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Encyclopedia > Legend of Zelda series

The Legend of Zelda series (ゼルダの伝説 シリーズ; often shortened to just "Zelda series") is a series of action-adventure video games created by Nintendo and industry legend Shigeru Miyamoto beginning in 1986. It is considered one of the most influential video game franchises ever created.



The Legend of Zelda games feature as their central character and protagonist a young Hylian named Link. Link is frequently called upon to rescue Princess Zelda, for whom the games are named. The main villain of the series is known as Ganondorf (Also known as Ganon). Story-wise the earlier games did not deviate much from the standard "save the princess" theme, but later installments have diversified their themes somewhat.

Another important element in the series is a divine relic known as the Triforce; which consists of three golden triangles united to form a fourth. These were, according to the game, left behind by three goddessess of power, wisdom, and courage after their creation of the world. Each piece will bestow its own divine essence on the one who possessess it; typically Ganondorf has the Triforce of Power, Zelda has the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link has the Triforce of Courage. If ever one person obtains all three pieces, it is said that the Triforce will grant the deepest wishes of their heart.

However, at the core of all Zeldas is not the plot, as the stories of the individual games do not always match up, but a successful mixture of complex puzzles, strategic action gameplay and exploration. This formula has remained fairly constant throughout the series, with further refinements and additions featuring in each new game, and it has made the Zelda franchise one of Nintendo's most important assets, along with their Mario, Metroid, and Pokémon series.

The Legend of Zelda was principally inspired by Miyamoto's explorations as a young boy in the forests surrounding his childhood home in Kyoto. Miyamoto has mentioned that several elements of his 'adventures' through those woods were taken into the Zelda games, like a lake he suddenly found one day in the middle of the forest, which at the time surprised him for being a totally new discovery for him, and which according to him, has been a recurrent element in all of the Zelda games (both the lake and the exploration and discovery factors).


The following is a list of the main installments of the series, with the original year of release and the platforms they appeared on. Note that the two Oracle games were released simultaneously.

  1. The Legend of Zelda (1986 - Famicom/NES, re-released on Game Boy Advance in 2004 as part of the Classic NES Series)
  2. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987 - Famicom Disk System/NES, re-released on Game Boy Advance in 2004 as part of the Classic NES Series' Famicom Disk System-selection)
  3. BS Zelda (1990 - Super Famicom, Satellaview)
  4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991 - Super Famicom/SNES)
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (1993 - Game Boy, Game Boy Color)
  6. BS Zelda: Kodai no Sekiban (1993 - Super Famicom, Satellaview)
  7. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998 - N64, GameCube)
  8. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000 - N64, GameCube)
  9. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (2001 - Game Boy Color)
  10. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (2001 - Game Boy Color)
  11. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past featuring Four Swords (2002 US, 2003 Japan - Game Boy Advance)
  12. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest, a.k.a. Ura Zelda (2002 Japan, 2003 US - GameCube)
  13. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002 Japan, 2003 US - GameCube)
  14. The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition (2003 - GameCube, by Nintendo of America, never to be sold separately)
  15. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004 Japan, US, 2005 Europe - GameCube)
  16. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004 Japan and Europe, 2005 US - Game Boy Advance)

Upcoming games

A game, tentatively called The Legend of Zelda or The Legend of Zelda GCN, is confirmed and will be released on the GameCube platform. The game will use semi-realistic graphics, that are somewhat similar to the Final Fantasy videogames and similar in style to those featured in Ocarina of Time, as opposed to cel-shaded graphics, use a modified version of the Wind Waker engine. The preview video showed Link riding on his horse, Epona, and attacking enemies while mounted. Link will be an 'adult' like in Ocarina of Time (19 years old). No further information has been given on the game, but it is belived to come out this year around the Holidays.

In addition, a Zelda game for the Nintendo DS has been announced. It has been rumoured it will be a "Four Swords" style game.

CD-i games

Beyond the commonly recognised games, there have been three Zelda games made for Philips' CD-i multimedia system under a special license agreement. These were made without any involvement from Nintendo and they deviated significantly from the other games in style and gameplay. In 1990 Nintendo licensed the rights to some of the characters, including Link, Zelda and Ganon, to Philips, in the hopes of gaining Philips as a partner on their way to making a compact disc-based console. Philips used the characters to create three CD-i games. Like the system they were created for, these were never very popular and can today be considered obscure and not canonical. They were:

  1. Link: The Faces of Evil (1993) - Philips' CD-i
  2. Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon (1993) - Philips' CD-i
  3. Zelda's Adventure (1994) - Philips' CD-i


The chronology of the fictional Zelda universe is debated among fans. The publication dates of the games are of little help; when considered in that order, the story jumps about and has seeming inconsistencies. However, as the series' name implies, this lack of continuity is understood and accepted by players and developers alike as a facet or inherent quality of the story's "legend" nature.

