What are the best Zelda games? Ranking The Legend of Zelda series is one heck of an undertaking. Bar a couple of exceptions, each entry is pretty much a classic at this point, and many remain fixed as best games on the console that parented them. With that in mind, just how do you rank them from best to worst without going utterly, utterly insane?
Well, with a good old fashioned combination of grit, determination, and scouring Nintendo Life and the vastness of the internet for review and user scores. That's how. We've taken a data-driven approach to the task, and after much arguing and infighting in Nintendo Life Towers, have settled on this order.
Here's The Legend of Zelda series, ranked in order of worst to best. And no, we haven't included the Philips CD-i ones, so don't even bother to ask.
It's unlikely that any of you will be overly shocked to learn that Tri Force Heroes is propping up the bottom of this list. While not a particularly bad game in its own right, it just pales in comparison to the rest of the Zeldas.
Tri Force Heroes is a multiplayer take on Zelda, and provides a variety of dungeons to battle through with two of your 3DS-wielding friends. You'll play as Blue, Green, and Red Link, and work together to battle bosses, solve puzzles, and gather loot.
The big new feature was the Totem mechanic, which allowed you to stack three Links on top of each other to solve puzzles and reach higher ground. Sadly, it just wasn't enough to save this entry.
To Zelda II's credit, it at least tried to shake up the formula created by the original by introducing mechanics from other Nintendo franchises at the time, and there were was one success. The Metroid and Mario-like 2D visuals allowed for a deeper combat system versus the simple hacking and slashing of the original.
The rest, though, is just a little bit of a hot mess. What it gained in tactical depth, it lost in its sense of adventure – which is arguably what a Zelda game is all about. Also, the less said about the tacked on RPG elements, the better.
Let's get one thing straight: the fact that the original The Legend of Zelda is so low on this list speaks more to the quality of the rest of the series than to the negatives of this one. In fact, the only real downside is that it hasn't really aged very well.
The Legend of Zelda was a very unique prospect when it originally launched, offering an unparalleled sense of adventure, clever combat mechanics, and a world ripe for exploration. It was so progressive that even today we see games like Dark Souls and Breath of the Wild liberally borrowing from it.
Let's also not forget the classic line "It's dangerous to go alone. Take this." Yup, all The Legend of Zelda.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Ages was Nintendo's effort to force the Pokémon-style dual releases onto the Zelda franchise. Ultimately, it didn't work, but the two games remain excellent examples of classic Zelda in their own right.
Seasons was most notable for allowing you to use the Rod of Seasons to shift the world's climate. That helped you solve a variety of puzzles, by freezing lakes to growing Deku Flowers. It was a smart system that would later be revisited in various other Zelda entries.
Oracle of Ages, on the other hand, gave you the Harp of Ages, which you could use to travel through time. Again, this was primarily used to solve puzzles, by moving a stone in the past to redirect the flow of water in the future or planting seeds that will grow into trees and vines.
Owning both Oracle of Ages and Seasons allowed you to unlock additional content in each game that couldn't be accessed any other way. Neat!