All The Legend of Zelda Games Ranked From Best to Worst

When people think of Nintendo mascot characters, generally, two characters come to mind: Mario and Link. The latter stars in The Legend of Zelda series, which expands its games with an epic new entry every few years. 

But what is the best The Legend of Zelda game? The series has so much variety, with titles like the original dating back to the NES and later games like the open-world Tears of the Kingdom on Nintendo Switch. Find here, all of The Legend of Zelda games ranked from best to worst, based on gameplay, characters, world, story, popularity, and much more. 

1. Tears of the Kingdom 

Tears of the Kingdom Zelda
Image Credit: Nintendo.

Tears of the Kingdom shows how to do a sequel to one of the most impressive games of all time. It takes everything Breath of the Wild has and improves every inch. The world is much larger, offering much more to do–so much so it feels alive–and the powers are the finest in the series. Players can spend years playing this game alone and still discover unforgettable moments. It isn’t just the number one game in the series, but among the top must-play games in the history of the medium. 

2. Ocarina of Time 3D

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (2011) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

When it comes to the greatest games of all time, one title consistently rises to the top: Ocarina of Time. A prime example of how to transition a 2D series to 3D space, it also represents the peak of the most stereotypical Zelda gameplay gamers expect from its temple dungeons to the tight world with plenty of content to do. Playing across two key points in Link’s life leads to incredible twists and memorable characters.

3. Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Image Credit: Nintendo.

If there is one feat the video game industry knows this series for, it’s revolutionizing gameplay in hallmark ways. Take Breath of the Wild, which brought the series back to its open-world roots. Players can go wherever they want, and do whatever they want, with little to no restrictions. Though it lacks traditional dungeons and a proper story, there is nothing quite like its quiet and immersive world. 

4. Majora’s Mask 3D

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D (2015) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

The direct follow-up to one of the top Zelda games couldn’t be any more different from its predecessor. For the darkest, most disturbing, and unique gameplay experience in the franchise, look no further. Link finds himself in the twisted world of Terminus, where he has three days to stop the moon from crashing into the world. Every character teems with dread as they know the end is near, leading to a riveting and emotional adventure. 

5. The Minish Cap

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

It’s funny to think the most impressive 2D Zelda experience doesn’t even come from Nintendo itself but rather from Capcom. This GBA title is full of color and beauty, with a style unlike any other game in the series. It perfects the 2D dungeons and combat, being just deep enough with its puzzles and items to offer the most rewarding pure handheld experience in the series. 

6. Twilight Princess HD

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (2016) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

The rich, mature style and storyline of this GameCube and Wii entry are iconic in the community. While it does have problematic pacing, this is one of the darker entries in the series for those looking for the antithesis to The Wind Waker. Tight combat and a storyline envelop the player in its tale of Midna and Link. Plus, how could anything beat Wolf Link? 

7. A Link to the Past

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

For many, this entry stands out as a favorite game in the series. After all, the third mainline title featured some of the most charming pixel art in the franchise, alongside a gameplay style still used many decades later. Its twists were novel and a real treat for those who checked it out during the 1990s. 

8. A Link Between Worlds

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds 3DS
Image Credit Nintendo.

For the most part, A Link Between Worlds is a modern take on A Link to the Past, but in a sequel format. It improves some elements, like the freeform progression system, while it lacks some of the charm of the original at the same time. A lack of notoriety puts it just below its inspiration. 

9. Skyward Sword HD

he Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (2021) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

Skyward Sword gave the franchise a major comeback. At the time of its release on the Wii, many fans didn’t appreciate the motion controls, gameplay, and overall experience. However, its release on Switch gave it a decisive second chance. The better gameplay helps it to shine as one of the brightest spots in the series, especially when it comes to the most emotional and deepest relationship between Link and Zelda. 

10. The Wind Waker HD

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (2013) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

The HD rendition of one of the most controversial games in the series helped it reach its potential. The graphical cel-shaded style aged the best out of any Zelda game from the Nintendo GameCube and earlier. Its sea-based traversal and goofy take on characters allowed it to have a top 10 spot on this list. 

11. Link’s Awakening (2019)

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (2019) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

The remake of the 1990s handheld title on Nintendo Switch breathed new life into the dated entry. It sported gorgeous graphics with a brilliant toy box style. Nothing matched this game from a graphical standpoint at the time, and its gameplay changes made it a joy to play for new and old fans alike. 

12. Spirit Tracks

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

The second Nintendo DS outing for Link is one of the best handheld games in the series. Nintendo improved the overall touch experience alongside a better storyline with the inclusion of Princess Zelda in a central way. This mainline game is among the most underrated titles in the series no one should miss out on. 

13. The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda (1986) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

All the games on this list have this title to thank for their existence. It also established many of the tropes and ideas that would become commonplace throughout the series. As one of the first open-world games ever, it is fascinating how players can progress through much of the game in whatever order they like. Though the gameplay isn’t as fun today as in 1986, it remains one of the most important video games in history

14. Phantom Hourglass

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (2007) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

The first sequel to The Wind Waker is a worthy one and one of the better handheld-only Zelda games. It feels like a true 3D-style experience for the Nintendo DS, with fun exploration, decent puzzles, and a solid story. Though it isn’t quite as good as its direct sequel, the unique touch controls work well. 

15. Oracle of Ages zelda games ranked

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (2001) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

The pair of Ages and Seasons are almost too similar to one another. That said, some key differences boost Ages a tad higher than its twin. The time travel mechanic isn’t unique, but the more puzzle-centric gameplay paves the way for a better story and world to explore. It also helps to play this game first since players can transfer over progress. 

16. Oracle of Seasons

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (2001) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

Seasons falls just behind its sister game by focusing much more on combat. This results in a title that lacks depth and has a far too confusing world. It also doesn’t have the story and characters of the other game, with a barebones plot that doesn’t grab the player’s attention enough. 

17. Link’s Awakening DX (1998)

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (1998) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

Though the remake of this title makes a worthy game in the series, the original struggles to play well these days. Link finds himself on an island where he has to go through dungeons and meet characters like Marin instead of Princess Zelda. The graphics and gameplay are too shallow, which is why there’s a remake in the first place. 

18. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link NES
Image Credit Nintendo.

The direct follow-up to the first game in the series is as disappointing as they come. It turned everything on its head with its 2D side-scrolling gameplay and challenging dungeons. While it offers a unique perspective for Link gameplay-wise, gamers have little reason to return to this game for real fun.

19. Four Swords Adventures

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

The Nintendo GameCube features one of the better multiplayer outings of Link and his pals. Players gather together with up to four people to traverse eight worlds and various boss battles. There is some fun here, even if it is a linear and underwhelming entry in the long-running franchise. 

20. Triforce Heroes

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (2015) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

This Nintendo 3DS wasn’t quite the game fans wanted at the time. In another multiplayer adventure, three Links join together for a multiplayer experience full of combat and puzzles. Poor online connectivity and lack of quality single-player content, however, really hurt the game's playability. 

21. Four Swords

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition (2011) Game
Image Credit: Nintendo.

Link and his adventures don't spring to mind when it comes to multiplayer gaming, and for good reason. This GBA title whittles down the gameplay of A Link to the Past to a two-to-four-player experience. This sounds intriguing at first, but the rough implementation makes it hard to recommend.