In 1986, the Nintendo Entertainment System received a launch title that would change the history of Video Games. Subtitled as The Hyrule Fantasy in Japan, the plot centered on a boy named Link, the playable protagonist, who aimed to collect the eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom in order to rescue Princess Zelda from the antagonist, Ganon.
Now, almost 30 years later (the original game arrived on February 21, 1986), that formula still resonates with millions around the world as we anticipate the arrival of HD remakes and a brand-new Zelda adventure, The Legend of Zelda Wii UThe Legend of Zelda Wii Uin 2016. This series has created a remarkable legacy over 30 years, and it will simply amaze you to see how Zelda and Link have aged.
The Legend of Zelda - The Hyrule Fantasy
These little figures are the original Link and Zelda. Imagine this, if Link took 2800 polygons to come to life in The Wind Waker in 2002, what must it have taken to bring both him and Zelda to life over 15 years earlier. It's a moving and vital image in the history of this art form. You really are the hero of Hyrule, Link.
The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Zelda II is a very unusual installment in this franchise. Nintendo attempted to change things up following the success of the original, and released The Adventure of Link a few months later. This is the only game that is said to be a direct sequel to 1986's The Legend of Zelda and it features various side-scrolling and role-playing-style elements. This was a weird time in his life.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is often cited as the greatest game in the franchise. It introduced numerous gameplay elements that would become essential aspects of playing a Zelda game. Released in 1991, Nintendo returned to the style of the original, but reportedly blew people's minds with the level of detail and graphical prowess.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Above you can see the original Gameboy version of Link's Awakening, released in 1993, which introduced The Legend of Zelda to its first new console following the Nintendo Entertainment System. It is one of the few Zelda games not to take place in the land of Hyrule, and does not feature Princess Zelda or the Triforce relic. It's an unusual little adventure that's adored by a lot of people!
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The game that changed history. Ocarina of Time is truly one of the great artistic masterpieces and it forever changed the Zelda franchise and what we came to expect from Link's adventures. Above you can get an idea of how adult Link and Zelda looked when the game was released for the Nintendo 64 in 1998. There's almost a 5 year gap between Ocarina and Awakening, and this development period was well worth the wait.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Majora's Mask is my favorite Zelda game and indicative of how every gaming franchise shouldn't be afraid to try new things. The time mechanic in Majora's Mask is still one of the most innovative ideas in gaming, and it took us on a much darker adventure with no sign of Zelda or Ganon. However, The Skull Kid and the terrifying, destructive Moon were more than enough to instill a sense of looming doom in a remarkable masterpiece.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages
Released for the Game Boy color in 2001, Oracle of Seasons was a well regarded installment in The Legend of Zelda franchise. The control scheme was similar to Link's Awakening, but the narrative was actually spread throughout two separate games, Seasons and Ages. Playing the two together gave you a full understanding of the narrative and Link's adventures in Holodrum and Labrynna. Great games.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
There are times were I feel as if The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is my favorite in the franchise. The animation style for this installment is so beautiful and unique in comparison to every other Zelda title. The cel-shaded art style was allegedly controversial during the development of the game, however, it was lauded upon its release. It also introduced sailing, Link's younger sister Aryll, and a heavy emphasis is placed on controlling wind with a baton called the Wind Waker, which aids in sailing and floating through the air.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
Introducing a peculiar multiplayer element into the Zelda series, the game takes Link on an adventure to restore peace to Hyrule after learning that an evil counterpart of himself, Shadow Link, has been created. Released for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2004, the title was a relative success, and enjoyed a healthy critical consensus (even though it'd be one of my least favorites in the franchise's history).
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
In 2004, Nintendo released The Minish Cap for the Game Boy Advance. The game introduced some new gameplay features into the series, while also retaining some of our most beloved elements. In this Zelda title, a magical talking cap named Ezlo can shrink Link to the size of the Minish, a bug-sized race that live in Hyrule. He looks fairly cute while they do it too! Not as creepy as Majora's terrified Deku Scrub mask, that's for sure.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess was originally planned to release for the GameCube in November 2005. However, Nintendo delayed the title in order for developers to refine the game as well as port it to their upcoming console, the Nintendo Wii. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was eventually released in November of 2006 alongside the Wii, with the GameCube version arriving a month later.
Numerous critics regarded this as the greatest Zelda game of all time when it was released. Taking place approximately 100 years after the events of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess sees Link fight against the corruption of a parallel dimension known as the Twilight Realm. To do so, he takes the forms of both a Hylian and a wolf, and is assisted by a mysterious creature named Midna.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
The sequel to The Wind Waker was the first Zelda game to be released on the Nintendo DS. It utilized numerous features that the new handheld console promoted, such as touchscreen controls and the use of a microphone. The game also had online play, though this wasn't very well received. Released in 2006, The Phantom Hourglass charts Link's journey to save his friend Tetra from the story's antagonist, Bellum, with the help of Captain Linebeck and his ship, the S.S. Linebeck.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Using a similar cel-shading style to Hourglass and Wind Waker, Spirit Tracks from 2009 follows Link as he travels the overworld using a canon-equipped steam train, much like Hourglass' steamboat. He also had the ability to control Phantoms, and play a new instrument called the Spirit Flute. It was extremely well liked by critics and fans alike, and is easily one of the best games on the Nintendo DS.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Skyward Sword (2011) is the second Zelda game that was released for the Nintendo Wii, and it was absolutely lauded. This is a highly respected Zelda game, one that utilized the Wii MotionPlus peripheral for sword fighting, with a revised Wii Remote pointing system used for targeting. The narrative for Skyward Sword is also the earliest in the Zelda timeline and follows Link, who was raised in a society above the clouds known as Skyloft.
After his closest childhood friend, Zelda, is swept into the land below the clouds by demonic forces, Link does whatever it takes to save her!
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Now we come to 2013 and the first Zelda game to arrive on the Nintendo 3DS. A Link Between Worlds is a sequel to 1991's A Link to the Past and introduced an innovative gameplay mechanic which saw Link possess the ability to merge onto walls and become a painting. Additionally, it introduced a rental system for equipment in the game, as opposed to simply collecting them along your adventure. Some liked the idea, but I personally hated this new system.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
A direct sequel to A Link Between Worlds, Tri Force Heroes was released in 2015 for the Nintendo 3DS. The multiplayer aspect of the game was liked, but in terms of review scores, Tri Force Heroes is the lowest-rated Zelda title in history. The singleplayer campaign didn't offer enough for players to get excited about, but damn does Link look adorable in that samurai outfit!
The Legend of Zelda Wii U
Here we are. This is to be the latest style of Link, a character that's been around for almost 30 years. The Legend of Zelda Wii U still doesn't have a definite release date for 2016, but we're hopeful that this highly anticipated title is just around the corner!