With the 30th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda (and Metroid) upon us, the staff of The Hyrule Herald has take a look at 30 moments that we feel rank as some of the best moments in the entire series history, both in story and in the technical side of the franchise. Note: The number doesn’t correlate to a progression to the ultimate moment. These are just 30 moments we picked out that make The Legend of Zelda series memorable to us.
Section Author: Ryan Fineout
#30 – Learning that Link does flips (Majora’s Mask)
Having completed Ocarina of Time before diving into Majora’s Mask, it was a very pleasant surprise when I learned that Link does these awesome-looking flips when he jumps from platform to platform. I feel as though the developers of Majora’s Mask intentionally made the first minute of the game have mandatory jumping for the player to see Link do these flips. It was the developer’s way of telling the player that this Link has improved his skills since the events of Ocarina of Time. The flips signified that this was going to be a much crazier ride than its prequel.
#29 – Getting catapulted to Forsaken Fortress (Wind Waker)
After setting sail with Tetra and her crew to search for Link’s sister, Aryll, you find yourself wandering about the boat waiting for it to arrive at its destination. To kill time you must play a little platforming game with Niko the skivvy who is pretty enthusiastic to have Link as his swabby. This lightheartedness, along with several other moments and characters in Wind Waker, really help the game feel less dark than many other Zelda titles. One such moment is directly after you conquer Niko’s little challenge and arrive at the Forsaken Fortress. The pirates are unable to get close to the fortress so Tetra comes up with the ingenious idea of launching Link into one of the windows. Needless to say it ends up failing, but that just makes this whole mess even more enjoyable!
#28 – Saving the Romani Ranch from the alien abduction (Majora’s Mask)
If you’ve ever visited the Romani Ranch in Majora’s Mask on the third day before completing Snowfall Peak, you’d feel very uneasy to say the least. Romani will appear on the ranch shaking violently and grabbing her head as if she has a migraine. Upon talking to her, you see that she has lost her memory somehow. Thankfully you can travel back in time to avoid this situation! As the game progresses and you can finally reach the Romani Ranch on the first day, you learn that some mysterious creatures Romani calls “Them” are arriving sometime during the night—so you’re going to have to stay overnight unfortunately. When 2 a.m. arrives, beams of light will begin to shoot to the ground summoning dozens of aliens until 5:15 at which point you will have succeeded in stopping the alien abduction. After the situation is taken care of, Romani thanks you for helping stave off the aliens and you can now rest easy knowing that she won’t have her memory erased anymore. Saving the ranch also allows Cremia to make a delivery to the milk bar the next day given you help her out as well. It’s a great feeling knowing you saved an entire ranch— even though the world is ending in a couple days. At least the bar got some of the good stuff to drink everyone’s pain away! …Wait.
#27 – Tetra noticing Link in the bomb shop (Wind Waker)
Here we have the cutscene that really changed my perspective of Tetra. She had kept her cool-headed demeanor up until this point where she expresses concern over Outset Island, hoping she gets there before it meets the same fate as Greatfish Isle. Her crewmates call her out on this, wondering if she’s more concerned about the island or the treasure. After she stutters for a moment to reassure them that she cares about the treasure, she looks up and sees Link eavesdropping in the attic. At this point Tetra knows that she has nothing to worry about and allows Link to get a head start back to Outset by giving in to the crew’s wishes in staying the night at Windfall. This really shows Tetra’s true nature because she had no clue Link was even listening yet was concerned about the well-being of his home despite making fun of him when they first met.
#26 – Witnessing Anju and Kafei’s couple ceremony (Majora’s Mask)
The Kafei and Anju quest line is infamous for being incredibly long but the final cutscene is definitely one of the most touching moments in Zelda history. If everything in the long string of quests was completed correctly, Kafei will meet Anju at the Stock Pot Inn with only 1:30 remaining before the moon crashes into the world. They will exchange masks and create the Couples Mask, ending the couples ceremony (which I’m almost certain is supposed to be their wedding). At the end of the cutscene Anju tells Link that he should flee the city as she will stay with Kafei and wait for the moon to crash; truly heartbreaking. Luckily when you defeat Majora with the Couples Mask in your possession, a cutscene of their wedding is added to the credits of the game which gives off the impression that they were able to live happily together.
Section Author: Lucas Corbitt
#25 – Twilight Princess HD
Coming in on number 5 in my list is not actually a moment from a game per se, but when I bought my first Zelda game. It was Twilight Princess for the Wii, and I beat it in a little over a week. Twilight Princess still takes the cake as my favorite Zelda game (Twilight Princess HD can’t come out soon enough!) so it wasn’t hard to come up with this one.
