The Top Five Legend of Zelda Games: GameSpot Q&A

The Five Legend of Zeldas to Hyrule them all.


Welcome back to GameSpot Q&A, a section where we ask our staff and readers an interesting discussion question about video games or entertainment. Look at this as a forum where you and others can discuss and compare your opinions of this beloved hobby of ours.

This round's question is:

What's your top five Legend of Zelda games?

With The Legend of Zelda franchise celebrating its 30th anniversary, we've been debating which five games in series are the best. Based on ours lists below, it's clear that The Legend of Zelda is a diverse series that speaks to people for an array of different reasons. But which five Zelda games are your favorites? Come and discuss it with us in the comments below!

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Mike Mahardy, Editor

  1. Majora's Mask
  2. Ocarina of Time
  3. A Link Between Worlds
  4. A Link to the Past
  5. Link's Awakening

My love for Zelda began, and remains, on N64. I still play Ocarina of Time each year, content to breeze through each dungeon with muscle memory and nostalgia alike. But it's Majora's Mask that I've grown to enjoy as I've grown with the series. It astounds me how bold of a game it is--the ever-present countdown, the novel time travel system, the various side quests and mask abilities. Its world is just downright weird. Nintendo could have played it safe after the seminal Ocarina of Time. I'm glad they didn't.

Of my last three choices, A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds shouldn't be surprising. They embody what makes adventure games great, with near flawless pacing and airtight design in both their dungeons and their overworlds. But then there's Link's Awakening. What began as a pet project evolved into the series' first outing on handheld systems, replete with characters from other franchises, and a cerebral quest on an unknown island. Link's Awakening approaches Majora's Mask in terms of its oddities, and it's all the better for stepping outside of Zelda's well trodden formula.

Edmond Tran, Editor / Senior Video Producer

  1. Link's Awakening
  2. The Wind Waker
  3. A Link to the Past
  4. Majora's Mask
  5. Twilight Princess

Sorry, everyone. It's time to come to terms with the fact that Link's Awakening for the original Game Boy is, hands-down, the best Zelda game. The best.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (1998)
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (1998)

The surreal world, dubious characters, and unsettling atmosphere is unmatched. The story is bonkers, and I'll be honest-- It's still the only Zelda plot that is remotely memorable to me.

Forget Zelda. Forget Ganon. Forget Hyrule. It's all about Koholint Island and some big-ass flying whale clown, or whatever.

There's a character who Link can only speak to via pay-phone. There are side-scrolling sections where you can blow up Goombas. You can take a Chain Chomp out for a walk, and it will absolutely wreck the place.

You can shoplift in Link's Awakening. But if you do, and you decide to show your face again, the shopkeeper will kick the SH** out of you, and permanently change your name to "THIEF", so every character in the game will know how much of a scumbag you are.

This is the kind of game Link's Awakening is.

Ocarina of Time is overrated and has not aged well. If you have not played Link's Awakening, I feel sorry for you.

Alexa Ray Correia, Editor

  1. The Wind Waker
  2. Twilight Princess
  3. Majora's Mask
  4. Ocarina of Time
  5. Skyward Sword

The Wind Waker wins out for me because of two things, the first being its undeniable mystical quality. Something about the art style, that cartoonish look that moves so fluidly, is captivating. Without the lean towards realism present in the art of more modern Zelda titles like Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess, Wind Waker becomes a moving storybook, and I feel more like I'm being told an ancient myth than playing a video game. Also Ganon's final monologue? Heartbreaking. As for the rest of my favorites, they've all grabbed my attention with characters and sentiments that make them unique. Twilight Princess had Midna, my favorite of Link's companions. Majora's Mask has its unsettling villain and creepy premise. Ocarina of Time is just plain classic, and its puzzles are my favorite of the series. And I know Skyward Sword gets a bad rap, but it was refreshing for its time, bringing new ideas and handling to a series that had built itself of much repetition. I love them all equally, but if I had to choose, this is my list!

