The best Zelda games: Eurogamer editors’ choice_234

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November 5, 2020
The best Zelda games: Eurogamer editors’ choice_351
November 5, 2020

You’ve already had your say on the best Zelda games because we celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary – and you did a mighty fine job too, even if I’m pretty sure A Link to the Past belongs at the head of some record – so now it is our turn. We asked the Eurogamer editorial staff to vote for their favourite Zelda games (though Wes abstained because he doesn’t know exactly what a Nintendo is) and underneath you will find the full top ten, together with some of our own musings. Could people get the matches in their real purchase? Likely not…

10. A Link Between Worlds

How brilliantly contradictory that among the finest original games on Nintendo’s 3DS is a 2D adventure sport, and that among the most daring Zelda entries are the one which closely aped one of its predecessors.

It really helps, of course, that the template was raised from a number of the best games in the series also, by extension, one of the best games of all time. A Link Between Worlds takes that and positively sprints together with it, running free into the familiar expanse of Hyrule using a newfound liberty.

In providing you the capability to let any of Link’s well-established applications in the off, A Link Between Worlds broke free of this linear progression that had shackled previous Zelda games; that has been a Hyrule which was no more defined through an invisible course, but one which offered a feeling of discovery and absolutely free will that was starting to feel absent from prior about it zelda ds rom from Our Articles The sense of experience so dear to the series, muted in the last couple of years from the ritual of repetition, was well and truly restored. MR

9. Spirit Tracks

A unfortunate side-effect of the simple fact that more than 1 generation of gamers has increased up with Zelda and refused to go has become an insistence – throughout the series’ sin, at any rate – it develop them. That resulted in some interesting places in addition to some ridiculous tussles within the series’ direction, as we’ll see later in this list, but sometimes it threatened to leave Zelda’s unique constituency – that you know, kids – supporting.

Thankfully, the mobile games happen to be there to take care of younger players, and Spirit Tracks for the DS (now available on Wii U Virtual Console) is Zelda in its maximum chirpy and adorable. Though beautifully designed, it’s not an especially distinguished game, being a relatively hasty and gimmicky follow-up to Phantom Hourglass that copies its construction and flowing stylus control. But it’s such zest! Link uses a small train to get around and its puffing and tooting, together with an inspired folk music soundtrack, place a brisk tempo for the adventure. Then there’s the childish, heavenly joy of driving the train: setting the adjuster, pulling on the whistle and scribbling destinations on your map.

Most importantly is that, for once, Zelda is along for the ride. Connect must rescue her body, but her soul is using him as a constant companion, occasionally able to possess enemy soldiers and play with the barbarous heavy. Both even enjoy an innocent childhood romance, and you would be hard pushed to consider another game which has captured the teasing, blushing strength of a preteen crush so well. Inclusive and candy, Spirit Tracks remembers that kids have feelings too, and also may show grownups a thing or two about love. OW

8. Ghost Hourglass

In my mind, at least, there has long been a furious debate going on as to if Link, Hero of Hyrule, is actually any good with a boomerang. He has been wielding the faithful, banana-shaped piece of timber because his very first experience, however in my experience it’s only ever been a pain in the arse to use.

The exception that proves the rule, however, is Phantom Hourglass, where you draw on the trail on your boomerang through the hand. Poking the stylus at the touch display (that, in an equally beautiful move, is how you control your own sword), you draw an exact flight map to the boomerang and it just… goes. No more faffing about, no clanging into pillars, just simple, straightforward, improbably responsive boomerang flight. It was when I used the boomerang in Phantom Hourglass that I realised this game could just be something special; I quickly fell in love with the rest.

Never mind that many of the puzzles are derived from setting off a switch and then getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. Never mind that viewing some game back to refresh my memory gave me strong flashbacks to the hours spent huddling over the screen and grasping my DS like I wanted to throttle it. Never mind I did need to throttle my DS. The purpose is that Phantom Hourglass had bits of class that stay – and I will venture out on a limb – completely unrivalled in the rest of the Legend of Zelda series. JC

7. Skyward Sword

Skyward Sword is maddeningly close to becoming great. It bins the recognizable Zelda overworld and pair of discrete dungeons by hurling three huge areas at the participant that are continuously rearranged. It’s a beautiful game – one I am still hoping will soon be remade in HD – whose watercolour visuals leave a shimmering, dream-like haze over its blue heavens and brush-daubed foliage. After the grimy, Lord of this Rings-inspired Twilight Princess, this is the Zelda series confidently re-finding its feet. I can shield many of recognizable criticisms levelled at Skyward Sword, like its overly-knowing nods to the rest of the show or its slightly forced origin story that unnecessarily retcons recognizable elements of the franchise. I will also get behind the bigger general quantity of area to research when the sport always revitalises all its three regions so successfully.

