Games

Which Zelda Recreation Ought to You Play First?


Image: Nintendo Life

The announcement of a solid release date for BOTW2 The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom marked the beginning of a new, more intense phase of enthusiasm for one of the most anticipated sequels of the decade. Sure, a new Zelda game is always big news, but when it’s a follow-up to one of the most warmly-received video games of all time — and one that gave the Nintendo Switch a launch title to rival the likes of Super Mario 64 — excitement levels will be reaching fever pitch in the coming months as we approach its May 2023 launch.

While series devotees like us will be wondering how Eiji Aonuma and co. are going to build upon what we know from Breath of the Wild and also somehow surpass our skyward expectations, all this hubbub will no doubt be attracting the attention of players who have never before grabbed the Master Sword and given Ganon a sound thrashing. After over five years on the market, there are over 111 million Switches in the wild, and a good deal of them belong to people who may think Zelda is the pointy-eared chap in green (or blue). Among them will be people, possibly family and friends of yours, who want to know why everyone’s so worked up, and — with your help — we’re here to offer advice on how to hook them on the series.

Where to start with a big franchise like this is a dilemma we’ve discussed before, but today we thought we’d focus specifically on which Zelda would be best to onboard new players in the run-up to Tears of the Kingdom. We’ve got our individual thoughts on this one — which are surprisingly diverse! — but you’ll also find a poll at the bottom featuring every mainline game in the series.

So, let’s see what Team NL thinks is worth squeezing in in the *counts on fingers* seven-and-a-half months until TOTK descends on us. Plenty of time to get up to speed, right?

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD

Release Date: 23rd Nov 1998 (USA) / 11th Dec 1998 (UK/EU)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD

Release Date: 13th Apr 1992 (USA) / 24th Sep 1992 (UK/EU)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo SPD

Release Date: 3rd Mar 2017 (USA) / 3rd Mar 2017 (UK/EU)
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD

Release Date: 24th Mar 2003 (USA) / 2nd May 2003 (UK/EU)

Zelda Tears of the Kingdom
Getting ready for this — Image: Nintendo

It’s a tough one, that’s for sure. Think Skyward Sword is a better choice? Sacrilege to suggest anything but the original? Let us know if you agree with any of the above in the comments, and vote in the poll below to let us know where you’d recommend starting out on your Zelda adventure.

Note. For the most part, we’ve listed remakes and originals beside each other. We omitted a couple of ports, mainly because it’s unlikely that anyone would take, say, the GBA port of LttP over the SNES version — especially when the original is available via Nintendo Switch Online. We’ve also left out the multiplayer games.

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