There are a ton of titles in this The Legend of Zelda game series and I am sure you must have played them all if you are a fan. But if you want to revisit them and are looking for a list featuring all of the Legend of Zelda games in order, then you are on the right page!
Back in 1986, the first-ever “The Legend of Zelda” game was introduced with three main characters. Designer Shigeru Miyamoto designed the game for the Famicom Disk System for NES in Japan and soon enough, it became a well-defining game for the designer, Nintendo, and others involved. In fact, it is considered a classic among gaming enthusiasts, making it one of the best-selling video game series of all time.
The Legend of Zelda has three main characters i.e. Link – the protagonist, Zelda – the princess, and Ganon – the antagonist and the one who wants to conquer the land. The basic plot was first introduced back in 1986 and since then, Link has fought many battles with different types of people, crossed dungeons and oceans, and more. Now that there are more games in the series along with the ones that are in queue to launch, here’s a timeline of all “The Legend of Zelda” games in chronological order of their release date at your disposal.
The Legend of Zelda Games In Order (2021)
The Legend of Zelda game franchise has more than 25 games with concurrent remastered and remake versions released on various platforms including NES, SNES, 3DS, Switch, Wii U among others. Here’s a order of the games released for perspective!
1. The Legend of Zelda
Release Date: February 21st, 1986
The game that started it all, The Legend of Zelda, made its debut in 1986 and took over the world like a storm. It introduced the three iconic characters – Link, the protagonist who is destined to save Zelda, the princess, from Ganon, who is a powerful antagonist. With 2D graphics and overhead perspective, the game introduces everything from the land of Hyrule to the Triforce. It set the foundation for games that have been in every gamer’s mind for more than three decades now.
The game was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES. It became the first-ever installment (in the franchise) available on NES to report sales of over 6.51 million units as of December 2019. This makes it among the top-selling games in the franchise!
2. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Release Date: January 14th, 1987
The Adventure of Link is the second installment in the franchise that offers a different outlook. Unlike the first installment, you get side-scrolling gameplay similar to Mario Bros. The Adventure of Link has some out-of-the-box elements like no other installment has received yet such as the game was heavily based on combat. It was an RPG-styled game with the ability to earn upgrades.
The game was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto who wanted different gameplay for the second installment. Link still has to find princess Zelda though, exploring dungeons and fighting off enemies is a big part of the game. The game that arrived on NES has garnered over 4.38 million units in sales as per the latest available update.
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Release Date: November 21st, 1991
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a prequel to Zelda I and Zelda II and was introduced on SNES. It soon shot to fame with its new concept that soon became a trademark i.e. parallel worlds. Here, Link has to save princess Zelda and six other maidens and combat Ganon while traversing between two worlds – one light, one dark.
This particular game arrived on SNES in 1991 scoring a whopping 4.61 million units in sales as of the last count available. The game has since arrived on a tonne of other platforms from Nintendo as well.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Release Date: June 6th, 1993
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was released back in 1993 for the Game Boy game console. It was later released for other gaming consoles as well including Game Boy Color, Nintendo 3DS (VC) among others. Unlike the other games, Link’s Awakening has Link visiting a new island called Koholint and he needs to escape it. The game has a top-down perspective and yes, there’s no Triforce nor Zelda in this game. The game made headlines with a total of 3.83 million units sold as per the latest update.
A remastered version of the 1993 game was released on September 20, 2019, retaining some 2D elements for fun. The game aptly named Link’s Awakening HD on Nintendo Switch was released worldwide and has attracted over 4.38 million units in sales as per the stats available.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Release Date: November 21st, 1998
The game that shaped some concepts around the 3D gaming world as we know it, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time garnered around 6.02 million units in sales as per the last available record.
It is the fifth game in the franchise and the first to have 3D graphics. I know the graphics look goofy but at the time, Ocarina of Time made quite a stride with its 3D rendition of the land of Hyrule. To put things into perspective, the game was launched when developers were struggling to wrap their heads around navigation in a 3D space. Ocarina of Time is definitely on the bucket list of many The Legend of Zelda fans.
