After reading Chad's ranking of the Zelda series
, and reading the alternate lists presented by others, I figured I'd write my own, with a little twist.
I'll be making a qualification, that most people don't do before these types of lists: These are the best games from my personal history
playing them. That is, it is determined by what I experienced playing them for the first time, which was affected by age, personal environment, random stories, etc. So, the games I most "liked" also had a good story behind it; not the actual plot, but an anecdote which shows how the game has affected my life. Here we go.
1. Link's Awakening
: My first Zelda game. I remember being stuck at the second dungeon for quite a while. Luckily my mom helped me figure out the "killing enemies in a specific order" puzzle and the boss. She rarely played video games, so it was truly a rare moment to connect to her through a game. I'll always love her for that. As a sign that history repeats itself, I recently helped my (much) younger brother in the same way to get through the game. He even begged me to beat that genie boss, though I realized then that it was better to advise him how to do it then to simply do it for him; a gamer learns by experience, not just by observing.
2. Link to the Past
:The first Zelda game I was able to beat on my own. I had rented the game a few times, and had been tempted by playing in save files at the end of the game, which showed me a glimpse at what I would be able to discover on my own. So, I knew I'd be getting the Cane of Somaria, but "what would I be using it for
" was a question that encouraged me to play through the game on my own. Getting to the Lost Woods for the first time really amazed me with the fog effects and music. Speaking of the music I also still have an unusual fascination with the Hyrule Castle theme as well. Truly, a game with lots of memories attached to it.
3. Majora's Mask
: In addition to the main story, I was also engrossed with all the side-stories and mask quests. Finishing the long Anju-Kafei love story, with the many chances for failure (necessitating restarting the three-day cycle all over again), was both a challenge and an accomplishment.Getting the Fierce Deity Mask really felt like an achievement, that I had fully explored every aspect of the game to earn it.
4. Ocarina of Time
: I got this game for Christmas when it came out, and "competed" with my friends to finish it. Not having the Internet or player's guides, I remember having a long phone conversation with a friend as we tried to figure out the Water Temple. That dungeon, hated by many, was in retrospect my favorite Zelda location, simply because I had such a sense of satisfaction when I completed it.
5. Four Swords Adventures
: Since it was such a complicated game to play the way it was intended (with 4 GBA's and adapters), I only played this game once. Me and two friends rented the game and equipment, and played it all night long. We were tantalizingly close to beating it, but since we were starting to nod off while playing, we had to give up. I remember walking blearly-eyed into a Macdonalds at 6 am, thinking about the ending that got away...
6. The Legend of Zelda
: I've never owned the game. I had a cousin living hundreds of miles away, who we'd visit only once a year, who had a NES and the game. In this way, the game really felt like a rare treat to play. I'd spend the 6-hour long car ride anticipating the annual chance to play Zelda and other (for me) uncommon games (he was also the only person with a Genesis, so my experiences of the Sonic games are from the same perspective). Of course, in these days of rereleases and emulation, that sense of wonder is rare.
: Getting this game on the same day as the Wii's release made playing the game an expression of all my anticipation built up over getting the new system. It had echoes of Ocarina of Time that I loved, though in the end, it just seemed to be a reflection (or, if you will, a Dark Link version) of that earlier game that I had such strong memories of.
8. Phantom Hourglass
: I've barely played this game on my own. However, my younger brother and sister have it, so I can see in them the same experience playing video games as I had with Link's Awakening. Perhaps there is hope in this world of simple flash games, online MMO's and vapid blockbuster titles for the next generation to grow up playing updated versions of the fundamental games of our childhood.
9. The Wind Waker
: I never owned a Gamecube, but this was one of the games I picked up for cheap after the Wii came out. Unfortunately, after only one or two dungeons, it seemed to disappear into my backlog of games (a result of more Wii games came out, I got a 360 and a better PC, more university work, etc.) I really regret not having a chance to play it through, since I know it's an amazing game.
10. The Minish Cap
: I only had the chance to play it by not-emulation, so even though I loved the art style, gameplay and puzzles, it just seemed to be missing that "je ne sais quoi" that comes from playing the game as it was meant to be played, and thus has no real life story to tell.
11. The Adventure of Link
: Again, I was only able to play this through not-emulation, and didn't play through much of it. I do recognize that it's still a good game, despite being divergent from the Zelda formula.
12. Oracle of Seasons
and 13. Oracle of Ages
: Never played them, unfortunately, so there's no story to tell. Seasons is ranked higher only because I found the art for Din to be more attractive.
So, as you can see (if you read it all), I didn't give much thought into comparing graphics, music, gameplay, originality, etc. Instead, I looked at it only from the viewpoint of my own personal memory. Studying history, I've been taught to not blindly accept someone's "facts" without first considering how their personal history and experiences shaped the conclusions they reached. I never expected to do use the same kind of personal reflection for my own work, let alone on the Zelda series.
To sum it up then, the Zelda series is AMAZING for me not just because they are "good games", but because of how they have affected me at many stages of my life.
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