Editor's Note: Read Space Penguin 3. It was a great way to end the first series! Oh and this list is quite great as well. Nice work Stickman!
So, just need to explain a couple of things before we start. Firstly, the reason why this is just 3D games and not the Zelda series in general is because I haven't played through enough of the 2D ones to rank them fairly, so I'm just sticking to the Zelda games I've played and played well, and that's the 3D ones. Secondly, the reason why Spirit Tracks does not feature on this list is because I haven't played it yet, for reasons that will become abundantly clear as soon as you start reading the list. Enjoy!
Now, I'm going to be honest here, Phantom Hourglass is the only 3D Zelda game I actually don't really like all that much. I was excited for it before it came out like most people were, and I bought it on the day of launch but then I played it and...it just wasn't very fun for me. In fact it was so underwhelming I actually left it for a long period of time before finally going back to it and completing the game just to say I had. Don't get me wrong, I loved that it was a direct sequel to Wind Waker (Who will be turning up later on), the visuals were pretty damn nice for a DS game, and it was full of humour and lots of secret islands that were fun to discover and explore. It was just..flawed, really badly flawed in my book. I know a lot of people really liked this game but I despised the hub dungeon design with a passion, whoevers idea that was needs to get taken out back and shot because it very much ruined the entire game for me. The hub dungeon focused largely on puzzles and stealth which require you to spend time working things out and avoiding enemies who will send you right back to the start, yet the whole thing is set to a time limit which just makes the whole process infuriating. It doesn't help that as you get further into the game, each trip to the hub dungeon becomes longer and more repetitive....it was a terrible idea that ruined the whole game. That and the controls which, whilst having their moments, completely butchered my DS' Touch Screen and were often unresponsive at crucial moments. Now, I hear Spirit Tracks, the sequel to Phantom Hourglass got rid of the hub dungeon and is overall a better game than this one, but I just never felt much inclination to play it, and now I've got a 3DS I'm far too paranoid about destroying a £250 game consoles screen playing it, so I guess I never will. Phantom Hourglass had its moments of fun and brilliance, it just wasn't very good overall and therefore is my least favourite 3D Zelda.
WHAAAAAT!? I hear you say, how dare I place one of the most beloved games of all time so low down on a list? Well, firstly DEAL WITH IT, and secondly you have to bare in mind that this is a list of 3D Zelda games, just because a game is low down on the list doesn't mean it's bad by any means, in fact Ocarina of Time is a truly amazing game, it just isn't my favourite Zelda by a long way. Furthering your rage, I seemed to have picked the 3DS remake over the actual game? Well that makes perfect sense, doesn't it? It's the same game but with better graphics and improvements, why on earth wouldn't I place it on here instead of the N64 version? So, I would imagine that a lot of g1's reading this would place Ocarina of Time either at the top of their list, or in the Top 3, and fair play it's fully deserving of such accolades, but I just don't rate it as highly as more recent games (which we'll get to shortly). Ocarina of Time has a lot of wonderful things to give, it's challenging, has a variety of interesting/fun characters and locations, it has a lengthy but satisfying campaign with plenty of side missions and mini-games to partake in, a kickass soundtrack and so, so many memorable moments. Whilst I don't personally think it's superior to the games that followed it, I know a lot of you think otherwise, and that's fine. We're talking Zelda games here, it's very hard to argue that any of them are bad as such...unless we're talking about Phantom Hourglass in which case things get tricky.
It's been a long time since I've played Majora's Mask, and I'm hoping Nintendo will release a 3DS remake ala Ocarina of Time in the near future to give me another chance to do that. Regardless of how long ago it was, I can tell you without hesitation that I prefer Majora's Mask to Ocarina of Time for the main reason that it's just a far darker, more memorable experience with a more engaging story that forces you to emphathise with the cast of wacky characters because the game makes you repedtedly live out the last 3 days of their lives. The premise of Majora's Mask, in case you've been living under a rock for the past year where there's been more blogs about that game on ScrewAttack then there has been about Space Penguin, which giving my blog-happy nature is a truly incredible feat...urr...where were we? Oh yes, the premise of Majora's Mask is that you basically have 3 days to save the world from being crushed by the moon, who looms over the game constantly with his truly off-putting grimace. 3 Days doesn't sound like very much, but in true Groundhog Day fashion when that time runs out and you've failed to save Termina you are sent right back to Day 1 again with only a few crucial items remaining to allow you to advance further each time it loops. It's a truly unique premise which allows for some ingenious puzzles and bonechilling moments where you watch as the town around you gradually descends into chaos and misery as all hope is lost. Majora's Mask is easily the darkest of the Zelda games, and probably the most interesting, it loses marks in my book for being rather complicated and also because I haven't played it for so long I found it hard to put it above other games in the series. Here's hoping for that 3DS Remake, hmm?
