You have already had your say on the absolute best Zelda games because we celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary – and you also did a mighty fine job too, even if I’m fairly sure A Link to the Past belongs in the head of any list – so now it’s our turn. We requested the Eurogamer editorial team to vote for their favourite Zelda games (although Wes abstained because he still doesn’t understand exactly what a Nintendo is) and below you’ll get the complete top ten, together with a number of our own musings. Can people get the matches in their real purchase? Probably not…

10. A Link Between Worlds

How brightly contradictory that among the finest original games on Nintendo’s 3DS would be a 2D adventure sport, and that one of the most adventurous Zelda entries would be the one which so closely aped among its predecessors.

It really helps, of course, that the template has been lifted from one of the best games in the show and, by extension, among the best games of all time. There is an endearing breeziness to A Link to the Past, a fleet-footedness that sees the 16-bit experience pass as pleasurably and memorably as a great late summer day.by link the legend of zelda: phantom hourglass rom website A Link Between Worlds takes that and positively sprints together with it, running free into the recognizable expanse of Hyrule using a new-found freedom.

In giving you the capacity to let any of Link’s well-established applications in the off, A Link Between Worlds broke free of the linear progression which had reverted past Zelda games; that is a Hyrule that was no longer defined by an invisible path, but one which offered a sense of discovery and completely free will that was beginning to feel absent from prior entries. The feeling of experience so dear to the show, muffled in the past several years from the ritual of repetition, was well and truly revived. MR

9. Spirit Tracks

An unfortunate side-effect of the simple fact that more than 1 generation of players has grown up with Zelda and refused to let go has been an insistence – throughout the show’ sin, at any rate – it grow up with them. That resulted in some interesting places as well as some absurd tussles over the series’ leadership, as we will see later in this listing, but sometimes it threatened to depart Zelda’s original constituency – you know, children – behind.

Happily, the mobile games are there to look after younger players, along with Spirit Tracks for its DS (now accessible on Wii U Virtual Console) is now Zelda at its most chirpy and adorable. Though beautifully designed, it’s not a particularly distinguished match, being a comparatively hasty and gimmicky followup to Phantom Hourglass that reproduces its construction and flowing stylus control. However, it has such zest! Link utilizes a little train to get around and also its puffing and tooting, together with an inspired folk music soundtrack, set a brisk pace for your experience. Then there’s the childish, tactile delight of driving that the train: setting the adjuster, pulling on the whistle and scribbling destinations on your map.

Most importantly is that, for once, Zelda is along for the ride. Link must save her entire body, but her spirit is using him as a constant companion, occasionally able to own enemy soldiers and perform the brutal heavy. Both even enjoy an innocent youth romance, and you’d be hard pushed to consider another game which has captured the teasing, blushing intensity of a reggae beat so well. Inclusive and candy, Spirit Tracks recalls that kids have feelings too, and also will show grownups a thing or two about love. OW

8. Ghost Hourglass

In my mind, at least, there’s been a raging debate going on as to if Link, Hero of Hyrule, is really any good with a boomerang. He’s been wielding the loyal, banana-shaped bit of wood because his first adventure, but in my experience it’s merely been a pain in the arse to use.

The exception which proves the rule, however, is Phantom Hourglass, where you draw on the path on your boomerang through the hand. Poking the stylus in the touch display (which, at an equally lovely transfer, is the way you command your sword), you draw a precise flight map for your boomerang and then it just… goes. No more faffing about, no clanging into pillars, only easy, simple, improbably responsive boomerang trip. It had been when I first used the boomerang in Phantom Hourglass that 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 derived from setting a change and subsequently getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. Never mind that watching some game back to refresh my memory gave me powerful flashbacks into the hours spent huddling over the display and gripping my DS like that I wanted to throttle it. JC

7. Skyward Sword

Skyward Sword is maddeningly close to having good. It bins the familiar Zelda overworld and set of discrete dungeons by hurling three huge areas in the player that are continuously rearranged. It is a gorgeous game – one I am still hoping will soon be remade in HD – whose watercolour visuals make a shimmering, dream-like haze over its blue heavens and brush-daubed foliage. After the grimy, Lord of this Rings-inspired Twilight Princess, it is the Zelda series confidently re-finding its feet. I am able to shield many of familiar criticisms levelled at Skyward Sword, like its overly-knowing nods to the rest of the series or its slightly forced origin narrative that retcons familiar elements of the franchise. I will also get behind the bigger general quantity of area to research when the match always revitalises each of its three regions so ardently.

