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The Legend of Zelda

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The Legend of Zelda
The text
The Legend of Zelda current series logo
Genres Action-adventure
Developers Nintendo
Capcom/ Flagship
Monolith Soft
Publishers Nintendo
Creators Shigeru Miyamoto
Takashi Tezuka
Eiji Aonuma
Platforms Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64, iQue Player, Game Boy Colour, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo DS, Wii, Virtual Console, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U
Platform of origin Nintendo Entertainment System
First release The Legend of Zelda
February 21, 1986
Latest release The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
November 18, 2011
Official website Zelda Universe

The Legend of Zelda (ゼルダの伝説 Zeruda no Densetsu) is an action-adventure video game series created by Japanese game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. It is developed and published by Nintendo, with some portable installments outsourced to Flagship/ Capcom, Vanpool, and Grezzo. Considered one of Nintendo's most important franchises, its gameplay consists of a mixture of action, adventure, and puzzle solving. The series centers primarily on Link, the playable character and the protagonist. Link is often given the task of rescuing Princess Zelda in the most common setting of the series, Hyrule, from Ganon (also known as Ganondorf), a Gerudo chief who is the primary antagonist of the series. However, other settings and antagonists have appeared throughout the games, with Vaati being a strong secondary antagonist during the lifespan of the Game Boy Advance. The story commonly involves a relic known as the Triforce, which is a set of three omnipotent golden triangles. The protagonist in each game is usually not the same incarnation of Link, but a few exceptions do exist.

As of December 2011, The Legend of Zelda franchise has sold 67.93 million copies since the release of the first game, with the original Legend of Zelda being the fourth best selling NES game of all time. The series consists of 16 official games on all of Nintendo's major consoles, as well as several spin-offs. An American animated series based on the games aired in 1989, and individual manga adaptations which are officially endorsed and commissioned by Nintendo have been produced in Japan since 1997.

The Legend of Zelda franchise is the inaugural recipient of Spike TV's first ever Video Game Hall of Fame award. The franchise was inducted on December 10, 2011 during the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards.



The Legend Of Zelda games feature a mixture of action, puzzles, adventure/battle gameplay, exploration, and questing. These elements have remained constant throughout the series, but with refinements and additions featured in each new game. Later games in the series also comprise stealth gameplay, where the player must avoid enemies while proceeding through a level, as well as racing elements. Although the games can be beaten with a minimal amount of exploration and side quests, the player is frequently rewarded for solving puzzles or exploring hidden areas with helpful items or increased abilities. Some items are consistent and appear many times throughout the series, such as bombs, which can be used both as weapons and to open blocked or hidden doorways, boomerangs, which can kill or paralyze enemies, keys for locked doors, magic swords, shields, and bows and arrows, while others are unique to a single game. Though the games contain many role-playing elements (Zelda II was also the only one to include an experience system), they emphasise straightforward hack and slash-style combat over the strategic, turn-based or active time combat of games like Final Fantasy. The game's role-playing elements, however, have led to much debate over whether or not the Zelda games should be classified as action role-playing games, a genre on which the series had a strong influence.

Every game in the main Zelda series has consisted of three principal areas: an overworld in which movement is multidirectional, allowing the player some degree of freedom of action; areas of interaction with other characters (merely caves or hidden rooms in the first game, but expanding to entire towns and cities in subsequent games) in which the player gains special items or advice; and dungeons, areas of labyrinthine layout, usually underground, comprising a wide range of difficult enemies, bosses, and items. Each dungeon usually has one major item inside, which is usually essential for solving many of the puzzles in that dungeon and often plays a crucial role in defeating that dungeon's boss as well as progressing through the game. In nearly every Zelda game, navigating a dungeon is aided by locating a map, which reveals its layout, and a magic compass, which reveals the location of significant and smaller items such as keys and equipment. In later games, the series also included a special 'boss key', that would unlock the door to battle the dungeon's boss enemy.

In most Zelda games, the player's life meter is represented as a line of hearts. The life meter is replenished a number of different ways, including picking up hearts left by some defeated enemies, fairies or springs located in specific locations, or using an item such as a potion. Most games feature "heart containers" or "a piece of heart" as the prize for defeating the final boss of a dungeon and also for completing certain side quests; these extend the life meter by one heart.

The games pioneered a number of features that were to become industry standards. The original Legend of Zelda was the first console game with a save function that enabled players to stop playing and then resume later. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time introduced a targeting system that simplified 3D combat.

Music and sound

Koji Kondo has been a composer for the series since the first game.