A remastered version of the game aptly named Ocarina of Time 3D was released on Nintendo 3DS on June 19, 2011!
6. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Release Date: April 27th, 2000
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a game set in the land of Termina where Link is stuck finding Majora’s Mask. He needs to get it from Skull Kid and give it to the Happy Mask Salesman. Until then, Link is stuck in the three days loop Groundhog Day-style.
Majora’s Mask is one of the three games in the child timeline that was launched in April 2000 for Nintendo 64. The game has so far garnered more than 3.36 million in units sold as per the latest available data. Apparently, the game didn’t receive much reception when it arrived, however, it has now received cult classic status.
There was a remake in high-definition released on February 13, 2015, for Nintendo 3DS aptly named Majora’s Mask 3D.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons & Oracle of Ages
Release Date: February 27th, 2001
Both the games were released on Game Boy Color on February 27, 2001, garnering a total of 3.99 million units in sales as per the latest available data. Both the games are interconnected which means you can really enjoy the games when you play both.
The games have different gameplay wherein the Oracle of Seasons, Link is transported to Holodrum where he meets Din who is the Oracle of Seasons. However, while doing so, Din is teleported by Onox and it is up to Link to find Rod of Seasons and upgrade it to rescue Din.
On the other hand, Oracles of Ages has Link transported to Labrynna where he finds Impa who guides him to Nayru who is the Oracle of Ages. However, Impa gets possessed by a Veran (the villain). Now, Link must go to Maku Tree, who has lost his memory, and ask him to stop Veran. However, Link needs to find eight Essences of Time that he can use to restore Maku Tree’s memory.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords
Release Date: December 2nd, 2002
The Legends of Zelda: Four Swords was released in December 2002 after Nintendo and Flagship developed the game as an enhanced port for Game Boy Advance based on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The game got a multiplayer twist to it bringing a plethora of changes such as louder audio, the ability to save the game at any time, and so on.
The game was among the first that required two to four players to play together. It introduces the concept of Four Swords and the end goal is to rescue Princess Zelda and seal off Vaati, the monstrous villain in the game that has jumped into the next timeline yet again.
9. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Release Date: December 13th, 2002
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the next installment in the Legend of Zelda games in order list and was released for the Nintendo GameCube. The game follows Link fighting the evil king Ganondorf over the Triforce albeit set in a different timeline. It is a part of Adult Timeline where there’s nothing but land all covered in water and it is now referred to as The Great Sea.
The game has Link, Tetra, Ganondorf, Medli, and Makar as the lead characters. There’s a hint system called Tingler Turner although it requires using a Game Boy Advance. According to the stats available, over 4.43 million units of The Wind Waker have been sold.
The Wind Waker received a high-definition treatment with a remastered The Wind Waker HD that was released on September 20, 2013, for Wii U.
10. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
Release Date: June 7, 2004
Four Swords Adventures, as the name suggests, is a sequel to 2002’s Four Swords. The multiplayer action-adventure game was released on Game Boy Advance. It still retains 2D graphics although offers 1-4 players option instead of 2-4. The game uses A Link to the Past styled graphics. However, the game has been christened as one of the worst-rated Zelda games of all time out there.
11. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Release Date: November 4th, 2004
Till now, all the maps in the previous games were huge but with The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, you will see a miniature world of the land of Hyrule. The game released on Game Boy Advance has Link transformed into a miniature form of himself. It marks the entry of the villainous Vaati and also gives a lot about the creation of the Four Swords.
The game also has Minish Cap which has a power called “Light Force”. There’s more in the story among diminutive people called Minish. Released in 2004, the game has garnered 1.76 million units in sales as per the data available.
12. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Release Date: November 19th, 2006
Twilight Princess is just after Majora’s Mask in the Chile Timeline of the Zelda series. The game goes dark after the bright The Wild Waker storms the Zelda game series and offers Link the ability to turn into a wolf. The game has a dark parallel world called the Twilight Realm. As usual, it is Link who has a new incarnation centuries after the events of Ocarina of Time where he is facing the consequences embarked upon after Ganon was banished as the Hero of Time.
