With Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD for the Wii U now out in stores. I feel the need to reflect on the zelda games that I prefer. This list is in order from least favorite to favorite, and is also only including console Zeldas, not portables, and does not contain versions I have not played.
Legend of Zelda – Original
Ok, so I really enjoy this version of Zelda, but I will be honest in saying that this enjoyment mostly comes from nostalgia. I remember as a kid going to a friends house and seeing it for the first time and thinking it was amazing that my friend owned this game and wishing I could somehow get it (which never happened). However, the game itself is not easy to figure out what you are going to do. I like the exploration within the game but the level of which it just throws you into the game with little to no direction is difficult to muster. Other games that left it open in the series like this one weren’t so harsh in this manner.
Ocarina of Time
I would guess this would surprise anyone reading this blog. Most people find Ocarina the best of the series and one of the best games of all time. Don’t get me wrong, this game at the time was extremely good, without a doubt. However, I feel anyone who plays it now and actually still thinks it is the best in the series is letting the nostalgia get to them. The reason this game was so good was because it really was the first of its kind. It did things no other game had done, and reinvented Zelda in a way that is still overpowering the series (much to reviewers dismay). However, I personally don’t feel the game has aged overly well. This might be because every game that has occurred since Ocarina in the series has copied it so heavily. The sad fact is, of all the Ocarina-like Zelda, Ocarina of Time is the worst. Nintendo refined the series so much after this point that it put this game to shame.
Link to the Past
I actually have a hard time rating this one worse than Wind Waker and Twilight Princess because I really love this game. I think of the original style games, Link to the Past I felt was the best. It was open like the original, which I liked, but not as directionless, which was nice. The advancement in graphics on the game from NES to SNES also means it is easier to play now adays.1
Given any particular month I will switch this with Wind Waker. I loved the story of this game, I loved how dark it was compared to the other games in the franchise, I love the cast of characters, and I love how different it is. What I don’t love is that out of the Ocarina-like games this is one of the most on tracks of the series. I like open gaming and this game doesn’t entirely have it more than most and is the main reason why I rate it lower. Everything else about this game screams that it is the best of the series.
Just edging out TP… I was one of those people who initially saw it and was like, “What are they thinking?” But Nintendo proved me wrong in every aspect. At the time, cell shading was a stylish trend so it wasn’t really that far out of the park that Nintendo went along with it. But what was really capturing about this style was that it felt like a living and breathing cartoon. When I was hiding in a barrel and slipping past a spotlight, they had me sold. To this day, Wind Waker was the closest that I’ve come to actually playing a cartoon series and it was terrific. But what really makes this game my favorite of the Zelda’s is that it is a very open world allowing you to go where you want, it is huge, but it is directed. It was like the best of Ocarina and Link to the Past all rolled into one.
So there you have it. Out of all the Zeldas that they could be remaking, this one I am happy to see a remake because it is my favorite. But at the same time, it could be the most troubling. I thought the graphics on the gamecube were perfect, couldn’t get any better. Yet I sit and wonder just how nice they might look, how much more like a cartoon it could get. It would be easy as heck to remake Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask or Twilight Princess with fully rendered updated models to the new system that would really make you pine for another pseudo-realistic Legend of Zelda. But the subtlety required for WInd Waker could be amazing or unnecessary, there is no in between and I hand it to Nintendo for giving it a shot. And hoping, once again, that they can prove me wrong.