The Legend of Zelda series, like many Nintendo games, has been noted for its use of music. Koji Kondo, who has been described as the "greatest legend in the video game audio industry" because of his work for Nintendo, has composed much of the music for the series, although the last game for which he was solely responsible for the composition of the soundtrack was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Games in The Legend of Zelda series frequently feature in-game musical instruments, particularly in musical puzzles, which are widespread. Often, instruments trigger game events: for example, the recorder in The Legend of Zelda can reveal "secret" areas, as well as 'warp' Link to the Dungeon entrances. This warping with music feature has also been used in A Link to the Past & Link's Awakening. In Ocarina of Time, playing instruments is a core part of the game, the player needing to play the instrument through the use of the game controller to succeed. Ocarina of Time is "[one of the] first contemporary non-dance title[s] to feature music-making as part of its gameplay", using music as a heuristic device and requiring the player to utilise songs to progress in the game—a game mechanic that is also present in Majora's Mask and, in different forms, The Wind Waker, Oracle of Ages, Spirit Tracks, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword.

"The Legend of Zelda Theme" is a recurring piece of music that was created for the first game of the franchise. The composer, Koji Kondo, initially planned to use Maurice Ravel's Boléro as the game's title theme, but was forced to change it when he learned, late into the game's development cycle, that the copyright for Boléro hadn't expired yet; therefore he wrote a new arrangement of the overworld theme within one day. The "Zelda Theme" has topped ScrewAttack's "Top Ten Videogame Themes Ever" list.

To date, the Legend of Zelda series has avoided using voice actors, relying instead on written dialogue. The producer of Skyward Sword has said that, as Link is entirely mute, having the other characters speak while Link remains silent would be off-putting.


The Legend of Zelda was principally inspired by Shigeru Miyamoto's explorations as a young boy in the hillsides surrounding his childhood home in Sonobe, Japan where he ventured into forests with secluded lakes, caves, and rural villages. According to Miyamoto, one of his most memorable experiences was the discovery of a cave entrance in the middle of the woods. After some hesitation, he apprehensively entered the cave, and explored its depths with the aid of a lantern. Miyamoto has referred to the creation of the Zelda games as an attempt to bring to life a "miniature garden" for players to play with in each game of the series.

Hearing of American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife Zelda, Miyamoto thought the name sounded "pleasant and significant". Paying tribute, he chose to name the princess after her, and titled his creation The Legend of Zelda.


The Legend of Zelda series takes place in a fantasy land called Hyrule. Hyrule has developed a deep story and wide geography over the series's many releases. Much of the backstory of the creation of Hyrule was revealed in the games A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Hyrule's principal inhabitants are elfin humanoids called Hylians, which include the player character, Link, and the eponymous princess, Zelda.

According to the in-game backstories, long ago, three golden goddesses descended from a distant nebula to the world of Hyrule and created order and life. Din, the Goddess of Power, with her powerful, flaming arms, cultivated the empty space, and created the Red Earth. Nayru, the Goddess of Wisdom, bestowed her divine Wisdom upon the land, and created the world's laws to give a sense of justice and order to the world, and to guide the people in the goddesses' absence. Farore, the Goddess of Courage, endowed Hyrule with her powers, creating life to follow this justice. After their work was completed, the goddesses left a sacred artifact called the Triforce, which could grant the wishes of the user. It consisted of three golden triangles (each also called a "Triforce"—one of Wisdom, one of Power and one of Courage). However, because the Triforce was not divine, and could not judge between good and evil, the goddesses placed the Triforce in an alternate world called the "Sacred Realm" or the "Golden Land", hoping that a worthy person would one day seek it. In Skyward Sword, The Silent Realm is hinted to be The Sacred Realm when it turns gold, also that the pieces of the Triforce were hidden there.

According to legend, the discoverer of the Triforce will receive the Triforce as a whole—along with the true force to govern all—only if that person has a balance of power, wisdom and courage. If the heart of that person is pure, the Sacred Realm will become a paradise. If the heart of that person is evil, the Sacred Realm will become a nightmarish world of evil. If they are unbalanced, they will only receive the part of the Triforce that represents the characteristic they most believe in, with the remaining parts of the whole transferring into the people in Hyrule who most exemplify the other two traits. The Triforce was first distributed as such starting in Ocarina of Time, with the Triforces of Power, Wisdom, and Courage being transferred to Ganondorf, Princess Zelda, and Link, respectively. While the Triforce of Power and Wisdom have been part of the series since the original The Legend of Zelda, it was only in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link that the Triforce of Courage was first introduced, being obtained by Link at the end of his quest. The Triforce, or even a piece of it, is not always distributed as a whole. Such as in The Wind Waker, Link must find all the pieces (called Triforce Shards) of the Triforce of Courage before he can return to Hyrule. Even in the original The Legend of Zelda, Zelda breaks her Triforce of Wisdom into 8 pieces for Link to find, before she was captured by Ganon. The fictional universe established by the Zelda games sets the stage for each adventure. Many games take place in lands with their own back-stories. Termina, for example, is a parallel world while Koholint is an island far away from Hyrule that appears to be part of a dream. In Skyward Sword Link and Zelda reside on a floating island in the sky called Skyloft, which the goddess Hylia lifted from the earth to protect her people.

Fictional chronology

A translated version of the Zelda timeline from Hyrule Historia.

