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The Legend of Zelda franchise is unique when compared to other video game series. It is one of the few that plays out in a fantasy land with swords, magic, and fantastical creatures. The Legend of Zelda franchise has created an expansive world over the years, but much like the universes that other games create, it is not without its own rules.
History of the Franchise
Zelda has many titles that go into detail about the expansive world in which it takes place. However, for this article, we will focus on the main titles of the series.
The Legend of Zelda was the first game in the franchise to introduce players into Hyrule, a very large world where a battle between good and evil has been going on for generations. Within the world of Hyrule, players were introduced to a hero named Link, and a princess named Zelda.
From there, the games evolved and told different stories within the same world. Some share common enemies, characters, weapons, and battles, while others are independent of one another.
One unique aspect about Zeldas that the storyline always ties back to a battle between good and evil, where players are in the shoes of a hero in order to save a princess. However, many stories go beyond that central goal and provide information about characters and their struggles along the way.
In nearly every game, you play the protagonist, Link, who is destined to save Princess Zelda and defeat the evil Ganon. Link is assisted on his journey by friends, allies, and others that he meets along the way.
While many of the more recent Zelda games feature open-world gameplay, this is not a staple across the franchise. The style of gameplay often changes from title to title, but many have some sort of an open-world map.
The world of Zelda features many different types of creatures, some good and some bad. Typically, the games focus on humanoids that players can interact with. However, monsters and creatures exist as obstacles along the way that Link must conquer to complete his quest.
Different games in the franchise focus on different aspects of the world. Some explore the backstory, while others focus on side quests and missions based around defeating enemies.
The latest title, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is one of the first games to truly allow players to explore freely. You can roam around Hyrule, climb mountains, explore caves, and go nearly anywhere you desire.
As one of the oldest franchises in video game history, Zelda has built up a large fan base with a number of loyal viewers. Over the years, players have been able to explore the world for themselves, and Nintendo has even released guides to help players through different quests and missions.
One of the most common pieces of Zelda merchandise that you can find is a game guide. While the games are fun to play, sometimes you may get stuck or become overwhelmed when trying to advance through a difficult part of the game.
For this reason, Nintendo has released game guides for Zelda fans to help them through the game. These books provide maps and information necessary to help players advance through dungeons and different obstacles.
Typically, they come in paperback form, where you can read through them at your own pace. They are simple to use, and while they do not have step-by-step instructions for everything in the game, they can be an essential tool when trying to advance through a certain area of the game.
Game guides are not limited to official Nintendo titles either. Sometimes, fan-made guides exist for players to use when they get stuck in a certain area of the game.
Here is a list of every Zelda game in order of release:
- The Legend of Zelda (NES, 1986)
- The Legend of ZeldaI: The Adventure of Link (NES, 1987)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES, 1991)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Game Boy, 1993)
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64, 1998)
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Nintendo 64, 2000)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons (Game Boy Color, 2001)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube, 2003)
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GameCube, 2004)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (Game Boy Advance, 2004)
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii and GameCube, 2006)
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo DS, 2007)*
- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo DS, 2009)*
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii, 2011)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS, 2013)
- Hyrule Warriors (Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, 2014)
- Hyrule Warriors: Legends (3DS eShop)
- Tri Force Heroes (Nintendo 3DS, 2015)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch and Wii U, 2017)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 (Coming 2022)
The Legend of Zelda Timeline
The Legend of Zelda timeline gets complicated, and no two people will agree on how to play the games in order. In fact, there’s more than one timeline anyway, which makes it even more confusing.
Rather, you should focus on three different timelines:
- Fallen Hero
The Child Timeline
The child timeline is the same one most people know about. When you play from Ocarina of Time to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, you’re on the child timeline. Some people will say that Majora’s Mask is part of the child timeline as well, and some believe it’s its own timeline.
The Adult Timeline
The Adult timeline takes place sometime after Ocarina of Time, but with different characters. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker falls under the Adult timeline. So does The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, but some people consider them separate.
The Fallen Hero Timeline
Lastly, there’s the Fallen Hero timeline. The Fallen Hero timeline occurs when Link fails, and Ganondorf actually ends up defeating him in much of the games. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords fall under the Fallen Hero timeline.
