So I have a pet theory, regarding the wildly schismatic nature of the Zelda fanbase: People probably aren't disagreeing on the relative qualities of each game. My theory is that they just have different priorities, so they prefer different entries. I mean, is ANYONE going to say that Wind Waker has better puzzles than Twilight Princess?
So let's rank every Zelda game (that we've played) in these key categories:
2) Puzzle Design:
3) Overworld (exploration):
5) Mini-games and sidequests:
10) Game Balance (puzzle challenge vs. combat challenge vs. economy):
12) Length (Too short, Just right, Overstayed it's welcome):
13) Story (and characters):
14) Overall Grade:
If I missed any key categories, let me know. I'm thinking we can assign a score of 1 to 5 for each (5 being the highest). If you desire, you can explain your rating briefly.
Keep in mind, the 1 to 5 scale I'm suggesting is RELATIVE to other Zeldas, not all other games. So a 1 means that it would be among the worst in that category in the Zelda series. 5 means one of the best. I'm going to use .5s for the overall grade, too, but only for the overall grade.
And you don't have to do them all at once. Feel free to tackle one or two at a time. Then, at the end, maybe some statistics nerd (*cough*Zero*cough*) can compile the results and check the deviation in each category, or whatever.
You can also compare different games head-to-head, which sounds more fun than a humongous list to me. I will start with the eternal debate: Twilight Princess vs. Wind Waker vs. Ocarina of Time. Here we go!
@Jargon Well, you wouldn't have to rank 2D and 3D at the same time. Or even against each other. I did want to keep the thread open to 2D vs. 3D Zelda head-to-heads, though. Like you implied, some of the categories wouldn't really translate. In that case, you can just enter N/A, I guess.
But it seems like it might be interesting to compare 2D and 3D overworlds or combat or controls or music. Or even graphics. I mean, Ocarina may well be the ugliest Zelda game.
I also thought of adding a Variety category, but nah.
Also, I'm not sure about the Dungeons category being separate from Puzzles...
Oh man, every Zelda? These are gonna be some big-A posts. But I'm game, this is my favorite series, after all. I'm including FSA but not the original FS, and no Crossbow Training or CD-i games or remakes or Master Quest. I'm also taking "for its time" into consideration--i.e. TP had better combat than OoT if they'd released on the same day, but OoT introduced so many new concepts and introduced them well that I'd give it the higher rating.
1) Combat (Fun, Difficulty Level):
TLoZ: 4 AoL: 4 LttP: 4 LA: 4 OoT: 5 MM: 4 OoS: 3 (pretty much just a rehash of LA's) OoA: 2 (pretty much just a rehash of LA's, minus the switch hook) TWW: 4 (major points for really fun, fluid battles, loses points for easiness) FSA: 2 (kinda clunky in 1P, to be honest) TMC: 3 TP: 3 PH: 2 ST: 2 SS: 4 (some of the best combat in the series, but occasionally unresponsive) ALBW: 4
2) Puzzle Design (Fun, Difficulty Level):
TLoZ: 2 (fairly basic and archaic, in all honesty, though figuring out boss weaknesses is good) AoL: 2 (very few real puzzles) LttP: 3 LA: 3 OoT: 4 MM: 5 OoS: 3 OoA: 5 TWW: 2 FSA: 2 TMC: 3 TP: 4 PH: 4 ST: 3 SS: 3 ALBW: 3
Puzzles aren't really this series' strong suit. Only MM and OoA really stand out as particularly clever in this category.
TLoZ: 4 AoL: 4 LttP: 4 LA: 4 OoT: 4 MM: 4 OoS: 2 OoA: 2 TWW: 5 (best Zelda soundtrack for sure) FSA: 3 TMC: 2 TP: 4 PH: 1 ST: 4 SS: 3 ALBW: 4 (so close to a five, but not quite enough original songs)
TLoZ: 5 AoL: 4 LttP: 5 LA: 5 OoT: 2 MM: 4 OoS: 4 OoA: 4 TWW: 4 FSA: 1 (no economy) TMC: 3 TP: 1 (putting money back in chests, most of your cash goes towards large-scale projects that do little) PH: 3 ST: 3 SS: 4 (lots to buy and upgrade) ALBW: 4
10) Game Balance (puzzle challenge vs. combat challenge vs. economy):
TLoZ: 4 AoL: 3 LttP: 4 LA: 4 OoT: 3 MM: 4 OoS: 4 OoA: 4 TWW: 3 FSA: 2 TMC: 3 TP: 3 PH: 4 ST: 3 SS: 5 (the best one in this area, actually) ALBW: 4
@Jargon Haha, I say it all the time, right? It's clunklicious! Link moves like he has a load in his pants. That said, I do think that the game is well-balanced overall, such that the combat is integrated with the clunk, as in the first Legend of Zelda (or StarTropics, or something).