#24 – Beating A Link Between Worlds
Next on the list comes from a game this time! Beating A Link Between Worlds hits number 4 on my list for a few reasons. First, because a friend lent it to me after I had a surgery, and friends that lend games are friends for life in my book. Second, because I really love that game (I’ve bought it for myself since) and how it fuses not only the 3D capabilities of the 3DS but the dual-world concept hailing from its prequel, A Link to the Past.
#23 – Midna’s Farewell
Up next is another look at Twilight Princess, although this time from the end of the game. Nintendo has a way of really thrashing players’ emotions in Zelda games, and this is no different! Seeing Midna in her true form was a moving sequence for me, and even sadder was how she couldn’t stay with Link, when it was so clear that they both had gotten over hating each other from the beginning of their friendship up until now (I just can’t stand it I’m sorry). The ending of Twilight Princess made me hope, for quite a while, for a sequel in which Midna could travel back into the World of Light and be with Link, but I’ll have to be content with playing as Link and Midna in Hyrule Warriors I suppose.
#22 – Ocarina of Time
As we near the top of my list, allow me to take you all back to 1998. Most of you know exactly what game I’m going to be talking about, and some of you will probably groan and ask your screen “This game again?” Yes, this game again. Ocarina of Time is heralded as being one of the best video games in history, and a lot of Zelda fans’ personal favorites. While it isn’t for favorite game, it hits the number 2 spot thanks to my fondness for it. Growing up, I watched my oldest brother play Ocarina of Time enough times to where he could beat it in a single afternoon. I never made it too far, being but a wee lad, but that all changed when the Fire Nation – I mean when I got the game from the Nintendo Eshop. Beating one of the most gilded games in the Zelda franchise was incredibly satisfying, and ended a nearly decade-long desire to do so. Thank you, Nintendo for putting that blessing on the Eshop.
#21 –Skyward Sword Ending
Bringing up the rear on my Top 5 Zelda Moments comes from the ending of Skyward Sword. I’ve heard a lot of people criticize this game for its simplicity, but I think it makes up for that in its relationships. Link and Zelda are young and carefree, for a time of course; Link is most understandably horrified by Ghirahim, who is completely taken advantage of by Demise; Impa guiding and presumably educating Zelda while also scolding Link as young Impa for not being a better hero, but at the same time educating him on what’s happening as old Impa. It looks more complicated written out than it actually is, but my favorite relationship, by far, is that between Fi and Link. Some people think that Fi’s constant data updates and percentage-based communication is annoying or gets old fast, but I think it’s endearing. When it comes down to it, the odds are what really matter in a fight, but since Link always seems to beat the odds, their relationship is perfect. What really cements their friendship is when, at the end of the game, after Demise is beaten and all the evil is sealed up, Fi says that her duty is fulfilled, and that she needs to return. I had suspected that something heart-wrenching was coming, but I couldn’t prepare myself for such a killer line as, “I lack sufficient data to be sure of my conclusion, but I believe this feeling correlates to what your people call…happiness.”
Section Author: Boston McKibben
#20 – Building a Better Relationship with Parents
Let’s start it off where it all began for me, in a Blockbuster (remember those? No? Me neither.) in 2007. I had just received a gamecube for my birthday, and mom and I went out to buy some games. Mom pulled out one of those generic boxes that Blockbuster had with the title “Zelda: Wind Waker, The Legend of” (I had to look at the box to write that jumbled mess.) She said something along the lines of “I used to play Zelda when I was a kid, which blew my mind. I still have that beat up box in my collection of Zelda things.
#19 – Making Friends because of Zelda
After being stumped by Wind Waker, Zelda took a backseat for to games like Super Mario Sunshine and Luigi’s Mansion that would appeal to my lack of comprehension for large puzzles. After moving to a new school in 5th grade, I made some new friends who had an interest in Zelda. I got back into Wind Waker because of them and soon thereafter completed it, the addiction had really set in. At this point it’s 2011 and Skyward sword on the horizon and I was hyped for it. This is what started me into following gaming news, I wanted to know as much as I could about the new Zelda game.