I couldn’t, sadly, ever get along with the game’s Motion Plus controls, which demanded one to waggle your Wii Remote in order to do combat. It turned into the boss fights against the brilliantly bizarre Ghirahim into infuriating fights using technology. I remember one mini-game at the Knight Academy where you had to throw something (pumpkins?) Into baskets that made me rage quit for the remainder of the evening. Sometimes the movement controls worked – that the flying Beetle thing pretty much constantly found its mark but when Nintendo was forcing players to depart the reliability of a control scheme, 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 bad in Zelda games. I really could stumble my way through the Great Deku Tree and the Fire Temple fine but, by the time Connect dove headlong into the fantastic Jabu Jabu’s belly, my desire to have fun with Ocarina of Time easily began outstripping the pleasure I was actually having.

When Twilight Princess wrapped around, I was at university and something in me most likely a deep romance – was ready to try again. I recall day-long moves on the sofa, huddling under a blanket in my cold flat and only poking out my hands to flap about using the Wii distant during battle. Resentful seems were thrown in the stack of books I knew I had to at least skim over the next week. Then there was the glorious morning if my then-girlfriend (now fiancée) awakened me with a gentle shake, asking’can I watch you play with Zelda?’

Twilight princess is, honestly, captivating. There’s a wonderful, brooding setting; yet the gameplay is enormously varied; it’s got a lovely art style, one that I wish they had kept for just one more match. It’s also got some of the top dungeons in the show – I know this because since then I’ve been able to go back and mop up the current titles I missed – Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker – and also enjoy myself doing it. That’s why I’ll always love Twilight Princess – it is the game that made me click using Zelda. JC


Zelda is a succession defined by copying: the story of the long-eared hero and the Lady is passed down from generation to generation, a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, some of its best moments have come when it turned outside its own framework, left Hyrule along with Zelda herself and asked what Link could do next. It took an even more radical tack: weird, dark, and structurally experimental.

Even though there’s a lot of humor and adventure, Majora’s Mask is suffused with despair, regret, and also an off-kilter eeriness. Some of this stems from its admittedly awkward timed arrangement: the moon is falling around the world, that the clock is ticking and you can not stop that, just reposition and begin, a little stronger and more threatening each time. Some of it stems in the antagonist, the Skull Kid, who’s no villain however an innocent having a gloomy story who has contributed into the corrupting impact of the titular mask. Some of this comes from Link himselfa child again but with the grown man of Ocarina still somewhere inside himhe rides rootlessly into the land of Termina like he has got no better place to be, so far in the hero of legend.

Largely, it comes in the townsfolk of Termina, whose lives Link observes moving helplessly towards the close of the world along their appointed paths, over and over again. Despite an unforgettable, most surreal decision, Majora’s Mask’s most important narrative is not among the series’ strongest. But these poignant Groundhog Day subplots concerning the strain of regular life – loss, love, family, job, and death, constantly death – find the show’ writing at its absolute best. It’s a melancholy, compassionate fairytale of the everyday which, using its ticking clock, needs to remind one that you can’t take it with you. OW


If you have had children, you will be aware that there’s unbelievably strange and touching moment when you are doing laundry – stay with me here – and these small T-shirts and trousers first start to turn up in your washing. Someone else has come to live with you! A person implausibly small.

This is among The Wind-Waker’s best tricks, I believe. Connect was young before, but now, with all the toon-shaded change in art management, he really looks youthful: a Schulz toddler, enormous head and little legs, venturing out among Moblins and pirates and these crazy birds that roost around the clifftops. Link is tiny and exposed, and so the experience surrounding him sounds all the more stirring.

Another fantastic trick has a great deal to do with these pirates. “What is the Overworld?” This has been the normal Zelda query since Link to the Past, but with the Wind-Waker, there did not appear to be just one: no alternative measurement, no shifting between time-frames. The sea was controversial: so much hurrying back and forth throughout a enormous map, a lot of time spent in crossing. But consider what it brings along with it! It brings pirates and sunken temples and ghost ships. It brings underwater grottoes along with a castle awaiting you in a bubble of air down on the seabed.

