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.

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Matt Espineli

Matt Espineli is an Editor at GameSpot. He loves MGS, film noir, and westerns, but he very much loves YOU too.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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Avatar image for mindless2831
Mindless2831

Rob Crossley. I believe that with the release of Breath of the Wild, you will in fact be eating those words. But you were right, it did take them over half a decade to do it, but they did create one more expansive than Ocarina of Time.

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REVOLUTIONfreak

I'm glad someone put Phantom Hourglass on their list. I'm sure it plays horribly now but at the time it was such a thrill.

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italiandood

1. Ocarina of Time

2. Skyward Sword

3. Majora's Mask

4. Twilight Princess

5. Wind Waker

I've only played the console Zelda games, starting with Ocarina, which will forever be the best. I liked Skyward Sword a lot, even though that doesn't seem to be a popular opinion. I couldn't get that into Twilight Princess for a variety of reasons, but I wasn't a big fan of turning into a wolf and I despised Zant and Midna and their weird noises. Still a great game though. And I couldn't stand Wind Waker's Cel Shading, but also a great game. We will see where this Open World Zelda game takes us, because I'm not a fan of most open world games. I think they are generally too easy, and I don't like the objectives being mapped out for you and telling you where to go. I'm a bigger fan of Linear games (look at my #2 lol) but I am looking forward to Nintendo's take on an open-world game. It's fine the general path is paved (linear), but I don't like when the game is mapped out for you(open world)...hopefully that distinction makes sense. Nintendo does everything else better, so why not open world ;-) I have faith in them

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heznave

It's all opinion, but if Ocarina of Time isn't at least top three, I question your list.

1. Ocarina of Time

2. Windwaker

3. A Link to the Past

4. A Link Between Worlds

5. Twilight Princess

Avatar image for PurpleHaze32
PurpleHaze32

1. A Link to the Past

2. A Link Between Worlds

3. Legend of Zelda

4. Ocarina of Time

5. Minish Cap

I admit I'm heavily biased toward the 2D games. They just feel more like Zelda to me.

Avatar image for cainetao11
cainetao11

Those 3DO ones are the best, aren't they?

Avatar image for zeroyaoi
zeroyaoi

OoT is the first game that comes to mind when I think of Zelda.

While not as impressive as some of the newer games in the series, I still think of it as the perfect Zelda game.

Definitely one of the best games ever made.

My list:

OoT

ALTTP

MM

SS

TP

Avatar image for zeroyaoi
zeroyaoi

OoT is the first game that comes to mind when I think of Zelda.

While not as impressive as some of the newer games in the series, I still think of it as the perfect Zelda game.

Definitely one of the best games ever made.

My list:

OoT

ALTTP

MM

SS

TP

Avatar image for thendefender
TheNDefender

I think Ocarina of Time is the best in the series, but Majora's Mask is MY all time favorite Zelda game.

So, my list would be:

1) Majora's Mask, 2) Ocarina of Time, 3) Wind Waker, 4) A Link to the Past, 5) Link's Awakening

Avatar image for Arguyle
Arguyle

Mine would be:

1) OoT 2) SS 3) LA 4) AlttP 5) WW

Avatar image for TheCobraKaiDojo
TheCobraKaiDojo

It's hard to decide a top five when there's so many good games in the Zelda series. A Link to the Past is definitely my number one. I've played most of the Zelda games, but nothing will ever beat the way I felt when I opened up ALttP when I got my SNES and saw the graphics and heard the music for the very first time. It was light years ahead of any game I had ever played on a home console at the time. Ocarina of Time was fantastic, and it set the standard for how we play 3D action games, but it's no A Link to the Past.

Avatar image for valtair
Valtair

Anyone who doesn't put ocarina of time at number 1 is kidding themselves. Just try to improve on the formula used in ocarina of time. It can be improved, but it isn't probable that they could improve it. The people who don't put ocarina of time in their top 5 must have something horribly wrong with their head.

Avatar image for Arguyle
Arguyle

@valtair: one narrow-minded. Bad kitty.

Avatar image for EvSolo
EvSolo

Everyone hated Majoras Mask and Wind Waker when they were first released and now they are everyone's favorites lol. Pretty surprised to only see one person have the original Legend of Zelda in their top 5 also

Avatar image for Savior4Life
Savior4Life

@EvSolo: Same with A Link to the Past isn't even in some lists! I know everyone has different tastes but come on, especially listing A Link Between Worlds above its predecessor. I have to question if they have even played ALttP or the original for that matter.

