The Legend of Zelda(JP) is a high fantasy action-adventure video game franchise created by legendary Japanese game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka and developed and published by Nintendo with some portable installments such as The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap developed by Flagship/Capcom.

The gameplay consists of a mixture of exploration, dungeon crawling, puzzle solving, and role-playing elements. While the games lack experience points like most conventional RPGs, the player still progresses over the course of the game by collecting items, weapons and magic that increases their abilities and gives them access to new areas.

The series is set in the medieval fantasy world of Hyrule. The land of Hyrule was created by three goddesses in ancient times and is incredibly beautiful and prosperous thanks to the power of three golden triangles known as the Triforce. However, the Triforce also attracts the attention of greedy humans who seek to steal it's power for their own ends and wicked demons who wish to corrupt the Triforce for evil purposes. In most games the player takes control of a green-clad young man named Link, wielding a sword in one hand and a shield in another. While the different incarnations of Link are usually a different character from game to game they always possesses great bravery and courage. Another recurring aspect of the series is Princess Zelda the princess of Hyrule and reincarnation of the goddess of light Hylia. Zelda often aids Link with her magical abilities and sometimes fights alongside him to defend the land of Hyrule. The most recurring villain in the series is Ganon, a pig-like demon who was originally the human overlord Ganondorf. While most games take place in Hyrule, other settings and antagonists have appeared throughout the games, with Vaati having recently become the series' secondary antagonist.

As of April 2010, The Legend of Zelda series has sold over 70 million copies since the release of the first game, The Legend of Zelda and continues to be successful worldwide.

The series consists of nineteen official games on all of Nintendo's major consoles, as well as several spin-offs. An American animated series based on the games aired in 1989, and manga adaptions which are officially endorsed and commissioned by Nintendo have been produced in Japan since 1997.

History of The Legend of Zelda[]


Main article: The Legend of Zelda Timeline

The Official Timeline Splits into three branches. The Unified Timeline happens before the split. The End of the Timelines branch is currently only known to be at the end of the timelines, but which one is unknown.

Zelda Timeline 2

The official timeline.

Creation of the world[]

Before the world was created, according to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, there was absolutely nothing in existence. In time, though, three goddesses appeared from a nebula near what would soon become Hyrule. The first, Din, created and sculptured the land that will soon become Hyrule.

Then Nayru, the second of the spirits, using her amass wisdom gave the world the spirit of law, and along with that gave light. Lastly, Farore created life that would sustain the spirit of law.

The Legend[]

Taken from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

"Long ago, there was a kingdom where a golden power lay hidden. It was a prosperous land blessed with green forests, tall mountains, and above all, it was in peace, as it had been for ages. But one day, a man of great evil lay his hands upon the golden power and attempted to satisfy his evil intentions with it.

With its strength at his command, he spread darkness across the kingdom. But then, when all hope had died, and the hour of doom seemed at hand, a young boy clothed in green appeared out of nowhere. Wielding the Blade of Evil's Bane, He sealed the King of Evil away and returned the light to the land. This boy, rumored to have used the ability to travel through time to save the land was known as the Hero of Time. The boy's tale was passed down through generations, and as we speak he has become a Legend...."

Game information[]


Two years after the Nintendo Entertainment System was released in 1985, The Legend of Zelda was released for the NES, becoming the first game in the phenomenal series today. The Legend of Zelda created many different styles and techniques still used in games today, such as a top down viewpoint, the ability to save, and the ever elusive dungeon boss. It was released on the Famicom Disk System in Japan, adding a slight difference to the music and SFX thanks to the FDS's sixth audio channel.


The Legend of Zelda.

A year after The Legend of Zelda was introduced, the next game in the series, The Adventure of Link was released for the NES. The Adventure of Link was different from its predecessor, however. Instead of having a top down viewpoint, it was an action sidescroller. The Adventure of Link paved the way for many new genres in video gaming, including role playing games.

Zelda III was the next game in the series. It was being developed for the NES as well. With the success of the Game Boy and upcoming Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Entertainment System the project was canned.


In 1992, a year later after the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released, the next groundbreaking game in the Zelda series was introduced. A Link to the Past returned to it's roots by using top down viewpoint instead of side scrolling. A Link to the Past redefined the Zelda series as most know it today and many believe without this game, the Zelda franchise would have never developed.

Nintendo 64[]


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

The game that revolutionized the Zelda series, however, was released in 1998 for the Nintendo 64. Ocarina of Time totally changed the graphical aspect of the series, by taking away the 2D top down aspect of the previous games, and turning the game into a 3D landscape. Game play also improved tremendously, by allowing players to experience 3D sword battles, 'Z' targeting of their enemies, the use of music to immerse the game, and also many new items and weapons never known to the Zelda series before. Many fans of the Zelda franchise still rave Ocarina of Time as a masterpiece of the series. The was very successful commercially and critically, considered by many critics and gamers to be the best video game of all time, and ranking highly on IGN and EGM's "greatest games of all time" lists, as well as scoring perfect scores in several video game publications. In February 2006, it was ranked by Nintendo Power as the best game released for a Nintendo console.