The chronology of the Legend of Zelda series was subject of much debate among fans until an official timeline was released on December 21, 2011 within the collector's book, Hyrule Historia, which was exclusive to Japan. Prior to its release, producers confirmed the existence of a confidential document, which connected all the games. Certain materials and developer statements once partially established an official timeline of the released installments. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is a direct sequel to the original The Legend of Zelda, and takes place several years later. The third game, A Link to the Past, is a prequel to the first two titles, and is directly followed by Link's Awakening. Ocarina of Time is a prequel that takes the story many centuries back; according to character designer Satoru Takizawa, it was meant to implicitly tell the Imprisoning War from the manual of A Link to the Past. Skyward Sword is then a prequel to Ocarina of Time. and Twilight Princess set more than 100 years later. The Wind Waker is parallel, and takes place in the other timeline branch, more than a century after the adult era of Ocarina of Time. Phantom Hourglass is a continuation of the story from The Wind Waker, and is followed by Spirit Tracks, which is set about 100 years later on a supercontinent far away from the setting of The Wind Waker. At the time of its release, Four Swords for the Game Boy Advance was considered the oldest tale in the series' chronology, with Four Swords Adventures set sometime after its events. The Minish Cap precedes the two games, telling of the origins of villain Vaati and the creation of the Four Sword. Nintendo's 2011 timeline announcement subsequently posits that following Ocarina of Time, the timeline splits into three alternate routes: in one, Link fails to defeat Ganon, leading into A Link to the Past, Oracle of Seasons & Oracle of Ages, Link's Awakening, The Legend of Zelda and Adventure of Link. In the second and third, Link is successful, leading to a timeline split between his childhood and adulthood. His childhood continues with Majora's Mask, followed by Twilight Princess and Four Swords Adventures. The timeline from his adult life continues into Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks.

In the early 2000s, Nintendo of America released a timeline on, the official website of the Legend of Zelda series, which interpreted all stories up to the Oracle games as the adventures of a single protagonist named Link. At one point, translator Dan Owsen and his coworkers at Nintendo of America had conceived another complete timeline and intended to make it available online. However, the Japanese series developers vetoed the idea so the timeline would be kept open to the interpretation of the players.



The main protagonist of The Legend of Zelda series, Link, is a commonly reincarnated Hylian youth who characteristically wears a green tunic and a pointed cap. In each game of Zelda (A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Phantom Hourglass, Twilight Princess, The Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Skyward Sword...) Link looks different and each game has different graphics. In most games, the player can give Link a different name before the start of the adventure, and he will be referred by that given name throughout by the NPCs. Each Link is described on the series' official website as humble, hardworking and brave, and therefore appropriate to bear the Triforce of Courage. The various Links each have a special title, such as "Hero of Time","Hero of the Winds" or "Hero chosen by the gods". Link is left-handed, with two exceptions. In the Wii version of Twilight Princess, Link is right-handed due to the "mirroring" used to accommodate the right-handed control scheme, which flips the entire game world's layout from that of its Nintendo GameCube counterpart. Link is also right-handed in the title Skyward Sword. Also in the manual for the original game, he is depicted as being right-handed, and in the game itself, Link is seen as ambidextrous because whether he is facing left or right his sword is in the "down screen side". With a few minor exceptions, Link does not speak, only producing grunts, yells, or similar sounds. However, his speech is referenced. For example, in Skyward Sword, the screen pans down as Link appears to be explaining something. He is subsequently responded to with a 'That's confusing, but I think I get it.' Also, in The Wind Waker, Link can be heard yelling "Come on!". The significance for Link being a mute in the entire game series was so that the game-player or audience was able to have their own thoughts as to how their Link would answer the characters instead of him having scripted responses. Link is a widely popular character with his own merchandise including a blue ocarina with the triforce emblem on the mouth piece, inspired by 'The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.'

Princess Zelda

Princess Zelda is the princess of Hyrule and the guardian of the Triforce of Wisdom. Her name is present in many of her female ancestors and descendants. While most titles require Link to save Zelda from Ganon, she is sometimes shown to be quite capable in battle, using magical powers and weapons such as Light Arrows to aid Link. With the exception of the CD-i games (which were not official Nintendo games), she was not playable in the main series until Spirit Tracks, where she becomes a spirit and can possess a Phantom Knight that can be controlled by the player. Zelda also appears under various other aliases and alter egos, including Sheik (in Ocarina of Time), the goddess Hylia (in Skyward Sword), and Tetra (in The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass). In some games, she becomes possessed by the boss, mainly Ganondorf, and becomes one of the stages that the player needs to overcome in the final boss battle.