Avatar image for snxx
snxx

Edmond Tran almost nailed it. I would change Twilight Princess for A Link between Worlds and maintain the rest as it is.

Yes, Link's Awakening is the best Zelda, and Wind Waker the second best.

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doorselfin

@snxx: You have great taste.

Staff
Avatar image for maickelboom
maickelboom

Why do I see so much OoT... I mean... after 10.000 playing it it gets boring... It wás epic, yes! But then came TP and SS; these are the games that are briliant; the graphics/style, the story's (the changing into wolf aspect in TW and the dark vibe that has it... and the new elements and new worlds in SS and FINALLY for one time no GANONDORF but a new guy)... Some people here find it suprising that SS got such a high score... I can't see the problem... With every new Zeldagame it only can get better... however I strongly have my doubts about the new Zelda that's coming up...

Avatar image for perrytails
perrytails

Damn i love every game i've played of zelda but my top 5 would be:

1. Majora's Mask

2. A link to the past

3. Ocarina of time

4. Twilight princes

5. Wind waker

Avatar image for jerms82
jerms82

amazed that so many of the above lists (and ones in the comments below) don't include a link to the past. are you f'ing kidding me lol?

Avatar image for dctcool
dctcool

I'm with Edmond

1. Link's Awakening

2. Ocarina of Time

3. A Link Between Worlds

4. Twilight Princess

5. Majora's Mask

Avatar image for doorselfin
doorselfin

@dctcool: I'm with this guy.

Staff
Avatar image for DaGoyaMan
DaGoyaMan

My Favs

1. Ocarina of Time

2. Windwaker

3. Majora's Mask

4. Twilight Princess

Avatar image for jeepguy16
jeepguy16

1. A Link to the Past

2. Ocarina of Time

3. Wind Waker

4. Link Between Worlds

5. Zelda II: Adventures of Link

Avatar image for FuNkAdR0
FuNkAdR0

1. Wind Waker

2. Ocarina of Time

3. Twilight Princess

4. A Link Between Worlds

5. Minish Cap

Avatar image for Jimbowesker
Jimbowesker

I only liked the original Zelda game that released on NES. I do not know the name but I was really young and it was way too hard for me, but somehow I beat it. I remember seeing a Zelda game on the N64 several years later and I couldn't make myself get into it. I always have felt like Zelda is WAY overrated but just my opinion.

Avatar image for leon-strife
Leon-Strife

@Jimbowesker: Because it is overrated. Still great though.

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Duzntmatter

1.) Minish Cap

2.) Phantom Hourglass

3.) A Link Between Worlds

4.) Skyward Sword

5.) Twilight Princess

Avatar image for leon-strife
Leon-Strife

1. Ocarina of Time: I simply loved that game

2. Wind Waker: Whacky but cool

3. Links Awakaning: One of my first games ever

4. Minish Cap: Was ok

Did not play the other ones...

Avatar image for fyrant
fyrant

1. Link to the Past: I never had a game that felt so epic when I first played it.
2. Ocarina of Time: I still remember the Ocarina tunes even though I don't remember their names.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Where it all started.

These are my top three though I haven't played them all. Missed out on the Wii and Gamecuber versions. I didn't have the same love for Majora's Mask.

Avatar image for chambacat
chambacat

1. Ocarina of Time

2. Majora's Mask

3. A Link Between Worlds

4. Link's Awakening

5. A Link to the Past

Avatar image for JakMar12
JakMar12

1. Skyward Sword

2. Ocarina of Time

3. Minish Cap

4. Wind Waker

5. Phantom Hourglass

Avatar image for maickelboom
maickelboom

1. Twilight Princess

2, Skyward Sword

3, A Link Between Worlds

4. Wind Waker

5. Ocarina Of Time

Avatar image for WiiCubeM1
WiiCubeM1

1. Link's Awakening

2. Twilight Princess

3. Ocarina of Time

4. Legend of Zelda

5. Oracle of Ages

Avatar image for johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Here's my five favourites: Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, Windwaker, Majora's Mask and Skyward Sword. So why did I choose these games?

Firstly, Twilight Princess is considered the first mature game but really, is the game that allows you to be a wolf amongst many things. But it's really the sheer things you can do with the exception of the Cave of Shadows ordeal which is the most difficult of all. Ocarina of Time since I was around 10, I was able to find so many things to do too. Windwaker for its cel shaded water adventure which is a nice change of pace and Skyward Sword for a crazy flying adventure with the final boss fight the most difficult. Oh I almost forgot, though there are things to do in Majora's Mask, the dungeons are perhaps the most difficult ever with the countdown but what lacks in coherent side quests makes up with amazing boss fights being the most common element in all Zelda games.