Two years after the release of Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask was released for the Nintendo 64. Majora's Mask is the direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, picking up where the game last left off. Majora's Mask is different than most Zelda games, allowing the player to transform into different races by the use of masks. The game also has a built in clock that gives the player only three days to complete their quest before the moon destroys the land. Though Majora's Mask is not as long as its Ocarina of Time partner, the game allows for much more emotion and storyline.


Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker (NA)

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

A few years later, in 2002, The Wind Waker was released for the Nintendo GameCube (GCN). The Wind Waker is one of the most controversial games in the franchise. Instead of using the traditional 3D rendering of Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker used cartoonish cel-shading for the graphics of the game. The next game, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, continued to use the cel-shaded graphics for certain details.

The game itself was a mix of 2-D and 3-D graphics, with the characters and most everything else being 2-D, and some of the special effects such as light and Dark World Portals being 3-D. Also, some effects such as explosions and dust were Cel-Shaded. In Japan, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures came with another game called Navi Trackers.

The game plays like a mini-game, where you have to search for stamps to give back to Tetra the Pirate from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Whichever Link returns the most stamps wins. Navi Trackers was not named after Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The reason why the game was called Navi Trackers is because Tetra's name in the Japanese The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was "Navi". So, if the game were to have come to countries other than Japan, it would've been called Tetra Trackers. Many Zelda fans were angered by the non-realistic graphics, thus Eiji Aonuma (the overseer of the Zelda series) decided to have the newest game in the series Twilight Princess to be of more "realistic" graphics.


256px-Zelda Legend 2010

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

Nintendo's Wii console featured, for the first time, a Zelda video game at launch. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess incorporated the controls of the Wii Remote to allow for sword slashes and aiming with certain weapons. The game was released on the GameCube as well, though was much more successful on their new console, most likely because of the hype it generated.

Overall the sales were impressive, and Twilight Princess is currently the 9th best selling game on the Wii console. Nintendo fans await the release of the next Zelda game for the console, which was confirmed at an E3 press conference in 2008, though no images or information was revealed.

At E3 2009, Miyamoto released a single image from the new Zelda game. Looking similar to Twilight Princess, Nintendo would later fully reveal the game in 2010 at E3 as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Containing a brand new visual style unlike anything the series has ever provided, the game makes use of Wii MotionPlus as the game's producers promised. It would be released in 2011

Wii U[]

The Wii U featured HD remasters of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, updated to the Gamepad control, allowing a quicker mean to switch between items. The textures were also updated to look better.

But since 2011 the main focus of Nintendo was the game then known as Zelda Wii U which would become The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild almost 5 years later, the game would focus on an open world approach, like the first game and the new visual style would be inspired by the classic Japanese animation. The game would, however, be a launch title for Nintendo's new hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch with a version released on the Wii U on the same day.

Nintendo Switch[]

The Switch featured a Zelda game at launch yet again, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the same scenario repeated itself. The game was also released on the Wii U, though the sales would be better on the new system than on the last. This was similar to the Twilight Princess launch; a launch title for the new system that also released on the previous one, but sold better on the new console.

On February 13th, 2019, Nintendo announced The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch. This game is a remake of a game previously released on the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, and it released on September 20th, 2019. During E3 2019, Nintendo also announced a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild currently only known as The Legend of Zelda set to release at an unknown date. On September 8th 2020, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity was announced as a prequel to Breath of the Wild set during the events of the Great Calamity. The game released in November of the same year. On September 2022, sequel to Breath of the Wild's title has revealed, it's called The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, it's was announced by Nintendo Direct. The game has planned to release for 2022 but it was postponed to May 12, 2023. Echoes of Wisdom, which features Zelda as the main protagonist, is set to release on September 26, 2024.


Other Zelda games worth mentioning are the handheld series. Though mostly shorter than the console games, the handheld Zelda games are believed by some to fit into the theorized series timeline. Handheld games include: Link's Awakening, Four Swords/A Link to the Past, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, The Minish Cap, and the newest additions to the handheld Zelda family, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks for the Nintendo DS as well as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes for the Nintendo 3DS.

List of games[]

Official Game List (Nintendo systems)[]

Other Games or Cameos[]

Cancelled Game List[]

Other Media[]

The Legend of Zelda series, unlike the Mario series, did not have many video portrayals. However, it did have an American animated TV series called The Legend of Zelda, which was loosely based on The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.


A screenshot of the CGI movie pitch.

There was also a pitch created by Imagi Animation Studios, in 2007, for a CGI movie adaptation of The Legend of Zelda series, however, it was rejected. The pitch was later leaked onto the internet in 2013 by former Imagi employee, Adam Holmes.[1]

In November 2023, it was announced that Nintendo was working with Sony Pictures to develop the a live-action Legend of Zelda film, with Wes Ball directing the film with Shigeru Miyamoto and Avi Arad producing.


  1. "The Legend of Zelda" CGI Movie that Could Have Been Crunchyroll, Date: August 5, 2013.

See also[]

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