Today while browsing Twitter in between writing articles, I noticed that five different Zelda games were all trending. What in the world? Did Nintendo just release a big collection that I somehow missed? Nope! There’s nothing new to report at all. It seems a post asking fans to list their top three favorite games in the series went absolutely viral. Fans of the franchise are just so passionate that they dominated Twitter’s trending section based on love and nostalgia alone. Of course, I can’t resist getting in on the fun!
A Link to the Past
To me, there are four ingredients of the Zelda formula that play the biggest role in its quality. These are exploration, combat, puzzle-solving, and story. Generally, all four are present in some fashion, but certain games prioritize one element over the others. Spirit Tracks, for example, excelled at puzzles but offered little in the way of exploration. To this day, I still believe A Link to the Past came the closest to striking a perfect balance between all four. It offered two incredible worlds to explore, a massive arsenal of weapons and items, and a wide variety of dungeons that challenged both your combat skills and your wits. It’s the pinnacle of 2D Zelda design.
Ocarina of Time
By the late 1990s, Nintendo had shifted gears. New technology made 3D graphics possible, and Nintendo was working hard to upgrade their 2D worlds. They absolutely knocked it out of the park with Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64. There’s nothing quite like taking that first step into Hyrule Field, and that was just the beginning of the journey. Ocarina of Time told us one of the richest and most memorable Zelda stories to date, even showing Ganondorf’s transformation into the monstrous Ganon. It’s showing its age a bit these days, but there’s a reason it once topped so many “greatest games of all time” lists.
Breath of the Wild
Nintendo’s most recent 3D Zelda adventure was a much-needed shake-up. The series had grown a bit stale over the years with games growing progressively more linear and resistant to change. Series producer Eiji Aonuma sought to fix this by rethinking the fundamentals of the series, and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto agreed to step back and let him make some changes. The result was one of the most incredible and critically acclaimed open world games in history. The world of Breath of the Wild was an absolute joy to explore. The complex and innovative game engine led millions around the world to share their discoveries online. It felt like you could do anything you put your mind to! I’ve got some gripes with the dungeons, and don’t get me started on the rain, but those complaints are minor when contrasted with the joy I felt playing this game.
So how about you? Which three Zelda games impacted you the most? Share your favorites in the comments below!
Nintendo Enthusiast’s Managing Editor. I grew up on Super Nintendo and never stopped playing. Been writing video game news, opinions, reviews, and interviews professionally for over a decade. Favorite franchises include Zelda, Metroid, and Mother.