I could not, sadly, ever get along with the game’s Motion Plus controllers, which required one to waggle your own Wii Remote to be able to do combat. It turned the boss battles against the brilliantly eccentric Ghirahim into infuriating struggles using technologies. Into baskets which made me rage quit for the remainder of the evening. At times the motion controls worked – that the flying Beetle item pretty much always 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 the time. TP

6. Twilight Princess

I was also pretty awful at Zelda games. I really could ditch my way through the Great Deku Tree and the Fire Temple alright but, by the time Connect dove headlong to the Great Jabu Jabu’s belly, my desire to have pleasure together with Ocarina of Time easily began outstripping the pleasure I was really having.

When Twilight Princess wrapped around, I had been at university and something in me – most likely a deep romance – was prepared to try again. This time, it really worked. I remember day-long stretches on the sofa, huddling underneath a blanket in my cold apartment and only poking out my hands to flap around using the Wii remote during combat. Then there was the magnificent dawn when my then-girlfriend (now fiancée) woke me up with a gentle shake, and asking’can I watch you play with Zelda?’

Twilight Lady is, honestly, captivating. There is a fantastic, brooding feeling; yet the gameplay is hugely diverse; it has got a beautiful art design, one I wish they had kept for just one more match. That is why I’ll always love Twilight Princess – it’s the game that made me click with Zelda. JC

5.

However, some of its greatest moments have come when it turned out its own framework, left Hyrule along with Zelda herself and inquired what Link might do next. The self-referential Link’s Awakening has been one, and that N64 sequel to Ocarina of Time another. It required an even more radical tack: weird, dark, and experimental.

Even though there’s plenty of comedy and adventure, Majora’s Mask is suffused with despair, regret, and an off-kilter eeriness. A number of this comes from its admittedly awkward timed arrangement: the moon is falling around the planet, that the clock is ticking and you also can’t stop it, only rewind and start again, somewhat stronger and wiser each moment. Some of it comes in the antagonist, the Skull Kid, who is no villain but an innocent with a sad story who has contributed into the corrupting influence of their titular mask. A number of this comes from Link himselfa child again but with the increased man of Ocarina still somewhere inside himhe bends rootlessly into the land of Termina like he’s got no greater place to be, far in your hero of legend.

Despite an unforgettable, most surreal decision, Majora’s Mask’s main narrative isn’t one of the series’ strongest. But these poignant Groundhog Day subplots about the stress of normal life – reduction, love, family, job, and passing, always death – find the show’ writing in its absolute finest. It is a depression, compassionate fairytale of this everyday that, using its own ticking clock, needs to remind you that you can not take it with you personally. OW

4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

If you’ve had kids, you’ll be aware there’s amazingly strange and touching moment when you’re doing laundry – stay with me – and those tiny T-shirts and trousers first start to turn up in your washingmachine. Someone else has come to live with you! A person implausibly small.

This is one of The Wind-Waker’s greatest tips, I think. Connect was young before, but today, with the gloriously toon-shaded change in art direction, he actually looks youthful: a Schulz toddler, enormous head and little legs, venturing out among Moblins and pirates as well as these crazy birds that roost round the clifftops. Connect is little and vulnerable, and so the adventure surrounding him sounds all the more stirring.

Another excellent tip has a good deal to do with these pirates. “What is the Overworld?” This has been the normal Zelda question because Link to the Past, but with the Wind-Waker, there did not seem to be just one: no alternative measurement, no switching between time-frames. Rather you had a crazy and briney sea, reaching out in all directions, an infinite blue, flecked with abstracted breakers. The sea was controversial: so much hurrying back and forth over a enormous map, a lot of time spent in crossing. But consider what it brings with it! It brings pirates and sunken temples and ghost ships. It brings underwater grottoes along with a castle waiting for you in a bubble of air back on the seabed.

Best of all, it brings that unending sense of renewal and discovery, 1 challenge down along with another awaiting, as you jump from your ship and race up the sand towards the next thing, your tiny legs swinging through the surf, your enormous eyes already fixed on the horizon. CD

3.

