Breath of the Wild is two weeks off, and I can't control my hype for it. I haven't been this excited for a game since Brawl--heck, I'm not sure I even have been excited for a game since Brawl. I figured now would be a good time to go back over the series as a whole to try and let out a bit of the Zelda pressure building in my skull.
So, Ocarina of Time. There's not a lot to say about it that hasn't already been said. It was one of my first games I ever played, it's my favorite game ever. My nostalgia is through the roof for this. Every location in the game is charming, with inspiring music and vivid colors making you feel like you really are going on a journey across a plethora of different environments. The dialogue ranges from cartooney to poetic and never goes on long enough to detract from your play time. Aside from a few kinda clunky 90's design choices, like using the finnicky Action Button for everything, this game still holds up today as an all-time classic.
Majora's Mask took everything beautiful about Ocarina of Time and perverted it to tell one of the most melancholy, stressful stories in all of gaming. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this is the most impressive video game sequel ever made: they took the same engine, the same assets, and a year or two of development time, and created the total polar opposite of what had just been praised as the most amazing game of all time. When you think about it, it's honestly kind of hard to fathom a game like Majora's Mask even existing: it's the kind of thing that only Nintendo could create, but it's the kind of thing that you'd think they never would create. I don't even know what another Majora's Mask would look like. I guess Undertale gave me some similar feelings?
My third favorite has gotta be the original Legend of Zelda on NES. Again, there's not a lot to say about this one that hasn't already been said: it's still to this day the game that has done the best job of being "Legend of Zelda." The mystery, the combat, the world, the way everything ties together--no other Zelda game has tried to recreate this, and aside from a few indie games like Fez and Spelunky, no other game has even come close. Zelda II was a gutsy sequel that did a lot of similar things and pulled them off well, and is definitely worth playing, but it still didn't reach the heights set for by Zelda I. I cannot wait to see if Breath of the Wild can outdo it.
Wind Waker and Twilight Princess both continue down the more cinematic path that Ocarina of Time started while preserving some of the exploration of the older games. These are the two most "modern" Zelda games, for sure, and they're pretty awesome.
Skyward Sword, on the other hand, is way more "modern," but I'm not totally sure it's a Zelda game. There's no exploration, there's no mystery, and your hand is held every step of the way. Take it for what it is, though, and you still end up with a really great action-adventure that's way better than anything else you can play. Skyward Sword has some of the best dungeon puzzles in the series, and while its overworld may be linear, that at least allowed it to be more interestingly-designed.
I haven't played Link's Awakening or the Oracle games in ages, but I still remember them fondly for their quirkiness and willingness to send the player to cool new worlds. You can even ride a flying bear! I played Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks more recently, and while I definitely enjoyed them, I don't actually remember anything about them. Phantom Hourglass's idea of having a dungeon that you keep returning back to over and over was cool, but I think they could have done more with it. What if there was a way to beat that whole dungeon in under a minute if you're a godly Zelda player? Once again, we'll see if Breath of the Wild can pull this off.
It's been even longer since I've played Minish Cap or A Link to the Past, and I remember nothing about them. A Link Between Worlds was enjoyable--it felt like a well-designed proof of concept for what Breath of the Wild could be. It used the same map as ALttP, but I remember ALttP feeling much more epic and fleshed-out when I played it. More dungeons and items and sidequests. Is that true, or is my memory off? If nothing else, those SNES sprites are way prettier than the 3D models.
Finally, Four Swords. Four Swords Adventures was such a crazy awesome multiplayer game, man. There needs to be a way to play it on the Switch. There just needs to! I never did play TriForce Heroes. Did that even come close to reaching the heights of Four Swords Adventures?
Phew. I think that's all of them. Alright, gush about Zelda with me. Which ones are you favorites? Which ones are your least favorite? What do you love most about the series?
Zelda used to be my favourite series by far. For me, the order goes something like
11. Phantom Hourglass 10. Link's Awakening 9. A Link Between Worlds 8. Minish Cap 7. Skyward Sword 6. Four Swords Adventures 5. Twilight Princess 4. Ocarina 3. Link to the Past 2. Wind Waker 1. Majora's Mask
Everything else I either didn't play, or didn't play enough to feel comfortable rating it.
The Legend of Zelda has lonnng been my favorite series, at least around the time ALttP came out. Like 3/4s of the series' games are great, and about a third of them are flat-out amazing. You did a good job covering each ones' strengths so I'd like to quickly reiterate how excited I am for Breath of the Wild. BotW is doing exactly what the series needs to do; it's stepping back and reevaluating what's great about Zelda and what could use trimming. The fact that they focused so much of this game on what my favorite game in the series (the original) exceeded at makes me extra thrilled to play it.