Oooh yes, now we're getting to the Grade A Zelda goodness, Wind Waker is a truly awe-inspiring game, and one that just doesn't seem to age like so many other Zelda games both before and after have. You can chart that down due to the gorgous cel shaded graphics that will most likely never age due to the timeless nature of the visuals. Toss in a engrossing story full of emotion and epicness, yet another cast of quite literally colourful characters and environments and one of the most epic final bosses of all time? Yeah, you've got yourself one hell of a good game. I know the reason why some people didn't like this game is because of the sailing but I loved that to bits. It's just so relaxing and fun to explore the huge open seas to your hearts content, finding so many things to do and places to visit that you could spend more time exploring than actually playing the campaign sometimes. Not that you'd want to avoid the main story because it is a fantastic one, which the main highlights being your descent to the depths of the ocean and a hidden, rather familiar location that has been frozen in time, as well as the story arcs of three standout characters who go further with you than any other Zelda character before or after this game. It's a truly mesmerizing title which loses marks for the rather obnoxious quest to find shards of the Tri-Force which brings proceedings to a sharp and unpleasent halt as you are forced to give blowjobs to spandex clad creep, Tingle in order to discover the locations of shards that involve you having to meander around in the water sticking your treasure hook into the ocean in the vague hope of ending this segment of the game once and for all. Get past that? You've got one Zelda game that should not be missed.
Let's face it, the wait for this game was excruciating, from our very first look at it all the way back in summer of 2004 we all knew that this was going to be a truly epic game, yet we had to wait until December of 2006 to finally get our hands on it as a game so anticipated it almost overshadowed the brand new Nintendo console it was launching with. And what a fucking launch title it was, Twilght Princess definetely has my favourite premise of the Zelda series, and whilst I'm aware both the dark/light world and Link being cursed into another form thing had been done before in the franchise, I don't think it was done anywhere near as good as in this game which blew my mind when I first played it, and only recently lost the top spot of my favourite Zelda games. It's just so damn epic, and it looked so amazing at the time of release, easily being the most "realistic" and gritty of all the Zelda games visually, which when done right is something I love very much. I love the visuals of Wind Waker, but it's oh so nice to balance the colourful cartoony visuals of that with the "mature" tone of Twilight Princess. It speaks volumes about a game that it still easily stands as one of the best games on the Wii after 7 years of progress on the platform have passed. This is one of those games that when it first came out people loved it but in later years the mood seems to have shifted more to dislike, which is odd but rather predictable for the internet. Me? I still love this game, and whilst I may have played it so many times I find it hard to do it again these days, that's a fault with myself and not the game so I can hardly mark it down for that. If I were to take points away from Twilight Princess, it would be for the rather tedious task of collecting tears of light that makes up much of the first act of the game, that and the forced Wolf form segments can drag on sometimes, particularly if you get stuck. All in all though, this is a game I truly think is one of the best of its kind...so why is it not THE best Zelda game? Well...let's first find out what the best is, although it should be obvious now to anyone with half a brain cell.
So yes, the most recent Zelda game has also turned out to be, in my opinion the best. You can rabble rabble and rant about that all you want, it doesn't change the fact that I personally believe Skyward Sword to be the best of the 3D Zelda games. Sure, like all of the titles in the series, it has its flaws, and it lacks some things that other titles in the series have, like a assistant character that you actually give a shit about but all in all? This game is fucking incredible. The visuals of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess are merged into this gorgoues water-colour inspired world that oozes charm and love from every pore be you in the sky, venturing through a wood, or scaling a volcanic peak, sure, at times the limitations of the Wii spoil the majesty of the visuals but I'll be damned if it doesn't make up for that with sheer artistic triumph. Moving on from that you've got a soundtrack which, whilst not as memorable as past titles reaches new cinematic heights with orchestrated pieces having been recorded for key segments in the game. The story also reaches new heights with a long, emotional saga that attempts to tell the story of how all that we know about the franchise came to be. And we haven't even got to the new style of controls that, whilst inperfect at times, provide a far deeper puzzling and fighting experience than anything we've come across before in the franchise. Gone are the slow periods of time between dungeons that plagued previous titles like Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, the whole game is just one grand, jaw-dropping adventure that once kicked off doesn't slow down until the very end where you are treated to one of the most epic sword fights in gaming history. I've heard a lot of people despised this game, mainly due to the controls, partly due to the first hour of the game which people found slow and uninteresting, which part of me can agree with, but when only 1 hour out of your 30+ adventure feels a bit slow then Nintendo have clearly done something right. Toss in numerous floating islands to explore and many side-quests to partake in and you've got one hell of a game, and in my opinion, the best 3D Zelda game of all time. You're going to disagree with me, I know this. You'll tell me I'm wrong, tell me I'm an idiot, tell me how Ocarina of Time is so much better but whatever, this is my list, and my opinion, you can't deal with that? Fuck off, m'kay? Skyward Sword is awesome, and my top ranked 3D Zelda game.
Hope you enjoyed this little list. Later gators!
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