My Biased, Uneducated, Lackluster and Lazy List of Legend of Zelda Games (My B.U.L.L. List)
If I’m going to make a list of Mario games, I’d might as well make one for Zelda games. No can really deny that these game series kind of go hand-in-hand.
17. Oracle of Ages
Alright, the main reason this game is at the bottom of my list is… I never played it. It’s the only Zelda game I’ve never played, and that’s a personal shame of mine (not really). I’ll explain more
once I get to Oracle of Seasons.
16. The Adventure of Link
The sequel to the first LoZ game, The Adventure of Link departs from its predecessor’s gameplay in a few significant ways. There is a larger focus on RPG elements, attack upgrades and the decision to have all action take place from a side-scrolling point of view. It was a very original game that introduced many long-running staples of the Zelda series, such as Dark Link and the Triforce of
AoL does not bother me for the reasons it deters most other gamers. While many detest the lack of familiarity with the first Zelda game, my main source of dissatisfaction stems from a trend that plagued many titles from this era of gaming: if the game has any depth, you’re going to need a walkthrough to beat it. Basically, this game was made with the idea of making you either waist days of your life trying to finish it, or subscribe to Nintendo Power. This is one of three Zelda games I’ve never finished. It’s not technically bad game design, but it is cheap, and I prefer a game that lets me figure things out through reasoning, instead of dumb luck or tutorials.
15. Legend of Zelda
This is the game that started it all. A revolution during its era, LoZ set a standard for what a good adventure game was to be. Free-roaming exploration, challenging puzzles and the ability to save your adventure’s progress made this game a must-own for the NES.
What makes this game not be a must-own today is what plagued its sequel. Zero direction given to the player, so if you want to finish the game, either spend too much time playing it or look up the clues to beating it, which is why I never even finished it.
14. Oracle of Seasons
Released simultaneously with Oracle of Ages, OoS was one of three games made for the Gameboy/Gameboy Color. While also being a new adventure, it borrowed many of the beloved and successful elements found in previous games, while introducing original mechanics, such as changing the seasons in order to manipulate the environment.
The key issues this game has is that it just feels rough, at least compared to other Zelda games. The gameplay was typically adequate, but dungeons, overworld, and especially the story sequences that took place before each dungeon felt too long, convoluted, or just plain cluttered. Much of the game felt like padding to make the story last longer.
13. Four Swords
Four Swords was originally a multiplayer-only game released with the GBA remake of A Link to the Past. Each player took the role as one of four Links, and had to cooperate to complete the game’s dungeons. It was an interesting concept, which finally saw a larger level of play after it was re-released with a single player-only mode on the 3DS.
Four Swords is fun, but it feels like an afterthought to me. It’s short, simple and at times feels like a demo for games to come. There’s nothing truly wrong with it, but does fall into that “forgettable” category.
12. Spirit Tracks
The second of two games made specifically for the DS, Spirit Tracks is a follow-up to Phantom Hourglass and continues the story a hundred years after it. The gameplay remains mostly the same from Phantom Hourglass, with a few improvements and the inclusion of a train and track system for
your primary means of travel.
This game is one of the more frustrating Zelda games for me. The reason being, of course, the traveling by train, and the severe amount of padding used. Since the train is lock onto the tracks, you don’t have any free range of movement. This forces you to have near-perfect precision when trying to complete certain challenges, like the sections where you must avoid monsters in tunnels, or just avoiding the exploding train enemies that will randomly appear anywhere. So unless you can plan your movements multiple steps ahead, or do everything perfectly in one go, you’ll be receiving Game Over after Game Over.
The padding, while not as bothersome as the train, still makes it obvious that this game had a short development period. You’ll revisit old areas many times, go in circles, and complete dungeons that feel longer than they need to be, especially towards the end of the game. Spirit Tracks is fun, but for me, it was only fun once.
11. A Link to the Past
A Link to the Past could be considered the true sequel to the first LoZ. It follows the same formula and has the same top-down perspective. It is a masterpiece, highly praised by fans and critics, and the source of many of the series’ running themes, mechanics and characters.