Zelda 1, Ocarina, Wind Waker, Majora, Link to the Past and Link's Awakening are the elite 6 for me, while Link Between Worlds comes really close.
Phantom Hourglass's idea of having a dungeon that you keep returning back to over and over was cool, but I think they could have done more with it. What if there was a way to beat that whole dungeon in under a minute if you're a godly Zelda player? Once again, we'll see if Breath of the Wild can pull this off.
There was, kind of . The final challenge in that dungeon was to utilise the shortcuts and time bonuses hidden along the way to finish the whole thing with a final time of 00:00. Doing so nabbed you golden ship parts at the end.
Honestly that was such a well designed dungeon with the multiple paths through. I want them to combine that concept with the out-of-order mentality of A Link Between Worlds. These shrines that are dotted throughout the land? Have multiple ways to complete them. If you've managed to find certain items scattered about, they could be easy. If not, they'll be much trickier- But still solvable.
Like the 15% run in Metroid Zero Mission, it'll encourage creativity and exploration to get around the obvious obstacles.
I've been gushing about Zelda by playing through a bunch of the console Zeldas that I have and doing vlogs on them. Played through Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask (first time ever playing that), and currently playing the HD version of Wind Waker. If I have time, I'll try playing the HD version of Twilight Princess before Breath of the Wild comes out, but it's super close now and TP is a super long Zelda.
The original Legend of Zelda was definitely one of my favorite games for a long time... maybe even my top favorite game on the NES, though nowadays I'd probably put Super Mario Bros. 3 over it. It was a close one though.
And then came Link to the Past. MY. GOD. Still one of my favorite games ever. I usually put that and Super Metroid up as the two best games ever made. The weird thing is, despite loving the original Legend of Zelda, something about Link to the Past turned me off a bit and I didn't really get into it until like a year or two after it came out. I didn't even own my own copy, borrowed it from a cousin or something. Wasn't expecting much but it absolutely blew me away.
I have to admit though... I've loved pretty much every 3D Zelda, but still haven't felt like the series has come into its own in 3D the way that Mario (64 / Galaxy) and Metroid (Prime) did for me. I know most people would say what are you smoking Zero, Ocarina of Time was that game! But it didn't quite do it for me. I loved Majora's Mask, but it was also a bit of an oddball Zelda game so it doesn't quite make it up there. Twilight Princess was close, after the first half or so I was ready to put it up there with my favorite games ever, but I felt like it didn't quite hold together on the back half.
Still, despite not getting my Super Mario 64 / Metroid Prime level Zelda, pretty much every Zelda game ends up one of my favorite games of its respective generation, so they're always pretty highly anticipated. And with Metroid kind of dead at the moment, the only other franchises I tend to anticipate near Zelda levels are Mario and "Team Ico" stuff (though with Resident Evil apparently being "back" with VII that might get up high on my list again.) I sort of don't know what to expect from Breath of the Wild, so my hype is kind of high but tempered, but I think it will at the very least be another great Zelda game. Will it finally be that 3D Zelda that can stand next to Link to the Past for me? Dunno.
The original Legend of Zelda has always been one of my fave NES games. What attracted me to it as a kid over other NES games was how it was more open, there was a world to explore and levels could be done in nearly any order. I guess the gameplay itself was still pretty simple, but overall the game felt more complex than most of the simple NES games of that era which didn't interest me. Zelda II was more linear, but is still one of my faves as its combat and progression were pretty well done for the time.
One thing I've always liked about the series is how each game tends to feel more unique than most series do, even Mario. Even when we get some games that have similarities, such as OoT and TP for example (which I personally don't think are very similar), they were 8 years apart so I don't see a problem. More of a great thing every now and then is still a great thing! And while some of the ideas in the games have worked better than others, they've all still been at least good games that I've enjoyed, with the possible exception of Majora's Mask which is the only one I've disliked. But, that was a long time ago, I want to revisit it with a more open mind and see if pretending it isn't a Zelda game and playing it differently will help out.
