Here we are, at the end of it all, ready to find out if this colossal article was worth spending three days of writing and three hours of reading.
The Final Results
Alright, it's time! Ready to find out, once and for all, what the best Zelda games are - according to maths?
In tenth place, a game that we thought was underrated until it appeared on most of these top tens: Minish Cap!
A lot of people missed out on Link's handheld mini-adventure when it first came out, and we can't really blame them. Minish Cap is a pocket-sized Zelda game that very rarely gets the credit it deserves. With a unique art style similar to its big brother Wind Waker, and its gameplay that involves becoming teeny-tiny, it's a bit of an awkward teen phase of a Zelda game. It's hard not to love, though.
In ninth place, the one that started it all: The Legend of Zelda!
It's strange to write out "The Legend of Zelda" and not give it a subtitle, after 35 years of games that do just that, but The Legend of Zelda - Link's very first adventure, which is older than many of the people working on this website - came in a time before we even had the Legend of Zelda series. It's incredible to think that this little top-down NES game would eventually spawn Breath of the Wild - and it more than deserves its place in this top ten.
In eighth place, a divisive (but pretty) game: Twilight Princess!
Twilight Princess made it onto almost every top ten that we found. Most notably, Nintendo Life didn't include TP in our top ten - but it beat the original Zelda regardless, so the world has apparently righted itself again.
We're not sure if anyone is interested in the maths, but Twilight Princess got over twice as many points as The Legend of Zelda did. Zelda 1 made it into far fewer lists, but often ranked highly; Twilight Princess was on more lists, but varied in its position.
In seventh place, a Zelda game we weren't actually sure would make it: A Link Between Worlds!
Yes, A Link Between Worlds was pretty universally loved, and made it into quite a few top fives and sixes - but a game that everyone thinks is pretty alright doesn't often come out on top. We're quite glad to see this gem in seventh, but it misses out on the top five thanks to a fair few low rankings. But seventh place is not bad! It's pretty darn good!
Unfortunately, it's the only DS/3DS game on here. Poor Phantom Hourglass ranked 14th, and Spirit Tracks was 15th.
In sixth place, an eggy classic with a fantastic remake: Link's Awakening!
This one was hard to rank, because it has so many versions, and the Switch remake is almost an entirely new game. As a result, if there's one game we aren't totally sure about on this list, it's this one - would the pre-Breath of the Wild rankings have put it higher because of the remake? We may never know. Nevertheless, it almost cracks (egg pun) the top five.
It's the last entry for handheld Zeldas, sadly (unless you count remakes, which we don't) - the top five is all 3D home console games.
In fifth place, a game that almost everyone (except Jeff Gerstmann) loves: Majora's Mask!
We said that Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess were divisive, but Majora's Mask is divisive to an interesting degree. Many sites put it in their top three, but most slotted it somewhere in the middle. Only one site omitted it altogether - Evening Standard, who are somewhat of an anomaly in this most scientific study. Most people seem to agree that Majora's Mask deserves some place in the top ten.
In fourth place, the game that made people cry (in a bad way) when it was announced: Wind Waker!
We all remember the response to Wind Waker being shown off for the first time, right? People were not happy about the change of tone or art style on offer in Nintendo's new cel-shaded (and flooded) Hyrule. Well, Wind Waker gets the last laugh, as not just a brilliant game, but as one of the best Zelda games of all time.
Its place in the top four is no surprise, given how much love it gets in the rankings, but it's interesting to note that only two sites ranked it higher than third place.
In third, a retro staple that revolutionised the Zelda formula: Link to the Past!
It's getting heated now, and yet, the top three is a really solid pick of the best Zeldas that's really hard to argue with. Link to the Past's place is earned with a lot of #1 spots, and a fair few #2 and #3 spots. Rarely did this SNES gem rank lower than fourth, and barring only two omissions (ScreenRant and Evening Standard) it made it onto every list.
In second, it's most people's favourite, and some people's second favourite: Ocarina of Time!
Goodness, what an upset. We were expecting to see the first 3D Zelda at number one, but we can't say we're sad to see it dethroned - it's surely a good thing when a new game beats out an old hall-of-famer. Ocarina of Time will forever be one of the best games of all time, whether that's because of its incredible design, music, atmosphere, or story - but it's not quite the best Zelda any more.
That honour goes to...
Breath of the Wild!
In first place, a near-unanimous cry goes out for Breath of the Wild, Nintendo's latest (and, apparently, greatest) Zelda, which launched at the same time as the Nintendo Switch, a console that's fast rising up the ranks of best-seller, too.
Breath of the Wild has been bought over 22 million times, and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't consider it a masterpiece. Sure, it has its critics - but the sense of wonder, freedom, and adventure it provided to millions took us all back to our childhood. With a total score of 8.4/10 after averaging, it scored almost five times as many points as the original Legend of Zelda, which is incredible.
So, there you have it. Breath of the Wild: better than Ocarina of Time.
In case you prefer a nice, neat numbered list:
- Breath of the Wild
- Ocarina of Time
- Link to the Past
- Wind Waker
- Majora's Mask
- Link's Awakening
- A Link Between Worlds
- Twilight Princess
- The Legend of Zelda
- Minish Cap
What's most interesting is that not a single one of these individual rankings matches the final result. Even though, averaged out, we all generally agree on things, none of us agree with the general consensus. Isn't that wild?!
So... what do you think? Is this definitive list spot-on, or do you disagree? Which ranking looks most like your personal ranking? ...Are you impressed with our maths? Let us know in the comments!