You’ve already had your state on the very best Zelda games because we celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary – and you did a mighty fine job also, even if I am fairly certain A Link to the Past goes in the head of some record – so now it’s our turn. We requested the Eurogamer editorial staff to vote for their favourite Zelda games (although Wes abstained because he still doesn’t know what a Nintendo is) and underneath you will get the whole top ten, along with some of our very own musings. Could we get the matches in their rightful order? Probably not…

10.

How brilliantly contradictory that one of the finest original games on Nintendo’s 3DS is a 2D adventure game, and that one of the most adventurous Zelda entrances would be the one that closely aped among its predecessors.

It really helps, of course, the template was raised from a number of the greatest games in the show and, by extension, among the finest matches of all time. A Link Between Worlds takes all that and even positively sprints together with it, running into the familiar expanse of Hyrule using a newfound liberty.

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In providing you the capability to rent any one of Link’s well-established tools in the off, A Link Between Worlds broke with this linear progression which had shackled previous Zelda games; that was a Hyrule that was no longer defined through an invisible route, but one which provided a sense of discovery and free will that was starting to feel absent in previous entries. The feeling of experience so dear to the series, muffled in the past several years from the ritual of reproduction, was well and truly restored. MR

9. Spirit Tracks

A unfortunate side-effect of this fact that more than 1 generation of gamers has risen up with Zelda and refused to go has been an insistence – throughout the series’ mania, at any rate – it develop them. That resulted in some interesting areas in addition to some ridiculous tussles over the series’ leadership, as we’ll see later on this list, but at times it threatened to leave Zelda’s unique constituency – you know, children – behind.

Thankfully, the mobile games have always been there to take care of younger players, and Spirit Tracks for the DS (currently 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 comparatively laborious and laborious followup to Phantom Hourglass that copies its construction and flowing stylus control. However, it has such zest! Connect uses a tiny train to go around and its puffing and tooting, together with an inspired folk music soundtrack, place a lively pace for your experience. Then there is the childish, heavenly delight of driving that the train: setting the throttle, yanking the whistle and scribbling destinations in your own map.

Most importantly is that, for once, Zelda is in addition to the ride. Connect has to save her body, but her soul is with him as a companion, sometimes able to possess enemy soldiers and play with the brutal heavy. The two enjoy an innocent childhood love, and you’d be hard pressed to consider another game which has captured the teasing, blushing strength of a reggae beat so well. Inclusive and sweet, Spirit Tracks recalls that children have feelings too, and also may reveal grownups a thing or two about love. OW

8. Ghost Hourglass

Inside my head, at least, there has been a furious debate going on regarding whether Link, Hero of Hyrule, is actually any good with a boomerang. He has been wielding the faithful, banana-shaped bit of timber since his first experience, but in my experience it’s only ever been a pain in the arse to work with.

The exception which proves the rule, however, is Phantom Hourglass, in which you draw the trail for your boomerang by hand. Poking the stylus at the touch display (that, in an equally beautiful move, is the way you control your own sword), you draw a precise flight map for your boomerang and then it just… goes. No more faffing about, no more clanging into columns, only easy, straightforward, improbably responsive boomerang trip. It was when I used the boomerang from Phantom Hourglass I realised this game could just be something special; I quickly fell in love with the rest.

Never mind that many of the puzzles are based on setting off a change and then getting from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. Never mind that viewing some gameplay back to refresh my memory gave me strong flashbacks into the hours spent huddling over the display and gripping my DS like that I wanted to throttle it. JC

7. Skyward Sword

It bins the recognizable Zelda overworld and set of distinct dungeons by throwing three huge areas at the player that are constantly reworked. It is a beautiful game – one I’m still expecting will probably soon be remade in HD – whose watercolour graphics render a shimmering, dream-like haze over its azure skies and brush-daubed foliage. Following the filthy, Lord of this Rings-inspired Twilight Princess, it is the Zelda series confidently re-finding its own 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 show or its slightly forced origin narrative that unnecessarily retcons recognizable elements of the franchise. I will also get behind the smaller general amount of place to explore when the sport continually revitalises each of its three regions so ardently.

