A Brief History of the Zelda Empire

The Legend of Zelda games have become something of a household staple. Zelda, having been around for over thirty-four years, is one of the most popular franchises in Nintendo’s history. Since its initial release in February 1986, Zelda videogames have reportedly sold over 125 million copies, across more than twenty-five games. 

The games follow three central characters: a princess named Zelda, a hero named Link and a villain named Ganon, with quests often involving partnering with fairies and pirates, and fighting fantastical enemies such as octoroks and skulltulas. These quests often emphasise the exploration of mountains, oceans and dungeons, mainly in the fantasy land of Hyrule.

Perhaps the most memorable addition to the series is 1998’s ‘Ocarina of Time’, which was the first to include 3D gameplay. It also marks a landmark moment in videogame production, setting standards which had a formative impact on the ways in which 3D games were made moving forward. This game has received a Metacritic rating of 99 out of 100, and an aggregate score of 98% on GameRatings based on critical reviews.

In 1999, Nintendo introduced ‘Super Smash Bros.’, a crossover game in which figures from their most popular franchises battle each other. Link and Zelda feature in every installment of these games, alongside the likes of Mario, Browser, Sonic the Hedgehog and Pokémon. 

Another notable game in the franchise is 2006’s Twilight Princess, which takes protagonist Link into much darker territory. One of its heroes can turn into a wolf, and it features a shadowy parallel world called the Twilight Realm. Some fans and outlets regard this as a highlight of the series.  

The most recent release is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind in 2017, which is now the biggest selling videogame on a single platform. It completely re-defined the series, bringing it into a fully interactable open-world environment, encouraging players to create their own goals. 

Another entry, a sequel to Breath of the Wild, is due to be properly announced later this year.

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Jake Walker-Charles

June 2021
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