My Favourite Nintendo Franchise: The Legend of Zelda
William Thornton runs us through the joys of his favourite Nintendo franchise, The Legend of Zelda
My first experience with the Legend of Zelda franchise was back in 2007, when I bought Phantom Hourglass for my DS Lite, having never even heard of Zelda before this moment. I still remember falling in love with the franchise all those years ago, and ever since then it’s had a special place in my heart as one of my most beloved franchises in all of gaming history.
Since first buying that far too overlooked title over a decade ago, I’ve worked my way through pretty much every game in the series, either playing them for a good few hours before getting bored, or completing the whole thing and loving every second of it, sometimes even going all out and one-hundred precenting the game. For the most part, the 2D Zelda games fall into the former category. I know this is essentially heresy for many Zelda fans, but titles like A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening, and The Minish Cap never really managed to hold my attention. I feel like they pale in comparison to the 3D titles in the series, my main complaint coming from their lacklustre overworlds and boring dungeon designs.
This is something Nintendo eventually perfected with the 3D Zelda games, with the incredible trio of Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Wind Waker being the best examples of what Zelda is all about: the overworlds are absolutely stunning and are all a joy to explore, the dungeons are immaculately designed and stand out from one another incredibly well, and best of all the music to these games is nothing short of perfection. The central mechanics to each of these games are extremely well-realised, with the time-travelling and three-day cycle of Ocarina and Majora’s respectively adding a horrifically melancholic tone to both games, and the sailing of Wind Waker being by far the most memorable aspect of that game, for better or for worse.
Not all of the 3D Zeldas are this good however – Twilight Princess is basically a bland remake of Ocarina, with a central gimmick that feels as shoehorned in as could possibly be, and a ‘dark’ tone that comes nowhere close to how depressing both Ocarina and Majora’s could be at times. Oh, and the less said about Skyward Sword, the better.
But that’s not even having mentioned the immaculate Breath of the Wild, a much-needed revitalisation of the ever-more tiring Zelda formula, and a game that’s paved the way for a very bright future for the franchise. Hopefully Nintendo will perfect this open-world approach to Zelda in the much-anticipated sequel.