The Nintendo 64 and Gamecube games all fall in the Fallen Hero timeline, but some people believe they’re their own timelines.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the first game in the timeline, but some people think it’s its own timeline as well.
The Legend of Zelda
The original The Legend of Zelda takes place in Hyrule, which is a land in the middle of a vast ocean. It’s south of a huge mountain range, and north of a great desert. Hyrule is home to the Kingdom of Hyrule, which is ruled by Princess Zelda.
Link lives in a little house in a forest near Hyrule Castle. He’s living there because his uncle kicked him out of the house after an argument, and he needs to find a way to get back in.
At the start of the game, Link’s uncle gives him a sword and shield then leaves to find the old man who’s supposed to give him a sword.
Link then goes into the forest, where he sees Zelda for the first time. The old man gives Link a sword and shield and tells him that Zelda has been taken to the dungeon of Hyrule Castle by Agahnim, a wizard. He also tells Link that he needs to get three pendants from dungeons throughout Hyrule so he can gain access to the last dungeon, where Zeldas being held. Link sets off on his adventure through the land of Hyrule to save Princess Zelda from Agahnim, who is trying to break the seal between Hyrule and Ganon’s world, which will let all of his monsters into Hyrule.
Link can find three dungeons littered throughout Hyrule, each with an item needed to enter the final dungeon. The pendants are guarded by a group of wizard brothers, who Link must defeat. Eventually, Link gathers all three pendants and unlocks the entrance to Ganon’s Tower. Once he gets there, he defeats Agahnim and saves Princess Zelda, who tells Link that Ganon is hiding in his hideout at Death Mountain.
Link climbs the mountain and finds Ganon, who turns into Agahnim again. Link defeats Agahnim for the second time, but it doesn’t work. Zelda tells Link that he needs to get the Master Sword, which can defeat Agahnim.
Unfortunately, in order to get the Master Sword, Link has to travel back in time seven years, where he meets Zelda for the first time.
After defeating Ganon with the Master Sword, Link travels back to the present. Zelda sends him back in time, where he defeats Agahnim for the last time.
The Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link
After defeating Ganon, Link decides to go find the Triforce. Zelda tells him that she’ll give him a clue to its location. She sends him into a dream world that shows Link his true self, then tells him that her clue is that the Triforce is located where his true self sleeps.
When Link wakes up, he goes north to find the Triforce. There he meets a woman who tells him that the only way to get the Triforce is to go on a quest where he fights four bosses in caves across Hyrule. After he defeats all four bosses, a Great Fairy appears and tells him that in order to reach the Triforce, he has to fight a Dragon. Link goes into the Great Palace and defeats the Dragon, then goes to a room in the back where he finds the Triforce.
Unfortunately, there’s a barrier around the Triforce that prevents him from touching it. King Harkinian tells Link to go back and rescue Princess Zelda, who has been taken to the Great Palace by Agahnim. Link travels back to the Great Palace and fights his way through until he reaches Agahnim. Once he defeats him, the barrier around the Triforce vanishes, and Link touches it.
The Triforce splits into three pieces, with one going to Link, one going to Zelda, and the final piece going to Ganon. With their strength increased by the Triforce, Link and Zelda travel to Ganon’s hideout at Death Mountain, where they fight him. Once they defeat him, Death Mountain vanishes.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
After defeating Ganon, Link takes one of the Triforce pieces with him to Hyrule Castle, which he takes care of all on his own. A hundred years later, Link’s descendant comes across the Triforce and touches it. Suddenly, a wizard named Agahnim appears. Link’s descendant defeats him, but then all seven of the descendants of the seven sages come and tell Link’s descendant that Agahnim wasn’t the only one working for Ganon. They tell him to find the Master Sword.
Link’s descendant goes to the Lost Woods and finds a man, who tells him that there are three pendants hidden in different dungeons that will open the way to the Master Sword. Once Link’s descendant finds all three pendants and gets the Master Sword, he goes back to Hyrule Castle and fights Agahnim again. Once he defeats him, Agahnim tells Link’s descendant that Ganon is at the Pyramid of Power, which is accessible via the Desert of Mystery.