Now while I do admit this game is a marvel, I for whatever reason have never loved this game as much as many other fans of the series. I’ve never been able to pinpoint what bothers me about it, either. I don’t know if it’s the overall tone, setting or the dungeons, but something keeps this game low on my replay list.
10. Minish Cap
This was the only truly new game for the GBA. It serves as a prequel to Four Swords, and explains where the Four Sword itself comes from. The primary game system revolves around shrinking in size to explore the world from a new perspective and use that ability to solve the game’s dungeons and other challenges.
I do enjoy this game, just not as much as the subsequent games on my list. The gameplay, story, characters and setting are all wonderfully made, and fit right in with the series. If I had to pick on main problem with the game, I’d have to say I don’t much enjoy the emphasis on collecting and trading certain key items, like the Kinstones.
9. A Link between Worlds
A game such as A Link between Worlds is a quintessential example of a “return to form.” Taking much inspiration from ALttP, ALBW takes the player back to the classic days of Zelda while also introducing the ability to move between dimensions to create a similar-yet-refreshing experience.
I guess you can say what bothers me about this game is what bothers me about ALttP, and that bothers me. I can’t pinpoint it. There’s just something about the style of these games that wears on me after a while. ALBW does a better job differentiating dungeons and locations, but it still manages to feel like one massive dungeon after a long play session.
8. Majora’s Mask
The favorite Zelda game of many players, Majora’s Mask is perhaps the most unique installment in the franchise. The game focus on the manipulation of time to complete Link’s quest to save the land of Termina in just three days. MM is dark, surreal and its story follow a somber direction never seen before in a Zelda game.
What don’t I like about this game? The fanboys may fume, but I just can’t stand the three day time limit. Why does a Zelda game, which typically put an emphasis on roaming around and exploring, purposefully keep you from doing so because of a time limit? Sure, you get to reset the clock whenever you want, but doing so undoes the majority of your progress. This essentially means you have no other option but to memorize the every part of the game, and learn to redo your work again and again.
Now, I’m all for learning the ins and outs of a game, but only when it’s the player’s choice. Forcing them to do so only shows a weakness in the overall game design, and does nothing but make the game intimidating and off-putting to people who would rather not be forced to master a game just in order to finish it.
7. Skyward Sword
In terms of narrative, Skywards Sword is the most important game since Ocarina of Time. Skyward Sword tells the origins of Zelda, Link, Ganon and the Triforce. It also put a heavy emphasis on using the Wii’s motion controls to control Link.
What don’t I like about this game? I know many of you would assume I had a problem with the controls, but using motion controls never bothered me. What really frustrates me about SS is the repetition that takes place throughout the game’s adventure. The developers opted to create only a few, fleshed-out areas that are revisited again and again. Visiting an area can be fun after the second time, but once you’ve been to the same place four or so times, you can’t help but feel a little blasé about it. It makes you much more aware of how long the game is.
6. Link’s Awakening
It’s the first portable Zelda game, so of course they had to make it right. And boy did they. They mixed elements of the first two Zelda games, ALttP, and even a little Super Mario Bros. into this title to create a fun, familiar-yet-refreshing adventure you can take on the go.
For critiques, my most prominent one would have to be the how annoying it was to constantly swap out items. It feels like every few seconds you have to open up the item menu, select an item, use it for one thing, go back into the item menu, and reselect your previous item. Very tedious, very annoying. And it seems to have annoyed the developers too, when you compare the item system of this game with future handheld releases.
5. Four Sword Adventures
Poor Four Swords Adventures. Sometimes it feel like this game is the forgotten child of the series. This game is like the first Four Swords in that it has a focus on multiplayer, but is different from its predecessor due to how much larger and more entertaining its adventure mode is. FS was always intended to be played with two or more people, creating the need to be a short game. FSA, however, could be played by just one player, and it was a console game, so it was given a story mode that is up to par with any other Zelda game of the same playstyle.
What is wrong with this game? I’d have to say that the eventual predictability of the interactions between the NPCs and the sparse amount of interesting items are most prevelant. I often get to a point where I know what the NPCs are going to tell me, and that they will probably behave in a similar fashion to previously met characters. And as for the items, I felt that considering how this game manages your item acquisitions, it could have offered much more variety.
