Looking back: The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda | NES (1987) | GC (2003) | GBA (2004) | Wii (2006)

One of the most influential games of all time. Millions of gamers around the world have spent countless hours exploring its many mysteries.

The legend: Gannon, the Prince of Darkness, has stormed into Hyrule and nabbed the mystical Triforce of Power. Then he kidnapped Princess Zelda in an attempt to acquire her Triforce of Wisdom. Fearing the great power Gannon would receive by collecting both versions of the Triforce, Zelda shattered hers into eight pieces and sends her aid, Impa, to find help. The boy Impa finds is none other than a young Link.

Master swords: The first Zelda game is, obviously, packed to the brim with firsts. It begins with no direction at all. You're thrown into a new realm with no immediate clue as to where to go. You could visit the game's eight dungeons out of order, explore vast forests, graveyards and lakes at your leisure, scour the wilderness for hidden passageways, marvel at the sheer number of monsters roaming about... the world was wide open. The ability to save your progress was brand new to console players too - it meant you didn't have to finish the whole thing in one sitting. And given the game's then-extraordinary length, you probably couldn't complete this adventure within one day. In fact, back then, completing this game at all meant hours of trial and error and constant communication with friends. In some ways, this was the first game that really made gamers interact with each other to get ahead, and also served to make Nintendo Power an indispensable source of Zelda hints. If you wanted to find the Triforce and collect all the items and weapons that would become Zelda staples, you had to sniff around outside the game.

In other words, the first Zelda solidified an entire franchise, made millions of gamers into lifelong Nintendo fans and ensured the ongoing success of its own official magazine, which began as a modest newsletter, Nintendo Fun Club News. Pretty good run by any means of measurement.

Best moment: The music. The items. The story. The title screen. Everything's summed up best by this legendary intro.

I AM ERROR: It's hard to think what went wrong with the first Zelda, but if we have to nitpick, that map is not helpful at all. Even as wide-eyed youths we stared at that bleak gray rectangle wondering what the hell it meant. Oh, Link's five cubes from the lower east side! Sweet. We can totally use that information.

It's a secret to everybody: Miyamoto readily admits he borrowed the "Zelda" name from author F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda Fitzgerald - The adventuresome tone came from Miyamoto's outdoor escapades as a child - The main villain, Ganon, is spelled "Gannon" in this game only - Inputting your name as "ZELDA" activates the game's second quest right away - Actor Robin Williams named his daughter Zelda - When re-released many years later, it came packed in a grey cartridge, not the standard gold version. Oddly enough, this grey cart is harder to find than the gold, because who wants a grey Zeda cart?

Hero of Time? Argue all you want about the outdated graphics, non-existent story and simplistic battle options - this is still one of the best games ever made. Too bad one of its sequels would perfect everything introduced here, making it seem older and more archaic than it really is. 9/10


  • thefreakysurgeon - August 27, 2010 12:13 a.m.

    Let's all hope that Skyward Sword will kick so much ass that it'll be titled "Best Zelda Ever".
  • Gorlack312 - July 23, 2010 9:28 a.m.

    Yo Gamesradar, Imma let you finish, but Ocarina is the best Zelda game of all time. Of all time!! Though i am a bit biased, since OoT was my video game (started at age 4) and i still have memories of watching my brother play Ping Pong with Ganondorf. Oh, and thanks for giving Majora's Mask a 9/10, not many people are hardcore enough to play through it.
  • radishboy - May 30, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    I have always loved Wind Waker. Probably my favorite Zelda game ever. actually, one of my favorite games in general! I instantly loved the style of the game, and the cell shading. I'm very glad that they didn't do that stupid anti-aliasing affect where they put the black outlines around everything, which I see on a lot of other cell shaded games. (think the Dragon Ball Z games, or that P.O.S. FPS for PS2 "XII" (Thirteen.) I don't mind the black outlines if done correctly but they rarely are. they usually look bad due to technical issues, it looks like the outlines are jumping around the character, shaking or squiggling sort of? like those "squiggle vision" cartoons, where the all the lines/outlines are drawn in squiggly lines on purpose, so they wiggle and and jiggle and what not. (think "Home Movies," "Dr Katz," "Ed, Edd, and Eddie", etc...) anyways, I think Wind Waker is going to be one of those few games that are not only great, but will stand the test of time, pretty much forever. Even now, going back to play a PS1 game like Tomb Raider" is almost impossible, it looks and feels just so awful. But Wind Waker's style is timeless, it will always look, feel, and play great.
  • jwolf182 - November 5, 2009 3:46 a.m.