Link’s Awakening is near-enough a excellent Zelda game – it has a vast and secret-laden overworld, sparkling dungeon design and unforgettable characters. In addition, it is a fever dream-set side-story with villages of speaking animals, side-scrolling regions starring Mario enemies and also a giant fish who sings the mambo. This was my first Zelda experience, my entry point into the series and the game against which I judge each other Zelda title. I totally love it. Not only was it my first Zelda, its own greyscale world was one of the first adventure games that I played. I can still visualise a lot of it now – the cracked flooring in that cave from the Lost Woods, the stirring music because you input the Tal Tal Mountains, the shopkeeper electrocuting into an immediate death if you dared return into his shop after slipping.

No Guru Sword. And while it feels like a Zelda, even after enjoying many of the other people, its quirks and personalities set it apart. Link’s Awakening packs an astounding amount onto its small Game Boy capsule (or Game Boy Color, in case you played with its DX re-release). TP

2.

Bottles are OP at Zelda. These humble glass containers can reverse the tide of a struggle if they have a potion or – even better – a fairy. When I was Ganon, I would postpone the wicked plotting and also the dimension rifting, and I would just set a good fortnight into travelling Hyrule from top to bottom and hammering any glass bottles I’ve came across. After that, my horrible vengeance would be even more terrible – and there’d be a sporting chance that I might be able to pull it off also.

All of that suggests, as Link, a bottle can be a real reward. Real treasure. I believe you will find four glass bottles Link to the Past, every one which makes you that little stronger and that bit bolder, buying you confidence from dungeoneering and struck points at the middle of a bruising boss encounter. I can’t remember where you get three of the bottles. But I can recall where you receive the fourth.

It is Lake Hylia, and if you’re like me, it is late in the match, with all the major ticket items accumulated, that lovely, genre-defining moment at the top of the mountain – in which one map becomes two – cared for, and handfuls of streamlined, ingenious, infuriating and educational dungeons raided. Late match Link to the Past is all about looking out every last inch of this map, which means working out the way both similar-but-different versions of Hyrule fit together.

And there’s a difference. A gap in Lake Hylia. A gap hidden by a bridge. And underneath it, a guy blowing smoke rings with a campfire. He feels like the greatest key in all of Hyrule, and the prize for uncovering him is a glass vessel, perfect for keeping a potion – along with even a fairy.

Connect to the Past feels like an impossibly clever game, fracturing its map into two measurements and requesting you to flit between them, holding equally arenas super-positioned in your mind as you solve a single, enormous geographical mystery. In truth, though, somebody could probably copy this design when they had sufficient pencils, enough quadrille paper, sufficient time and energy, and when they were smart and determined enough.

The best reduction of the digital era.

However, Link to the Past isn’t merely the map – it’s the detailing, and the characters. It is Ganon and his wicked plot, but it’s also the guy camping out beneath the bridge. Perhaps the whole thing is a bit like a jar, then: the container is more essential, but what you are really after is the stuff that’s inside . CD

1. Ocarina of Time

Maybe with the Z-Targeting, a remedy to 3D combat so simple you barely notice it’s there. Or perhaps you talk about an open world that is touched by the light and color cast by an inner clock, where villages dancing with activity by day prior to being seized by an eerie lull through the night. How about the expressiveness of the ocarina itself, an superbly analogue instrument whose music has been conducted with the new control afforded by the N64’s pad, which notes flexed wistfully at the push of a pole.

Maybe, though, you just focus in on the instant itself, a perfect picture of video games appearing aggressively from their own adolescence as Connect is thrust so abruptly in an adult world. What’s most impressive about Ocarina of Time is the way that it came accordingly fully-formed, the 2D adventuring of past entries transitioning into three dimensions as gracefully as a pop-up novel folding quickly into existence.

Other Zeldas may make for a better play today – there’s something about the 16-bit adventuring of A Link to the Past that stays forever impervious to period – although none could ever claim to be important as Ocarina. Because of Grezzo’s unique 3DS remake it has retained much of its verve and impact, as well as setting aside its technical achievements it is an experience that ranks among the series’ finest; emotional and uplifting, it is touched with the bittersweet melancholy of climbing up and leaving your youth behind. By the story’s end Link’s childhood and innocence – and that of Hyrule – is heroically restored, but after this most revolutionary of reinventions, video games could never be the exact same again.