I could not, sadly, ever get along with the match’s Motion Plus controls, which demanded one to waggle your Wii Remote to be able to do combat. It turned into the boss fights against the brilliantly eccentric Ghirahim into infuriating fights with technologies. I remember one mini-game at the Knight Academy where you had to throw something (pumpkins?) Into baskets that made me rage quit for the rest of the night. At times the motion controls functioned – the flying Beetle thing pretty much constantly found its mark – but when Nintendo was forcing players to leave behind the reliability of a well-worn control strategy, its replacement needed to work 100 percent of their time. TP

6. Twilight Princess

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

When Twilight Princess rolled around, I had been at university and also something in me most likely a deep love of procrastination – was ready to test again. This time, it worked. I recall day-long stretches on the sofa, huddling under a blanket in my cold apartment and just poking my hands out to flap around with the Wii distant during battle. Subsequently there was the magnificent dawn if my then-girlfriend (now fiancée) awakened me with a gentle shake, then asking’can I watch you play with Zelda?’

Twilight princess is, frankly, captivating. There is a wonderful, brooding atmosphere; the gameplay is hugely varied; it’s got a beautiful art style, one I wish they had kept for just one more match. It has also got a number of the top dungeons in the show – I know this because since I’ve been able to return and mop the recent titles I missed – Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker – and also enjoy myself doing it. That’s why I’ll always love Twilight Princess – it is the sport that made me click using Zelda. JC

5. Majora’s Mask

Zelda is a series characterized by repetition: 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 greatest moments have come as it stepped outside its own framework, left Hyrule and Zelda herself and asked what Link might perform next. It required a much more revolutionary tack: bizarre, dark, and structurally experimental.

Although there’s loads of comedy and adventure, Majora’s Mask is suffused with doom, sorrow, and an off-kilter eeriness. Some of this comes out of its admittedly awkward timed structure: the moon is falling on the planet, the clock is ticking and you can not stop that, just reposition and begin, a little stronger and more threatening each moment. Some of it comes from the antagonist, the Skull Kid, who’s no villain but an innocent having a gloomy story who has contributed into the corrupting influence of the titular mask. A number of this comes from Link himselfa kid again but with the increased man of Ocarina still somewhere inside him, he bends rootlessly to the land of Termina like he’s got no better place to be, far in your hero of legend.

Largely, it comes from the townsfolk of Termina, whose lives Link observes moving helplessly towards the close of earth in addition to their appointed paths, over and over again. Regardless of an unforgettable, most surreal conclusion, Majora’s Mask’s most important narrative is not among the series’ most powerful. But these poignant Groundhog Day subplots concerning the strain of normal life – reduction, love, family, job, and passing, constantly death – find the show’ writing at its absolute best. It is a melancholy, compassionate fairytale of the regular which, with its own ticking clock, needs to remind you that you can not take it with you personally. OW

4.

If you have had children, you are going to be aware that there’s incredibly strange and touching moment when you are doing laundry – stay with me – and those very small T-shirts and pants first start to become on your washingmachine. Someone else has come to live with you! Someone implausibly small.

This is among The Wind-Waker’s greatest tricks, I think. Link was young before, but now, with the toon-shaded change in art direction, he really appears youthful: a Schulz toddler, with huge head and little legs, venturing out among Moblins and pirates as well as those mad birds that roost round the clifftops. Connect is little and exposed, and so the adventure surrounding him seems all the more stirring.

The other excellent trick has a good deal to do with these pirates. This has become the normal Zelda question because Link to the Past, but with the Wind-Waker, there did not seem to be just one: no alternative dimension, no shifting between time-frames. Rather you had a wild and briney sea, reaching out in all directions, an endless blue, flecked with abstracted breakers. The sea was controversial: a lot of racing back and forth throughout a enormous map, a lot of time spent crossing. But look at what it brings along with it! It attracts pirates and sunken temples and ghost ships. It brings underwater grottoes along with a castle awaiting you in a bubble of air back on the seabed.

