Zelda turns 35 this year.
35 years since Nintendo introduced that little elvish boy with his green hat to the world.
35 years since the world of Hyrule took over people's lives and I argue, changed the world for the better.
I wouldn't call myself the biggest gamer but no game has had a bigger influence on my life. From playing A Link to the Past on the airplane as my parents moved me to another country, to buying a switch, solely to try Breath of the Wild. Zelda has been there for me, and I have followed Zelda onto each new generation of console too.
It doesn't seem I'm alone. I've lost count of the number of times I have seen a triforce tattoo on someone. Even my favorite Actor of all time, Robin Williams called his daughter Zelda.
The legend of Zelda has firmly rooted itself in the psyche of a generation, and with BOTW 2 in development, it seems it will do the same for another generation too.
To honor Zeldas 35th birthday (since Nintendo didn't seem to) I present my list of the top 5 Legend of Zelda games.
There are 18 titles in total so I could have ranked them all in order. Sadly not every game in the Zelda library should have seen the light of day.
Obviously, you are welcome to disagree and comment below. Zelda is close to the heart of a lot of people!
5. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64)
Released 2 years after The Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask was the perfect sequel to continue the adventures of young Link.
Taking place in the doomed land of Termina. This game used a unique concept of reliving the last 3 days of Termina until you are strong enough to defeat Skull kid and retrieve Majora's Mask.
All the different peoples of Hyrule that you know and love are back although this overwhelming theme in this game is of sadness and regret.
There is something really comforting about fulfilling the last wishes of the departed members of Termina.
4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
I couldn't leave out this classic game from my list.
A link to the past was released on SNES in 1992. Although the first time I got to play this game was on a long international flight from South Africa to New Zealand.
This iteration of the game includes all the classic goals of the game: save Hyrule, defeat Ganon and this time rescue the Seven Sages. Going back to the top-down perspective of the original, a Link to the Past was a perfect return to form and ensuring the future for the franchise.
A Link to the Past actually ended up selling over four million copies which are massive considering the times and has been heaped with praise since its debut.
3. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Gamecube)
I've always felt that wind-waker received an unfair reception when it was revealed.
Using a completely new and child-like, cel-shaded art-style and released on the more obscure Gamecube. Windwaker was a complete departure from its Ocarina and Mask predecessors and people really didn't like that.
Once you got over the jarring change of scenery you were met with an amazing new world to discover!
Set in a vast ocean dotted with islands. Link is tasked with trying it find and save his sister from the clutches of an apparently resurrected Ganon.
The original game was remastered for Wii and is definitely worth a play for all you completionists. An amazing little gem is hidden right in front of your eyes.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
There are so few times that a game exceeds my expectations these days. With a list of titles after Ocarina of Time that didn't quite recapture the magic, I was losing hope of ever feeling it again. That all changed with BOTW.
Blending both anime and more mature art styles perfectly, this game manages to draw both young and old crowds alike. Add to that a completely open and non-linear world and you have the opportunity and permission to explore Hyrule like never before.
Countless hours have been spent happily exploring grey areas of the map or hunting for fish to cook and sell. Renovating my house, or trying to help citizens in need.
It's one of the few games where you almost don't want to fight the final boss just so you can enjoy just a little more of the world Nintendo created.
I'm very excited with the knowledge that Nintendo is actively working on a sequel. The only question is how they can top this already classic game?
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
Did you really think any other game could take the top spot? Ocarina of time is an absolute masterpiece. Completely changing the standard required for every game afterward.
Introducing the land of Hyrule in 3D for the first time, this game blended satisfying puzzles with fluid action and exciting bosses. I'm sure I could still whistle every song in the game because the music is just that good. And the plots and twists kept you wanting to play for hours. I still remember the surprise I got when I pulled out the master-sword and got stuck in time! The sense of magic still gives me tingles.
The best part of the game though was the storyline, and the real sense of heart carries the whole game. Every interaction felt like it was necessary and added to the story. Watching how time had ravaged the people was harrowing, and the final fight with Ganondorf is still one of the proudest moments of my young life.
If there was a game I wish I could replay for the first time it is this.
All Nintendo needs to do is make a remaster of this game.
Fingers crossed it's on the cards...