Zelda's Legacy
August 29, 2008

Certainly the Legend of Zelda series can make a case for being the greatest franchise of all time -- it's got a lot of classics under its belt. Interestingly enough, there is a lot of disagreement about which of its games are the classics, even among lovers of the series.

I'm far from the expert here (part of the reason behind my starting this post is to get suggestions on which Zelda games are the ones to play), but I have my own uninformed opinion of the top Zelda experiences among those I've tried.

Legend of Zelda
Blah. Here's a game which is much like Metroid for me, although many diehards still claim the original is the best (or second best behind Ocarina). It's a bit archaic for my tastes, given that the formula has been done to death with superior presentations.

A Link to the Past
I used to think this was the shit. That's no longer the case. I still retain the fond memories, and realize the merit it once had, but the things I didn't like before (the bad map, the dragged out quest) are much more noticeable now that I'm not in love with it.

Link's Awakening
Surprisingly, this black and white cousin of ALttP holds up far better. Maybe because it's not trying so hard to be epic, and its map actually doesn't suck.

Ocarina of Time
This one disappointed me, probably because I had such high expectations of it (fueled by Runinruder's absolute love for the game -- he ranked it in his top three all-time). Maybe I'll try it again to see what the fuss was all about. Maybe I won't.

Phantom Hourglass
I'm playing this one now. I like the stylus stylin'. It drags a bit, and seems geared toward infants though, and that hurts its ability to keep your interest. Mine is waning already.

I would like to know what people thought of Twilight Princess and Wind Waker and Oracle of Seasons though. I'd probably be willing to give OoS a go on my DS at some point.

Most recent blog posts from Marc Golding...

EmP EmP - August 29, 2008 (08:56 AM)
Ha -- Zelda games! Pffft.

OoS won't work in the DS. It only plays DS and GBA games. Anything older -- and OoS is a GBC title -- and you're out of luck.
Masters Masters - August 29, 2008 (08:58 AM)
Duh. I thought it was a GBA game. Scratch that.
overdrive overdrive - August 29, 2008 (11:48 AM)
Of the ones I've played.....

LoZ: I still really like it. Maybe not as much as I did back in the day, but this is one game that hasn't aged poorly at all in my mind.

Adv of Link: Basically the same as LoZ. The NES had a number of side scrolling adventure games I really liked. That one, Battle of Olympus, Faxanadu, Xexyz (overworld/castle levels, obviously the rest are pure shmup....god, I got to play that one again and soon). So there you have it, Marc! You start a Zelda entry and it has inspired me to play Xexyz! The greatest scientific minds out there wouldn't be able to figure out how my brain works.

LttP: I don't dislike this game as much as many here seem to do. Not my favorite Zelda game, but I can still get into it.

Link's Awakening (part-way through): Seems really fun and I agree that it has a good world map as far as game progression goes.

Oracle of Seasons: Good game in ways, but not on the level of many older ones. Some of the new items, like the magnetic gloves weren't that great and you had to constantly switch items so the gameplay didn't flow.

Oracle of Ages (part-way through): So far, better than Seasons, but most of those flaws I bitched about in that game were most noticeable in the final dungeons, where I haven't been yet. Overall, from what I've played, I like the overworld (two time periods is more intuitive to navigate than four seasons), dungeon design and plot more than Seasons, but the boss fights are more lame.

OoT: Great dungeons. Everything else felt kinda like filler. Crossing a wide, desolate land with little to do in order to get to the next dungeon. But the dungeons were simply awesome.

MM: Think I got about halfway through it and couldn't take any more. Only a handful of dungeons and most of the game revolved around doing fetch quests, resetting the clock, more fetch quests, reset again, more fetch quests, reset again....hey! a dungeon!....

Downloaded Minish Cap a ways back, but haven't started it yet. I worry a bit though, since it only has a few dungeons and most of it seems to revolve around doing 500 things to access them.
honestgamer honestgamer - August 29, 2008 (12:29 PM)
The Legend of Zelda (NES) > Zelda II (NES) > The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (NES) > The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64) > The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) > The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GCN) > The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

I've not played any of the others long enough to rank or review them (and haven't played most of the others at all, despite owning them).

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is the worst of the ones I've played extensively because the map sucks ass and the dungeons are tedious. The original is still the best and, despite what I sometimes hear, substantially different from the more generic presentation in games like Ocarina of Time. It allowed a lot more freedom, it had the best overworld map (Ocarina of Time has the worst, just barely winning out over the awful Link's Awakening map) and the balance and lasting appeal was the highest.

It's a great series, of course. Even the worst ones are far superior to most other adventure games.
Halon Halon - August 29, 2008 (02:04 PM)
I actually think the original got better with age. Sure combat, graphics and everything else is dated but it's the only one that feels like one giant puzzle. Half Life gave me that same feeling as well, which is why they both are just as good as when they were released.