No order has been dogmatically specified by the games' publisher until Shigeru Miyamoto said a word about it. He was quoted in Nintendo Power, Nintendo's official magazine, as saying that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was intended to be the prequel to The Legend of Zelda on the NES. "Ocarina of Time is the first story, then the original Legend of Zelda, then Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally A Link to the Past. It's not very clear where Link's Awakening fits in--it could be anytime after Ocarina of Time."

This quote of Shigeru Miyamoto is reinforced by the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time ends with Ganon stealing the Triforce of Power and vowing revenge on the descendants of his enemies and Link departing with the Triforce of Courage. The Legend of Zelda begins with Ganon already posessing the Triforce of Power and the Triforce of Courage having been lost for centuries.

Also of note is that the end of A Link to the Past says that the Master Sword rests forever afterwards, heavily implying that it is the last game chronologically (although a later adventure could be made without the sword).

This makes the most offical order thus:

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
  3. The Legend of Zelda
  4. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
  5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Mr. Aonuma, director of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, suggests where The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker fits in. In an interview regarding Wind Waker, he is quoted as saying this:

"In terms of the storyline, we've decided that this takes place 100 years after the events in The Ocarina of Time. We think that as you play through the game, you'll notice that in the beginning the storyline explains some of the events in The Ocarina of Time. You'll also find hints of things from The Ocarina of Time that exist in The Wind Waker."

Mr. Aonuma continues: "There's also a more complicated explanation. If you think back to the end of The Ocarina of Time, there were two endings to that game in different time periods. First Link defeated Ganon as an adult, and then he actually went back to being a child. You could say that The Wind Waker takes place 100 years after the ending in which Link was an adult."

Therefore, two time-lines are created.


  1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
  3. The Legend of Zelda
  4. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
  5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past


  1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Also, there is another set of games that does not seem to fit in the main storyline; it is possible that they are only fillers or spin-offs:

  1. Four Swords
  2. Four Swords Adventures
  3. The Minish Cap

These three games are connected between each other. However, they do not seem to be connected with any of the other games in the series.


The first Zelda appears relatively crude and simple by today's standards, but it was a very advanced game for its day. Innovations included the ability to use dozens of different items, a vast world full of secrets to explore, and the ability to save progress via battery backup. The game also featured a "second quest" where, once completing the game, players could replay the game using a similar overworld layout but with all the items and dungeons re-arranged. Its formulaic story put the player in the shoes of a boy hero in the land of Hyrule set out to rescue the Princess Zelda, by first collecting the 8 fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom. Beside its technical innovations, the gameplay, which consisted mainly of finding items and using them to solve puzzles, battle monsters in real-time, and interact with the environment, was a successful formula, and was widely copied, including by later Zelda games. The game was wildly popular in Japan and America, and many consider it one of the most important videogames ever made. A modified version known as BS Zelda was released for the Super Famicom's satellite-based expansion in the early 1990s in Japan.

The second, also known as Zelda II, was a departure from the concept of the first game as it exchanged the top-down view for a side-scrolling one and introduced RPG elements not found in other installments of the series. Many consider it the "black sheep" of the series; it is sometimes deplored for its difficulty and lack of adherence to series staples. However, Zelda II has its adherents despite its comparative unpopularity.

The third, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (initially known as Super Zelda), returned to the top-down view and added the concept of an alternate dimension, the Dark World, to explore. It was released for the Super Nintendo in 1991 and re-released for the Game Boy Advance on Dec. 9 2002 in North America, combined with the multiplayer addition Four Swords.

The fourth game, Link's Awakening, was the first Zelda to appear exclusively on Nintendo's Game Boy handheld, and additionally was the first not to take place in Hyrule. It was re-released for the Game Boy Color in 1998 as Link's Awakening DX with some additional features.

After a relatively long hiatus, the series made the transition to 3D with Ocarina of Time, the fifth game in the series. Ocarina of Time, initially known as Zelda 64, retained the core gameplay of the previous games and was very successful both commercially and critically. The popular Japanese magazine Famitsu gave the game its first ever perfect 40/40 score. It is also the number one ranked game at Game Rankings (http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/197771.asp?q=zelda). Appropriately, it is considered by many fans to be the best game in the series. Ocarina of Time saw a limited re-release on the GameCube in 2002 when it was offered as a pre-order incentive with The Wind Waker and featured a previously unreleased expansion known as Ura Zelda, containing remixed versions of the game's dungeons.

The sixth title, Majora's Mask, used the same game engine as the previous Nintendo 64 game, but added a novel time-based concept which led to somewhat mixed reactions from series' fans. Gameplay changed in that Link could transform into other versions of himself with the aid of masks. While keeping the same graphical style of the landmark Ocarina of Time, it was also somewhat of a departure, particularly in atmostphere - the game was much darker and had a sense of impending doom, due to the moon being poised to fall upon the land of Termina (an alternate dimension of Hyrule).

The next two games, Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were released simultaneously for the Game Boy Color platform, and, by exchanging codes, could be combined to form a single story. They were not developed by Nintendo, but rather by Capcom under the supervision of Miyamoto.