    I my opinion, The best Zelda games were Ocarina of time and majora's mask. hand down. Twilight Princess was a great game, but it just felt weird, i mean no Ocarina, no musical instrument? That's like history for Zelda. Wind Waker was a great game, but the cartooniness got old after awhile along with sailing. Idk i just didn't like twilight princess' going from wolf to Link, i just found that process stupid, and ganon turning into this giant boar thing? C'mon that's just stupid...
  • Nitemarish - October 9, 2008 4:45 p.m.

    Water Temple.
  • VGFreak1225 - November 30, 2008 4:36 a.m.

    I don't know, I don't hate Tingle that much, and the Tingle Tuner, while could have been a little more refined, was a nice addition and never necessary to finish TWW. Also, I'm still going to put OoT as greatest game ever. While Twilight Princess was obviously an improvement over OoT, it didn't innovate and there were more flaws that shouldn't have been there after eight years of opportunity to refine it. While I'll welcome both, to me, innovation is more important than inevitable refinement.
  • Digidabee - November 15, 2008 8:55 p.m.

    I agree Twilight Princess was the first one of the Zelda games i played right to the end although I had others before.
  • Christrigg1 - October 15, 2008 3:22 a.m.

    they shouls make a game where vaati finds the majoras mask, puts it on zelda, and then the real link must face her, who has all 3 peices of triforce as the second to last boss. the thirs to last would be fighting and sealing vaati. the last boos would be zelda using her magic to make there two of each triforce, since gannondorf had controll of all 3 and couldnt get it away from him. she did that so link would then fight gannon 1 on 1 with an awesome swordfight, and magic fight and thw whole 9. ending with a light arrow to the chest, and the master sword lodged in the forehead
  • skyguy343 - October 12, 2008 11:38 p.m.

    agreed, tingle is innocent but did Nessrox (also agreed) just say the Water Temple was good?
  • Nessrox - October 11, 2008 12:16 a.m.

    Good times.
  • BHT128 - October 9, 2008 3:06 a.m.

    Why does everyone hate Tingle so much? You dont have to love him or even like him, but I dont understand what he did to earn the loathing of an entire continent.
  • Danomeon - April 10, 2009 8:44 p.m.

    I don't beleive it, you guys gave link to the past a 10 and ocarina of time a 9! Both were great games, but that may be the first person I have ever heard say anythign other than, "BEST GAME EVAR!"
  • shadowleon - April 2, 2009 11:26 p.m.

    on link's awakening did they steal the ball and chane from Mario or did Mario steal it from them
  • KatamariLovesSpock - May 17, 2009 5:18 p.m.

    I really like the artistic direction that Wind Waker took, considering cel-shading can't really go out of style or become obsolete considering it has been pretty much at It's peak since the GC and PS2. But I personally want a Zelda in which they use the cel-shaded art style but still make it a darker more adult Zelda. They could make it with an older link even... Just because it has a "cartoon" style doesn't mean it can't be more mature. Not only that but a more stylized Zelda (no offence to Twilight Princess, which was a great game but doesn't nearly have as much character.) may make it a more solid game in general. As Twilight Princess showed you don't have to have a blood-caked protagonist... So I think cel-shaded is a great direction to take but they need to make the creatures less disproportional and make an older Link. Maybe closer to the DBZ style of cel-shaded games, those look great and, although DBZ tone may be very "YAAAAAAAAAARGH IMMA CHARGIN' MAH LAZURZ, I SCREAM TO POWER UP!!!!111ONE11!ELEVEN!1!!!" It still shows how a more adult cel-shaded Zelda is possible.
  • BodyDamage - February 19, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    I just watched the video on page 7 when the moon falls and noticed it bears a very striking resemblance to when *spoiler* meteor falls on midgar at the end of FF7.
  • Mr.Epic64 - February 16, 2009 11:59 p.m.

    Whats with the skin coloured teeth in Awekening? WTF!?
  • wolyfox - January 17, 2009 5:13 a.m.

    i mostly like fire temple and twilight princess the spider boss

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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