#18 -Getting Twilight Princess as a Gift
October came around a few months after that and my aunt had heard about my reintroduction into Zelda, and as one of my best birthday gifts ever, she gave me The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and inside the cover, there was a preorder for Skyward Sword. This is where I recognize my affinity for the Zelda franchise and it becomes my goal to beat every Zelda game there ever will be, and though I haven’t currently beat everyone, I am approaching my goal (I only have Twilight Princess, Zelda 2, Minish Cap and Majora’s Mask left to beat).
#17 – The Handheld Adventures
With this new quest I had started I was busy at work with games such as Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks (which I hadn’t beat until the end of last year) and the 3ds had just been released earlier that year along with Ocarina of Time 3D. Christmas came around and I got both the 3ds and OoT and after a few days I finished one of the best Zelda games around.
#16 -Working in the Community and A Link Between Worlds
My best and most recent experience with Zelda and it’s fans has been amazing, I get to contribute content about one of my favorite series in video games with a bunch of awesome people here on The Hyrule Herald (aptly named by Zelda CD-i). I hope to continue with this moment in Zelda history. Just kidding, it was A Link Between Worlds because it was badass and felt a lot better than A Link to the Past.
Section Author: Richard McLendon
#15 – Link Stops the Apocalypse of Termina
Hexes ans spells are one thing. But an evil force that can take down a whole moon? That is some serious business. But you know who can get the job done to stop it from wiping everyone out? A kind in a green tunic with a bunch of masks.
#14 – Wind Waker: The King of Red Lions makes an unexpected appearance in human form and touches the Triforce before Ganondorf does.
Loosing a companion in a Zelda game is no new territory. We lost and tried to find Navi, returned Midna to the Twilight and she shattered us out for good, and all our friends on the island of the wind wish flew away because, well, they turned out to be seagulls in the first place! But Windwaker gave you a friend that lead you to believe in a happier ending for once. Dear god, were we wrong.
Your companion on this journey is The King of the Red Lions, a beautiful red ship with a talking mast head that gives you lifts in your quest to fight evil and restore what is left of Hyrule. He acts as a mentor, wise and kind and tasked by the goddesses to find you. And, as it turns out, the ship was being remotely possessed by none other than the King of Hyrule from the ruins of Castle Hyrule at the bottom of the sea.
After Link defeats Ganondorf, he ushers Zelda and Link to surface before the sea crashes around the ruins. But all he wants is for Hyrule to be washed away so Ganondorf can never claim it again and for Hyrule to start anew. As you rise, he reaches out to you in a sign that part of him wants to go with you. But he drops them to the side and lets you go, saying “I have scattered the seeds of the future.” And he dies. He just…dies. Under all that water, you know he does. Zelda begs, you seem to plead, but he knows there is no future for him; only for you. And to make matters worse, the boat also becomes sentient after you surface, confirming his disconnection.
Loosing not one, but two annoying fairy companions? No problem. Talking sword that talks like C3PO? Yep, glad she’s gone back into the freaking sword. But Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, the father figure and king of Hyrule’s past? We won the game, but can’t help mourn slightly at the loss of the King of the Red Lions.
#13 – Tetra Revealed to be Zelda
And you thought she was just a tiny sassy pirate wench. Hahaha… yeah, about that Triforce piece…
#12 – Midna uses her strength to throw a giant boar monster that is 5X her size.
Bro, do you even lift? Itty bitty imp committee VS giant demon boar. Just goes to show that Midna doesn’t skip arm day.
#11 – When Sheik reveals herself to be Zelda.
You know, for a princess that has her name in every game title out their in plain sight, she sure does like to hide around in disguise often. But in the original game, this was a bit more sneaky as you couldn’t tell too much if Sheik was a boy or a girl (at least, Ruto thought Sheik was a he, and then Hyrule Warriors elaborates that Sheik is male.). The reveal from brooding ninja to rightful ruler was dynamic and theatrical from the costume change to the afterwords magical kidnapping via encasing Zelda in a floating magic crystal.
Section Author: Dany Fryling
#10 – Midna’s Transformation
Playing Twilight Princess for the first time was a joy because you not only had drive to save Midna, but to figure out what the heck she looked like at the end of the game. It was a tease on your brain. You didn’t want to just destroy Ganondorf and save Zelda; you wanted to save Midna too. You wanted Midna safe just as much, or maybe even more, than any other female character in the game. As many fans will attest, Midna was not only the least annoying companion Link has ever had, but she was the best. Sassy, a fighter, and more helpful than harmful. That, and no “HYE! Listen!” every 30 seconds.
