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Zelda Tier List – Best Legend of Zelda Games, Ranked

Realistically, they're each the best in their own way.

The Legend of Zelda series has been a longtime favorite for tons of video game fans around the world. Each game provides a brand-new story revolving around Link and Princess Zelda while adding a twist that revolutionizes each entry for the better. Now, the real question is which of the 19 mainline games is the best. With so many different opinions and possibilities, we're here to set the record straight! The following list includes all the main games except for Tears of the Kingdom.

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Top 19 Best Legend of Zelda Games, Ranked

19. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

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Released in 2015, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is a multiplayer game designed for the Nintendo 3DS. The game's storyline takes place in Hytopia, a far-off kingdom governed by King Tuft. However, Princess Styla, the king's daughter, gets cursed by a witch from the Drablands, leading King Tuft to summon heroes to track down the witch. One of these heroes is Link, but due to the perilous nature of the Drablands, he must collaborate with other heroes to undertake the mission. As a result, this game requires you to play with others in order to get through the story.

18. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures

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The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is a unique addition to the popular Legend of Zelda video game franchise. Released on multiple dates across the globe in 2004 and 2005, this game was the second new Zelda game to be released on the GameCube console. What sets Four Swords Adventures apart from other Zelda games is its multiplayer feature, allowing players to control four different Links simultaneously. To enable multiplayer mode, each player is required to use a Game Boy Advance and link cable to connect to the GameCube.

However, a one-player mode is also available, and players can use either a Game Boy Advance or a GameCube controller to play the game. There are two ways to play Four Swords Adventures, including the Hyrulean Adventure, which takes players through the main storyline, and the Shadow Battle, a free-for-all multiplayer. The game also features a unique structure where each area is separated into different levels, and each level is split into three stages. Players can replay each stage as many times as they want, allowing for greater exploration of the game's world.

17. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords

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The Nintendo Game Boy Advance game, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, was released alongside A Link to the Past, a re-release of the classic Zelda game. The game begins with Link and Zelda in the sanctuary of the Four Sword, a blade that had sealed away the evil Wind Mage, Vaati. Link draws the sword and unwittingly releases Vaati, who proceeds to abduct Zelda. As a result of drawing the sword, Link splits into four heroes, each wearing a differently colored tunic. Together, they must work to rescue Zelda. The game's objective is to complete various levels and earn silver keys from Fairies at the end of each level. Once the hero team collects all three silver keys, Vaati's Palace appears, and Link ventures through the palace to defeat Vaati, ultimately sealing him back into the Four Sword.

Related: Does Zelda Tears of the Kingdom take place in the same world as Breath of the Wild?

16. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

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A Link Between Worlds is a Nintendo 3DS game that was released on November 22, 2013. It is in the style of A Link to the Past and takes advantage of the 3DS's capabilities to add new gameplay elements. The game uses a top-down perspective and an art style similar to A Link to the Past, but allows Link to become a flat image on a wall to travel in a 2D space. The bracelet on Link's wrist in the game's artwork ties into this ability. The game also introduced new features like a hint system and the ability to rent or purchase an item. The 3DS Streetpass feature is also used to its full potential, allowing players to fight a Shadow Link for a bounty if they happen to cross paths. As of March 31, 2014, the game has sold over two million copies and was re-released as a Nintendo Selects title in Europe on October 16, 2015.

15. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

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The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks was released in 2009 for the Nintendo DS and serves as the direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. The events of the game are set a hundred years after its predecessor, and follow the story of Link, the Hero of Winds. In this game, Link is a young boy in training to become an engineer, living in Aboda Village with his friend Niko. The story begins when Link travels to Hyrule Castle to receive his Engineer Certificate from Princess Zelda, but ends up getting involved in a dangerous quest. During the ceremony, Princess Zelda secretly hands Link a letter, inviting him to meet her later.

In their meeting, she asks for his help to sneak out of the castle so she can visit the Tower of Spirits to investigate the missing Spirit Tracks. However, on their way there, the tracks disappear, causing them to crash. Soon after, they are met by Byrne and Chancellor Cole, who kidnap Princess Zelda and separate her spirit from her body. Link is the only one who can see her wandering spirit, and together they embark on a journey to recover Zelda's body and defeat the revived Malladus. The game takes players on a thrilling adventure through the new continent of New Hyrule, where they will encounter various challenges and enemies along the way.

14. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

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The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass was released for the Nintendo DS in 2007. It is a direct sequel to The Wind Waker and shares many similarities with its predecessor, such as cel-shaded graphics and a series of islands that can only be reached by boat. However, Phantom Hourglass introduced several new features to the franchise. For instance, the game can be controlled entirely with the stylus, allowing players to tap or swipe on the screen to attack enemies or use items. The Nintendo DS microphone is also utilized to solve puzzles.

Unlike previous games, Phantom Hourglass does not feature Pieces of Heart and instead only has complete Heart Containers. The ocean map is split into four regions, and players can explore it by collecting Sea Charts. The Temple of the Ocean King is a unique timed dungeon in which players must slowly work their way through, unlocking more floors as they progress through the game. Finally, Linebeck's steamship allows players to plot a course through the vast ocean, making notes on the sea chart along the way.

Related: Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom Trailer #2 Breakdown and Theories

13. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

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The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is part of the Oracle Series, a set of two games released by Capcom for the Game Boy Color in 2001. The game has sold almost 4 million copies and can be linked to the other game in the series, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, through the use of passwords. Once linked, players can fight Twinrova and Ganon to complete the games to their fullest extent. In Oracle of Seasons, the story centers around Onox, the General of Darkness, who has trapped Din, the Oracle of Seasons, in his castle. As a result, the seasons in the land of Holodrum are thrown into chaos.

To save Din and restore order, Link must use the Rod of Seasons to control the seasons with the assistance of the Season Spirits. As Link progresses through the game, he gains Essences that give the Maku Tree strength. When Link retrieves the final Essence, the Maku Tree creates the Huge Maku Seed that Link uses to infiltrate Onox's Castle. After defeating Onox and saving Din, the seasons return to normal. Depending on which game players choose to play first when linking the two games, Link either leaves on a boat or continues on to Labrynna in Oracle of Ages.

12. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages

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The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons were the first two titles in the Zelda series not developed by Nintendo but by Flagship, a subsidiary of Capcom. Although they were not developed by Nintendo, both games were published by Nintendo. Originally, The Oracle of Ages was intended to be part of a trilogy known as the "Triforce Trilogy," where each game would revolve around one of the three goddesses: Din, Nayru, and Farore. However, during development, the third game was dropped, resulting in The Oracle of Ages and The Oracle of Seasons. By using a unique password system that connects the storylines of the two games, players can access a special ending that includes two additional secret boss battles.

The story of The Oracle of Ages begins with Link being sent by the Triforce to Labrynna, where he meets Impa, a servant of Princess Zelda. Impa leads Link to Nayru, the Oracle of Ages, who is singing. However, Veran, the sorceress of evil, reveals that she has been possessing Impa and takes over Nayru's body, transporting herself 400 years into the past to alter the fate of the present. In his quest to defeat Veran, Link travels through time and battles through nine different dungeons, using the Harp of Ages to move between the past and present. With his ultimate goal of saving the land of Labrynna and rescuing Nayru, the Oracle of Ages, Link faces many challenges along the way.

11. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the fifth game in the acclaimed Legend of Zelda series, and was directed and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto. Ocarina of Time is praised for its intuitive storyline and gameplay mechanics, which include time travel and the use of the titular Ocarina instrument. The game was originally released on Nintendo 64 and has since been re-released on GameCube, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS.

The game's central mechanic revolves around time travel, which the hero uses to defeat boss monsters and seal away Ganondorf, the King of Evil. The Ocarina of Time is also a significant gameplay element, allowing the hero to teleport, change the time of day and weather, and summon a horse. This aspect has popularized the ocarina instrument in gaming culture. Ocarina of Time is widely regarded as a classic and has received numerous perfect scores from gaming magazines, cementing its status as one of the greatest video games of all time.

Related: Who’s the cutest Zelda character?

10. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was a new adventure game released by Nintendo for the Game Boy about a year and a half after the launch of A Link to the Past. The game had a more playful tone than its predecessors, with characters making remarks about the Game Boy controls, even though they didn't understand them. The game had various cameo appearances from Nintendo games, particularly the Mario series, featuring enemies such as the Goombas.

