11. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN)

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess took the series back to an art style closer to Ocarina of Time, albeit a little earthier and obviously benefiting from the power of the 'Cube. For many fans, it was the 'realistic' Zelda they'd been pining for after Nintendo took a left turn with The Wind Waker's cel-shading, and although it didn't quite strike all the right notes, it still features some breathtaking dungeons, memorably oddball characters, and a unique atmosphere.

Setting a precedent that Nintendo would later repeat with Breath of the Wild, Twilight Princess straddled generations, bookending the GameCube and launching the Wii with some added waggle and widescreen.

10. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

When we first heard that the 3DS entry in the venerable series would revisit the world of A Link To The Past, our excitement was tempered with trepidation. The SNES classic is sacred ground and after so many 3D iterations that stuck to its template, perhaps returning to that Hyrule might sully our memories, or worse, reveal that it wasn’t quite as good as we remember.

Of course, our concern was unwarranted – A Link Between Worlds proved to be spectacular. Like all the best mechanics in the series, its novel wall-painting transformation puzzles were so ingeniously simple that you wondered why the concept hadn’t been hit upon before. Great use of the system’s 3D feature brought Hyrule to life in a game that rivals the greatest in the series. If – shock! horror! – you’re reading this and you don’t own a 3DS, it’s time to track down a deal and play one of the very best games in a franchise of winners.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)

Known colloquially around these parts as Majora's Marmite, the three-day cycle added a constant pressure that turned off many players. However, that cycle is also key to the unique way Majora's Mask focuses on its cast of uncanny characters and soaks the adventure in melancholy and madness.

In fact, 'adventure' isn't quite the right word for this Zelda game. It's more of a Lynchian dreamscape in cartridge form, and one which isn't for everyone. The excellent 3DS remake is probably the best way to play these days thanks to some welcome additions for managing your limited time, although the original is conveniently available to play via Nintendo Switch Online. Wherever you play, the clockwork land of Termina offers something truly unique in the Zelda series.

Oh, and we don't really call it Majora's Marmite.

8. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)

As if its library wasn't impressive enough, the 3DS got a wonderful reworking of a game which collects ‘Best Game Of All Time’ awards like beer mats.

It was always going to be good, but Grezzo managed to strike the perfect balance between evoking nostalgia for the N64 original and carefully updating and polishing the experience to help it shine in the 21st century. It’s just like you remember, but going back and actually comparing the two reveals that it’s vastly improved and overhauled, from UI to textures to character models. The modifications this release brought to the table make this the best way to play the game in the present day. And everybody should play Ocarina of Time.

7. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)

In this HD remaster, Nintendo did a valiant job of breathing new life into what was already an exceptional Legend of Zelda title. It took the game’s timeless art style and gave it a glorious new HD sheen, while also making an extensive amount of worthwhile improvements to previously flawed aspects of the gameplay. Sailing across the Great Sea, discovering new islands, and exploring exciting dungeons — the designs of which still shine even today – has simply never been as much fun as it is on Wii U.

It’s fair to say that Nintendo could have done more in certain areas (there really isn’t anything substantial in the way of new content), and the updated lighting, though lovely in its own right, is not necessarily 'better'; it's heavy on the bloom compared to the sublime original. Still, The Wind Waker was never in need of a drastic overhaul; this refinement made welcome tweaks that brought it more in line with modern standards. A great game made (for the most part) even greater, then.

6. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)

Given the 'Cel-da' controversy that blighted the game at its initial reveal, it's fitting that The Wind Waker has come to be so loved and admired over time. Where other games of the era struggle under the weight of modern high-definition scrutiny, Toon Link's maiden voyage looks almost as fresh as the day we first set out from Outset Isle to discover what had happened to the Hyrule we once knew.

