This year marks the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda series, and we could think of no better way to honor this fantastic series of games than by compiling a list of our top 35 favorite things about it! All month long, we’ll be counting down from thirty-five to one the people, places, items, and activities from The Legend of Zelda series that make the games special, memorable, and well-worth playing. Per our usual schedule, watch for new posts on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and share your own thoughts on the series in the comment sections. And so, happy 35th to The Legend of Zelda – let’s keep this party going!
15. The Memory Sequences of Majora’s Mask
Jacob: Majora’s Mask was/ is an emotional game. From light and airy moments, to extended bouts of existential dread to just straight-up sad sequences it’s all here. The memories of Darmani and Mikau in particular stick with me. Both were heroes who failed in their attempts to save their people or loved ones, and who had no choice but to put their faith in Link to finsh what they started. Watching Mikau in particular “move-on” was very heart-breaking for me when I first played the game. He really was gone, and now only his memory remained. Powerful stuff!
Duck: Being one of the darkest games in the series, Majora’s Mask deals a lot with death. One notable example are the transformation masks (more on them later), which all represent someone who has recently passed away. The two characters that you specifically meet are the Goron warrior Darmani, who died attempting to stop the blizzard emanating from Snowhead, and the Zora guitarist, Mikau, who was mortally wounded in his efforts to retrieve Lulu’s stolen eggs from the pirates. Before we can obtain these masks, we must play the Song of Healing so that they can rest in peace. And this is when we witness their final memories, Darmani basking in the cheers of his fellow Gorons and Mikau rejoining his band, alongside Lulu, the woman he loves. These are both incredibly powerful scenes, as we are watching these two characters, formerly in despair over their failures, accept death with a renewed sense of peace. With their spirits now able to move on, it’s up to Link to finish what they started in life.
14. The Dark World in A Link to the Past
Jacob: This place wasn’t scary so much as it was mildly shocking. It was what the peaceful Hyrule would become if Ganon had his way: a dark, mostly ruined world filled with decaying structures and poisoned water. Not good. No sir.
Duck: A Link to the Past was the first Zelda game that I was ever exposed to (I watched my parents play it), and one of my favorite parts was always the moment you end up drawn into the Dark World by the evil wizard Agahnim, a corrupted version of Hyrule full of monsters, where the people have been warped into inhuman creatures that represent their inner being (unless you have the Moon Pearl). I’ve always been a fan of spooky things, and boy, is the Dark World a creepy place to explore, considering all the things you had previously seen in the Light World have been tainted. The Lost Woods has since been transformed into Skull Woods, the Desert of Mystery replaced by Misery Mire. Kakariko Village is in ruins. Heck, even the chickens have since been reduced to skeletal shadows of their former selves!
13. Cool Boss Fights Abound!
Jacob: Man, where to even start with this? There are so many great bosses that I could go on forever talking about their individual merits. Suffice it to say though, most of the bosses in the earlier games all did a great job of feeling epic and challenging without also feeling like overly long encounters. Some of my favorites are: Bongo-Bongo (OoT), Goht (MM), and Stal Lord (TP).
Duck: Mother Duck often questions how I can tolerate long and boring boss fights. In many cases, my response is something along the lines of, “well, I have no choice if I want to beat the game”, after which I try to justify that not all boss battles are exercises in patience. Some of the best examples that usually spring to mind come from the Zelda series. Just to name a handful of memorable ones, there is Phantom Ganon (from Ocarina of Time), who can travel between paintings, the fire and ice-wielding Twinrova (also from OoT), and even the many-armed Koloktos from Skyward Sword, who must be defeated with its own swords! Yeah, not all boss battles are tedious. The Zelda series is clear proof of that.
Cary: As far as creative and wonderfully odd bosses go, it’s hard to name a series that has them in droves more than the Zelda series. Sure, there may always be the perennial Ganon/Ganondorf present in any given game as Link’s ultimate nemesis, but the fact that each and every Zelda game has its own collection of mostly new and unrecycled bosses is pretty astounding. As well, there’s something very satisfying in defeating each one as Link. Link isn’t a superhero; rather, he’s kind of like an “everyman” who just makes good use of the many tools at his disposal. Overcoming the challenge that any given boss presents with little more than bow and arrow, sword and shield (and, okay, having plenty of hearts helps!) is entrenched in the series.
Up next, #12-10!