I just don't find it fun to manipulate Link in Ocarina of Time. Wind Waker and Twilight Princess made huge advances in that category.
Again, that doesn't mean that it has the worst controls of any game ever. Just among the worst for a Zelda game IMO.
@TriforceBun A different approach! And you did them all already? Man, that was quick. (I also rethought rating difficulty in the combat and puzzle category, instead relegating that to Game Balance. But maybe the earlier way was better.) And 'for it's time' explains your ratings for OoT vs. TP, I guess. I can appreciate that. Ocarina was far more groundbreaking, after all. But I've been rating the games without regard to historical context (which is why I seemed so harsh on Ocarina). Early 3D aside, the games hold up well enough for that. The NES games might top my list, regardless.
So Wind Waker was the only entry to receive a 5 in music from you, eh? Can you resist the power of the original Overworld and Underworld themes? Zelda 1 didn't have much music, but what was there was incredibly iconic. I think it'll top my list, sound-wise.
But 7 Overall 5's? Seems like you have a lot more love in your heart than most Zelda fans (although not for the DS games!).
The controls are limited but I wouldn't call them stiff because they're very responsive. If the game didn't allow for pinpoint accuracy, no one would be able to make it through a room full of Darknuts. It makes for some of the best twitchy arcade gameplay on NES, which is a big step up in my opinion from combat in most Zelda games which just seems to be thrown in.
PS. Now that I know what your voice sounds like I'm having a hard time imagining you saying "bro" haha.
@Shadowlink I know Ocarina of Time is overrated but you're putting it in 10 billionth place!? Surely it deserves a bit better. Good job on recognizing Spirit Tracks as one of the best Zelda games though!
Dang, that's a good point. Link's sword may require more accuracy of the player than later games, but maybe that's not a bad thing. You can't really "clear out" a room in a super quick, easy way like in LttP and its uber Golden Sword. Gotta be fast, gotta hit and run. And the enemies are all designed around the limitations (except for maybe those friggin' Blue Wizzrobes).
Yeah, I think OoT deserves major props for "setting the standard" for the series in several ways. It's a big reason why so many people say that OoT's had four follow-ups--it got the controls right the first time. Well, on a foundational level; I won't deny that Link feels pretty chunky compared to his speedy, wall-running self from SS.
There're about 6 Zelda games in my top 30 of all time, so I figured those all deserved a 5. And ALBW isn't quite that high, but it's next on the list and my GOTY of last year, so I tossed it a 5 too.
And yeah, the DS games are kinda pooey IMO. I still haven't finished Spirit Tracks. But I will say this about it--the music was much better than Phantom Hourglass's.
Wind Waker's soundtrack is just terrific. It's got great theming throughout (a strong celtic approach, some sweeping orchestral-type stuff), a large number of strong melodies, and what might be my favorite Zelda song of all (credits theme). Only thing holding it back is the lack of an orchestra; maybe the Wii U one will bring SS's live instruments back in full force. As a side note for that game, I was glad they went all out with the instrumentation, but most of the melodies weren't really that great. They got the StarFox 64 guy (for some reason) to compose it, instead of Nintendo's resident super-genius musical upstart, Yokota.
Zelda 1 was close to a 5 for two very iconic themes. I'd just like to hear more music in that one!
It was alright. The 1P "formation" type gameplay was pretty weird and didn't really add anything to the experience. The multi is hilarious and rage-inducing, but good luck trying to set it up with everyone!
As someone gruff once said, "The sword in the original Zelda feels like Link is trying to slap enemies with his dick." Sometimes the difficulty feels cheap due to its archaic limitations rather than actual good design. I still like that game but it's really starting to show its age, and I wonder if I only like it because I grew up with it. I'd like to see a modern take on its designs.
For the topic at hand, I don't know if I could order things so specifically like this, but I can list my number one pick for each category at least.
1) Combat: Skyward Sword
2) Puzzle Design: Ocarina of Time
3) Overworld (exploration): Link to the Past
4) Dungeons: Ocarina of Time
5) Mini-games and sidequests: Twilight Princess
6) Controls: Ocarina of Time
7) Graphics: Skyward Sword
8) Music: Zelda II
9) Economy: I'm not sure what this one's supposed to mean. LttP, I guess?
I don't see what's cheap about having rooms where you can see all your obstacles the minute you step in and have been taught how to deal with each of them gradually as the difficulty amps up. The slowdown can be a pain, which is indeed tied to its limitations at the time, but I wouldn't call that cheap.