Twilight Princess has recorded over 8.69 million units in sales as per the update. It was first released on Wii, followed by the Nintendo GameCube.
A remastered high-definition version of the game aptly named Twilight Princess HD was released on Wii U on March 4, 2016.
13. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Release Date: June 23rd, 2007
The Phantom Hourglass game is set after the events of The Wind Waker and sets the path for the upcoming DS game Spirit Tracks. The game shows Link traveling in the now ocean-covered The Great Sea with princess/pirate Tetra in a quest to find a new Hyrule. Zelda is with Link during the quest. The game available for Nintendo DS has accounted for more than 4.76 million units sold according to the last stats.
14. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Release Date: December 7, 2009
Released on Nintendo DS, Spirit Tracks arrived as a prequel to The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass in the Zelda series. It offers both single and multiplayer options and it is now available on both NDS and Wii U VC. The game reported selling about 2.96 million copies as of December 2019.
15. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Release Date: November 18th, 2011
Skyward Sword is heavily based on Wii MotionPlus and was released in 2011. Here, Link is a knight in the flying island town of Skyloft and friends with Zelda. When Zelda gets spirited away to the surface, Link has to land on the surface to find Zelda and rescue her. The game rose to popularity with the use of motion controls on the Wii.
The game has various characters including Fi, Zelda, Ghirahim, Demise, and a lot of bosses and minibosses to tackle. Skyward Sword for Wii accounted for over 3.67 million units sold as per the latest data available.
16. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Release Date: November 22nd, 2013
Released on Nintendo 3DS, A Link Between Worlds, as the name suggests, is a link to the game “A Link to the Past” that was released two decades ago. It has a top-down 2D gameplay as seen with the previous installments. Here, Link has the ability to turn into a two-dimensional painting so that he can slide and sneak past enemies and more. Link is tasked with defeating Yuga, who is the evil counterpart of Ganondorf.
According to the latest stats available, more than 4.07 million units of “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds” were sold.
17. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
Release Date: October 22nd, 2015
Tri Force Heroes follows the steps of Four Swords as it requires three players to play together to solve puzzles and dungeons on the way. The game shows events right after A Link Between Worlds.
The game even has a single-player campaign as well if you want to play it individually for a change. You can customize Link wearing stylish outfits including a princess dress to Goron suit and more. The game has attracted over 1.23 million units in sales after its release.
18. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Released on Wii U as the last game on the platform, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is another action-adventure game from Nintendo. It had a dual release on Nintendo Switch and Wii U. The game has Link who is awakened after about a hundred years of slumber and he (you as a player) is tasked to defeat Calamity Ganon in order to save the kingdom of Hyrule.
Breath of the Wild recorded a whopping 22.28 million units sold as per the latest update. This is undoubtedly the best-selling game in the franchise. The game has won a tonne of awards and accolades such as at the Game Critics Awards, IGN, Destructoid, GamesRadar+, The Game Awards 2016, and more.
19. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
Release Date: Estimated 2022
Breath of the Wild 2 is a sequel to “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”. Developed by Nintendo, the set is set to release in 2022 as a single-player action-adventure game on Nintendo Switch. It has already received multiple accolades for the most anticipated games even before its release. Its trailer unveiled during the Nintendo Switch presentation at the E3 2021 was amazing and people are eagerly waiting for the sequel to drop by.
This concludes the world of “The Legend of Zelda” game franchise which is spread across more than three decades. It has a unified timeline as well as a child timeline, an adult timeline, and a bunch of remakes and re-releases on various platforms including Nintendo Switch, Game Boy Color, NES, SNES, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS among other systems.
I hope that the article listing down The Legend of Zelda games in order of their release date gave you the information you were looking for, and if you happen to be a fan of the series, then share the article with your friends and make them play these games!
Also See: Pokémon Games In Order