Round Table: Favorite Legends

Which Zelda games do the Nintendojo staff like the best?

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 10/04/2014 13:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

Few game series are as consistently excellent as the Legend of Zelda. Since its inception, the franchise has been pushing the boundaries of what video games are capable off, from the innovative mechanics of the NES titles to the heartfelt story and sprawling, open-world of  The Wind Waker. But with so many fantastic installments, which Zelda games stand out among the rest? The staff weigh in and discuss their favorite Zelda titles.

Marc Deschamps

Saying Ocarina of Time is your favorite Zelda game is like telling people that your favorite food is pizza. People say it so often that it ends up sounding unoriginal. In my case, though, it really is the only answer. I’ve played a number of phenomenal Zelda games since that title released, but before Ocarina of Time, I just plain didn’t like Zelda all that much. I received Zelda II: The Adventure of Link for a birthday or Christmas, and it never clicked with me. In fact, I disliked it so much that it ended up $5 garage sale fodder alongside Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Friday the 13th! It wasn’t until the debut of the original Super Smash Bros. that I felt compelled to give Link another chance. When a kid in school offered to trade me his copy of Ocarina of Time for my copy of Forsaken 64, I fell in love and never looked back. It took me nearly the entire school year to finish that game, but I developed a love for the series that exists to this day.

Since then, I’ve played and conquered some of the best titles the series has to offer. I could have mentioned my love for The Minish Cap and what an underrated little game that is. I could have talked about The Wind Waker with its stunning visuals and epic story. Heck, there’s even A Link Between Worlds, which just came out last year, but easily feels like it deserves a spot on the list of the best games in the franchise. But the simple fact is that none of those games can ever come close to matching how I felt when I first played Ocarina of Time. It will always be one of my favorite games ever, and the game that showed me why Zelda is so legendary.

Anthony Vigna

Marc, you’re completely right about the hordes of people that say that Ocarina of Time is their favorite Zelda game. I’d be lying if I said that the game didn’t blow my mind when I first played it on N64 as a kid! However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve been able to appreciate the other entries that the franchise has over it. I’ll always remember Ocarina of Time as the first game that attached me to the series, but I greatly prefer the differences offered in other Zelda titles.

My favorite Zelda game has to be Wind Waker. Out of all the 3D Zelda games, it’s the only one I know of that offers a large portion of exploration that isn’t directly attached to the main plot. A lot of people don’t like sailing in Wind Waker, but that was my favorite part of the whole game! I loved exploring the big blue ocean and finding islands with hidden secrets on them. Being able to explore such a huge world on my own accord felt incredible and I hope that the upcoming Zelda game on Wii U will be able to replicate that experience.

You know what’s funny? We all have our favorite Zelda games that we hold above others, but in reality, we know they’re all quality titles. Sure, I love Wind Waker‘s exploration, but that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Instead, you might prefer Skyward Sword‘s motion controls or the simplicity of the NES original. There are great things that we can appreciate in every Zelda game, so picking our favorite is just a matter of figuring out what caters to our individual taste!

Angela Marrujo

I’ve played every Zelda game in the franchise (except for the Zelda Game & Watch) and yes, I’ll say it– Ocarina of Time is my favorite Zelda title. Sorry I’m not sorry! Take that!

I have a particular attachment to this game, as it was my very first Zelda experience as an eight year old kid, but aside from the emotional connection, there is just so much about OOT that I feel it does best. The music has to be the biggest draw; every single song, tune, ocarina melody, is memorable– heck, the game revolves around the power of music, so it’s only fitting that it should have some of the best in the entire franchise.

There is a particular darkness to OOT that has only been revisited in a handful of other Zelda titles, and it harkens to that side of Nintendo that isn’t afraid of scaring off casual gamers or the family crowd. The destruction of Castle Town with the reanimated corpses of the ReDeads roaming about; Ingo’s sudden loyalty to Ganon that causes him to mistreat the horses at Lon Lon and, subsequently, Malon; the freezing over of Zora’s Domain, trapping the Zora beneath permafreeze; and the particularly scary and dark imagery throughout the Bottom of the Well and the Shadow Temple, which I would argue Nintendo hasn’t truly replicated in another Zelda game since. The feeling of being very alone as adult Link versus the world young Link lives in only adds to the sense that there is something very wrong within Hyrule. There is so much I could say about why OOT is my favorite title.

But it’s a tie for my runner-up, between Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess. The increased level of darkness in MM and the perfecting (and arguably, bettering) of some of what was done in OOT makes this such a good game. It was harder, with tougher bosses, elaborate temples, and the incredibly annoying save system, and three-day time limit to save the world over and over. There was a stronger level of character development, the unique focus on the masks (which were such a small focus in OOT), and a richer, more colorful world with so much going on the Expansion Pak was required to play it.

