Chances are, if you’ve ever attacked a chicken (and consequently been mauled by several other chickens) you’ve been playing a Legend of Zelda game. If you haven’t, I would get yourself assessed. The following article is a top 10 list of the best moments in The Legend of Zelda series. Make that a top 11 list, if you count the chickens.
10. Twilight Princess – Stallord boss battle
One of the weaker entries in the Zelda series, Twilight Princess stepped away from the creative high of Windwaker, and became a Zelda ‘greatest hits’ for fans, who wanted realistic, standard-def Gamecube era graphics. It wasn’t a bad game, and you certainly got your money’s worth, but it somehow lost that Zelda feel (which resurfaced with Phantom Hourglass). The most memorable aspect of this game was the Stallord boss battle, which saw you fight a giant skeletal demon while on a rail-like track: like Tony Hawk’s in a green fairy costume. It was certainly the most original idea of the game, and a highlight boss battle for the whole series.
9. Skyward Sword – Motion controls
According to ONM, “Skyward Sword is the best Zelda game ever made.” While this is in fact a lie, SS did integrate some interesting motion controls. When they work, they excel – in the case of enemies (fighting the David Bowie-esque Lord Ghirahim with your sword makes you feel as if it’s the real thing). When they fail, it’s not so good – like aiming the ‘wii-mote’ (constantly realigning your controller, when the ‘beetle’ device you’re flying keeps hitting the wall). Motion control was inevitable for the Zelda series, and for the most part Nintendo pulled it off.
8. Phantom Hourglass – Linebeck
The 3D Zelda games are at their best with characterisation, and can evoke an emotional response (check out the Marine Teddy-Bear article). One such character that springs to mind is the ship captain, Linebeck. An arrogant, rude, selfish (insert adjective here) man, whose initial interest is only in the idea of treasure. He’s a funny guy, and the writers do a brilliant job of bringing out the ‘heart’ of this character as the story progresses – so much so that he ends up saving your character towards the end of the game. It’s a nice surprise seeing his descendent in Spirit Tracks, just as cocky as ever.
7. A Link to The Past – The Dark World
Often argued as the best Zelda game (I find – interestingly – non-fans consider this the apex of the series over Ocarina of Time), the game does have an epic scale to it. The beautiful drop-down world is impressive, but the remarkable turn of events after the first 3 dungeons sees the world turned into a twisted, mirror image. The Dark World is a precursor to OOT’s time travel mechanic, and even to this day it leaves a feeling of hostility – of an alien world that’s reminiscent of a bad dream.
6. Ocarina of Time – Time travel
A nostalgia trip for many, and as such there is a warm feeling towards this game and many a ‘best-game-ever’ title. I’d have to agree (although it’s joint favourite with Majora’s Mask for me – kind of like Weezer’s Blue Album and Pinkerton). Similarly to ALTTP’s Dark World, when your character travels in time, you can’t help but feel surprised the first time round, when you realise you’re no longer a child but a grown man. Upon stepping into Hyrule town, there’s not even time to reel from the shock (of its decimation), as you’re left running from the walking, screaming dead.
5. The Windwaker – Graphics
There’s some irony in the fact that – when the Windwaker was first unveiled, fans lamented its change in art direction – and when Twilight Princess was released 3 years later, fans lamented its change in art direction. The iconic ‘cel-shaded’ graphics of Windwaker are simply outstanding, and it’s saying something when a game of almost 10 years can still stand up in the looks department. The change in direction allowed for more expressive characters, along with animations (think of the pig-like Moblins roaming around the Forsaken Fortress). No Zelda game has ever looked this good since.
4. Spirit Tracks/Phantom Hourglass – Touch screen controls
Phantom Hourglass introduced touch-screen controls for the DS outing of Zelda, and it works wonders. Controlling your character with the stylus feels so smart, and it’s a joy to play. Spirit Tracks can be seen as PH’s superior, as it boasts tougher challenges, and some equally intelligent ideas (the spirit pipes require blowing on the screen/microphone – not one to play on the tube, unless you’re happy with looking mental). Plus, it’s nice to visit the cel-shaded world again: one that focuses – refreshingly – on a different boss in both outings.
3. Windwaker – Sailing the ocean
Much of the appeal in Windwaker comes in exploring the vast ocean and the curious little islands that pop up on the way. There’s nothing better than spending a Sunday afternoon coasting on the waters of an ancient kingdom – beer next to you – as you approach the fish jumping out the water, waiting to fill in your sea chart. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds. Just watch out for pirates/giant squid/sharks and one pissed off god of cyclones. And the weird merchant, who sells transcendental fruit.
2. Ocarina of Time – Music
Koji Kondo: the Brian Wilson/Paul McCartney of videogame music. And his compositions don’t get any better than the melodies in Ocarina of Time. If (for some) it isn’t enough of a nostalgia trip already, the music brings back some wonderful memories. Try not to feel poignant when Sheikh gives words of wisdom, and proceeds to play the Bolero of Fire on the harp; or feel some child-like sense of wonder when the Song of Storms makes the windmill go crazy. Ocarina of Time is the Sgt Pepper’s of videogames. Plus, working out songs on the ocarina is super fun.
1. Majora’s Mask – The Song of Healing
“I could sense the doom of a dark omen brewing. It was that unwelcome feeling that makes your hair stand on end.”
There’s something so trippy, so wonderfully dark and mysterious about Majora’s Mask that makes it one of my favourite games. Ever. And among the highlights, there are the ‘Song of Healing’ moments… the souls of the dead are lost – they’re lonely, and most of all they’re sad. When you play the Song of Healing (a haunting piano number) they find peace, and in its bizarre way, the game sees these dead heal themselves, transforming their essence into masks. One of these moments sees a sad looking Goron, surrounded by his family as they cheer him on, in a hazy, dream-like sequence. It’s rare for a game to push emotional buttons – and in this sense, it’s what makes this the masterpiece it deserves to be. Just ignore Tingle, though. Dude’s messed up. I’m seriously.