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Top 10 Hardest Zelda Games, ranked by difficulty

Life as a Hylian Knight isn't always easy.

As enjoyable as The Legend of Zelda games are, they really vary in terms of difficulty. Some of the more popular games actually tend to be on the easier side. On the other hand, titles like The Adventure of Link can have new players resetting over and over again. Looking back on the more difficult games in the series can really put into perspective the difficulty of Tears of the Kingdom once it releases.

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Which are the hardest Zelda games?

In my opinion, the following The Legend of Zelda games were the ones that put me to the test:

10. Link's Awakening

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2D Zelda games, in general, can seem more difficult than 3D titles—and they are. Link's Awakening provides a great example of this since lots of the overworld enemies can move in some weird patterns that are tough for Link to counter.

9. The Minish Cap

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The Minish Cap is notable for showing the world a smaller version of Link. While that may sound adorable, it gives every dungeon an extra dimension of difficulty since Link will have to complete some parts at full size and other parts in his smaller version.

8. Skyward Sword

None of the levels in Skyward Sword are difficult, per se. The difficulty in this title comes from what happens in between the dungeons. Players can spend hours flying around Skyloft looking for chests and side quests. The game also gets a bit tougher on the original hardware since controlling the Wii mote can be tough at times.

Related: Is Zelda dead in Zelda Tears of the Kingdom?

7. Twilight Princess

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The difficulty in Twilight Princess comes in waves. In the early game, it can be rough collecting Tears of Light as Wolf Link, but once Link gets his original form back, the game gets a bit easier. Most of the dungeons are on the easier side, but there are strong outliers like The Arbiter Grounds and Snowhead Temple.

6. Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
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The issue with talking about Breath of the Wild's difficulty is that it's so dependent on how the player is playing. Sure, ignoring all of the Divine Beasts and going straight to Ganon will be ridiculously tough. On the other hand, farming the best gear and high-powered weapons will make each Divine Beast much easier. All and all, Breath of the Wild can be difficult, but Link will always have access to tools to make each obstacle easier to beat.

5. Ocarina of Time

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Certainly, many Zelda fans played this title when they were younger, but picking up Ocarina of Time for the first time is always a bit of a tough time. It's not talked about often because it's one of the best gaming experiences out there, but nobody likes getting eaten up by a Like Like. There are also plenty of fights that will need multiple attempts, including the Death Hand in the Shadow Temple and Volvagia in the Fire Temple.

4. The Adventure of Link

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If one thing is for sure for Zelda enthusiasts, it's that The Adventure of Link has a big learning curve. It takes some effort to switch from an overworld-exploring action-adventure game to a side scroller. The Adventure of Link also has some pretty tough bosses as well, including the first appearance of Dark Link.

Related: Shortest Zelda Games – All Zelda Games Ordered By Lengths

3. Majora's Mask

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I've been playing Zelda for around 18 years, and I've never had a tougher experience than having to repeatedly go back and forth between Clock Town and the Stone Temple Tower for Magic Potion to beat Twinmold. That's just one example of the huge obstacles gamers need to overcome when playing Majora's Mask. It also gets tougher for players who search for all of the masks (although it makes the endgame fight a piece of cake in turn).

2. A Link to the Past

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There are loads of dungeons in A Link to the Past, all with multiple floors, secret passageways, door keys, multiple entrances and exits, etc. Link can't even enter one of the dungeons without climbing up a mountain as a rabbit. Some newer fans of Zelda may be surprised that A Link to the Past keeps getting brought up as one of the best of the series, and part of the reason is because of its difficulty holding up.

1. The Legend of Zelda

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Some of these dungeons are hard to find, let alone complete. Part of the difficulty that comes with the first Zelda game derives from the limitations of the NES, but gamers would be hard-pressed to find a harder game on that console. It's nice that the game gives the player total freedom in terms of where to go, but there are complications with that, too: nothing tells the player the locations of dungeons, where to find the nearest Great Fairy, or any helpful hints like that.

Want more Zelda guides? Pro Game Guides has you covered with The Legend of Zelda timeline, explained (With Tears of the Kingdom).

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Shane Foley
Shane Foley is both a huge gamer and a Contributing Writer at Pro Game Guides. He's been gaming ever since the Nintendo 64 came out, and he knows everything there is to know about Pokémon, Fire Emblem, Zelda, and several other Nintendo franchises.

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Top 10 Hardest Zelda Games, ranked by difficulty

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