Best of all, it attracts that unending sense of discovery and renewal, 1 challenge down and another anticipating, as you hop from your boat and race up the sand towards the next thing, your miniature legs swinging through the surf, your enormous eyes fixed on the horizon. CD


Link’s Awakening has been near-enough that a perfect Zelda game – it has a huge and secret-laden overworld, sparkling dungeon design and memorable characters. Additionally, it is a fever dream-set side-story with villages of speaking animals, side-scrolling areas starring Mario enemies and a giant fish that sings the mambo. This was my very first Zelda experience, my entry point to the series and the match where I judge every other Zelda name. I absolutely adore it. Not only was it my first Zelda, its greyscale entire world was one of the very first adventure games that I played. I can still visualise a lot of it now – that the cracked floor from the cave in the Lost Woods, the stirring music as you input the Tal Tal Mountains, the shopkeeper electrocuting to an instantaneous death in the event that you dared return into his shop after stealing.

There’s no Zelda, no Ganon. No Guru Sword. And while it feels like a Zelda, even after enjoying so many of the others, its quirks and characters set it aside. Link’s Awakening packs an astounding amount onto its Game Boy cartridge (or Game Boy Color, if you played with its DX re-release). TP


Bottles are OP in Zelda. These little glass containers may reverse the tide of a conflict if they contain a potion or even better – a fairy. If I had been Ganon, I would postpone the evil plotting and the measurement rifting, and I would just put a solid fortnight into travelling Hyrule from top to bottom and smashing any glass bottles that I came across. After that, my terrible vengeance are all the more dreadful – and there’d be a sporting chance I may be able to pull off it too.

All of which means that, as Link, a jar may be true reward. Real treasure. Something to set your watch by. I think there are four glass bottles Link to the Past, each one which makes you that bit stronger and that bit bolder, buying you assurance in dungeoneering and struck points in the midst of a tingling manager experience. I can’t recall where you get three of those bottles. But I can remember where you get the fourth.

It’s Lake Hylia, and if you’re like me, it’s late in the game, with the big ticket items collected, that lovely, genre-defining second near the peak of the hill – in which one excursion becomes two – cared for, and handfuls of streamlined, inventive, infuriating and educational dungeons raided. Late game Link to the Past is all about sounding out every last inch of this map, which means working out the way the two similar-but-different variations of Hyrule fit together.

And there is a difference. A gap from Lake Hylia. An gap hidden by means of a bridge. And beneath it, a man blowing smoke rings by a campfire. He feels like the greatest secret in all of Hyrule, and the prize for discovering him is a glass container, ideal for storing a potion – along with a fairy.

Link to the Past seems like an impossibly clever game, fracturing its map into two measurements and requesting you to flit between them, holding both arenas super-positioned on your mind as you resolve a single, enormous geographical mystery. In fact, however, somebody could probably replicate this layout if they had sufficient pencils, sufficient quadrille paper, enough energy and time, and when they had been determined and smart enough.

The greatest loss of the electronic era.

But Link to the Past isn’t simply the map – it is the detailing, and the figures. It’s Ganon and his wicked plot, but it’s also the man camping out under the bridge. Maybe the whole thing is a bit like a jar, then: the container is essential, but what you are really after is that the stuff that is inside it. CD


Perhaps with the Z-Targeting, a remedy to 3D combat so effortless you hardly notice it’s there. Or perhaps you speak about a open world that is touched with the light and shade cast by an inner clock, even where villages dance with action by day before being seized by an eerie lull at night. Think about the expressiveness of the ocarina itself, a delightfully analogue device whose music has been conducted with the new control afforded by the N64’s pad, notes flexed wistfully at the push of a pole.

Maybe, though, you just focus in on the moment itself, a perfect photo of video games emerging sharply from their very own adolescence as Link is throw so abruptly in an adult world. What is most impressive about Ocarina of Time is the way it came accordingly fully-formed, the 2D adventuring of previous entrances transitioning into three dimensions and a pop-up publication folding quickly into existence.

Because of Grezzo’s unique 3DS remake it has kept much of its verve and effect, as well as putting aside its technical accomplishments it is an adventure that still ranks among the series’ best; uplifting and emotional, it is touched with the bittersweet melancholy of growing up and leaving the childhood behind. From the story’s conclusion Connect’s childhood and innocence – and of Hyrule – is heroically restored, but after this most revolutionary of reinventions, video games will not ever be the exact same again.

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