Rob Crossley, UK Editor

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
  1. Ocarina of Time
  2. A Link to the Past
  3. Twilight Princess
  4. The Wind Waker
  5. Majora's Mask

What my list doesn't show you is how far ahead Ocarina of Time is than any other Zelda game. It is a staggeringly accomplished adventure, so epic that it stretches into 70 hours, unbelievably dense with interesting characters and places and mysteries and challenges and side-quests and bosses and dungeons.

Mark these words: Never again will Nintendo create a Zelda game of such epic scale. It is simply uneconomical to make something so vast, so laced with characters, in the HD era without dedicating half a decade of work to it. The other Zelda games on my list are all fantastic for different reasons, but Ocarina is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; a fitting accolade for what I consider to be one of the greatest games of all time.

Justin Haywald, Senior Editor

  1. Majora's Mask
  2. A Link Between Worlds
  3. Link to the Past
  4. Ocarina of Time
  5. The Wind Waker

Putting together a list of the best Zelda games is painfully difficult because, besides the ill-fated Phillips CD-i games, pretty much every Zelda game offers something enchanting and fun. Majora's Mask will always top the list for me because it combines the Zelda gameplay formula with one of my favorite genres: old-school adventure games. A Link Between Worlds channels the very best of the top-down Zelda adventures (though it just edges out A Link to the Past). And Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker are timeless classics that still hold up today. The triumph of the Zelda games for me isn't that they necessarily get better with each new iteration, instead, the games manage to mix the novel and familiar in ways that make every new entry an a highly anticipated event and every old game a must-play.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000)
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000)

Tony Wilson, Producer

  1. Majora's Mask
  2. The Wind Waker HD
  3. Ocarina of Time
  4. The Minish Cap
  5. Oracle of Ages

There are a few elements that make a Zelda game great: exploration, a great hook, unique dungeons. Getting lost in Termina or Hyrule Field is OK by me--I want to feel like there's a giant world out there for me to conquer. Then there has to be some enjoyable mechanic driving me through that world, something like The Minish Cap's shrinking ability or Oracle of Ages' varying time periods. For my money, nothing tops the three-day cycle of Majora's Mask. I still haven't played another game that made each NPC so unique and so important to the story and side quests that I want to help each and every one. And of course, what's a Zelda game without dungeons? Stone Temple Tower has stuck with me since I first unlocked Light Arrows and flipped the whole freakin' place on its head. Man, what a fantastic series of games.

Scott Butterworth, Editor

The Legend of Zelda (1986)
The Legend of Zelda (1986)
  1. Ocarina of Time
  2. A Link to the Past
  3. Majora’s Mask
  4. Wind Waker
  5. The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda is not only a triumph of clever game design, it also established a framework that remains influential to this day. The Wind Waker--in addition to being breathtakingly beautiful both then and now--boldly guided the franchise in a new direction, much to the chagrin of series fans. Majora’s Mask might be the most mechanically layered Zelda title and perhaps one of the most inventive action-adventure games ever made. A Link to the Past encapsulates a golden era of gaming and remains a deeply enjoyable experience to this day. And Ocarina of Time...I’m not sure I can add much to what Rob Crossley already said. It’s the quintessential hero’s journey perfected, and the source of so much nostalgia for so many of us. There are moments from that game I will carry with me until I die.

Kate Gray, Producer

  1. Majora’s Mask
  2. A Link Between Worlds
  3. Ocarina of Time
  4. Minish Cap
  5. Phantom Hourglass

I’m being pretty hipster with my choices here, but the things I like best about Zelda are the weird, gimmicky bits that last for one game and fizzle out again: the map-drawing in Phantom Hourglass, the Groundhog Day and mask mechanics of Majora’s Mask, being tiny in Minish Cap. Obviously I love Zelda games for what they are across the generations, but the way every game differs so much from the next makes each experience feel special and intimate in a way most other series don’t manage.

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

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