The best Zelda games: Eurogamer editors’ Option

You have already had your say on the best Zelda games since we celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary – and you did a mighty good job also, even if I’m pretty sure A Link to the Past belongs at the head of any list – so now it is our turn. We requested the Eurogamer editorial staff to vote for their favorite Zelda games (though Wes abstained because he doesn’t know exactly what a Nintendo is) and underneath you’ll get the whole top ten, together with some of our own musings. Could we get the matches in their real order? Probably not…

10. A Link Between Worlds

How brightly contradictory that among the very best first games on Nintendo’s 3DS would be a 2D adventure sport, and that one of the most adventurous Zelda entrances would be the one that closely aped one of its predecessors.

It helps, of course, the template has been lifted from a number of the greatest games in the show also, by extension, among the finest games of all time. There’s an endearing breeziness into A Link to the Past, a fleet-footedness that sees the 16-bit adventure pass as pleasurably and memorably as a great late summer day.by link zelda phantom hourglass rom website A Link Between Worlds takes all that and positively sprints together with it, running into the recognizable expanse of Hyrule with a new-found freedom.

In giving you the capacity to let any of Link’s well-established tools in the away, A Link Between Worlds broke with the linear progress that had reverted past Zelda games; that was a Hyrule which was no longer characterized through an invisible course, but one which offered a feeling of discovery and free will that was beginning to feel absent in prior entries. The feeling of experience so precious to the series, muffled in the past few years from the ritual of reproduction, was well and truly restored. MR

9. Spirit Tracks

An unfortunate side-effect of this fact that more than 1 generation of players has risen up with Zelda and refused to go has been an insistence – throughout the series’ mania, at any rate – it develop them. That led to some fascinating areas as well as some silly tussles over the series’ leadership, as we’ll see later on this listing, but at times it threatened to leave Zelda’s unique constituency – you know, kids – behind.

Happily, the portable games have always been there to look after younger gamers, and Spirit Tracks for the DS (now accessible on Wii U Virtual Console) is Zelda at its maximum chirpy and adorable. Though superbly designed, it’s not a particularly distinguished match, being a relatively laborious and laborious follow-up to Phantom Hourglass that reproduces its structure and flowing stylus control. However, it’s such zest! Link utilizes just a small train to go around and its puffing and tooting, together with an inspired folk music soundtrack, place a brisk tempo for the experience. Then there is the childish, heavenly joy of driving the train: placing the adjuster, yanking the whistle and scribbling destinations in your own map.

Connect must save her entire body, but her soul is using him as a constant companion, sometimes able to possess enemy soldiers and play with the barbarous heavy. Both enjoy an innocent youth love, and you’d be hard pressed to consider another game which has caught the teasing, blushing strength of a reggae beat so well. Inclusive and sweet, Spirit Tracks recalls that kids have feelings too, and will reveal grownups a thing or two about love. OW

8. Phantom Hourglass

In my head, at least, there’s long been a furious debate going on regarding if Link, Hero of Hyrule, is really any good using a boomerang. He’s been wielding the loyal, banana-shaped piece of timber because his first experience, but in my experience it’s merely been a pain in the arse to use.

The exception that proves the rule, however, is Phantom Hourglass, in which you draw on the route for your boomerang by hand. Poking the stylus in the touch screen (which, at an equally lovely move, is the way you control your own sword), you draw a precise flight map to the boomerang and then it just… goes. No faffing about, no clanging into columns, only simple, simple, improbably responsive boomerang trip. It had been when I used the boomerang in Phantom Hourglass I realised this game might just be something special; I quickly fell in love with all the remainder.

Never mind that so many of the puzzles are based on setting off a change and subsequently getting from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. Never mind that viewing a few game back to refresh my memory lent me powerful flashbacks to the hours spent huddling over the display and grasping my DS like that I wanted to throttle it. The purpose is that Phantom Hourglass had bits of course that stay – and I’m going to venture out on a limb here – completely unrivalled in the remainder of the Legend of Zelda series. JC

7. Skyward Sword

It bins the recognizable Zelda overworld and pair of discrete dungeons by throwing three huge areas in the player which are continuously rearranged. It’s a beautiful game – one I’m still hoping will be remade in HD – whose watercolour visuals leave a glistening, dream-like haze within its blue heavens and brush-daubed foliage. Following the grimy, Lord of this Rings-inspired Twilight Princess, it was the Zelda series confidently re-finding its feet. I am able to shield many of familiar criticisms levelled at Skyward Sword, such as its overly-knowing nods to the rest of the series or its marginally forced origin story that retcons recognizable elements of the franchise. I can even get behind the smaller general quantity of area to explore when the match continually revitalises each of its three areas so ardently.

