History Of The Legend Of Zelda

Join us as we go through the entire history of Nintendo's legendary franchise.


Few--if any--video game series are as acclaimed as The Legend of Zelda. Since its debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System nearly 40 years ago, Zelda has not only represented the very best that video games have to offer, but has regularly pushed the medium forward with new game mechanics, the transition from 2D to 3D, and open-ended and player-focused approaches to world design. In this episode of The Lore You Know--part of GameSpot's fresh video lineup--join us as we journey through the history of Zelda, going all the way back to the franchise's earliest days up to the brand-new Tears of the Kingdom.

The Legend of Zelda hit the ball out of the park in 1986, introducing gameplay elements and characters that are still used today. Its enormous critical and commercial success didn't stop Nintendo from experimenting with the format, however, leading to the contentious Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and while A Link to the Past took Zelda back to a more-familiar structure a few years later, some of Zelda II's features--like Link's downward sword thrust--would actually go on to be influential in a variety of other games outside of the series.

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Now Playing: History of The Legend of Zelda

The series got weird as we went further into the '90s, with some David Lynch influence affecting development of a Game Boy game, of all things, but the biggest leap forward came in 1998 with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Still regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, it managed to shatter players' expectations for what a Zelda game could be, and its follow-up Majora's Mask gave us all panic attacks with its three-day time limit.

For its next few games the Zelda series took drastically different appearances, ranging from the cartoony Wind Waker to the darker, more-realistic Twilight Princess. And after a period of experimentation with touch controls on DS and full-on motion controls on Wii, Nintendo simplified the controls and un-simplified the world with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. How many other series' most-innovative game came more than 30 years after it began?

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