Link’s descendant goes to the desert and finds Ganon, who tells him that he has Zelda hostage. Link’s descendant defeats the monster holding her hostage and saves Zelda, who tells him to go fight Ganon at his lair.
Link’s descendant travels to the Pyramid of Power and defeats Agahnim, who was guarding it. Ganon tells Link’s descendant that he tricked him into getting the Master Sword, which won’t work on him anymore. Link’s descendant defeats Ganon with his Golden Sword and touches the Triforce, bringing peace to Hyrule.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Link goes back to Hyrule, where he takes over the castle. One day, Zelda sends Link on an errand to meet with a Wizard. When Link arrives at the Wizard’s house, he finds out that the errand was a trick and instead of the Wizard, he meets with a gang of criminals. Link is forced to find the Master Sword and give it to them, but when he does, they turn on him. The leader of the criminals, a man named Ganon, tells Link to go find the three pendants and bring them back. Once he does that, he goes back to the criminals’ hideout and fights Ganon.
Link then continues on his quest to find Zelda, who has been kidnapped by Agahnim, who is working for Ganon. Once he rescues her, Link defeats Ganon.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
In the beginning of the game, Ganondorf, king of thieves, is attacking Hyrule with an army. He knocks over the castle and kidnaps Princess Zelda. Link is attacked by Ganondorf’s henchmen, but he manages to get away. Afterwards, he meets with Zelda’s nursemaid, Impa, who tells him to go find the master sword and three spiritual stones. Once he gets them all and pulls the master sword out of the enchanted stone, he goes back to Hyrule Castle Town and fights Ganondorf.
Link defeats Ganondorf and pulls the master sword out of his head. The seven sages then seal him in the Sacred Realm, which Link opens with the master sword’s power. Link then goes to fight Ganondorf, who has escaped the Sacred Realm. Once he defeats him again, peace is restored to Hyrule.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Ganondorf’s underling, a Skull Kid who has been possessed by an evil mask called Majora, is attacking Hyrule. When Link is exploring the woods one day, he is attacked by Skull Kid and his fairy friend. Link chases them to a mysterious tower called Stone Tower, where Link is knocked out and the Skull Kid takes his horse.
Link eventually wakes up and finds a mask salesman, who tells him that he saw the Skull Kid wearing a peculiar mask. The mask salesman tells Link to go to the top of Stone Tower Temple, where he will find all sorts of masks.
Link goes to the top of Stone Tower Temple and finds Majora’s Mask, which possesses him. Link is sealed inside the mask, which takes over his face. Link then has to fight the mask’s evil spirit, Majora. Once he defeats Majora, he is free from its evil power and Skull Kid leaves him with a friend of the mask salesman’s.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
Link is in his house when Impa comes and tells him that Princess Zelda has been kidnapped. Once they get to the castle, they find out that Veran, the Sorceress of Shadows, has taken over Zelda’s body and it is now up to Link to save her.
Link goes through a number of dungeons until he finds Nayru, who has been taken by Veran. Using her power of time travel, Link goes back in time to the beginning of his quest and meets with Farore. She tells him to go fight Veran in the past, which will stop her from overtaking Zelda’s body.
Link meets up with Veran and fights her inside a large, pink monster. He defeats her and stops her from overtaking Zelda’s body. The two then return to the present and everything is back to normal.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
Veran, the Sorceress of Shadows, is in Hyrule and has taken over Princess Zelda’s body. She then casts a spell that sends Link to the past. In the past, he meets a girl named Din and a wizard named Rauru.
Link goes on a quest to save Zelda’s body from Veran, while trying to get back to his own time. He eventually succeeds and everything is returned to normal.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Link is taking his sister, Aryll, out for a boat ride when they are attacked by an evil bird. Link manages to fend off the bird, but it kidnaps Aryll and takes her to the Forsaken Fortress.
Link goes to rescue his sister and fights the bird’s boss, a monstrous creature called Helmaroc King. He succeeds and rescues his sister, but the bird takes her to a nearby island.
Link goes to explore the island and eventually encounters his sister. Aryll tells him that the bird had kidnapped her for someone named Ganondorf, which upsets Link because he had only just met him.
Link eventually meets with Ganondorf, who tells him that if he can find the Triforce of Courage, he will give Aryll back.