Ganon (or Ganondorf as he is more commonly known in his humanoid form) is the main antagonist of the Series and the final boss in most of the Zelda games. In the series, Ganondorf is the leader of a race of desert brigands called the Gerudo who consist of females apart from 1 man born every 100 years (Ganondorf), and the evil archenemy of Link. According to Skyward Sword, he was created as a personification of Demise's hatred. He is significantly taller than other human NPCs, but his looks vary in different games. He usually appears with red hair, tanned skin, and a pointed nose. His eyes are either red or yellow. He wears dark clothing with gray or red flame patterns on the back and arms. In Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, he wore robes with the above description, but in Ocarina of Time, he wore a tight fitting tunic and pants. His specific motives vary from game to game, but most often they include him kidnapping Princess Zelda and planning to achieve domination of Hyrule and presumably the world beyond it. To this end, he seeks the Triforce, a powerful magical relic. He often possesses a portion of the Triforce called the Triforce of Power, which gives him great strength. However, it is often not enough to accomplish his ends, leading him to hunt the remaining Triforce pieces. Unlike Link, Zelda, and most other recurring characters, he is actually the same person in every game, with the exception of Four Swords Adventures, where he is a reincarnation of the original. In each game the battles with him are different and he fights using different styles.



The Legend of Zelda, the first game of the series, was first released in Japan on February 21, 1986, on the Famicom Disk System. A cartridge version, using battery-backed memory, was released in the United States on August 22, 1987, and Europe on November 27, 1987. The game features a "Second Quest", accessible on completing the game, or by registering your name as "ZELDA" when starting a new quest, in which dungeons and item placement are different, and enemies are more difficult for the player to defeat.

The second game, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, was released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan in January 1987, and for the Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe in November 1988 and North America in December 1988. The game exchanged the top-down perspective for side-scrolling (though the top-down point of view was retained for overworld areas), and introduced RPG elements (such as experience points) not used in The Legend of Zelda. The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II were released in gold-coloured game cartridges instead of the console's regular gray cartridges. Both were re-released in the final years of the Nintendo Entertainment System with gray cartridges.


Four years later, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past returned to the top-down view (under a 3/4 perspective), and added the concept of an alternate dimension, the Dark World. The game was released for the SNES in November 1991. It was later re-released for the Game Boy Advance on December 9, 2002, in North America, on a cartridge with Four Swords, the first multiplayer Zelda, and then through Nintendo's Virtual Console service on January 22, 2007. In addition, both this game (unchanged, except for being converted into a downloadable format) and an exclusive "loosely based" sequel (which used the same game engine) called BS Zelda no Densetsu Inishie no Sekiban were released on the Satellaview in Japan on March 2, 1997, and March 30, 1997, respectively.

In 1994, near the end of the Famicom's lifespan, the original Famicom game was re-released in cartridge format. A modified version, BS Zelda no Densetsu, was released for the Super Famicom's satellite-based expansion, Satellaview, on August 6, 1995, in Japan. A second Satellaview title, BS Zelda no Densetsu MAP2 was released for the Satellaview on December 30, 1995. Both titles featured rearranged dungeons, an altered overworld, and new voice-acted plot-lines.

The next game, Link's Awakening, is the first Zelda for Nintendo's Game Boy handheld, and the first set outside Hyrule and to exclude Princess Zelda. It was released in 1993, and re-released, in full colour, as a launch title for the Game Boy Colour in 1998 as Link's Awakening DX. This re-release features additions such as an extra colour-based dungeon and a photo shop that allows interaction with the Game Boy Printer.

After another hiatus, the series made the transition to 3D with Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64, which was released in November 1998. This game, initially known as Zelda 64, retains the core gameplay of the previous 2D games, and was very successful commercially and critically. It ranks highly on IGN and EGM's "greatest games of all time" lists, and scored perfect scores in several video game publications. In February 2006, it was ranked by Nintendo Power as the best game released for a Nintendo console. The game was originally developed for the poorly selling, Japanese-only Nintendo 64DD, but was ported to cartridge format when the 64DD hardware was delayed. A new gameplay mechanic, lock-on targeting, is used in the game, which focuses the camera on a nearby target and alters the player's actions relative to that target. Such mechanics allow precise sword fighting in a 3D space. The game also heavily used context-sensitive button play, which enabled the player to control various actions with Link using only one button on the Nintendo 64's game pad. Each action was handled slightly differently but all used the 'A' button to perform. For instance standing next to a block and pressing 'A' made Link grab it (enabling him to push/pull it), but moving forwards into a block and pressing 'A' allowed Link to climb the block. Or if you stood next to something which you could pick up, you pressed 'A' to pick it up, and to drop it back down to the floor you simply pressed 'A' again (and if you pressed 'A' while moving Link threw whatever he was holding). Those who preordered the game received a gold-coloured cartridge in a limited edition box with a golden plastic card affixed, reading "Collector's Edition".

Ocarina of Time was re-released on the Nintendo GameCube in 2002, when it was offered as a pre-order incentive for The Wind Waker in the U.S., Canada and Japan. Europe continued to receive it free in every copy of The Wind Waker, except for the discounted Player's Choice version. It includes what is widely believed to be the remnants of a cancelled 64DD expansion for Ocarina of Time known as Ura Zelda in early development. Named Ocarina of Time Master Quest, the game was given the addition of revamped, more difficult dungeon layouts. Ocarina of Time was included as part of Collector's Edition for the GameCube in 2003. It is now available through the Wii's Virtual Console service. In 2011, Nintendo released a new version of the game in 3D for the Nintendo 3DS titled The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.