I'll rank the Zeldas:

1. The Legend of Zelda (10)

2. Ocarina of Time - combat aged a bit, would be a close second if I haven't played Twilight Princess a few months back (9)

3. Link's Awakening - crappy hardware but made the best of it. brilliant level design, great dungeons, everything about it was great. I'm pretty sure I reviewed this one at some point (9)

4. Zelda II - some parts were tedious but I dug the approach and for the most part this was great (8)

5. Twilight Princess - generic game for the most part with some fantastic combat that makes the rest of the 3D zeldas feel dated. dungeons were hit or miss (8)

6. Oracle of Seasons - basically a worse version of link's awakening but still pretty good (roc cape ruled!). season gimmick isn't as good as it could've been. (7.5)

7. Oracle of Ages - some great puzzles and the time travel was cool at first but got old fast. pretty generic for the most part. (7)

8. Majora's Mask - dug the dark theme but chasing after civilians and running errands for them wasn't that fun (7)

9. Zelda III - charming game with some cool weapons but heavily flawed ranging from horrible world map to uninspired dungeons and much more (6)

10. Wind Waker - a few decent moments and I didn't mind the art style though most of the game was average at best. sailing sucked and there's a fetch quest at the end that almost kills this one. (5)

11. Minish Cap - completely generic, I can barely remember playing this one (5)

I haven't played the DS title or the CDi games.
jerec jerec - August 29, 2008 (04:12 PM)
Here's my take on the Zelda franchise. So you know where I'm coming from, I started with Ocarina of Time, and worked my way backwards and forwards from there.

Legend of Zelda

The basic core of the idea is here, but the sequels make this one nearly unplayable unless you sit down with a walkthrough in hand. It's unforgiving. You're plonked in the middle of nowhere with 3 hearts and you've got to figure it out. Might help if I actually had a map, but I didn't enjoy this one. Got a few dungeons in when I briefly owned a NES.

Zelda II

Blah. I did not get far with this one. Didn't enjoy any of it. I always wonder if I'd like these two games more if I'd played them back when they were new.

Link to the Past

Okay, now the game looks good and is actually quite playable. But annoying, really annoying. I disliked the long treks required to go anywhere during the early stages of the game, and I think I gave up on this when I got to a dungeon boss I couldn't manage to beat. I never really understood why people loved this one so much.

Link's Awakening

I love this one. It's probably the only 2D Zelda game I do like. I haven't played it in years since I don't have an old GameBoy Color anymore, so I don't know how it'd hold up on a replay... so it's probably better if I don't. But Ballad of the Windfish can still send chills down my spine.

Ocarina of Time

A brilliant adventure, and my first step into the Zelda world. My #1 game for a long, long time until it was eventually knocked down to #2. But still, I've replayed this one 4 or 5 times.

Majora's Mask

A lot of people seemed to hate this when it came out, and a lot of people regard it as a cult classic these days. I liked it back then, I still like it now. Very dark for a Zelda game, and it had a pretty cool gimmick with the 3 days thing. Different enough to Ocarina of Time to feel new and fun, and similar enough not to alienate fans completely. Same control, same setup.

Oracle of Ages/Seasons

One of these had intense puzzles, the other was thick with action. Can't remember which is which, now. I didn't finish either of them, and I got about half way through both. The 2D Zelda's never really seem to work as well, mainly because the combat is just slash slash slash at your sword on a strange angle to the enemy.

Wind Waker

I didn't like this one at first. Got annoyed with all the sailing. But after playing Twilight Princess, I needed more Zelda (more on that in a bit). I actually got into the ocean adventure a lot more when I replayed it recently. Lovely presentation, an interesting backstory. Dropped the ball when you had to buy all the maps from Tingle... I spent so much playtime just trying to make money in a game where there's never enough (as compared to other Zelda games where you constantly have more money than you ever need - and not much to spend it on).

Minish Cap

Interesting, but I never really got into it. The 2D Zelda thing again, I think.

Twilight Princess

Great game, great fun, but it felt so empty and lifeless. It had the spirit of adventure, and some story, and it had an amazing batch of dungeons. Using two hookshots to swing around a room with the endless sky below you is one of the game's strongest moments. That sky temple was brilliant.

Phantom Hourglass

Interesting, creative. Stuff like closing your DS to push a seal from the top screen onto the bottom was genius. Having a temple with invincible enemies that you have to visit and replay after every dungeon is not. I haven't finished this one, though I might eventually. If I can ever get past one stupid boss which seems pretty damn impossible even after reading a FAQ on how to beat it.


My top 5 Zelda games seem to be Ocarina, Majora, Wind Waker, Link's Awakening and Twilight Princess. After that is a sharp drop.
jiggs jiggs - August 30, 2008 (12:42 AM)
zelda 1 seemed like a pretty big game back then but now it's probably the shortest game in the series to beat( that is if you know what you're doing). despite this, this game still has several distinct advantages over the sequels.

1.) if you crave old-school arcade style action, zelda 1's swordplay is still top-notch. put yourself in a room full of blue dark nuts or wizzrobes and don't tell me you're adrenaline wasn't at least pumping or that you came out of the room unscathed because i won't believe you. some of the enemies in the game were fast or moved unpredictably which kept combat from being dull. the sword beam in this game was better implemented and helped balance the difficulty while in other games it was either less effective or forgotten altogether.