The next Zelda was initially believed to be a development of the more realistically styled N64 games, but Nintendo surprised many when it was revealed that the GameCube game, The Wind Waker, would be cel-shaded - a more cartoon-like style of graphic design first seen in Sega's Jet Set Radio. Initial fears that this would affect the quality of gameplay that many fans had grown accustomed to were eased when the game was released to be critically acclaimed in Japan in 2002 and elsewhere in 2003. It featured gameplay based around control of the wind and sailing a small boat around a massive ocean-based world, and puzzles requiring the use of enemy weapons or sidekick-like secondary characters.

Next in the Zelda series of games was The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for the Nintendo GameCube. It was another huge departure from the previous Zelda games in terms of gameplay, since it focused around multiplayer gameplay. For the multiplayer features of the game, each player was required to use a Game Boy Advance system linked to the Nintendo GameCube via a GBA to GCN cable. Although it focused on multiplayer, a single player feature was included, where a Game Boy Advance system was optional.

On May 11, 2004 at Nintendo's pre-E3 press conference, they revealed the latest game in the series for the GameCube, currently titled The Legend of Zelda. This game was expected to use the cel-shading graphical style from The Wind Waker. However, the new game has a more realistic look, similar to the Spaceworld 2000 technology demo. Not much has been released about the title thus far, though it appears to be quite similar in gameplay design and atmosphere to Ocarina of Time.

On Jan 13, 2005 Nintendo released a new game for the Game Boy Advance, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap in America. The central concept of The Minish Cap is Link's ability to shrink in size (and thus literally combat evil on all scales) with the aid of a mystical living cap named Ezlo.

The new Nintendo portable console, Nintendo DS, unveiled at 2004's E3, is expected to be home to a new take on the Zelda series. Although no information other than its existence has been released, a new game in the Four Swords series has been confirmed for the Nintendo DS.

Cartoon series

Animated series title screen

The Legend of Zelda was made into a cartoon series as a "show within a show" in the live action Super Mario Bros. Super Show TV series produced by DiC. The animated Zelda shorts were aired each Friday instead of the usual Super Mario cartoon that aired during the rest of the week. The series loosely followed the first Zelda game. Due to the Super Show's syndicated nature, only 13 animated Zelda shorts were featured within the show's entire 65-episode run. Here, Link and Zelda battled Ganon on a daily basis while keeping Hyrule safe.

  1. The Ringer
  2. Cold Spells
  3. The White Knight
  4. Kiss'N Tell
  5. Sing for the Unicorn
  6. That Sinking Feeling
  7. Doppelganger
  8. Underworld Connections
  9. Stinging a Stinger
  10. Hitch in the Works
  11. Fairies in the Spring
  12. The Missing Link
  13. The Moblins are Revolting

After the cancellation of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, the DIC incarnations of Link and Zelda appeared in various episodes of Captain N: The Game Master during the second season of the show, where they helped Captain N and his friends fight the evil Mother Brain.

See also

External links

  • Zelda.com (http://www.zelda.com) - Official site, featuring an encyclopedia.
  • Zelda Legends (http://www.zeldalegends.net) - Detailed storyline, and one of the largest Zelda sites.
  • Zelda Universe (http://www.zeldauniverse.net) - Huge Zelda fan site.
  • Zelda Elements (http://www.planetnintendo.com/zelda) - A Zelda fan site from GameSpy Network, now offline.
  • LegendOfZelda.com (http://www.legendofzelda.com) - Another Zelda fan site, merged with Zelda Legends.
  • Zelda Aquaria (http://s7.invisionfree.com/Zelda_Aquaria) - Zelda Aquaria is a popular Zelda forum.
  • Zelda Central (http://www.zeldacentral.net) - Offers quality Zelda information and news.
  • Zelda Community  (http://groups.msn.com/LinksFinalAdventure) - MSN-group forum for Zelda fans

  Results from FactBites:
GamingWorld - GameCube - The Legend of Zelda Preview (822 words)
While information was released at Spaceworld 2001 about the new aspect of the Legend of Zelda game, many fans were displeased to find that the game would not carry on the realistic look of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.
Not much information has been released about the entirety of the new Zelda game except for the basis of the storyline and what was learned from the playable demo at E3, which has changed many skeptics' ideas about the cel-shaded look.
Zelda for Nintendo’s GameCube will no doubt be one of the most well deserving must-buy games out there, and with such an overwhelming amount of anticipation for the game, it won’t be surprising if it sells like wildfire.
The Legend of Zelda Gamecube Release Petition (705 words)
Zelda fans young and old wait to be the first to witness more of the beautifully rendered footage that they saw a year ago.
The Legend of Zelda has always been a PG rated series of titles but it have appealed to not only young kids but teens and adults alike.
The The Legend of Zelda Gamecube Release Petition to Mr.
  More results at FactBites »



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