Twilight Princess is visually gorgeous and introduced the mechanic of Wolf Link, and the story revisits a number of details from OOT. I enjoyed the temples in this game in particular, which featured memorable boss fights that got pretty intense, like zipping through the sky to fight Argorok, holding onto the back of Morpheel to stab its eye underwater, or zooming at high speeds on the Spinner to fight the head of Stallord that won’t give up without a fight. Zant and Midna were some of the best additions to Zelda canon from this game, and Link’s character design from TP has become the standard for his appearance in other games, influencing his look in Skyward Sword and Smash Bros.

Zelda is my all-time favorite franchise of any other video game series, so pitting one title against another is hard for me, because I feel all of them have so many unique moments and aspects that make them each worthy of being part of such a wonderful series.

Robert Palacios

Full disclosure: I wasn’t the biggest Zelda fan as a kid. Later in life, I got a Game Boy Advance and one of my first orders of business was to see what all this Zelda jazz was all about. I got A Link to the Past and was entertained, but not really blown away. It was like listening to the Beatles early records. You understand the brilliance, but the influence is so omnipresent, it’s almost lost impact.

It wasn’t until I played Wind Waker that I was truly impressed. The emotive expressions, impeccable control, the simple beauty, and the widescreen epic feel resonated with me. So many people dismiss it as kiddy Link, but I can’t say that Kirby, Mario, or Donkey Kong seem all that much more hardcore.

What really moves me is the feeling of exploration and the sheer simplicity of all the mechanics. Each area seems to train you in a certain skill. It’s a Zelda tradition of sorts, but I feel it works especially well here. It also doesn’t hurt that I am currently playing through it again with my little son and he’s learning how to read by playing with me. Seeing his curiosity get piqued by playing and seeing him work through the puzzles has really been rewarding and fun. We’ve enjoyed Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword together as well, but the simple charms of Wind Waker has really won us over.

Robert Marrujo

I really hate this question. Not because I hate Zelda, but because I have such a hard time answering it. Ocarina of Time is my usual go-to for favorite Zelda of all time. It’s about as close to perfection as any video game gets. Majora’s Mask is essentially tied with it, with the only thing holding it back for me being Young Link as the star and the three-day cycle sometimes being a little cumbersome (I don’t dislike it by any means, but you can’t beat saving any and everywhere like in Ocarina). Those two games really represent everything I love about the series.

Wind Waker, when I’m sitting around at 2AM and thinking about these sorts of things while on the verge of sleep and racing around in Mario Kart, sometimes creeps into my psyche and starts arguing that it should be at the number one spot. If I’m honest with myself, at times I genuinely keep finding myself wanting to actually crown it king at times, and for a variety of reasons. The art direction, the narrative, the storytelling, the combat, the sailing (I’ve personally always loved the way it really felt like I was traveling an enormous overworld, even if it could take some time), the sidequests– it just goes on and on with this one. I get that Majora’s Mask was the actual “sequel” of Ocarina, coming out very soon after that game, but Wind Waker felt more like the true followup, and it’s clear that Nintendo was taking some massive risks with it. It’s a brilliant piece of art as far as I’m concerned.

Special shout out to Twilight Princess, though. That game is so hardcore, so beautiful, and has such a wonderful story. A lot of people hate on it, but what’s not to like about an absolutely massive quest with some of the best graphics the series has ever seen? I love both the realistic and cartoony styles for Zelda, but realistic is my favorite, and it didn’t get much more realistic than Twilight Princess. It deserves much more respect than it gets!

Jon Stevens

Like everyone else, Ocarina of Time is the game that I will always consider one of my favourite game of all time– it was the first Zelda that I played and it succeeded perfectly in shifting the series to 3D.

Having said that, I will always remember Majora’s Mask for building on everything that was established in the N64 original and bringing with it a unique tone that still makes it stand apart from the other games in the Zelda series to this day. The character transformations offered some great new gameplay twists, and managing to get all of the masks was a huge task with a massive payoff — I’ll admit I had to use a guide to get some of them. If you did collect all of the masks, by the end of the game you had interacted with almost every character in it, and each one had their own tale to tell against the backdrop of the end of the world. I was hooked from start to finish. It was also one of the most expensive games I’ve ever bought!

I loved the cartoon style of the Wind Waker games and the lighter tone of Skyward Sword, but I’m also one of those fans that are clamoring for that 3DS remake of Majora’s Mask!

Which Zelda game is your personal favorite, and why? Let us know in the comments!

One Response to “Round Table: Favorite Legends”

  • 702 points
    Matthew Tidman says...

    I’m honestly a little saddened by the lack of love for A Link to the Past. I’m a little biased because it was my first Zelda game, but I remember playing it for years and talking with friends about (imagined) secrets hidden within the game. To this day, the game is probably my most beaten Zelda game–even more so than Ocarina of Time. A Link Between Worlds has been mentioned several times, and it owes much of its brilliance to the game that preceded it.

    That isn’t to say there’s a bad Zelda game out there. Even the ones that didn’t “click” with me (I’m looking at you, Twilight Princess) are still enjoyable experiences. To each his or her own, I guess.

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