2.)zelda 1 progresses in a more non-linear fashion than other zelda games especially the 3D incarnations. you can skip dungeons and it won't affect your progress..you can't in other zelda games.

3.)this game doesn't hold your hand and give you a smorgasboard of hints. zelda 1 just throws you into this world and the rest was up to you to figure out.

really it's a toss-up between this game and Ocarina of Time as the best zelda games. i love them both equally. zelda 1 is still entertaining. the puzzles aren't as elaborate as later zelda games, but in the context of the game they fit and don't need to be too overly complex.
espiga espiga - August 30, 2008 (04:02 AM)
I've played all of the Zeldas barring the shitty CDi ones.

LoZ: Worth playing simply because it started the series. It doesn't take very long to get through and it's one of the only Zeldas with replay value thanks to the second quest.

Adventure of Link: I fucking love this game. It's my favourite in the series despite how it's the bastard of the series. It's also the most difficult one, but the boss fights are pretty epic.

Link to the Past: This was the game I got when I first got my SNES so it holds a special little place in my heart, but like others have said here it hasn't aged well at all.

Link's Awakening; Another great title in the series, despite having nothing whatsoever to do with Zelda. That's probably it's greatest asset since it allowed the story to actually be fresh.

Ocarina of Time: I'm not of the camp that this was the BEST GAME EVAR. It was dull in many parts and ultimately there was little point in replaying it, so once I finished it this game got shelved.

Majora's Mask; Once you get into the actual combat and dungeons, the game is very enjoyable, and the Mask gimmick is a great way to add variety to puzzles that would have otherwise gotten stale. The problem lies in getting to those areas through all the damn sidequests in town.

More to come in a little bit.

And a little bit is now!

Oracle of Seasons: Very fun and action-packed but also too simple. Like OD said, near the end of the game there's just too much item swapping, so I think the game might have been a bit too ambitious for a paltry 2 buttons.

Oracle of Ages: I liked this one much better than seasons simply because the puzzles are more intense. Zelda has always been about exploration above fighting and Ages uses its' time traveling gimmick to give the land a sort of Light World/Dark World vibe.

Wind Waker: Terrible, just absolutely terrible. The graphics are fine and the dungeons are inspired but the sailing aspect and the giant Triforce fetch quest at the end completely broke the game for me.

Minish Cap: It's not a bad game, it's just absolutely uninspired to the point that it begs the question: Why was this game made in the first place? It's a wholly unneccessary addition to the series.

Twilight Princess: One of the better Zelda games. It feels like what Ocarina of Time should have been, plus a dash of Okami wolfplay thrown in for good measure.

Phantom Hourglass: The graphics are certainly not suited for the DS' little screen. It looks like they tried too hard to emulate the graphics from Wind Waker on a system with less than a third of the power. It shows. The gameplay itself isn't bad though. It manages good use of the stylus.

Whew, I think that covers it all.
jiggs jiggs - August 30, 2008 (05:56 PM)
as far as the rest of the games go...

zelda II - hated it at first, but have grown to love it over time. the swordplay is better in some ways than the 1st, better action, cooler boss fights. things that kept this game from being better than the first zelda were no secondary weapons, the exploration and puzzle solving elements lacking compared to zelda 1. this game was also way harder. i didn't like jumping in this game, half of my death was from falling into pits either on my own accord or from some cheap enemy projectile that hits me while i'm jumping over pits.

zelda III: i don't see why people say this game hasn't aged well over time. maybe i need to play it again. it improved the formula of the 1st game, had some cool new weapons, new puzzle solving elements, and some cool bosses. the only difference i see from this and zelda 1 is the combat in ALTTP is not as frenetic as zelda 1.

(to be continued)
zippdementia zippdementia - November 21, 2008 (02:14 PM)
For me the Zelda games have slowly lost their appeal over the ages. The only two that I feel exactly the same about after all these years are the original two (yeah, I'm one of the few fans of the second game).

I suppose I should say that Ocarina is still good, and I imagine it is... but I haven't played it in ages. I did recently play the Master Quest version, but I didn't like the new dungeon design. I thought Ocarina had, hands down, the BEST Zelda dungeon design of all the games. The only two to come close were Link's Awakening (which was simply innovative) and Link to the Past (innovative as well, but also classy).

I HATED the Oracle series. Tried to simultaneously recreate Link's Awakening while cashing in on the success of Ocarina. Boring and stodgy was the result.

I disliked the monotony of Wind Waker and Majora's Mask, though I liked the more serious approach they took to the story. I haven't played Phantom Hourglass.

In fact, I kind of ditched Zelda after Twilight Princess. I waited and waited for that game to come out only to find a very linear uninteresting dungeon romp. The boss fights were straightforward, the story was basic, and the only character who really struck me was Midna (who remains a kick ass character in my mind). I was hoping to find Hyrule brought forward into the modern age. Instead I saw the modern age scrunched into the old vision of Hyrule.

A similar thing happened to me with Metroid Prime: Corruption. After two great Prime games (one of them admitedly too slow paced), we're given something that seems further from the original vision (and it WAS a great vision) than ever before.

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