I couldn’t, unfortunately, ever get along with the match’s Motion Plus controllers, which required one to waggle your Wii Remote to be able to do battle. It turned out into the boss battles against the brilliantly bizarre Ghirahim into infuriating fights using technologies. I recall one mini-game at the Knight Academy where you needed to throw something (pumpkins?) Into baskets which made me rage quit for the remainder of the night. At times the motion controls worked – that the flying Beetle thing pretty much always found its mark – but when Nintendo was forcing players to leave behind the reliability of a control scheme, its replacement needed to work 100 per cent of the time. TP

6. Twilight Princess

I was also pretty bad in Zelda games. I really could ditch my way through the Great Deku Tree and the Fire Temple alright but, by the time Connect dove headlong to the fantastic Jabu Jabu’s belly, my want to have pleasure together with Ocarina of Time easily began outstripping the pleasure I was actually having.

When Twilight Princess wrapped around, I had been at university and something in me most likely a profound romance – was prepared to test again. This time, it really worked. I recall day-long stretches on the sofa, huddling beneath a blanket in my chilly apartment and only poking out my hands to flap about using the Wii remote during combat. Then there was the glorious morning if my then-girlfriend (now fiancée) woke me up with a gentle shake, so asking’can I watch you play Zelda?’

Twilight Lady is, frankly, attractive. There’s a fantastic, brooding setting; the gameplay is enormously diverse; it’s got a beautiful art style, one that I wish they’d kept for just one more match. It’s also got some of the top dungeons in the show – I know this because since I’ve been able to return and mop up the current titles I missed – Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker – and also love myself doing this. That is why I’ll always love Twilight Princess – it’s the sport that made me click using Zelda. JC

5.

Zelda is a show characterized by copying: the narrative of the long-eared hero and the princess is handed down from generation to generation, a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, some of its best moments have come as it turned out its framework, left Hyrule and Zelda herself and asked what Link could do next. The self-referential Link’s Awakening has been just one, and that N64 sequel to Ocarina of Time a different. It required an even more radical tack: bizarre, dark, and structurally experimental.

Although there’s loads of humor and adventure, Majora’s Mask is suffused with doom, sorrow, and an off-kilter eeriness. A number of this comes from its admittedly awkward timed arrangement: the moon is falling on the world, that the clock is ticking and you also can’t stop that, just reposition and begin, somewhat stronger and wiser each moment. Some of it comes from the antagonist, the Skull Kid, who’s no villain but an innocent with a gloomy story who has given in to the corrupting effect of the titular mask. Some of this stems from Link himself: a kid again but with the grown man of Ocarina still somewhere inside him, he bends rootlessly to the land of Termina like he’s got no greater place to be, so far in your hero of legend.

Mostly, it comes in the townsfolk of Termina, whose lifestyles Connect observes moving towards the end of earth along their appointed paths, over and over again. Despite an unforgettable, most surreal finish, Majora’s Mask’s primary storyline isn’t one of those series’ most powerful. But these bothering Groundhog Day subplots about the strain of ordinary life – reduction, love, family, job, and death, always death – locate the show’ writing at its absolute finest. It is a depression, compassionate fairytale of the everyday that, with its ticking clock, needs to remind one that you simply can’t take it with you. OW

4.

If you have had children, you will know that there’s unbelievably strange and touching moment if you are doing laundry – stay with me here – and these small T-shirts and trousers first begin to become in your washingmachine. Someone else has come to live with you! A person implausibly small.

This is one of The Wind-Waker’s best tips, I believe. Connect had been young before, but now, with all the gloriously toon-shaded shift in art management, he actually looks young: a Schulz toddler, with enormous head and little legs, venturing out amongst Moblins and pirates and those mad birds that roost across the clifftops. Connect is little and vulnerable, and so the adventure surrounding him sounds all the more stirring.

The other great trick has a great deal to do with these pirates. “What is the Overworld?” This has become the standard Zelda question because Link to the Past, but with the Wind-Waker, there did not appear to be just one: no alternative measurement, no switching between time-frames. The sea has been controversial: so much racing back and forth over a huge map, a lot of time spent crossing. But look at what it brings with it! It attracts pirates and sunken temples and ghost ships. It attracts underwater grottoes and a castle waiting for you at a bubble of air down on the seabed.

