There’s nothing quite like The Legend of Zelda. While Mario might be the most beloved character in the Nintendo household, there’s always been something special about Link’s grand adventures. From stepping out onto the plains of Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time or gliding off the Great Plateau in Breath of the Wild for the first time, the series has a habit of creating some long lasting memories.
Set to celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2021, there’s never been a better time to revisit (or experience) the wonderful world of Hyrule. As we all wait with bated breath for Breath of the Wild 2, and the rumored Wind Waker and Twilight Princess HD Nintendo Switch ports, there’s still a great selection of Zelda titles available to play today, some of which you might have overlooked.
So that’s why we’ve pulled together a list of the best Legend of Zelda games that you can dive right into on Nintendo Switch right now.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Let’s start off with what is undoubtedly the crème de la crème of the franchise – a game that arguably revived the Zelda franchise and helped prove to any naysayers that you should never count Nintendo out. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an adventure of truly epic proportions.
Waking up with a complete loss of memory, Link must scour left, right, forward, back and everywhere in between, to piece together exactly what happened 100 years ago that caused the return of Calamity Ganon. Breath of the Wild gave the Zelda series a much-needed shake-up, keeping quintessential elements but bringing in new ideas like the ingenious bite-sized dungeons – better known as Shrines – and the non-linear structure, allowing for total, unbridled exploration.
There’s now even the added DLC that further fleshes out the narrative, while also introducing Link’s very own motorbike – the Master Cycle Zero. Grand, gorgeous, and a great introduction for any newcomers. You need to play this.
The Legend of Zelda
The original Legend of Zelda from 1986 may be more difficult than what you’d expect from more modern titles, yet it still offers hugely rewarding gameplay and beautiful 8-bit graphics that have stood the test of time. It also laid down a lot of key traits that have continuously been used throughout the series, from the dungeons and puzzles to the enemies and weapons.
Now available as part of the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, players can go back to where it all began and enjoy this vital piece of video game history. There’s even a ‘souped-up’ version that starts players with all equipment and a ton of rupees, for those wanting to combat the raised difficulty curve.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Acting as a prequel to Breath of the Wild, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity mixes the addictive gameplay from Dynasty Warriors with the expansive lore of Zelda. Featuring plenty of action-packed content from the start, there are 18 playable characters available to unlock, each with their own playstyle and different personalities.
The game also does well to fill in a number of blanks from the previous release, while also setting things up nicely for the much-anticipated Breath of the Wild sequel. Having sold over four million copies in three days alone, the well-received spinoff has cemented itself as the best-selling entry in the entire Warriors franchise. That’s the Zelda magic for you.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Arguably 2D Zelda at its best. Debuting on the SNES, A Link to the Past is the third entry in the series and is often in contention for one of the greatest games of all time.
The story sees an evil wizard named Agahnim kidnap the Seven Sages in an attempt to break the seal to the corrupted Sacred Realm. As a result, Link must rescue the descendants and restore Hyrule before the beastly Ganon is awoken. It’s an adventure truly worthy of its name, full of surprises and fun puzzles while proving the right balance of challenging gameplay. 20 years on and it’s still as replayable as the day it launched.
Cadence of Hyrule
Cadence of Hyrule, or to give it its full title Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring. The Legend of Zelda, is nothing quite like anything else on this list. Though it takes elements from A Link to the Past, it’s actually a rhythm-based adventure set in a randomly generated overworld, where combat is all about reacting to enemy patterns.
Aside from being a nostalgic throwback to the SNES era, there’s a lot to love. Namely, the superbly snappy soundtrack that remixes numerous Zelda classics, all of which leave a lasting impression long after shutting the console down. Considering Cadence of Hyrule was developed by indie studio Brace Yourself Games, this rare occasion where Nintendo licensed out its IP makes us wish for more experiments of this high caliber.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019)
A remake of the charming 1993 Game Boy adventure, Link’s Awakening was recreated in a gorgeous new claymation-like art style that gave the world a personality like no other. Marooned on Koholint Island by a treacherous storm, Link must collect the eight instruments of the Sirens, so that he may awaken the legendary Wind Fish and escape.
Stories in The Legend of Zelda games tend to be hit or miss, but Link’s Awakening offers up a somewhat somber tale masked by its friendly demeanor. The island of Koholint also quickly becomes a very homely setting, one with areas you constantly revisit and get a sense of the daily lives of its residents. Not to mention, there’s a ton of Mario character cameos that are just a genuine delight to discover.