Anyway, I look forward to Twilight Princess HD on the Wii U. As with the Hero Mode, I'll stick to the Wii version.

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pdfanboy

Ocarina of Time, no contest.

Avatar image for maickelboom
maickelboom

@pdfanboy: Ahhh come on @pdfanboy... Are you serious??? Ok... I can find myself in that it is 'THE GAME' wich was the first REAL GREAT Zeldagame and it is epic... but after playing it 10.000 times you,ve seen everything and you know every freaking pixel of the game..., "Been there, done that, seen it"...

Avatar image for naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

No love there for Skyward Sword I notice.

In my mind that game was simply “solid”, and nothing more. I didn't enjoy the linear nature of the game, I didn't enjoy the puzzle aspect of the combat when puzzles are combat are 90% of the game already. Sometimes I just want to hack away at things. I really don't understand why everyone went around giving it a 10. Felt like the world had gone mad. I'd have given it an 8 personally.

Majora's Mask is my favourite game, not only in the series, but in general. The places it went and the topics it tackled were just so powerful and so absolutely *masterfully* done. The emotions it could evoke out of me was insane. It did atmosphere in a way Ocarina of Time couldn't even touch. With the Inverse Song of Time you had a huge amount of time to play around with, and all you lose by resetting is arrows and rupees, which you could store anyway. Along with Ocarina of Time, the only two in the series worthy of a 10.

People had such a reactionary flip-out when they discovered there was a timer of sorts in the game, and I feel like the review scores and general opinion of the game got warped because of that. Also, you had to buy an addon to play it, so it didn't get the audience or the hype that Ocarina of Time enjoyed, being the first 3D entry.

Wind Waker felt a bit childish at times, but the gameplay was so solid, the design was so tight, and the production values so high, the end result was a brilliant and memorable game. 9 points.

I thought Twilight Princess was a *really* good game, with a few annoying flaws. It's easy to compare the Zelda games to each other instead of objectively, but it's still just such a fresh and imaginative game that I think it's earned a 9. The world was very ambitious for the time, but they made it full and rich and diverse nonetheless. I'd have to give it an 8 on the Wii though, since those controls just aren't up to it.

My order would be:

Majora's Mask

Ocarina of Time

Wind Waker

Twilight Princess

Link to the Past

Avatar image for OrangePeels
OrangePeels

I cannot see past Ocarina of Time for top spot. Still regard it as my fave of all time.

Avatar image for Princess_Rectum
Princess_Rectum

Funny how so many people are putting Majoras Mask so high up. I remember when that game came out everyone said it was so far below Ocarina of Time. As a matter of fact I remember people getting worked up when they heard the guy who was in charge of Majoras Mask was going to be in charge of Twilight Princess... Worked up in a bad way.

Anyways here's mine:

1) Wind Waker

2) Ocarina of Time

3) Link to the Past

4) Twilight Princess

5) Adventure of Link

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angrycreep

1.The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Super Nintendo

2. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX - Gameboy color

3. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link - NINTENDO

4.The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - NINTENDO 64

5.The Legend of Zelda - nintendo

Avatar image for crixus
Crixus

Link's Awakening

Majora's Mask

A Link Between World's

Twilight Princess

Ocarina of Time

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musalala

How ocarina of time is not "number one" throughout is beyond me.

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tenfour04

@musalala: I think it all depends on whether you're rating each game "for its time" or not. If I ignore when the games came out, to me Twilight Princess is superior because of the more expansive world to explore and refined game play. If I go by "for its time" then Ocarina is a clear winner because it was the biggest leap from a predecessor and competing games of its time.

Avatar image for Bahamut50
Bahamut50

@musalala: because not everyone is blinded with love xD? My top ones are link to the past, link between worlds and majoras mask. Ocarina is my fifth on the list, with windwaker at fourth. Not everybody likes ocarina the same, to be fairly serious. It's a matter of opinion.

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AuroVee

I noticed that Spirit Tracks was left out - to me, it is one of my top 5, along with Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, the original Legend of Zelda and Link between World's.

Avatar image for aedanblack
AedanBlack

Link to the Past

Ocarina of Time

Legend of Zelda

Link Between Worlds

Twilight Princess