Link goes on a quest to find the Triforce of Courage and eventually finds it in Hyrule Castle. He retrieves it and takes it back to Ganondorf, but he doesn’t let Aryll go.
Ganondorf tells Link to travel to the Forsaken Fortress again. Once he gets there, Ganondorf calls for the Helmaroc King to bring him Princess Zelda.
Link encounters Princess Zelda and manages to defeat Ganondorf in a duel. He then tries to escape the island with her, but they are captured by the Helmaroc King.
Ganondorf then locks Link in a cell and throws Princess Zelda into the ocean below. Link breaks out of his cell and dives into the water after her.
He eventually finds Zelda at the bottom of the ocean, but she is now a stone statue. He then sees Ganondorf on top of the Helmaroc King, revealing that he is actually the monster in human form.
Link climbs up the Helmaroc King and fights Ganondorf in a duel. Once he defeats him, the bird takes them both to a large, black pyramid called the Tower of the Gods.
Link goes through a number of dungeons inside the tower and eventually reaches its top. He encounters the King of Red Lions, who tells him that he is actually a god named Daphnes.
He tells Link his story about how the god of the wind, Cyclos, had imprisoned him here long ago.
On the outside, Link finds that he has been turned into a boat and fights Cyclos. Once he defeats him, Link is turned back into a Hylian and escapes the tower with Zelda in tow.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
At the beginning of the game, Zelda goes to check on the Sanctuary in Hyrule when she notices that some strange fog is surrounding it. She goes to investigate and is taken into the Sanctuary by some mysterious figures.
As Link heads towards the Sanctuary, he notices that it has disappeared. Shortly afterward, he is attacked by some knights that call him “the dark one”.
Link goes out to find the source of the fog and runs into Vaati, who has just taken over the Sanctuary. He defeats him and takes back the Rod of Seasons that he had stolen, which turns into the Four Sword.
Link then goes on a quest to defeat the other 2 copies of Vaati and restore peace to Hyrule.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Once upon a time, there was a Picori that was the size of a human. He went by the name of Ezlo, and he created many things that people used for their daily lives.
One day, a couple of Hylians went to the Picori to have him forge a cap that would turn them into the size of the Picori. Ezlo did so and suddenly began to grow very small himself.
The Hylians were upset with what had happened, but Ezlo managed to calm them down and stayed with them for a while.
Ezlo eventually left the town, but he kept in contact with one of the Hylians named Vaati. They wrote to each other often, and Ezlo eventually fell in love with one of his own creations – a cap.
Link receives a letter from his Grandma, who asks him to come over and help her because she had lost the Four Sword that Ezlo had created.
Link goes out to find the Four Sword and eventually finds it stuck in a stone. He pulls it free, splitting him into 4 different Links. He continues to push forward and eventually finds Vaati, who has taken over the castle in Hyrule.
Link battles through the castle and eventually finds Ezlo, who gives him a sword. Link uses it to free the princess of Hyrule, Zelda.
After Link defeats Vaati, Ezlo says that he wishes to stay as a hat.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
As Link and Midna leave Ordon Village, they see a monkey being chased by some other monkeys. The monkey is being taken to Hyrule Castle to be sentenced for crimes committed by his friend, who escaped.
Link follows the monkey and eventually finds out that he is actually a human named Ilia, whom was kidnapped by the imps that live in Hyrule and had his spirit sealed within a rocky shell.
Link and Midna go to various temples and defeat the bosses within, which in turn frees a Spirit. Once Link has freed all four of them, he is granted access to the twilight realm.
After going through a few dungeons, it is revealed that Zant, the king of the twilight realm, had taken over Hyrule Castle. Link goes to the castle at Midna’s request and eventually fights Zant.
After defeating him, Midna gets the power necessary to go back to her normal self, and she helps Link defeat Ganondorf.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
As Link and Tetra are sailing across the Great Sea, they are attacked by a ghost ship.
Link goes to investigate the ship with Tetrara and soon discovers that it is actually the Ghost Ship, which was built by an evil king named Bellum. After defeating him in the Temple of the Ocean King, Link finds the Phantom Hourglass.
Link uses it to open passages of time and eventually reaches the final room of the Temple, where he battles Bellum.