The plot of Link's Awakening involved Link being stranded on Koholint Island and needing to awaken the sleeping Wind Fish by collecting the Eight Instruments of the Sirens. The game introduced new items, including the Roc's Feather, which allowed Link to jump in an overhead perspective Zelda game. The game also included side-scrolling sections and a mandatory Trading Sequence that became a staple of the series. Lastly, this game was the first Zelda title developed for a handheld device, and it was also the first to take place outside of the traditional Hyrule setting.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which is the sixteenth entry in The Legend of Zelda franchise, is considered to be the earliest in the Timeline. The game features 1:1 motion controls with the Nintendo Wii MotionPlus, allowing for precise control of Link's Sword and other aspects of the game. The game was released worldwide in November 2011, and a special edition bundle was made available in most regions, featuring a Gold Wii Remote Plus bearing the Zelda symbol and a soundtrack with a range of orchestrated songs from The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony Concert.

The game's story is a prequel to many elements in Ocarina of Time, and it tells the tale of how the Goddess Hylia rescued her people from a great evil by sending them to the sky. The story follows Link, Zelda's childhood friend, as he journeys down to the surface to prevent Lord Ghirahim from using her to revive his master, and it sets the stage for many significant aspects of the Zelda universe, including the Master Sword.

8. The Legend of Zelda

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The Legend of Zelda, also known as The Hyrule Fantasy: Legend of Zelda in Japan, is a video game that is widely credited with perfecting the adventure game genre. Despite not being the first adventure game, it was the first of its kind to introduce the concept of an open world, giving players the freedom to explore and interact with the game environment. Initially released in Japan in 1986, it quickly gained popularity and was later released worldwide in 1987.

The game's objective is to collect the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom, defeat Ganon, and rescue Princess Zelda. Players assume the role of the hero, Link, and must explore the first eight dungeons in the game to obtain the pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom. Only then can they venture to the final dungeon, Level Nine: Death Mountain, to face the evil wizard Ganon and save Princess Zelda.

Related: Online features confirmed in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom advertisement

7. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System about a year after the first international installment of the series. This new adventure took the series in a different direction, introducing a side-scrolling adventure with many changes. Unlike the overhead perspective in The Legend of Zelda, this new game featured a side-scrolling perspective for all battle sequences, towns, caves, dungeons, and temples. The game introduced jumping, intense sword battles, and a heavy reliance on Link's shield. It also introduced the use of magic and certain spells.

It is widely regarded as the hardest Zelda game to date, due to its "lives system" and the frustrating experience of having to traverse across Hyrule and back into dungeons after running out of lives. Fortunately, The Adventure of Link is available on multiple other Nintendo consoles, including the Game Boy Advance, the Nintendo GameCube's Collector's Edition disc, the Wii Virtual Console, and the Wii U Virtual Console. It is also included in the Nintendo Switch Online service, where players can access a special version of the game that begins with Level Eight Attack, Life, and Magic.

6. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

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The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was the next handheld adventure released by Nintendo almost two years after The Wind Waker. The game utilized a modified version of the Four Swords art style and an improved interface found in the Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles. The game introduced a new race, the Picori or Minish, which only children can see, and Link can interact with them throughout the game. The primary goal of the game is to gather the Four Elements and restore power to the Four Sword, allowing Link to split into mirror images of himself to battle enemies and solve puzzles.

The sounds, including Link's voice, were taken from Ocarina of Time, though the game resembled The Wind Waker more. The Minish Cap was initially released only for the Game Boy Advance, and after almost seven years, it was released on the 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console. The Minish Cap was also released on the Nintendo Switch subscription service Switch Online's higher-tier Expansion Pack.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

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The Wind Waker is the first The Legend of Zelda game released for the Nintendo GameCube and the tenth installment in the series. The game follows the story of Link, who sets out to rescue his sister Aryll from the clutches of the Helmaroc King. To accomplish this, he joins forces with a group of pirates led by Tetra. However, Link is captured during the mission and thrown out of the Forsaken Fortress.