Ocarina of Time's follow-up, Majora's Mask, was released in April 2000. It uses the same 3D game engine as the previous game, and added a time-based concept, in which Link, the protagonist, relives the events of three days as many times as needed to complete the game's objectives. It was originally called Zelda Gaiden, a Japanese title that translates as Zelda Side story. Gameplay changed significantly; in addition to the time-limit, Link can use masks to transform into creatures with unique abilities. While Majora's Mask retains the graphical style of Ocarina of Time, it is also a departure, particularly in its atmosphere. It also features motion-blur, unlike its predecessor. The game is darker, dealing with death and tragedy in a manner not previously seen in the series, and has a sense of impending doom, as a large moon slowly descends upon the land of Termina. All copies of Majora's Mask are gold cartridges. A "Limited Collector's Edition" lenticular cartridge label was offered as the pre-order incentive. Copies of the game that were not collector's editions featured a regular sticker cartridge label. Majora's Mask was also included in the Collector's Edition ., and is now available on the Virtual Console.

The next two games, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, were released simultaneously for the Game Boy Colour, and interact using passwords or a Game Link Cable. After one game has been completed, the player is given a password that allows the other game to be played as a sequel. They were developed by Flagship in conjunction with Nintendo, with supervision from Miyamoto. After the team experimented with porting the original The Legend of Zelda to the Game Boy Colour, they decided to make an original trilogy to be called the "Triforce Series". When the password system linking the three games proved too troublesome, the concept was reduced to two games at Miyamoto's suggestion. These two games became Oracle of Ages, which is more puzzle-based, and Oracle of Seasons, which is more action-oriented.

When Nintendo revealed the Nintendo GameCube on August 24, 2000, the day before Nintendo's SpaceWorld 2000 exposition, a software demonstration showed a realistically styled real-time duel between Ganondorf and Link. Fans and the media speculated that the battle might be from a Zelda game in development. At Spaceworld 2001, Nintendo showed a cel-shaded Zelda title, later released as The Wind Waker in December 2002. Due to poor reception, nothing further was shown until a playable demonstration was ready. Miyamoto felt The Wind Waker would "extend Zelda's reach to all ages", and was surprised when the media reported that Zelda was shifting to a younger audience. The gameplay centres on controlling wind with a baton called the "Wind Waker" and sailing a small boat around an island-filled ocean, retaining similar gameplay mechanics as the previous 3D games in the series.

Following the release of The Wind Waker came The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition, which included the original The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and a demo of The Wind Waker. GameSpot noted that Majora's Mask suffered from a frame rate which appeared choppier and inconsistencies in the audio. This compilation was never sold commercially, and originally could only be obtained by purchasing a GameCube bundled with the disc, (in North America, Europe and Australia), by registering a GameCube and two games at, or by subscribing or renewing a subscription to Nintendo Power (in North America) or Club Nintendo in Sweden. In the UK, 1000 copies were made available through the Club Nintendo Stars Catalogue program. After these were quickly claimed, Nintendo gave a copy to customers who mailed in proof of purchases from select Nintendo GameCube games.

The next game released in the series was Four Swords Adventures for the GameCube, which was released in early 2004 in Japan and America, and January 2005 in Europe. Based on the handheld Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures was another deviation from previous Zelda gameplay, focusing on level-based and multiplayer gameplay. The game contains 24 levels and a map screen; there is no connecting overworld. For multiplayer features, each player must use a Game Boy Advance system linked to the Nintendo GameCube via a Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance cable. The game also features a single-player campaign, in which using a Game Boy Advance is optional.

Four Swords Adventures includes two gameplay modes: "Hyrulean Adventure", with a plot and gameplay similar to other Zelda games, and "Shadow Battle", in which multiple Links, played by multiple players, battle each other. The Japanese and Korean versions include an exclusive third segment, "Navi Trackers" (originally designed as the stand-alone game "Tetra's Trackers"), which contains spoken dialogue for most of the characters, unlike other games in The Legend of Zelda series.

In November 2004 in Japan and Europe, and January 2005 in America, Nintendo released The Minish Cap for the Game Boy Advance. In The Minish Cap Link can shrink in size using a mystical, sentient hat named Ezlo. While shrunk, he can see previously explored parts of a dungeon from a different perspective, and enter areas through otherwise-impassable openings.

In November 2006, Twilight Princess was released as the first Zelda game on the Wii, and later, in December 2006, on the Nintendo GameCube, the console for which it was originally developed. The Wii version features a reversed world; everything that is in the west on the GameCube is in the east on the Wii, and vice versa (The game was mirrored in order to make Link right-handed to make use of the Wii remote feel more natural). The game chronicles the struggle of an older Link to clear the troubles of the interacting "Twilight Realm", a mysterious force that appears around Hyrule. When he enters this realm, he is transformed into a wolf, which changes the gameplay. Twilight Princess also features horseback transportation and mounted battle scenarios, including boss battles. Twilight Princess diverted from the cel shading of Wind Waker and went for graphics featuring more detailed textures, giving the game a darker atmosphere, thus making it feel more adult than previous games.

