I’m going pretty specific here with my list just to keep it from getting too long. I just finished Twilight Princess last night and now I’m wanting to try and rank the 3D console Zelda games from Ocarina to Time to Twilight Princess before I start Skyward Sword after the New Year.
As with all of my lists, the rankings shift quite often and this list is obviously biased toward Twilight Princess since I just completed it. I’ll also preface this entire list by stating that the Zelda franchise is my all-time favorite and that each game would make a Top 20 list for me. They’re all excellent games, but I have to rank them somehow.
Without further ado … I give you …
Number 4 – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
One of the more controversial changes to the franchise came with the cell shaded initial Zelda offering on the GameCube. You take child Link on an adventure over land and sea to save the world once again. It has some cool moments, and is a fun game to play, but for me the lack of notable moments doesn’t make it stick in my head for the long-term.
Of course, a must play (like all of these), but secondary when compared to other games in this list.
Number 3 – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Maybe the game that took the traditional formula and changed it the most, you are not in Hyrule, you are not saving a princess, and you only have 72 hours to do it.
Okay, you get to replay those 72 hours a few times, but that is the premise and it definitely makes things tense. Add in your Link-changing masks, and you have a very unique game that is decidedly Zelda, but decidedly a different Zelda. Overall with a darker tone (the Moon is falling into the world), this game is amazing. If you haven’t picked it up because it wasn’t “as good as the last one” … you are missing out.
Number 2 – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Maybe over time this will change, but right now Twilight Princess is just a HAIR under my #1 3D console Zelda game. This game might fall in the rankings over time, but it was just so good I can’t put it any lower.
While it started a bit slow, the action picks up and doesn’t let go as soon as you see your friends get stolen. While a more traditional Zelda, the addition of metamorphosis along with the best companion in any game of the series (Midna … so good) adds some excellent wrinkles.
Definitely the game with the darkest tone (and color palette) and an excellent one-two punch for the final two bosses, it ends like a good book and you just want it to continue. While the motion controls on the Wii are not flawless, I very much enjoyed them and look forward to Skyward Sword to see what Nintendo can do with a game that is built, from the ground up, with motion controls in mind.
Number 1 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Who doesn’t remember beating the Great Deku Tree, heading out, talking with Saria, and then stepping out into Hyrule Field? It is at that moment that you know you are in for something truly epic. The resulting hours take you from forests, to lakes, to graveyards, to volcanoes, to deserts … and everywhere in between.
Just when you think you’ve completed your task … BOOM! You pull out the Master Sword, Ganondorf steals part of the Triforce, and you have seven years before you come to. Then it really starts to get fun.
While newer games might be longer and prettier, they still have not matched Ocarina of Time in the sheer “wow” factor of seeing Zelda in 3D for the first time. Match that with a tight storyline and some great temple design and you have the best 3D console Zelda game on my list.
Skyward Sword is next on my list, but I need to take a break first. I’m interested to see where I place it when everything is said and done. I need to get some work done first.
One other closing comment: in many ways, Twilight Princess either matches or bests Ocarina of Time, but I have to give a nod to Ocarina of Time because I am still talking about that game like I played it yesterday even more than a decade after beating it during a week I was home sick from school.
You have to give high points for a masterpiece like that.