Best of all, it attracts that unending sense of discovery and renewal, one challenge down and another awaiting, as you hop from your ship and race the sand up towards the next thing, your miniature legs crashing through the surf, and your eyes already fixed on the horizon. CD

3. Link’s Awakening

Link’s Awakening is near-enough that a perfect Zelda game – it has a huge and secret-laden overworld, sparkling dungeon layout and memorable characters. Additionally, it is a catalyst dream-set side-story with villages of speaking animals, side-scrolling areas starring Mario enemies and a giant fish who sings the mambo. This was my very first Zelda encounter, my entry point to the series and the game against which I judge every other Zelda title. I totally love it. Not only was it my first Zelda, its greyscale planet was one of the first adventure games I truly played.

There is no Zelda, no Ganon. No Master Sword. And while it still feels just like a Zelda, even after playing so many of the other people, its own quirks and personalities set it aside. Link’s Awakening packs an astounding amount onto its Game Boy capsule (or even Game Boy Color, in the event you played its DX re-release). It’s a vital experience for any Zelda fan. TP

2.

Bottles are OP at Zelda. These little glass containers may reverse the tide of a conflict if they contain a potion or even better – a fairy. If I had been Ganon, I would postpone the evil plotting and also the measurement rifting, and I would just put a solid fortnight into travelling Hyrule from top to bottom and hammering any glass bottles I stumbled upon. After that, my terrible vengeance are all the more terrible – and there would be a sporting chance I may have the ability to pull off it too.

All of which suggests, as Link, a jar can be a true benefit. Real treasure. One thing to set your watch by. I believe there are four glass bottles in Link to the Past, each one making you that little stronger and that little bolder, purchasing you confidence from dungeoneering and hit points in the midst of a tingling boss experience. I can’t recall where you get three of the bottles. But I can remember where you receive the fourth.

It is Lake Hylia, and if you are like me, it’s late in the match, using the major ticket items collected, that lovely, genre-defining moment near the top of the hill – where one excursion becomes two – taken care of, along with handfuls of streamlined, inventive, infuriating and educational dungeons raided. Late match Link to the Past is all about sounding out every last inch of this map, so working out the way the two similar-but-different versions of Hyrule fit together.

And there’s a gap. A gap in Lake Hylia. An gap hidden by means of a bridge. And beneath it, a guy blowing smoke rings with a campfire. He feels just like the best secret in all Hyrule, and the prize for uncovering him would be a glass boat, ideal for storing a potion – along with a fairy.

Link to the Past seems like an impossibly smart match, divides its map to two measurements and asking you to distinguish between them, holding both arenas super-positioned in your mind as you solve one, huge geographical mystery. In fact, however, somebody could probably replicate this layout if they had enough pens, sufficient quadrille paper, enough energy and time, and when they had been determined and smart enough.

The best loss of the digital era.

However, Link to the Past is not simply the map – it’s the detailing, as well as the figures. It’s Ganon and his evil plot, but it’s also the guy camping out under the bridge. Maybe the entire thing’s somewhat like a bottle, then: that the container is very vital, but what you’re really after is the stuff that is inside . CD

1.

Perhaps with all the Z-Targeting, a remedy to 3D combat so simple you hardly notice it is there. Or maybe you speak about an open world that’s touched by the light and color cast by an internal clock, even where villages dance with action by day prior to being seized by an eerie lull at nighttime. Think about the expressiveness of the ocarina itself, an superbly analogue device whose music has been conducted with the newest control afforded by the N64’s pad, which notes bent wistfully at the push of a stick.

Maybe, though, you simply focus on the instant itself, a perfect picture of video games emerging sharply from their own adolescence just as Connect is throw so suddenly into an adult world. What is most remarkable about Ocarina of Time is the way that it came so fully-formed, the 2D adventuring of previous entries transitioning into three dimensions and a pop-up book folding quickly into life.

As a result of Grezzo’s exceptional 3DS remake it’s retained much of its verve and impact, as well as setting aside its technical accomplishments it is an experience that still ranks among the series’ best; psychological and uplifting, it has touched with all the bittersweet melancholy of climbing up and leaving the childhood behind. By the story’s end Link’s childhood and innocence – and this of Hyrule – is heroically restored, but after this most revolutionary of reinventions, video games would not ever be the exact same again.