He defeats him and escapes from the temple before it collapses, bringing peace back to the sea.
Link also finds the Ghost Ship and takes it for himself, allowing Tetra to escape safely.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Many years ago, a man named Cole was working on a railroad for the people of Hyrule. One day, he found out that his lover had actually been an evil spirit in disguise.
Cole then built the Spirit Tracks to separate the land of Hyrule into four parts.
One hundred years later, Zelda asks Link to find the Spirit Tracks. Once he has, Link frees all five temples of Hyrule and restores the land back into one piece again.
He then goes to Hyrule Castle and discovers that Cole has taken over. Link defeats him in battle and restores peace to the land of Hyrule.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Several years before the events of Hyrule take place, there is a huge war between the Royal Family of the goddess Hylia and a demon named Demise.
After years of fighting, Hylia kills Demise with a blade made of light. However, she is gravely injured and eventually dies.
The people of the sky then take to the clouds following Hylia’s death, and the land of Hyrule is left in ruin. However, many years later, ZeldaI wishes to find the Triforce and remake the land of Hyrule to what it once was.
Link goes to investigate and eventually finds the three pieces of the Triforce and restores peace to the land of Hyrule.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Many years ago, a black mage named Yuga turned the seven sages into paintings and intends to turn them all into evil minions as well.
Link goes to investigate and eventually frees the seven sages. He then prevents Yuga from turning Seres into a minion and fights him, eventually winning the fight.
He then brings peace back to Hyrule once again.
This collaboration between Tecmo Koei and Nintendo takes many of the characters in the Zelda universe and turns them into a Dynasty Warriors style game.
A large amount of content is present in this game, including original maps based on familiar locations from the Zelda universe.
While it doesn’t have the traditional gameplay of other Zelda games, it does allow players to choose where they go without a completely open world style.
Hyrule Warriors Legends
This game serves as a more upgraded version of Hyrule Warriors on the Nintendo 3DS.
It features all the original stages found in Hyrule Warriors, along with new characters and extra content based on The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.
It also features new gameplay aspects such as the “My Fairy” feature and a new Wind Waker map.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
Several years before the events of The Legend of Zelda, Link is chosen by the princess of Hyrule to save the kingdom from a curse.
Link goes on an adventure and eventually finds three other Links that help him infiltrate the fortress where the evil wizard Vaati is hiding.
After defeating him, peace returns to Hyrule once again.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Several years after the events of The Legend of Zelda, Hyrule has been left in ruin. He wakes up from a deep slumber and is tasked by a strange voice to go out and save the kingdom once again.
Link goes on an adventure, exploring the land of Hyrule and discovers how much it has fallen.
This open-world game features beautiful graphics and more freedom than any other game in the franchise. After beating the game, a second quest becomes available to players, as does Boss Rush mode, where all enemies have leveled up and become even more challenging to defeat.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Legend of Zelda franchise and all of the games it includes, these frequently asked questions may help.
Question: What are the Zelda Games?
Answer: There are many games in this franchise, spanning multiple genres. They include The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Hyrule Warriors, and more.
Question: When Were the First Games Released?
Answer: The first game in the franchise was released on February 21st, 1986 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was called The Legend of Zelda.
Question: How Many Games are in the Franchise?
Answer: There are many games in total, spanning multiple Nintendo consoles. To date, there have been over 30 games released under this franchise.
Question: What are Some of the Best Games Within the Franchise?
Answer: Some of the most popular include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
Question: Which Games Have Been Released on Which Consoles?
Answer: All games have been released on Nintendo consoles, ranging from the NES to the more recent Nintendo Switch.
Whether you’ve been a fan of the Zelda franchise for many years, or you’re just now entering into it, there are certainly some great games in the franchise. With so many different styles of gameplay across almost all Nintendo consoles, there’s a game for everyone.
Continue reading more about related Zelda guides:
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- Zelda Objects Guide – Must-Know for The Legend of Zelda Enthusiasts
- Zelda Locations for The Legend of Zelda Superfans
- Zelda Characters Guide
- Zelda Enemies Guide – The Legend of Zelda
- Zelda Races Guide – Learning the Many Races of Creatures
- Top Games Like Zelda to Play Next
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