Best Zelda games

Video Games

The “Legend of Zelda” series is over 30 years old and has 26 games to choose from, meaning there’s a game to suit everyone’s taste.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which Zelda game is best?

The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo’s best-known franchises, with its hero, Link rivaling even Mario for recognition. The Zelda series has been running for thirty years now, and with Breath of the Wild 2 planned for release in 2022 for the Nintendo Switch, the games are as popular as they’ve ever been. The top pick, ”Breath of the Wild,” is one of the newer games in the series and one of the most widely beloved, with a massive open world and easy entry for those unfamiliar with the universe.

What to know before you buy a “Zelda” game

History

The “Legend of Zelda” franchise has existed for more than 30 years now, and there are dozens of “Zelda” games from which to choose. Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka originally created the “Legend of Zelda” series. The first game in the series, “The Legend of Zelda,” was released in 1986 for the Famicom Disk System in Japan. The series contains 26 games to date, for many different consoles and in many different art styles.

Gameplay

The gameplay and design of such a long-running series vary considerably between the games. The earliest releases in the series are 2D, top-down or side-scrolling. With Ocarina of Time in 1998, the series made the transition to 3D and a more modern gameplay style. The series has grown throughout the years to encompass a wide variety of games, tones, themes and plotlines, all with the same characters and universe. Modern “Zelda” games have the graphics and ease of play many expect from video games today but contain the same characters fans know and love.

What to look for in a quality “Zelda” game

Console

Most people don’t own every single console that Nintendo has ever produced. Luckily, the long run of the series means that if you’re just now getting into “Zelda,” there’s a game for almost every console. The most recent console, the Nintendo Switch, has three games in the franchise available for the console, including the re-release of 2011’s “Skyward Sword.”

Most games for newer consoles also have a digital download option, rather than just a physical disk or cartridge. You can purchase physical copies of most games for those who prefer the physical item, although they will require internet connectivity to install fully.

DLC & Amiibo

Modern games often come with the option to purchase DLC or downloadable content in addition to the purchased game. “Legend of Zelda” games for the Switch, the Wii U or the 3DS often feature DLC content. This isn’t necessary to finish the game and often includes extra enemies, difficulty levels, weapons or clothes to enhance the experience. 

Nintendo also has a unique item called an Amiibo. Released beginning in 2015, Amiibo are toys-to-life plastic figurines that can connect with the console and game via wireless communication to access additional content, often extra characters or other bonuses. The three most modern Nintendo consoles, the Switch, Wii U and new 3DS, are all compatible with Amiibo. There are many “Legend of Zelda” Amiibo available, compatible with newer “Zelda” games.

How much you can expect to spend on “Zelda” games

Nintendo games aren’t always cheap, but a series as widespread as this one has various content available. Prices can run anywhere from $5-$20 for more affordable or older games and up to $50-$60 for new games or rare copies.

“Legend of Zelda” FAQ

Are “Zelda” games appropriate for children?

A. Most “Zelda” games are rated for everyone or everyone 10 and up. Because the series’ themes vary so much from game to game, some games may be appropriate for younger children while others may contain heavier topics.

What’s the best “Zelda” game to buy?

Top “Zelda” game

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

What you need to know: One of the newest games in the series, with beautiful graphics and an immersive world, Breath of the Wild features endless things to do and a massive open world alongside the classic “Zelda” high fantasy plot fans love.

What you’ll love: The huge scope of the world means it has a lot to offer all kinds of gamers, from those dedicated to the main quest to those who just want to explore the world. 

What you should consider: It’s not cheap, and as a modern game, it has DLC available, which adds even more to the price if you choose to purchase it. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Zelda game for the money

Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

What you need to know: A port of a classic 2D Zelda title to the 3DS, Oracle of Seasons is a favorite for a low price.

What you’ll love: It’s a great game for a fraction of the price of some of the other games in the series. Fans love the retro vibes and solid gameplay.

What you should consider: “Oracle of Seasons was originally released alongside a companion game, “Oracle of Ages” that contains more puzzle-heavy play. For the full gameplay experience, fans might want both games. It’s also only playable in 2D.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

What you need to know: A great 3DS remaster of one of the most beloved games in the series is fantastic for both new players and old fans.

What you’ll love: It’s been updated with a more convenient save system and 3D compatibility, eliminating some of the original game’s quirks. Majora’s Mask is also one of the most original concepts. 

What you should consider: Some reviewers weren’t a fan of the darker tone of the game. It’s also an older game, and the style may require adjustment for newer gamers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Arabella Matthews writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.