And when you run over that hiltop to find you friend, the powers of light work their magic and imp-be-gone! Instead of the fiesty wolf back riding friend you knew, the powerful and mature Midna, Ruler of the Twili appears! And…um…WOW. And yes, I KNOW how much fan artwork of her there is out there… But the first time you play and witness that moment, you can’t deny a small feeling of awe at her transition. That and a feeling of loss when she shatters the mirror once more, this time beyond repair.
#9 – Finding Death Mountain (LOZ)
Imagine if you will, a giant map. A giant map that contains a world hiding nine dungeons. And once you find all of those dungeons and beat the game, the order and locations change in the Master Quest mode. Nowadays, we have tutorials as how to find each one and in what order. But back in 1986, well, GOOD FREAKING LUCK. It’s called “write it all down with a pen and hope for the best”. That’s why the moment you figure out what the old man means by ” Spectacle Rock is an entrance to death” and ” Eyes of skull has a secret” is a wave of pure relief as you locate the path to Defeat Ganon for the first time. Too bad the location changes in the Master Quest mode… and all of this BEFORE someone came up with Skyrim!
#8 – Using games and consoles as tools
Nintendo expanded their products by making them a part of the game play. It was assumed at first that the Wii remote control censor would serve as a sword for Twilight Princess. It did to a small degree, but your movements did not equate to the sword’s movements in that where you moved the controller correlated to an exact slice or thrust as an attack. This was improved as a system of attack in Skyward Sword, where now how you move the controller is how Link moves his sword. Which is great… if you’re left handed. Adding the controller to game play made for a unique and interesting experience as it is the closest you can be to be fighting as Link without being the character himself. Having the Wii remote paved the way for play mode exploration for future titles, including opening possibilities for trials in virtual reality.
Handheld devices also jumped into the mix. The Legend of Zelda and Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link were popular enough to consider converting the 1986 classic onto Nintendo’s flagship hand held console Game Boy. What started as a way to make the original game portable for fans became the start of a new platform for the series. A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening were soon developed and adapted to the introduction of the Game Boy Color.
From there it was Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, and then evolution of the stylization as Wind Waker’s Toon Link became popular and entered the picture for the Advance, DS, and 3DS. Remakes came in the forms of Ocarina of Time and Majora ‘s Mask and all the original games reintroduced through Nintendo’s eShop. Want to play the classic 1986 LOZ in color? It’s now just a download away on a 3DS.
#7 – Twinrova’s Return (Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages)
Well, they did say they’d be back to haunt you in Ocarina of Time. Sure enough, the two Gerudo Hags are back, and it’s not revealed until the end of the games that they are behind all the chaos in hopes to light the three flames and revive their fallen lord Ganondorf. To fight the terrible twins and a poorly resurrected version of Ganon, you have to play both games and link them using a password that you receive once you save the “Oracles” Din and Nayru. So you may ask: where is Farore in all this? Aren’t there three goddesses? Funny story: After experimenting with transporting the original The Legend of Zelda to the Game Boy Color, Nintendo began developing three interconnected Zelda games that could be played in any order. Two of them became Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, but the complexity of this system led the production team to cancel one of the games.
#6 – Giving up all 20 masks for the Fierce Deity Mask
If you have done it, KUDOS TO YOU! You accomplished one of the most difficult quests in any of the Zelda games. Not only do you have to find all 20 masks, you have to eventually give them up in games of hide and seek with the moon children in four annoying and frustrating trials. Your reward for this? After giving away all of your side quest masks, you speak with the child in Majora’s Mask. He will speak of wanting to play heroes and villains (with you as the villain) rather than hide and seek. But you have no masks! He feels bad, so he gives you one. He gives you the Fierce Deity Mask.
THE MOST POWERFUL ONE IN THE GAME.
Finally, you get to be an adult with a unique sword and outfit to boot! Odd though that your enemy just gave you the weapon of his demise. So enjoy pummeling the crap out of Majora’s Mask. You earned it!
Section Author: Ben Cornett
#5 – A Link to the Past
This kicks my list off because this is my go to game in the Zelda series. This game has everything in it that makes a traditional Zelda game: adventure, characters, story, and great music. Though limited to 16 bit graphics, A Link to the Past holds a special place in my heart because it was the first Zelda title I beat on my own. Growing up with two older brothers, it was a team effort to beat the original NES The Legend of Zelda and Adventure of Link.
Because of my deep appreciation for this wonderful game, A Link Between Worlds is a game I appreciate, even though it is a far inferior game to its source material.
