When I first met my girlfriend, who is also a big Zelda fan, she asked me the same question I responded with a long answer to which included a few of the games in the series. I'll try and assess why each game is the best and see if I can come to some kind of conclusion.
Zelda has been around since 1986 and has evolved massively within the gaming community, some people may argue that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the best one and many peoples' favourite. Yes, it has its place as being the first 3D Zelda game and setting the bar of great story telling with adventure and action, as the games have progressed that bar has certainly been knocked a few times.
Right, let's get to it and I shall try and explain why each game is my favourite.
'The Legend of Zelda' (1986)
This game would always be cherished simply because it is the first in the series, the game that started the over view adventure style and made it successful. We can't forget how simple it now looks to us, but also can never forget how hard it was without looking for help online, at least I had to anyway.
It's great how most elements are still familiar with every single installment, from the new item in all dungeons, heart pieces, the enemies and the iconic look with the green hat and tunic. The theme of Zelda is there in classic 8 bit and would only develop into a further masterpiece of orchestral art.
I wouldn't say at all it was a favourite because of how much it has aged, but was always a good pick up game that just reminds me of where its roots began from. The following games were what truly stood out for me.
'The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening' (1993)
This was actually the first Zelda game I played after visiting some people in Leeds. I popped it into my Game Boy and started a save file that was already on there. I had no idea what was going on. The person that had the game let me have it, and I got to explore Koholint Island for myself. This would end up being a game I'd play over and over again just because of how great it was.
I think for the time, this was the better game to start on, I always loved stepping into Tal Tal Heights and hearing what I thought was the best tune ever!
I remember as a child there was a tip somewhere that said about using you shield to flip enemies, I tried to do this for ages thinking I needed to time it right to actually do it. Never was a thing.
This also introduced me to the trading side quests you could do as well, in other games you may get a weapon, the biggest rupee wallet, or something, but in this one you got the magnifying lens. This was used to look at a book in the library to see the steps you needed to get to the last boss effortlessly, without it you would be wandering aimlessly for ages trying to get to it.
I think this would've also been one of the first end bosses I fought and got angry at. I think to this day the only boss that stood ahead of it at the time was the Mech Boss at the end of Final Fantasy Legends 2 on the Game Boy.
'The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time' (1998)
Coming across to the Nintendo 64, we have the staple game that was required on this console and was also another that I had played over and over again, from the standard version, through to Master Quest and the 3DS version. It was a game that I never got tired of and I didn't even mind doing the Water Temple either.
This marked a milestone in my gaming career with a great fascination, the moment you find yourself walking into The Great Deku Tree fighting Queen Gohma, first setting foot onto Hyrule Field, to entering Lord Jaba Jaba and then pulling the Master Sword out to go forward in time seven years and fighting Ganondorf which then transformed into the fearsome Ganon. GARGH! So much awesome to have in this game!
There were actually many things I had taken from this game in form of "ticks," I found myself doing the tapping at the back of each foot when you have Link standing still. There was also the way he drinks a potion as well, I only really did this with Mountain Dew, though...
For a time there was also the action Link does when using Din's Fire, that was for private time in the bedroom though. I question myself sometimes.
'The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask' (2000)
This is greatness, I remember my mum getting this for me on my birthday, little did I know that you needed the expansion pack to play this on the Nintendo 64. Devastating...
So after my uncle graciously gave me his, I proceeded to play the game. Immediately turned into a Deku Scrub in what must've been the scariest transformation I'd seen to date, didn't expect that in a Zelda game.
Little had I really known that this was going to be one of the darkest games in the series, with a terrifying moon plummeting to the ground, an all too happy mask salesman and people either being in denial, depressed, guilty, angry, or just trying to accept what is going on. Yes I've read the theory of the five stages of grief.
It is an amazing concept which gave us the Bombers Notebook to do side missions. It is quite sad seeing all these people you save to only then rewind time and letting them go through the trauma again.
I especially loved the masks in this, always enjoyed watching the cinematic that happens when putting them on, and once you got all the masks you unlocked the ability to use The Fierce Deity Mask, that was awesome. KO Majora in 15 seconds.
'The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword' (2011)
Here we have a Wii game, which when I first played was not impressed with the motion sensor controls, I remember getting to the first dungeon and dying a lot because of not feeling comfortable with them. I think it had taken a couple of months before I picked it back up and tried again. Once I got the feel of it I fell in love with it.
I loved the art style, the music and in the end the combat. Much like how the Twilight Princess game played but with more feeling that it was you actually swinging the sword.
This game also gave us the start of where it all began story wise for The Legend of Zelda, such as the Master Swords creation, how it is that a continuous iteration of Ganondorf appears in the games along with Zelda and Link.
'The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker' (2002)
When this game was first released there was a lot of skepticism due to the fact this was the first Zelda game to use cell shaded graphics. Nintendo still hadn't really found what style they wanted and opted to go for the cartoon-esque style.
I never was fussed by the style as it was a Zelda game, so I just played it and enjoyed it. I'd never been so content with sailing the ocean for minutes at a time, enjoying the seagulls flying overhead, the fish jumping with me in the sea...and then the dreaded Big Octo that would emerge (I have a fear of octopi and other tentacle-like creatures).
It was a drastic change, but a welcome one at that. When I heard the news of a HD remake for the Wii U I couldn't have been happier, especially since there was a limited edition version of the console as well!
The sense of adventure was there as always in a Zelda game but never by boat! Every time I picked it up and set sail, it was just fresh and vibrant.
'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' (2017)
This is a true expression of how a game series that started off in 1986 is meant to evolve and my word it it really is a site to marvel at. The amount of time I had taken just looking at the landscapes and appreciating the detail that had been put into it was insurmountable.
The game really takes adventure to a whole new level and allows the player to go where ever they wish without being hindered by restrictions or requirements. Maybe restrictive if you don't have clothing to keep you warm or flame resistant but isn't particularly hard to acquire.
When I first heard there was voice acting in this installment, there was a worry that Link would get a voice. Thankfully he didn't, there are some things you shouldn't change. I'm happy though that they make a point about Links silence in the game as well. Would maybe good to at least to have a Navi like character again that would speak for him, just not have the "Hey listen", "Watch out" pestilence, because I can only imagine it being awkward when all you did with Link is talk at him.
I've already spent over 170 hours or so playing this game, I still need to go through the Hard Mode of the game, it is quite "hard" as the mode suggests and haven't really bothered attacking anything as of yet, I'll pick it up again in the future when my love for Kingdom Hearts has eased up a bit.
So, what is your favourite game Matt?
So what is my favourite Zelda game of all time? It's difficult. I think if I had to narrow it down I'd say the following:
- Majora's Mask
- Breath of the Wild
So from those options it is quite hard, I feel as though Breath of the Wild was simply amazing but feels cheap to pick that as it was ground breaking, also too recent to miss out the classics I had grown up with, so I think I'll make it the pedestal favourite, but I think Majora's Mask is the one that would win it if we did take Breath of the Wild out of the equation.
I loved the dark undertones it gave us through out the story, the constant danger whenever you looked up to the sky. I also can't deny that having the Fierce Deity Mask was the cherry on top, I couldn't fault it. I could even spend ages just rolling around as a Goron in Termina Field. Speaking of Gorons, the fact you can transform into the three primary races of the series was awesome too!
So yay, congrats to you Majora's Mask, you win this. Breath of the Wild is the God though, but he looks down to the King of Zelda games with a bright light glimmering down.
Thanks for the read and if you ever want to discuss what your favourite Zelda game is, send a message/tweet on my page. It's quite new so give a follow if you can! :)