Ranking the series is always tough for me for a variety of reasons, including that the 2D and 3D ones feel so different to me that it's tough to compare them. So much so, that I refuse to decide between LTTP and OoT. My ranking can change depending on when you ask me, but for today, I'd probably do this:
1. Link to the Past / Ocarina of Time 2. Twilight Princess 3. Skyward Sword 4. Original Legend of Zelda 5. Zelda II 6. Link's Awakening DX 7. TriForce Heroes 8. Wind Waker 9. Oracle of Seasons 10. Phantom Hourglass 11. Link Between Worlds 12. Oracle of Ages 13. Majora's Mask
I haven't played the Four Swords games, and don't own them, except the free DSiWare one. But I haven't played it since I can't do multiplayer. I have a copy of Spirit Tracks but haven't opened it. For some reason, I never got Minish Cap on GBA, though I do have it on 3DS, just need to get around to it. I don't have Hyrule Warriors, waiting for a cheaper price for Wii U.
I never did play TriForce Heroes. Did that even come close to reaching the heights of Four Swords Adventures?
I only played the Tri Force Heroes demo, but that definitely didn't come close to reaching the heights of Four Swords Adventures. Now, Four Swords? It's hard to say whether TFH was better than it. On the one hand, I had more fun with FS than I did with the TFH demo, but I was also more annoyed by FS overall (I still can't get over having to find Pegasus Seeds to allow Link to walk around the game world at a reasonable/playable speed). But I did play FS to completion (all the way through the Hero Keys quest), where as the TFH demo didn't inspire me to buy the full game.
You know the Four Swords game on DSiWare has single player mode, right?
For me, I'd rank the games:
1. The Minish Cap 2. Twilight Princess 3. Majora's Mask 4. A Link Between Worlds 5. Ocarina of Time 6. A Link to the Past 7. Skyward Sword (I think a replay of this would cause me to drop it below TWW, especially if I was to play TWW HD) 8. The Wind Waker 9. Adventure of Link 10. Oracle of Ages 11. Oracle of Seasons 12. Link's Awakening 13. Phantom Hourglass 14. Spirit Tracks 15. Legend of Zelda 16. Four Swords Adventures 17. Four Swords
Tentative: 18. Link's Crossbow Training 19. Zelda Game & Watch 20. Tri Force Heroes ^I haven't owned or beaten any of these three (except the TFH demo), and obviously LCT and ZGW aren't canon Zelda games.
I've never tried to play the original Four Swords with multiplayer, but I've played Four Swords Adventures in both single player and multiplayer, and I highly preferred the single player.
There's just not enough game there for multiplayer to be a huge benefit in the FS games, IMO. On average it just hinders progress as players rush around the screen to see who can collect the most glowing triangles that don't reward you with anything permanent at the end of the stage (you just learn who collected the most triangles) instead of actually moving forward in the stage.
Mario Party is different to me because competition is actually the goal. Competition isn't the goal in the FS games, and cooperation is virtually entirely unnecessary in them.
Now, Tri Force Heroes is built in such a way that you actually do benefit from cooperating with your fellow players (doing everything solo is much more complicated), you do receive permanent rewards at the end of each level, and those rewards aren't determined by who wastes the most time in random areas of each level. So refusing to play TFH until you can take advantage of the multiplayer in that game makes a lot of sense to me. But FS and FSA aren't built to take advantage of the multiplayer like TFH is.
But they are still the ones who censor it. People being critical of your art is part of art. If it wasn't a big deal then Nintendo should've maintained that position. Instead, they chose to alter their game so as not to offend part of their audience.
I replayed 3 or 4 Zelda games last year and oh boy, they are so much sweeter the second time around. So, after BoTW a few others are on the "to do" pile and then I'll feel good about ranking them.
Zelda II, sheesh. I must have started that game 5 times and got nowhere! I go one way, dead end. I go another, dark cave - death. I hit a couple of villages, everyone is talking nonsense. Looking at this thread, the game doesn't seem to be at the bottom of anyone's list so there must be a good game in there but I just can't get a flipping handle on it.
...Majora's Mask which is the only one I've disliked. But, that was a long time ago, I want to revisit it with a more open mind and see if pretending it isn't a Zelda game and playing it differently will help out.
I'm in the same boat here. I tried to play that game without knowing the "slow down time" mechanic and it emotionally scarred me.
@Super_Conzo You gotta find the candle, but there are some dark caves you need to go through at the start from what I remember. They aren't very long though. Zelda II gets better the further in you get, as you get a few new tricks that make the combat even more fun.
Also playing Majora's Mask without the time mechanic is something I never want to do. Curious how many people have finished the game that way, because it must make the entire experience much more stressful, although not impossible.