best of all, it attracts unending sense of discovery and renewal, 1 challenge down and another awaiting, as you hop from your ship and race up the sand towards another thing, your miniature legs popping through the surf, your eyes already fixed over the horizon. CD


Link’s Awakening has been near-enough a great Zelda game – it’s a huge and secret-laden overworld, sparkling dungeon layout and unforgettable characters. It’s also a catalyst dream-set side-story with villages of speaking creatures, side-scrolling regions starring Mario enemies along with also a giant fish that sings the mambo. This was my very first Zelda adventure, my entry point into the series and the match where I judge every other Zelda title. I absolutely adore it. Not only was it my very first Zelda, its greyscale universe was among the first adventure games that I playedwith. I can still visualise a lot of it now – the cracked floor in the cave at the Lost Woods, the stirring music because you enter the Tal Tal Mountains, the shopkeeper electrocuting to an instant death in the event you dared return into his store after slipping.

There’s no Zelda, no Ganon. No Guru Sword. And while it feels just like a Zelda, even after playing many of the others, its own quirks and characters set it aside. Link’s Awakening packs an astonishing amount onto its small Game Boy capsule (or even Game Boy Color, in case you played its DX re-release). TP


Bottles are OP in Zelda. Those little glass containers can turn the tide of a conflict if they contain a potion or even better – a fairy. When I had been Ganon, I’d postpone the evil plotting and also the measurement rifting, and I’d just place a good fortnight into traveling Hyrule from top to base and hammering any glass bottles I’ve stumbled upon. Following that, my dreadful vengeance would be all the more dreadful – and there’d be a sporting chance that I might be able to pull it off too.

All of that means that, as Link, a jar may be true benefit. Real treasure. One thing to put your watch by. I think there are four glass bottles in Link to the Past, each one which makes you that little stronger and that little bolder, purchasing you assurance from dungeoneering and hit points in the center of a tingling manager experience. I can’t recall where you receive three of the bottles. But I can remember where you receive the fourth.

It is Lake Hylia, and if you are like me, it is late in the game, with all the major ticket items collected, that lovely, genre-defining moment near the top of the hill – in which a single excursion becomes two – taken care of, and handfuls of compact, inventive, infuriating and enlightening dungeons raided. Late game Link to the Past is about sounding out every last inch of this map, which means working out how the two similar-but-different versions of Hyrule fit together.

And there’s a gap. A gap in Lake Hylia. A gap hidden by means of a bridge. And underneath it, a man blowing smoke rings with a campfire. He feels as though the greatest secret in all Hyrule, and the prize for uncovering him would be a glass boat, perfect for keeping a potion – plus even a fairy.

Link to the Past feels like an impossibly smart game, fracturing its map into two measurements and requesting you to flit between them, holding equally arenas super-positioned on mind as you solve one, enormous geographical puzzle. In truth, though, someone could probably replicate this design if they had sufficient pencils, sufficient quadrille paper, sufficient energy and time, and if they had been smart and determined enough.

The best loss of the electronic age.

However, Link to the Past is not just the map – it is the detailing, and the characters. It is Ganon and his evil plot, but it’s also the guy camping out under the bridge. Maybe the whole thing is somewhat like a jar, then: the container is crucial, but what you are really after is that the stuff that is inside . CD


Where would you begin with a match since momentous as Ocarina of Time? Perhaps with all the Z-Targeting, a remedy to 3D battle so effortless you hardly notice it is there. Or maybe you speak about an open world that is touched by the light and shade cast by an internal clock, where villages dance with action by day prior to being captured by an eerie lull through the night. How about the expressiveness of the ocarina itself, a superbly analogue device whose music has been conducted with the newest control afforded by the N64’s pad, notes bent wistfully at the push of a pole.

Maybe, however, you simply focus on the moment itself, a great picture of video games appearing aggressively from their own adolescence just as Link is throw so suddenly in a grownup world. What is most noteworthy about Ocarina of Time is the way it arrived therefore fully-formed, the 2D adventuring of past entries transitioning into three measurements and a pop-up book folding swiftly into life.

Additional Zeldas may make for a much better play today – there’s something about the 16-bit adventuring of A Link to the Past that remains forever impervious to period – but none could ever claim to be as important as Ocarina. Because of Grezzo’s unique 3DS remake it has retained much of its verve and influence, as well as putting aside its technical accomplishments it is an experience that ranks among the series’ best; psychological and uplifting, it is touched with all the bittersweet melancholy of growing up and leaving the childhood behind. By the story’s conclusion Connect’s childhood and innocence – and that of Hyrule – is heroically revived, but after that most radical of reinventions, video games could not ever be the same again.

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