The Legend of Zelda franchise has clearly made an impact on the gaming industry since its debut in 1986. It’s come to the point where unrelated games pay homage to one of gaming’s most beloved franchises whether it’s a character costume, enemy based from the franchise, or even something small in the environment.
This list consists of the most notable Zelda cameo appearances; however, I will not be including any paid DLC in this list, amiibo included, because having to buy a cameo just doesn’t give the same feeling of satisfaction as discovering it would; sorry Mario Kart 8. I’m also excluding Super Smash Bros. for obvious reasons.
#5 – Super Mario RPG
Remember back when you first discovered video games. Now imagine you’re playing Super Mario RPG for the first time and you’ve just conquered Bowyer, the crazy-eyed boss at the end of the Forest Maze. You’ve collected the second star piece and need to heal back up at the Rose Town inn. Upon waking up in the inn’s bedroom, you see a familiar looking character sleeping in the bed next to yours. Your curiosity brings you towards him and immediately after interacting with him you hear the iconic jingle. You realize it’s Link from The Legend of Zelda, and you’re filled with amazement asking “Why is Link in this Mario game?”
Although this cameo doesn’t serve any in-game purpose like the rest of the cameos that will be mentioned on this list, it’s definitely one of the most memorable because of how uncommon such significant cameos were back when this game was released on the SNES.
#4 – World of Warcraft
Linken was a level 40 quest-giver in World of Warcraft back in 2006 and was (sadly) removed in 2010 due to an expansion. He could be found sporting green clothing similar to Link’s at Marshal’s Refuge at the edge of Un’Goro Crater. His final quest was titled “It’s Dangerous to Go Alone” which is a reference the Old Man in the original Legend of Zelda. In 2011 he was added back in the game as a randomly spawned NPC that helps in the quest “The Protectors of Hyjal” which takes place at Mount Hyjal. During this battle he may spout off quotes from the Zelda Cartoon and CDI game Faces of Evil which include “Excuuuse me princess.” and “Oh boy, I’m so hungry, I could eat a fire elemental!”
It’s nice to see a company as large as Blizzard Entertainment pay homage to the goofy moments in The Legend of Zelda’s history.
#3 – Scribblenauts Unlimited
The Scribblenauts franchise has always been praised for its Easter eggs and references to memes, pop culture and other games, but they upped the ante with Scribblenauts Unlimited on the Wii U. Rather than making small references to the Nintendo universe like they did with the Tanuki and Frog suits in the original Scribblenauts, they finally added several Zelda items and characters into the game. Some of the items include the iconic Master Sword and Hylian Shield which can be spawned separately from Link or already equipped on him. You can also summon the hero himself or settle with the aspiring businessman Beedle to aid you on your quest to retrieve the Starites.
#2 – Sonic Lost World
Despite Sega’s ups and downs in the past decade, there is no debate when it comes to The Legend of Zelda Zone in Sonic Lost World. This free DLC adds an entire new zone for you to play through with so much attention to detail that it’s unbelievable. Sonic dons the iconic green clothing and rings become rupees in this Wii U exclusive. The stage has you fighting deku scrubs, stalchildren and bats as you explore the open fields of Hyrule in the search for the legendary Triforce.
The soundtrack that plays while in the field is a remix of the Overworld Theme. This changes to the Dungeon Theme from A Link to the Past once you enter the dungeon segment of the zone as well. You’ll also hear familiar sounds and see familiar objects from the Zelda franchise as you run around such as the lovable cuckoos, a gossip stone, and pink fairies that heal Sonic. There are even changes to the core gameplay like the addition of hearts and heart containers which now act as your health rather than losing your rings. Link also shows up on his Crimson Loftwing a couple times as you play!
There was just an enormous amount of effort put into this free addition to the game that it can’t go unnoticed. It’s good to see the old rivals Nintendo and Sega working together for collaborations more and more as time goes by.
#1 – Soul Calibur II
Our top spot has to go to the Gamecube version of Soul Calibur II. Everyone knew about Super Smash Bros. and had expected that Link was going to be a staple in the Nintendo fighter because it featured prominent names for their company. Then suddenly this new series features Link on the cover as a guest fighter for the Gamecube-only version. For some (myself included), Link was one of the main selling points as he was the only face I had recognized in a game I had never heard before.
Having Link as the guest star, he had his own fleshed out character, costumes, weapons and even an ending in the arcade mode. Almost every one of Link’s weapons in Soul Calibur II is an actual item from the franchise as well. These all include the Great Fairy Sword and Razor Sword from Majora’s Mask, the Megaton Hammer, Biggoron Sword and Mirror Shield from Ocarina of Time, the Cane of Byrna and Bug-catching net from A Link to the Past, and the Armos series to represent the sword and shield the Armos statues have. That sure was a mouthful! Link also brings his trademark boomerang, hero’s bow, and bombs to the fray as well as all of his costumes from Four Swords, giving him the title of the character with the most costumes in Soul Calibur II. Truly a lot of effort was put into making Link fit the overall aesthetic of the game. Fans to this day wish he would’ve become a staple in the series but at least we will always remember this as one of the best cameo appearances.
That wraps up our list of the top 5 Zelda cameo appearances. Do you have a favorite cameo appearance involving the Zelda franchise? Let us know in the comments below!