A brief history of The Legend of Zelda

The Wind Waker (GC, 2002)

First unveiled at Space World 2000 with a moody, realistic-looking battle between Link and Ganondorf (well, realistic for a 128-bit machine), the project was later hugely revised. A year later, cel-shaded Link was introduced to the world to a chorus of childish name-calling. Of course, the haters shouldn't have got their collective panties in a twist. The final game would go onto to be a classic, introducing an incredible new water-covered world to explore and a timeless, enduring graphical style. 

Four Swords Adventures (GC, 2004)

Ditching the hub world structure of traditional Zeldas, Four Swords was level-based, with a heavy multiplayer focus. Cute as a bag of kittens (eh… not the drowned variety) it’s a quirky addition to the series. Annoyingly, though, to play with friends, each player needed a Game Boy Advance and a link cable to connect up with their GameCube before they could get their multiplayer Linkage on. Ah, the infuriating, needlessly convoluted wonders of technology.

The Minish Cap (GBA, 2004)

We don’t know what the folk at Ninty were huffin’ back in 2004, but clearly whatever it was convinced them Link’s latest adventure should involve our hero being shrunk to tiny proportions by a sentient hat called Ezlo. A bizarre premise or not, this was yet another feather in the series’ extremely stylish cap.

Twilight Princess (GC/Wii, 2006)

Unlike Sonic, Link can amazingly get away with turning into a wolf and not have the ensuing game go the shitZOR. Twilight Princess ably proved this with a thrilling adventure combining, epic bosses, culinary capable yetis and only slightly crowbarred motion controls. The complex wind tunnel (and its incredible dragon beastie) remains one of our highlights from the whole series. Interestingly, the game was first developed on Gamecube and then ported to Wii during its development. Both versions are actually reversed in terms of locations, too. And everything that appears on the east on the Wii’s version of the world exists in the west in the GameCube game.

Phantom Hourglass (DS, 2007)

Despite a slightly odd and frustrating central temple structure, Phantom Hourglass rocks like some half-assed analogy we can't quite think of. Inspired by Wind Waker’s enchanting art style, it successfully transferred the charm and sense of wonder of the Gamecube title onto the DS. With well-implemented stylus controls, it remains one of the best titles on Nintendo’s megaton handheld.

Spirit Tracks (DS, 2009)

Sticking fairly closely to the format established in Phantom Hourglass, Link’s second DS outing was even more inventive than the 2007 title. With incredible bosses, a brilliantly responsive transport system revolving around trains and eh… slightly embarrassing ‘blowing into the DS’ microphone bits’; Spirits Tracks continues Nintendo’s near 100% batting average of awesome Zelda games.

The future

A quarter of a century in and our boy and his fetching pointy hat are still going strong. Here’s what lies ahead for the intrepid, pottery-smashing explorer…

Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS, 2011)

We love Ocarina like an alcoholic loves a little 8am eye-opening belt of whisky. Still, the game’s blocktastic visuals haven’t exactly aged well. That’s why we’re so relieved to have our beloved baby back with an updated engine, real purdy 3D effects, and mercifully, a redesigned Water Temple. We believe something along the lines of “W00t” is in order.

Skyward Sword (Wii, 2011)

Looking like a cross between Wind Waker and Twilight Princess (with added giant, sodding scorpions), Skyward Sword will no doubt be amazing. Personally we can’t wait to get to grips with proper 1:1 motion control sword fighting. Lets just hope Tingle and Navi have been fitted with some cement shoes then pushed off a short pier. Dicks.

So there we have it, 25 glorious years of Zelda and nary a dud in sight. Just no one mention this…

Feb 21, 2011


  • Marcus20 - March 9, 2011 6:17 a.m.

    Greatest hero of all time!
  • VicariousPedro - February 23, 2011 11:04 p.m.

    Dave (the author), Ignoring what I thought of the article itself, I just felt the need to touch on these: Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons - "May Jeebus look down on and bless Nintendo, because it’s always willing to try inventive stuff, whether it fully comes off or not." The Minish Cap - "We don’t know what the folk at Ninty were huffin’ back in 2004, but clearly whatever it was convinced them Link’s latest adventure should involve our hero being shrunk to tiny proportions by a sentient hat called Ezlo." Capcom. A handful of the titles on your list (including those mentioned above) were created (or recreated) by Capcom. Hopefully that explains the crazy ideas and why these games stand out as being a bit different. I'm not bothered by a lack of research... I'm bothered by a lack of knowledge. It's fine of course to not know much about the Zelda series (hell, you called Link an elf when describing the original), but surely GR can find SOMEONE among the staff who is knowledgeable about one of the most popular series in gaming.
  • dalef11 - February 23, 2011 10:17 a.m.

    just gonna say it, go back a page and right click the article and go to 'open link' just to be faithful :D
  • Pruman - February 22, 2011 10:53 p.m.