It's not without flaws (and the HD remake on Wii U addressed many of them) but thinking back, we don't really remember the repetitive wind conducting, the infamous Triforce shard hunt or Tingle's sea chart extortion. No, it's the rainbow colours of the tempestuous ocean, the breezy panpipes of Dragon Roost and the salty self-reflection our voyages brought about that stick in the memory. Beneath the surface, it's very much a continuation of the 3D Zelda template laid down in Ocarina of Time, but there's undeniable magic in The Wind Waker, and in spite of its imperfections, it's still one of our very favourites of the series.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (GB)

It would be difficult to argue against The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening being the pinnacle of gaming on the Game Boy. The developers were able to squeeze an extremely lengthy quest into the tiny package and push just about every facet of the handheld hardware to its limit. Not only is Link's Awakening not the dumbed-down Zelda adventure many initially feared it would be, but it turned out to be one of the best entries in the series and one that is beloved among Zelda fans the world over. It laid the foundation for so many Zelda mechanics we still see today, introducing flying with Cuccos, trading sequences, playing songs on an ocarina, fishing, and even minibosses.

For such a tiny game, Link's Awakening created enormous shockwaves in the Zelda franchise that we're still feeling today. If you want to experience the very best that the portable system has to offer, do yourself a favour and get this (or the DX version for Game Boy Color with the extra dungeon that's handily available via Nintendo Switch Online) immediately. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Switch)

It’s impossible to talk about everything that makes The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom so incredible, and making many of those discoveries yourselves is part of the magic. It’s also impossible to overstate just how much there is to do in this Hyrule the second time around. Much like its predecessor, this will likely become your playground for several years to come, with a little sprinkling of that older Zelda fairy dust mixed into Breath of the Wild’s formula. It’s a glorious, triumphant sequel to one of the best video games of all time; absolute unfiltered bliss to lose yourself in for hundreds of hours.

3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the best games of all time, and if you haven't experienced it yourself... you probably have through one of the other Zelda games, such was its influence on the series and the action-adventure genre. It introduced many mainstays of the franchise, including various stalwart items and the idea of parallel worlds. Link could move diagonally and run thanks to the Pegasus Boots, and he could swipe his sword sideways, allowing for a much wider range when attacking.

There's no shortage of 2D and 3D Zeldas to choose from these days, but this 16-bit entry codified the core elements of a 'Zelda game' for the decades that followed. It's still got that touch of magic about it many years later. Unmissable.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

What is there that hasn't already been said about this one? A seminal video game, Ocarina of Time brought The Legend of Zelda into the third dimension as successfully as the plumber made the leap in Super Mario 64. Yet where Nintendo could throw any playground-style idea into Mario's launch game, Ocarina had to tell a story and evoke a consistent mood throughout.

Going back these days, the frame rate and cumbersome menus may surprise you, and Hyrule Field feels decidedly smaller (more like a field, in fact) compared to the vast kingdom of Hyrule presented in Breath of the Wild, but the pure magic of the game still shines through any ageing systems. This set the template for not only every subsequent Zelda title, but also the majority of action-adventure games from the past two-and-a-half decades; no wonder it's so revered.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on 3DS is the more streamlined version, but there are things that Grezzo's excellent remake couldn't quite recapture. Whether it's the Rumble Pak-powered Stone of Agony or the 64-bit mist hanging over Lake Hylia in the early hours, the N64 original still has that special something.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a landmark release, both for its franchise and Nintendo. It was the first time that the company truly took on the open-world genre, and by arriving late to the party it embraced the strengths of top-in-class games while also forging its own unique identity. This game was a revolution for the series, but the Legend of Zelda essence is still there — its soul remains, and the end result is captivating. After years of following the same old template, Nintendo bravely took Zelda in a new direction and delivered an absolute triumph which still has us regularly revisiting its iteration of Hyrule. Its sequel expanded on the open world first presented here, but the excitement of exploring this wilderness for the very first is an experience nobody should miss.

There we have it – all the Legend of Zelda games ranked. Think we've missed something? Let us know below and we'll be sure to correct any administrative oversights! Remember, the ranking is subject to change even now. If you haven't rated the ones you've played, feel free to get rating and potentially affect the order.

What's your favourite Zelda? Let us know in the comments below.