He then meets the King of Red Lions, a sentient boat, who tells him that to save his sister, he must confront Ganondorf, the true master of the fortress. With the help of the Wind Waker, Link embarks on a quest to locate the Master Sword and find the lost kingdom of Hyrule, where the power of the Triforce awaits. The journey takes Link and the King of Red Lions across the Great Sea, where they encounter numerous challenges and enemies. Part of what makes this game so interesting are the different races including the Rito, who are thought to be the evolution of the Zora.

Related: Zelda Tears of the Kingdom OLED Switch Edition has leaked

4. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

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The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is the sixth installment in The Legend of Zelda series and serves as a direct sequel to its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was first released in Japan in April 2000 and later in North America and Europe in the same year. Majora's Mask features similar graphics to Ocarina of Time, including its character and enemy models.

The game's story begins with Link, now known as the Hero of Time, searching for his fairy companion Navi in the Lost Woods. During his search, he is attacked by the mischievous Skull Kid, who steals his horse and the Ocarina of Time. Link follows Skull Kid into a mysterious tree, where he is turned into a Deku Scrub and embarks on a journey to retrieve Majora's Mask and the Ocarina of Time.

Link's quest takes him to the strange land of Termina, where he discovers that Skull Kid is attempting to destroy the world by causing the Moon to crash into it. Link has only three days to stop Skull Kid and his nefarious plan. Along the way, he meets the Happy Mask Salesman, who offers to help him turn back into a Hylian if he can retrieve the stolen items within the time limit.

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

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Nintendo built on the success of the first two games in the series and perfected the "Zelda formula" to create the upcoming title for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). A Link to the Past, released in Japan at the end of 1991 and internationally near the end of the next summer, quickly became one of the highest-rated games. The game returned to the overhead perspective established in the first game and introduced a dual-world mechanic where Link could travel between the Light World and the Dark World. This feature allowed players to unlock secrets and progress to new areas.

A Link to the Past contained over twelve dungeons and two versions of each area of the Overworld, promoting hours of adventure and more in-depth puzzles to solve. The game also had a real, tangible art style, which was not possible in the previous installments due to resolution and color limitations.

The game was a huge success and is still considered one of the best games for the SNES and one of the highest-rated games of all time. Nearly ten years later, it was released again for the Game Boy Advance with updated dungeons, characters, and sound effects for Link's actions.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is the 13th addition to The Legend of Zelda series. The game was released in 2006 and is available on Wii and Nintendo GameCube. The art style of the game is distinct, focusing on darker colors, with a taller, older Link, and character designs that verge on grotesque. Many people believe this style was a response to the negative reception of the bright cel-shaded graphics in The Wind Waker.

The game's story takes place after the child ending of Ocarina of Time, where Princess Zelda sent the Hero of Time back in time to prevent the events of the game. This generation's Link lives a peaceful life in Ordon Village but is forced to leave after tragedy strikes. He embarks on a journey to restore peace to his village and uncovers the mysterious Twilight along the way.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a game that takes place long after the events of Ocarina of Time and is the latest installment in The Legend of Zelda series. This game was simultaneously released on the Wii U and Nintendo Switch on March 3, 2017. The game follows Link, who awakens from a long slumber to the call of an unfamiliar voice with no memory of his identity or whereabouts. The voice instructs Link to make his way to a certain point on his map, and along the way, he meets an enigmatic Old Man. The Old Man appears to know more about Link and his past than he initially lets on. After completing a series of challenges set forth by the Old Man, Link embarks on a journey to restore his memories, learn about the past, confront Calamity Ganon in Hyrule Castle, and restore peace to Hyrule.

The game brings on a massive open world unlike any of the games in the series before it. Players are able to explore the world as they please and are not bound by specific objectives. In fact, some players went directly to Calamity Ganon and completed the game in thirty minutes simply because it was allowed. It also helps that players can add mods to better their gameplay and visual experiences.

For more Zelda, check out Zelda BOTW Camel Divine Beast Walkthrough (Vah Naboris) and Days Until Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Countdown) only on Pro Game Guides.

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Nat Collazo
Nat Collazo is a writer with a little over a decade of experience in the gaming industry after having started as a sign flipper for Play N' Trade stores while dressed as Mario. Now they spend all of their time writing, forgetting to drink their coffee, and switching between Pokemon Masters, Lost Ark, and whatever else currently has their interest.

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Zelda Tier List – Best Legend of Zelda Games, Ranked

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