At the 2006 Game Developers Conference, a trailer for Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS was shown. It revealed traditional top-down Zelda gameplay optimised for the DS' features, with a cel-shaded 3d graphical style similar to The Wind Waker. At E3 2006, Nintendo confirmed the game's status as a direct sequel to The Wind Waker, and released an extensive playable demo, including a multiplayer mode with " capture the flag" elements. Phantom Hourglass was released on June 23, 2007, in Japan, October 1, 2007, in North America and October 19, 2007, in Europe.

The next Legend of Zelda for the DS, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, was released December 7, 2009, in North America and December 11, 2009, in the UK. In this game, the 'spirit tracks', railroads which chain an ancient evil, are disappearing from Hyrule. Zelda and Link go to the 'Spirit Tower' (the ethereal point of convergence for the tracks) to find out why. But villains steal Zelda's body for the resurrection of the Demon King. Rendered disembodied, Zelda is left a spirit, and only Link (and a certain few sages) can see her. Together they go on a quest to restore the spirit tracks, defeat the Demon King, and return Zelda to her body. Using a modified engine of that used in Phantom Hourglass, the notably new feature in this game is that the Phantom Guardians seen in Phantom Hourglass are, through a series of events, periodically controllable. It was the first time in the series that both Link & Zelda work together on the quest.


In April 2008, Miyamoto stated that "the Zelda team is forming again to work on new games". Miyamoto clarified in July that the Zelda team has been working on a new Zelda game for the Wii. In January 2010, Nintendo Executive Satoru Iwata stated that the game would be coming out at some time in 2010, and also confirmed that the game would make use of the Wii's MotionPlus feature, which had been announced too late to be integrated into the Twilight Princess Wii release. The game's subtitle was announced at E3 in 2010 as Skyward Sword, but its release was delayed to 2011. The game, the earliest in the Legend of Zelda timeline, reveals the origins of Hyrule, Ganon and many elements features in previous games. It was released in late November 2011; the first run included a 25th Anniversary CD of fully orchestrated music from various Zelda games, including Skyward Sword.

In addition, Nintendo celebrated the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda game by releasing a Zelda game for all its current consoles in 2011: Link's Awakening in the 3DS's Virtual Console on June 7, Ocarina of Time 3D for the 3DS on mid-June, Four Swords Anniversary Edition on September 28, 2011 to February 20, 2012 as a free DSiWare download and Skyward Sword for the Wii, which was released on November 18, 2011 in Europe, November 20, 2011 in the United States and November 24, 2011 in Australia. A limited edition Zelda 25th anniversary 3DS was also released on December 1, 2011 in Australia.


Nintendo showcased a demo reel at E3 2011 which depicted Link fighting a monster in HD. Nintendo also hinted they are working on a Legend of Zelda title for the Wii U, but that the final version may not necessarily take the same form as what was depicted in the demo. Nintendo has confirmed an original Zelda title for the Nintendo 3DS. In late January 2013, Nintendo revealed that two Zelda titles are being planned for the Wii U: an HD remastering of The Wind Waker for December 2013 and an original unnamed game.

Other games

CD-i games

A series of video games were developed and released for the Philips CD-i in the early 1990s as a product of a compromise between Philips and Nintendo, after the companies failed to develop a CD-based peripheral for the Super Nintendo. Created with no influence from Nintendo, the games are Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, and Zelda's Adventure. Nintendo never acknowledged them in the Zelda timeline, and they are considered to be in a separate, self-contained canon.

LCD games

Three Zelda-themed LCD games were created between 1989 and 1992. The Zelda version of Nintendo's Game & Watch series was released first in August 1989 as a dual-screen handheld electronic game similar in appearance to today's Nintendo DS. It was re-released in 1998 as a Toymax, Inc. Mini Classic and was later included as an unlockable extra in Game & Watch Gallery 4, a 2002 compilation for the Game Boy Advance. While the Game & Watch Zelda was developed in-house by Nintendo, the subsequent two LCD games were developed by third parties under license by Nintendo. In October 1989, The Legend of Zelda was developed by Nelsonic as part of its Game Watch line. This game was an actual digital watch with primitive gameplay based on the original Legend of Zelda. In 1992, Epoch Co. developed Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce for its Barcode Battler II console. The game employed card-scanning technology similar to the later-released Nintendo e-Reader.

