It’s time to celebrate The Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary, which means it’s the perfect excuse to replay some of our favorite games from the series. There’s only one problem: Not counting re-releases, there are almost 20 mainline Zelda games, scattered across more than 10 Nintendo consoles. Unless you’ve been collecting them since the very beginning, tracking down these games today is not easy.
As such, I’ve looked into every Zelda game, and every platform in which Link has donned the green tunic. Nintendo has re-released many (though not all) of the Zelda games on modern consoles, and many are relatively easy to find, even if not at cheaper prices you might expect. For purposes of this article, I consider the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS to be “modern” consoles, even though Nintendo stopped producing games for the parallax-3D handheld. Bear in mind that I also haven’t listed every single re-release, just the most recent ones.
- Play the best Nintendo Switch games
- The Legend of Zelda games, ranked
- Plus: Celebrate The Legend of Zelda's 35th anniversary with Tom's Guide
Still, with those two consoles alone, you can play almost half of the Zelda library, and that’s not too shabby. For every other game, I’ve listed the most recent console on which you can play it — although in some cases, these “recent” consoles are still pretty old. Read on to find out where to play every Legend of Zelda game.
The Legend of Zelda (1986)
Let’s start with an easy one. The Legend of Zelda originally came out on the NES, but Nintendo has re-released it frequently since then. You can download an à la carte copy on the Nintendo 3DS eShop ($5), or as part of the Nintendo Switch Online subscription ($20 per year).
The Adventure of Link (1987)
Just as with the original Legend of Zelda, you can get The Adventure of Link in the 3DS eShop ($6), or via Nintendo Switch Online ($20 per year). The game was originally on NES, if you feel like hunting down a copy.
A Link to the Past (1991)
A Link to the Past is a fan-favorite Zelda entry that originally debuted on the SNES. These days, you can buy it on the Nintendo 3DS eShop ($8), or download it with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription ($20 per year).
Link’s Awakening (1993)
Link’s Awakening, which came out for the Game Boy in 1993, is a bit of an oddity. You can’t download the original anywhere, but you can play the Game Boy Color remaster, Link’s Awakening DX, via the Nintendo 3DS eShop ($6). However, you can also play Link’s Awakening on Switch: a ground-up remake that completely changes the graphics, but leaves every piece of gameplay and level design intact otherwise. This is available for $60 from both retail stores and the Nintendo eShop.
Ocarina of Time (1998)
Ocarina of Time came out on the N64, but it’s been on a bunch of other Nintendo systems in the interim. The easiest way to get it right now is to buy a digital copy of Ocarina of Time 3D through the Nintendo 3DS eShop. The game will set you back $20.
Majora’s Mask (2000)
The direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask is also available through the 3DS eShop ($20), in its Majora’s Mask 3D configuration. It has a few quality-of-life changes over the original game, but the story, characters, dungeons, characters, items and structure are all intact. Weirdly, some of the gameplay systems were changed, forcing some hardcore fans to continue playing the game on Nintendo 64 or the rare Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition on GameCube.
The game will also come to Nintendo Switch on February 25, as part of the Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription.
Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages (2001)
Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, two underrated Game Boy Color games from 2001, are both available through the Nintendo 3DS eShop for $6 apiece. Be warned that you’ll want to buy both, since the two games connect to each other and let you carry over progress.
Four Swords (2002)
Here’s where things start getting tricky. Four Swords was originally an add-on for the GBA version of A Link to the Past, and it required other players if you wanted to complete it. Later, Nintendo made it available on the 3DS, for free, with a single-player option. But it was a limited-time offer, and the game is no longer available. Do a Google search if you absolutely must have it; there may be ways.
The Wind Waker (2002)
Four Swords Adventures (2004)
Another hard-to-find Zelda game, Four Swords Adventures was a multiplayer title for the GameCube, which required each player to bring his or her own Game Boy Advance and link (no pun intended) cable. Like Four Swords, there’s no great way to play this one — and, like Four Swords, if you ask around, you may find alternate methods.
The Minish Cap (2004)
The Minish Cap is an affable little Zelda game that came out for the GBA in 2004. Nintendo has never re-released it, though, so you’ll need a GBA console, or an older DS model. Genuine used copies sell for around $60 on eBay. Sorry about that.
Twilight Princess (2006)
Like The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess got a re-release on the Wii U, but we’re still waiting on a Switch port. If you have a Wii U, you can download Twilight Princess HD from the Nintendo eShop ($50); if not, you’ll have to track down a GameCube or Wii version.
Phantom Hourglass (2007)
Phantom Hourglass came out for the DS back in 2007. If you find a physical copy, many 3DS models are backwards-compatible with original DS games, so that’s one option. Otherwise, you can buy it digitally on the Wii U for $10 via the Nintendo eShop.
Spirit Tracks (2009)
Like Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks was an original DS title. That means the physical cartridge is compatible with many 3DS models. This one also has a Wii U port, which you can buy at the Nintendo eShop for $10.
Skyward Sword (2011)
Here’s a bit of good news! Skyward Sword was previously available only on the Wii, or on the Wii U with a compatible remote. This July, however, you’ll be able to buy an upgraded Switch port for $60. We’d recommend hanging tight until then.
A Link Between Worlds (2013)
One of the most underrated Zelda titles, A Link Between Worlds, is a fantastic adventure that debuted on the 3DS back in 2013. As such, you can buy it on the 3DS eShop for $20, or hunt down a physical copy easily enough.
Tri Force Heroes (2015)
Arguably one of the black sheep of the Zelda franchise, Tri Force Heroes is available at the 3DS eShop for $40. You may also want to convince two friends to buy it, as it’s designed with multiplayer in mind. You can also download a demo if you’re on the fence about it.
Breath of the Wild (2017)
Breath of the Wild is the flagship title for the Nintendo Switch; as such, you can buy a physical copy pretty much anywhere, or download it from the Nintendo Switch eShop. It costs $60 either way, although it’ll cost you another $20 for the two meaty DLC packs.
And there you have it. Between the Switch and the 3DS, you can play 14 of the 19 games listed here, which is not bad, particularly for gamers who are just getting started with the Zelda series. If you want to track down the rest, it’ll be difficult and a little expensive, but what’s an adventure without a few obstacles along the way?