Each game in the series follows a very simple formula: When a threat appears, a hero clad in green appears to counter it.
That’s all you need to know about The Legend of Zelda series. Actually, one other thing: Even though it’s called The Legend of Zelda, it’s really Link’s story. Like the Final Fantasy series, each game is unrelated to the one that follows or precedes it though there are exceptions such as Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Originally, Majora’s Mask was going to be a short postgame adventure in OoT but Nintendo decided to do things right and made it a full game.
Chances are good everyone who calls themselves a gamer has played at least one, maybe 4 of the games in the series. I myself have now played all but Skyward Sword (but I will get to it at some point), Link Between Worlds (will get it before it gets too rare) and Triforce Heroes (just bought it actually) but I have beaten four at least twice: A Link to the Past (my all-time favorite in the series, I’ve beaten it 8 times), Four Swords (GBA version), Link’s Awakening and Ocarina of Time (beat the Gamecube release but have the Virtual Console and 3DS versions as well).
As folks are aware, Link has been in every release of Super Smash Bros. The child version of Link (from Ocarina of Time) is an unlockable character in Melee while Toon Link is an unlockable character in Brawl. Zelda and Sheik are playable characters in all but the Nintendo 64 version of Super Smash Bros.
The Overworld Theme (introduced in the very first game) is internationally recognized and is just below Super Marios Bros.’ World 1-1 for the most recognized video game soundtrack in gaming history. It has appeared in some fashion in every single Legend of Zelda game ever made. Zelda’s Theme (introduced in Link to the Past) is second in the series followed by the “Got an Item!” jingle.
Out of the games I have played, this is my top-5 list in the series in terms of favorites:
- Link to the Past + Four Swords (Game Boy Advance): The GBA version had both games on the cart and cross-game interaction that has never again been done: After you beat Four Swords, you will gain access to a new Sword Skill in LttP called the Hurricane Blade and access to a new super-hard dungeon after you’ve beaten the final boss of both games. I still have my GBA copy of the game to this day.
- Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64 originally): You’ve either played it to death or at least heard about it. Nintendo released a Master Quest version of the game when it was ported to the Gamecube in which you can play the game with all the dungeons mirrored. The Master Quest version was added to the 3DS version, which I have. OoT has been ported to every console released since the Nintendo 64 version.
- The Legend of Zelda (NES originally): The game where it all began. Even though I haven’t ever beat it, I have some fond memories playing it as a kid. It was the game I almost pulled an all-nighter on when I was in the hospital once. Played it until 2:30AM in the morning (Super Mario All Stars would get the honor of being the first game I skipped sleeping to play when I was 10). It’s worth remembering after the NES games, all subsequent games in the series would have a save slot.
- Hyrule Warriors Legends (Nintendo 3DS): It’s worth noting I bought the Wii U version 3 weeks after I bought the 3DS version. The 3DS version includes all of the DLC Content that was released for the Wii U version. As a bonus: the 3DS version comes with a Code to get all of the DLC for the Wii U version at no extra charge.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U and Switch): Easily the most ground-breaking game in the series since OoT. BotW is the first true open-world game in the series and blurs the lines between the Platformer, Surival and RPG Genres. There are too many “for the first time evers” in this game for me to list here and by the way, I’ve only played the first 45 minutes so far. Let’s just say Link can do alot of things in this game he wasn’t able to do before.
Even though the series has perhaps stubbornly stuck to the same formula going on 25 years, it has managed to keep itself relevant. To those who may have resisted playing any game in the series because it looks “too kiddy”, your loss. You can enjoy your Madden and Call of Duty all you want then ^_^