Cancelled games

There have been several titles in The Legend of Zelda series that have never been released for various reasons. One such title was The Legend of Zelda: Mystical Seed of Courage for Game Boy Colour. When Yoshiki Okamoto worked to develop Zelda titles for the Game Boy Colour, his Capcom team decided to create a series of three games. Referred to as the "Triforce Series", the games were known as The Legend of Zelda: The Mysterious Acorn: Chapter of Power, Chapter of Wisdom, and Chapter of Courage in Japan and The Legend of Zelda: Mystical Seed of Power, Mystical Seed of Wisdom, and Mystical Seed of Courage in the US. The games were to interact using a password system, but the limitations of this system and the difficulty of coordinating three games proved too complicated, so the team scaled back to two titles at Miyamoto's suggestion. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons was adapted from Mystical Seed of Power, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages was adapted from Mystical Seed of Wisdom, and Mystical Seed of Courage was canceled. Another title is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Ura, intended to be an upgraded remake of Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64DD. For a long time the game was not released as the N64DD was never sold outside of Japan due to poor sales. Prior to the release of The Wind Waker, a bonus disc called The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest was released, containing an official N64 Emulator that only ran the two ROMs on the disc which were versions of Ocarina of Time and Ocarina of Time Ura with a number of GUI textures and text modified to reflect the Nintendo GameCube.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series, Nintendo of America originally had planned to release a compilation of titles together for the Wii, similar to the collector's edition disc released for the GameCube in 2003. However Nintendo of Japan's president Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto eventually disagreed in releasing it believing it would be too similar to the Super Mario 25th Anniversary game released in 2010.

At one point both Link and Samus from the Metroid series were planned to be playable characters for the Wii version of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. However, they didn't make the final release because they weren't Marvel characters.

Spin-off games

As the franchise has grown in popularity, several titles have been released that are set within or star a minor character from the universe of The Legend of Zelda but are not directly connected to the main The Legend of Zelda series. Both map versions of the title BS Zelda no Densetsu for the Satellaview (released in August and December 1995) could be considered spin-offs due to the fact that they star the "Hero of Light" (portrayed by either the Satellaview's male or female mascot) as opposed to Link as the protagonist of Hyrule. A third Satellaview title released in March 1997, BS Zelda no Densetsu Inishie no Sekiban (BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets) could also be considered a spin-off for the same reason. Other spin-off titles include Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland for the Nintendo DS – an RPG released in September 2006 in Japan (Summer of 2007 in the UK) to star supporting character Tingle. A second Tingle title is Tingle's Balloon Fight DS for the Nintendo DS. Here Tingle again stars in this spin-off arcade style platformer, released in April 2007 only in Japan and available solely to Platinum Club Nintendo members. In addition to titles in which Link does not star as the protagonist, games such as the shooter title, Link's Crossbow Training (for the Wii), have been considered spin-offs due to the lack of a traditional "Save Hyrule" plot-line. Released in November 2007 as a bundle with the Wii Zapper, this game allows players to assume the identity of Link as he progresses through a series of tests to perfect his crossbow marksmanship. " Colour Changing Tingle's Love Balloon Trip" was released in Japan in 2009 as a sequel to Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland.

Zelda in other video games

Characters from and references to The Legend of Zelda series have appeared in a variety of other video games that go beyond what is considered a typical cameo appearance. This may include major story elements, character development, and even affect major game features.

  • Link appears as a fighter in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. Link is also a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube, appearing alongside Zelda (who is able to transform into Sheik), Ganondorf, and Young Link (the child version of Link from Ocarina of Time). These characters all have their basic appearance and items as seen in Ocarina of Time. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii, all of Melee's Zelda characters make a return upgraded to their models and items from Twilight Princess, with the exception of Young Link, who is replaced by Toon Link (from The Wind Waker).
  • Link appears as an exclusive fighter in the GameCube version of Soul Calibur II.
  • Link features prominently in several mini-games from WarioWare: Smooth Moves and WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!.
  • The Game Boy Camera: Gold Version contains Ocarina of Time-themed stamps of characters and items for editing photos that are not found in any other colour version of the Game Boy Camera.
  • Multiple items from the Zelda series are obtainable in-game in the Satellaview-exclusive SatellaWalker 2.
  • Link makes a cameo appearance in Super Mario RPG where he appears sleeping in an inn, remaining asleep in a bed throughout the game. Examining him will cause * jingle (that which plays when the player completes a puzzle or opens a doorway in The Legend of Zelda games) to play. Also, a text box may appear with only "....." inside, referring to Link's tendency to be silent.
  • In the Super Nintendo game Kirby Super Star (and its Nintendo DS re-make Kirby Super Star Ultra), the Triforce can be found in the game The Great Cave Offensive. (Also, when Kirby obtains the Sword ability, he wears a hat highly similar to Link's.)
  • In Final Fantasy, there is a tombstone in the elven town which reads, "Here lies Link." Ōkami director Hideki Kamiya states that he has been influenced by The Legend of Zelda series in developing the title.
  • The developers of the game Dark Sector have stated they have been heavily influenced by The Legend of Zelda series, and that the structure of the game is much like a Zelda game.
  • Other games which reference the series are Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and the Animal Crossing series. In Donkey Kong Country 3, one of the Bear Brothers mentions a traveler "interested in the castle" who attempted to pay for the information with Rupees.
  • In the 2011 PC game, Terraria, the player can craft a set of clothes called the 'Hero's Clothes' which look very similar to green garb that Link wears.
  • In the Metroid series, the Goron's ruby appears in some rooms and the Gyorg enemy appears frozen and eaten by the space pirates.
  • In Animal Crossing, items such as the Master Sword and the Triforce are frequently used as designs or furniture.
  • The Nintendo/ Skip Ltd. games GiFTPiA and Captain Rainbow both contain references to the series. In GiFTPiA, the main character Pokkle is able to collect "Heart Pieces", which causes the same jingle to play that occurs when you collect a heart piece in most Zelda games. In Captain Rainbow, Crazy Tracy from Link's Awakening is one of the featured characters where she wants to enslave all men in the world.
  • One of the levels in Super Mario 3D Land was inspired by The Legend of Zelda.