#4 – Koji Kondo’s Amazing Soundtracks
Being the music nerd that I am, I have always obsessed with soundtracks to films and video games. The work doing throughout the series really functions less as a soundtrack but more as a character or storytelling device. The more recent games really hit this point, namely Twilight Princess and the hauntingly beautiful melodies for Midna’s pleas and the hopeful tune that fills us for Collin to follow in Link’s footsteps and be the hero of the other children.
Most Zelda game’s music comes from one man in particular: Konji Kondo. Since the first game in 1986, he has been in charge of keeping The Legend Of Zelda’s themes classic and catchy and it’s music unique for every game. He’s so good at it, Skyward Sword’s Theme is Zelda’s Lullaby backwards.
#3 – Navi’s Departure / Fi’s Departure
Though most will argue that these are two most annoying helper characters throughout the franchise, their farewells in their respective games (Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword) are beautiful and almost heartbreaking.
In Ocarina of Time, we learn that Link was never intended to get a fairy like the rest of the Kokiri that he grew up with because he wasn’t of their race. Navi was fulfilling a request of the Great Deku Tree and provided protection and assistance to Link throughout his seven year adventure. Being shut-out by Ganondorf for the first of the final fights, Navi is not letting the dark beast Ganon get in her way and she lets you know that she is fighting along side you.
When Link returns The Master Sword to its pedestal and Navi ascends in the Temple of Time, it’s the realization that both of their missions were fulfilled.
In Skyward Sword, Fi is as much as helper character as she is a supporting character, and thanks to the advancements of technology in gaming – Link is able to express more emotion making the farewell between these two fighters that much more saddening.
#2 – The ending of The Wind Waker
I have always felt that The Wind Waker has gotten a bad reputation because of it being “kiddie” or “looking childish.” I even remember when the uproar of fans referred to the game as “The Legend of Celda,” poking fun at the cel-animation style.
Aside this being a solid game, this is the only game to date that features a young Link impale the villain of the game…THROUGH THE SKULL. Twilight Princess it’s just a sword through the heart – which is pretty dark, but that’s a Teen/Adult Link.
This adorable little kid rams The Master Sword through Ganondorf’s skull.
#1 – The Resistance Saves Link – Twilight Princess
What we’re seeing in more recent Zelda adventures is the expansion of supporting characters. Both GameCube titles really had a great supporting cast of characters, but there is a group that we’re introduced to in Twilight Princess that I’m hoping to see some form of this idea show up again in a future game: The Resistance.
Though the scene I’m pointing to might have looked cooler if there more enemies about to take out Link, during Link’s one-man assault on Hyrule Castle to save Princess Zelda (who probably didn’t need saving by the way, she was presented as a bad ass in this game), The Resistance shows up and saves Link. It’s one of the few times we’ve seen our hero in peril and get rescued himself.
What made The Resistance a great idea is because prior games we see all these citizens of Hyrule a few times, but they don’t ever change or participate in the fight. Twilight Princess (and even The Wind Waker) saw supporting characters show up at random times to help Link. It’s refreshing that the citizens of Hyrule have come such a long way from telling us that they are Error to becoming rebel fighters.
We do have two honorable mentions, and one that literally has the name of the game in it:
Honorable Mention: Zelda Williams
It takes some serious consideration to name a kid after something you love. Like director and writer Kevin Smith naming his daughter Harley Quinn Smith after one of his favorite Batman villains. It turned out for the best as she loves comic books. But Kevin Smith isn’t the only entertainer that’s turned a passion into a family namesake.
Thank you Robin Williams. He named his daughter after the original NES classic game. At age 25, the American actress enjoys video games just as much as she enjoys sports and being the voice of the villain Kuvira in Avatar: Legend of Korra. She’s the second most famous Zelda in American history, right behind author Zelda Fitzgerald. And thanks to Robin, the name Zelda can once again be mainstream.
Honorable Mention: Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess Smash Sales
At the time of each games release, two games in particular hold the records for the most financially successful games in the Series. According to data gathered for every Zelda game from 1986 to 2015, Twilight Princess brought in 8.5 million, the highest of any other LOZ title. Despite this and not calculating inflation into the mix, Ocarina of Time holds to be the strongest of any title with 10.6 million copies sold, and that’s not even including the remake for the 3DS. Do they deserve that kind of recognition? That’s all about opinion. But numbers don’t lie about the popularity of these two games.
So what do you think? What are your favorite moments in Zelda and how do they rank? Write them in the comment below?