The Legend of Zelda is one of the most storied franchises in the history of gaming. Spanning roughly 32 years and 19 games, this series is one of the staples of the industry. Back in 1986, no one knew the smash hit that Zelda would become. It came from the imagination of a man who wanted to make a game about his childhood exploration and transformed into the greatest franchise in gaming history. With the recent release of Breath of the Wild, Zelda’s popularity is at an all-time high. It doesn’t hurt matters that the game launched on the Nintendo Switch, which has become the fastest-selling console in the United States in the span of 12 months. Despite the success of Breath of the Wild, there are so many incredible Zelda games and we’re going to tell you which ones are the best. 6. Breath of the Wild The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an incredible game, no doubt. It won countless Game of the Year awards and has been heralded as one of the greatest games of all-time. That being said, it’s not. As far as Zelda games go, it’s maybe an 8.5, if you want to give it a numerical ranking. Overall it’s probably a 9. While Hyrule is vast and expansive, it has no heart. The most interesting parts of the game are told through memories. The shrines are an interesting concept and some of the puzzles are very well thought out, but they’re too short. The dungeons are horrible. Link has no personality. The great thing about The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword is that Link is incredibly expressive. That was one of the major points of the cel-shaded graphics in The Wind Waker, so that Link could have more character. This has been lost in Breath of the Wild. Link is an empty shell and the story is non-existent, although the Champions (sans Zelda) are pretty memorable. The music is also sub-par. Although there are some great tracks, the majority simply fails to meet the standards that previous Zelda games set before it. While the gameplay mechanics are some of the best in the series and there are some great changes that needed to be implemented, it simply isn’t an elite game. The world feels empty and although the exploration is excellent, that’s really all there is. Zelda has evolved beyond that, and this is the least memorable Link in existence. While we previously stated that Breath of the Wild is the Game of the Year in 2017 back after its release, that didn’t mean that it was our Game of the Year; it’s merely what we thought critics would pick. And we were right. Breath of the Wild was a very good, but not great game, which rode the hype of the Nintendo Switch and gave gamers and critics alike their starvation for more Zelda. This strategy worked. 5. Twilight Princess HD Twilight Princess was already a classic when it launched on the Nintendo Wii, but the high-definition version for the Wii U propelled the game to an elite status. With a challenging hero mode and amiibo integration, it upped the game’s difficulty and made the game even more fun. The dungeons are spectacular and interestingly enough they aged incredibly well, as I thought they were somewhat subpar in the latter half of the game when I originally played it. The bosses may not be difficult, but they are so much fun, and that’s what really matters. The combat may not be incredibly difficult but it’s very rewarding, especially when you are able to use your hidden skills. Midna is the best sidekick Link has ever had and the characters in the game are both excellent and memorable. The puzzles are superb and well thought out, making it one of the best Legend of Zelda games to date. 4. A Link Between Worlds A Link Between Worlds is the ultimate puzzle game, integrating 2D and 3D puzzles by use of Link’s wall-merging mechanic. The puzzles are also vertical in nature, capitalizing on the Nintendo 3DS’s 3D capabilities. The game took some chances and tried to change the conventions of what defines a Legend of Zelda game, setting the stage for Breath of the Wild (for better or worse). The biggest difference is the lore in A Link Between Worlds is by far superior to Breath of the Wild. It has some very fresh and new, but it also includes something familiar, which is pertinent when developing any game. The story isn’t the best in the series, but it has the best puzzles and is one of the most challenging in the series. The only downside is maybe the story, but it’s not really half bad. It also doesn’t mean that it isn’t one of the best Zelda games of all time. While events can be played out of order, there is still a level of structure to the game, which is very important. The dungeons are some of the best in the series.. Even though the game was created on a template of the world from A Link to the Past, that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the best Zelda games. 3. A Link to the Past A Link to the Past set the standard for every Zelda game that came after it. This isn’t what makes it such a great game, but it does make it one of the most revolutionary Zelda games of all time. A Link to the Past was not an easy game, and help was hard to come by in-game. During the early 90s help was hard to come by period. The puzzles could be brutal, especially the Ice Palace, and the enemies dealt a lot of damage, causing many deaths along the way. The story was very simple, yet it was engaging and many Zelda games have tried to implement a similar formula since. It defined Zelda as a puzzle game, when up to this point, it was much more an action-adventure game. It created a hybrid of the two, defining the series from 1991/1992 until now. It was difficult, had a great story, and even its musical themes set the foundation for every future Zelda game. The fact of the matter is is that the Legend of Zelda series has some of the best video game music in all of gaming, and A Link to the Past established most of those motifs. 2. Ocarina of Time There are so many things that could be said about Ocarina of Time. It took the musical themes and story foundation from A Link to the Past and ran with them. It has the perfect balance of gameplay and story in any game, even almost 20 years after its release. It not only moved Zelda into 3D, but the Ocarina/music mechanic was revolutionary. The story was so simple yet so powerful, tapping into your emotions and allowing you to truly to become Link. Traveling back and forth through time was an incredibly innovative mechanic as well, and established time travel as one of the series’ staples. The dungeons, though almost 20 years old, still stand up even today with its incredible puzzles and epic bosses. In the end though, what makes Ocarina of Time one of the best Zelda games is the balance between gameplay and story, and the fact that it does both equally well. Ocarina of Time’s story, while simplistic, taps into our primal emotions. Ocarina of Time wasn’t just a revolutionary game; it is the Legend of Zelda game that every gamer must experience. 1. Skyward Sword Skyward Sword sets the foundation for the entire Legend of Zelda saga’s lore. Its story is the most in-depth in the Zelda series, and it utilizes the Wii’s motion plus capabilities to perfection, allowing for true motion controls as opposed to the Twilight Princess controls on the Wii. While the game wasn’t open world per se, there was still a lot of exploration to be had. Areas were incredibly dense and full of secrets, and if players devoted the time and energy the developers intended, the game would have been received much better. The game also featured some incredible bosses (especially the final boss) and the dungeons were second only to Ocarina of Time. The puzzles took advantage of the motion controls and put a new spin on what a puzzle truly was in Zelda, which was a really innovative and defining aspect of the game. Skyward Sword truly is The Legend of Zelda, and its story is the most intriguing and complex story in the series. The characters are incredible as well and make the game in many respects, something that games like Breath of the Wild lack. The music, puzzles, exploration, controls, and sheer innovation make it the best Legend of Zelda game of all time.