Reception and legacy

Aggregate review scores
As of April 30, 2011.
Game GameRankings Metacritic
The Legend of Zelda (GBA) 79.02% (GBA) 84
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES) 75.29%
(GBA) 68.88%
(GBA) 73
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) 92.87%
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (GBC) 91.21%
(GB) 89.82%
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) 97.54%
( 3DS) 94.01%
(GC) 89.76%
(N64) 99
( 3DS) 94
(GC) 91
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64) 92.14% (N64) 95
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages (Ages) 92.20%
(Seasons) 91.37%
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords (GBA) 91.74% (GBA) 95
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GC) 94.43% (GC) 96
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GC) 84.51% (GC) 86
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA) 90.36% (GBA) 89
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC) 95.00%
(Wii) 94.58%
(GC) 96
(Wii) 95
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (NDS) 88.82% (NDS) 90
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (NDS) 87.08% (NDS) 87
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) 93.11% (Wii) 93

The Legend of Zelda series has received high levels of acclaim from critics and the public. GameFAQs held a contest for the best video game series ever, with The Legend of Zelda claiming the top position. Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker and Skyward Sword have each received a perfect 40/40 score (10/10 by four reviewers) by Japanese Famitsu magazine, making Zelda one of the few series with multiple perfect scores. Computer and Video Games awarded The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess a score of 10/10. A Link to the Past has won Gold Award from Electronic Gaming Monthly. In Nintendo Power's Top 200 countdown in 2004, Ocarina of Time took first place, and seven other Zelda games placed in the top 40. Twilight Princess was named Game of the Year by X-Play, Game Trailers, 1UP, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Spacey Awards, Game Informer, GameSpy, Nintendo Power, IGN, and many other websites. The editors of review aggregator websites Game Rankings, IGN and Metacritic have all given Ocarina of Time their highest aggregate scores. Game Informer awarded The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword with a score of 10/10. Phantom Hourglass was named DS Game of the Year by IGN and GameSpy. Airing December 10, 2011, Spike TV's annual Video Game Awards gave the series the first ever "Hall of Fame Award", which Miyamoto accepted in person.

Ocarina of Time and its use of melodic themes to identify different game regions has been called a reverse of Richard Wagner's use of leitmotifs to identify characters and themes. Ocarina of Time was so well received that sales increased for real ocarinas. IGN praised the music of Majora's Mask for its brilliance despite its heavy use of MIDI.

Cultural influence

The Legend of Zelda series has led to many influences in popular culture. The series has also been parodied, including an episode of The Powerpuff Girls which features the Mayor of Townsville playing a spoof of Ocarina of Time, and a season 3 episode of Robot Chicken, in which a skit based on The Legend of Zelda references aspects of the series, including the existence of multiple Links, Triforce, Rupees and rescuing Princess Zelda. made a fanfilm trailer based on the Legend of Zelda as an April fools prank. Additionally, The Legend of Neil is a web-video series that aired on Comedy Central, spoofing the original Legend of Zelda game.

Professional wrestler Cody Runnels (better known as Cody Rhodes) is a fan of the series and has stated he replays A Link to the Past annually. His wrestling boots feature a Triforce symbol.

The cover of Nicholas Andrews's humorous fantasy novel "The Adventure Tournament" is a parody of the Legend of Zelda title screen. The author states that it is fitting, since he was introduced to fantasy through the first Legend of Zelda game. Link's hat is also referenced in the book as a possible piece of equipment for the main character, Remy, who rejects it on the grounds that it would make him look kind of like "a big green bean." He then brushes off a response that one of the world's greatest warriors wore a similar cap.

Actor/comedian Robin Williams revealed in an interview with Jimmy Fallon that his daughter Zelda Rae is named after the title character in the series. In 2011 both he and his daughter starred together in an advertisement for Ocarina of Time 3D.

Canadian musician Owen Pallett references several Zelda titles in the lyrics for He Poos Clouds.

In the 2010 film adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World there are multiple references to the Zelda games and the soundtrack, including use of the "Fairy Fountain" theme in one of the film's dream sequences.

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