On top of that, it brings that unending sense of discovery and renewal, 1 challenge down along with another anticipating, as you jump from your ship and race the sand up towards the next thing, your miniature legs popping through the surf, your huge eyes already fixed on the horizon. CD

3.

Link’s Awakening has been near-enough that a fantastic Zelda game – it has a vast and secret-laden overworld, sparkling dungeon layout and memorable characters. In addition, it is a catalyst dream-set side-story with villages of talking creatures, side-scrolling areas starring Mario enemies along with a giant fish that sings the mambo. It was my first Zelda adventure, my entry point into the series and the match against which I judge every other Zelda name. I totally adore it. Not only was it my first Zelda, its own greyscale planet was one of the first adventure games I playedwith.

No Master Sword. And while it still feels like a Zelda, even after enjoying so many of the others, its own quirks and characters set it apart. Link’s Awakening packs an astonishing amount onto its Game Boy capsule (or even Game Boy Color, if you played its DX re-release). It is an essential experience for any Zelda fan. TP

2. The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past

Bottles are OP at Zelda. Those humble glass containers can turn the tide of a conflict when they have a potion or – even better – a fairy. When I had been Ganon, I would postpone the wicked plotting and the measurement rifting, and I would just put a good fortnight into travelling Hyrule from top to bottom and smashing any glass bottles I’ve stumbled upon. After that, my horrible vengeance are all the more dreadful – and there’d be a sporting chance I might be able to pull it off also.

All of that suggests, as Link, a jar can be a real benefit. Real treasure. I think you will find four glass bottles in Link to the Past, each one which makes you that bit more powerful and that little bolder, buying you confidence from dungeoneering and hit points in the middle of a tingling manager experience. I can not remember where you receive three of those bottles. But I can remember where you receive the fourth.

It’s Lake Hylia, and when you are like me, it is late in the match, with all the big ticket items collected, that wonderful, genre-defining second near the peak of the hill – where one map becomes two – cared for, and handfuls of compact, inventive, infuriating and educational dungeons raided. Late match Connect to the Past is about looking out every last inch of the map, which means working out how both similar-but-different versions of Hyrule fit together.

And there is a gap. A gap in Lake Hylia. A gap hidden by a bridge. And under it, a man blowing smoke rings with a campfire. He feels as though the greatest secret in all of Hyrule, along with the prize for discovering him would be a glass boat, perfect for storing a potion – along with a fairy.

Connect to the Past seems like an impossibly clever match, divides its map to two dimensions and asking you to flit between them, holding equally landscapes super-positioned on mind as you resolve a single, huge geographical mystery. In fact, however, somebody could probably copy this design if they had enough pencils, enough quadrille paper, sufficient time and energy, and if they had been determined and smart enough.

The best reduction of the electronic age.

However, Link to the Past is not simply the map – it is the detailing, and the figures. It’s Ganon and his wicked plot, but it is also the man camping out beneath the bridge. Maybe the whole thing is a bit like a jar, then: the container is equally crucial, but what you are really after is that the stuff that’s inside it. CD

1. Ocarina of Time

Where would you start with a match as momentous as Ocarina of Time? Perhaps with the Z-Targeting, a solution to 3D combat so effortless you barely notice it is there. Or perhaps you talk about a open world that’s touched with the light and color cast by an internal clock, where villages dance with activity by day prior to being captured by an eerie lull through the night. Think about the expressiveness of the ocarina itself, a superbly analogue device whose music was conducted with the new control afforded by the N64’s pad, notes flexed wistfully at the push of a stick.

Maybe, though, you simply focus in on the second itself, a perfect picture of video games emerging sharply from their very own adolescence as Connect is thrust so suddenly into a grownup world. What is most impressive about Ocarina of Time is the way it came thus fully-formed, the 2D adventuring of past entries transitioning into three dimensions as gracefully as a pop-up novel folding quickly into existence.

Thanks to Grezzo’s exceptional 3DS remake it’s retained much of its verve and impact, as well as putting aside its technical achievements it is an experience that ranks among the series’ finest; uplifting and emotional, it is touched with all the bittersweet melancholy of climbing up and leaving the childhood behind. From the story’s end Connect’s childhood and innocence – and which of Hyrule – is heroically restored, but after this most radical of reinventions, video games could not ever be the exact same again.

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