    @erreip199 and HankVenture: I unapologetically love Zelda 2 (and Wind Waker!). It holds a special source of pride for me because my six-year old self persevered and finished it long after my dad had given up. As long as you don't have the NMA-Fallout attitude and keep an open mind, it's a lot of fun. Also, I know I'll get flamed for this, but I think Ocarina is overrated. Is it a great game? Absolutely...but only because it follows the template set by Link to the Past. Ocarina just kind of grinds to a halt after you get the Master Sword. All of the fun, interesting stuff in that game is in the front half, and the whole fix-the-future-by-changing-the-past thing had been done already (and better) by Chrono Trigger. Heck, the Water Temple alone should be enough to knock it off of its pedestal. I do love Twilight Princess, however, which is surprising because it's practically a remake of OOT. Finally, as these guys mentioned, Link to the Past doesn't look like vomit when you fire it up today.
  • zanthox - February 22, 2011 6:26 p.m.

    *beat Twilight Princess a second time on the 25th anniversary.*
  • EvilChicken - February 22, 2011 5:30 p.m.

    Zelda, the only reason I want a Wii (well a few other games, but Zelda being the main one) Don't care what anyone says, Zelda is amazing
  • MikeT - February 22, 2011 5:02 p.m.

    Great article, the writing is very fluent and somewhat humorous. Oh yeah, Zelda games rule!!
  • KnightDehumidifier - February 22, 2011 4:01 p.m.

    It would all lead up to Link's greatest most beloved adventure, playing the role of Horsemen of the Apocalypse War in the game Darksiders.
  • philipshaw - February 22, 2011 1:13 p.m.

    I love these games and wind waker is still the best for me, fanboys can shut up about Ocarina Of Time. It was amazing at the time but it hasn't aged as well as wind waker imo
  • KidKatana - February 22, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    @ averagegamer Yes! Nobody has enough love for Majora's Mask, it's my favourite! But then it did have a tough act to follow. Looking forward to Skyward Sword... Oh and Meiks, I'm really gonna miss your awesome articles - but not your homonym-confusing ways. Descent = going down something Dissent = disagreeing with something
  • AuthorityFigure - February 22, 2011 8:55 a.m.

    In a Link to the Past, you don't travel to the past at all. This is a glaringly bad error. It's named that way because it is a prequel. The light/dark worlds are parallel. I'm not even a mad Zelda fan and I know this. Can't believe everyone just read past that.
  • Averagegamer18 - February 22, 2011 8:09 a.m.

    :) Zelda is my absolute favorite game and series ever. There isn't any game I love more than The Legend of Zelda. My favorite is Majora's Mask especially Ikana Castle; the music is awesome there; I don't like fighting the king too much *still spooks me lol* but the music is wicked; and no matter how many times I play through the game the Stone Temple gives me the hardest time; I could go on and on about this game
  • Spybreak8 - February 22, 2011 5:47 a.m.

    Man I was 100% positive that Brett wrote this article, color me surprised. lol
  • Ariaka - February 22, 2011 5:47 a.m.

    Zelda fan forever. Happy birthday, and thank you XD
  • BaraChat - February 22, 2011 5:09 a.m.

    The Legend of Zelda ruled my life from 4 to 20 years old (1991 to 2007, LoZ to TP). Skyward Sword will definitely extend that streak to 20 years.
  • GameManiac - February 22, 2011 4:02 a.m.

    Glad I began opening myself up to the series with the best: Ocarina of Time.
  • darkmagshin - February 22, 2011 3:48 a.m.

    "Just replace jokes about Bill Murray offing himself with a 36 hour time loop" "a 36 hour time loop" "36 hour" in majora's mask you had three days. 3 days = 72 hours. i haven't been to England in a while but i'm pretty sure that their hour isn't any longer than ours.
  • IRIsH - February 22, 2011 3:17 a.m.

    Love all the Zelda games and am I the only person who likes OoT's Water Temple?
  • keltar93 - February 22, 2011 3:16 a.m.

    I'm probably just weird, but Link's Awakening is my favorite
  • Dadyo238 - April 7, 2012 2:53 p.m.

    No, Link's Awakening was a masterpiece in my mind.

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