4. Ocarina of Time
It’s not that hard to understand why Ocarina of Time is this high on my list. It’s often regarded as one of the best games ever made, and for good reason. It brought the LoZ series, and action-adventure games in general, into the third dimension. OoT also introduced many major story elements crucial to the series, such as Ganondorf, the creation of Hyrule and the Triforce, and the many races of the land, such as the Gorons and Kokiri.
Why there are few flaws to be found in OoT, they remain prevalent enough to warrant valid criticism. The ones that prove the most irksome for me is how sparsely the world is fleshed out, and how truly meaningless the majority of the NPCs are. Your first trek through Hyrule Field is amazing, but after a while, you can’t help but notice how empty it feels. Aside from a few simple side quest and enemy encounters, most parts of the game’s central hub and connected locales feel as if they are only there to fill up space.
And while not as important, the fact that every NPC (aside for at most a dozen) serve no purpose but to (poorly) create the illusion of a real civilization makes me feel cheated.
3. Phantom Hourglass
The predecessor to Spirit Tracks, and in my own obvious opinion, the better of the two. All of the touch controls, humor, DS hardware-inspired puzzles and action found in ST originated from this game. It’s just a fun game perfectly suited to be played on the DS.
For flaws, most of my complaints stem from the at times slow-moving story, and the handful and time-consuming and mundane sidequests. You may have thought I would be most at odds with the Temple of the Ocean King, the dungeon that you must repeat again and again throughout the game, but no. For a period of time I actually had that dungeon memorized. I… I played this game a lot.
2. Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess was the last Zelda game on the Gamecube, and the first one on the Wii. Following in the same style as OoT and Wind Waker, TP is an epic adventure that allows the player to explore a much larger world than before.
Introduced in this game were popular new characters like Midna, updates of classic Zelda items (like the bomb arrows and the clawshot), and the standout ability to transform into a wolf. This game gives a lot and does so in splendid fashion.
The only true flaws I can find with this game are sometimes too long sequences between dungeons, and certain completionist aspects. While not truly noticeable on a first time playthrough, progression through the game, especially when moving from one of the main dungeon levels to the next, can feel stretched-out at times. It adds to the game’s overall length and the player’s greater investment in the story, but if you are one of those players who prefers to quickly move from one dungeon to the next, you’re going to be annoyed a bit.
As for the completionist aspects, there’s a lot items to collect, and it seems somewhat apparent that the developers made there be too much. TP is the only game to necessitate collecting five pieces of heart to complete a heart container, making the process that much longer. There is also the tedious mission of collecting all of the Poe’s Souls, which ultimately does not have a worthwhile payoff. It is also at times difficult, as you need to defeat a Poe in order to collect a soul, and you can only kill them a certain way, which was fighting them while in wolf form. Think of it as collecting all of the Golden Skulltulas in OoT, but if each spider could only be killed by three shots from the bow.
1. The Wind Waker
Oh Wind Waker, how I love thee. It is the first Zelda game to appear on the Gamecube, and the first Zelda game I played upon its initial release. So yes, nostalgia does come into play. Everything included in this game, the story, the environment, the gameplay, the characters; they all work together so perfectly. The open exploration of the sea is something I can continually enjoy for hours.
Something that is important but often gets overlooked is the game’s art style. WW was the first Zelda game to use the cel-shaded “Toon” style. Though most fans love the look now, the visuals were met with much criticism during the game’s first unveiling and until the game had even been available for a few months. By then most skeptics had actually played the game, learned how good it was, and shut up about the non-OoT graphics.
I don’t really have many negative things to say about WW. Some people lambast the sailing, but I actually love it. Sailing is a peaceful and relaxing experience for me. If I had only one true criticism of WW, it’s the amount of padding that takes place near the end of the game. You all know this as collecting the shards of the Triforce. It took longer than it needed to, just to add more hours of gameplay. The sad thing is that a game like Wind Waker does not need a long play time in order to be good, and they proved that in the Wii U remake.
Well, there’s my list. If it’s not apparent, I like Zelda games.