"Boomerangs, bombs, dungeons, magic swords, puzzles, and green tunics. Welcome to the Legend of Zelda."
— GameTrailers.com - The Legend of Zelda Retrospective
The Legend of Zelda logo

The Legend of Zelda (ゼルダの伝説 Zeruda no Densetsu?) is a high fantasy action-adventure video game series developed and published by Nintendo and created by the famous game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. The gameplay consists of a mixture of action, adventure, puzzle solving, and role-playing, with occasional platforming, stealth, and racing elements. The series centers around Link, the sole playable character and hero. Link is often given the task of rescuing Princess Zelda and the most common setting of the series, Hyrule, from Ganondorf who is the primary villain of the series. However other settings and antagonists have appeared throughout the games, with Vaati having become the series' secondary antagonist. The story commonly involves a relic known as the Triforce, a set of three golden triangles of omnipotence. The hero in each game is not always the same iteration of Link, although the same Link sometimes appears across multiple games.

The Legend of Zelda series is widely considered one of the most influential video game series in history. The series consists of nineteen official games across multiple platforms as well as several spin-offs. Most games in the series have been met with critical acclaim and commercial success. As of May 2019, the Legend of Zelda series has sold over 100 million copies in total worldwide.



The Legend of Zelda games feature a mixture of puzzles, strategic action gameplay, and exploration. These elements have remained constant throughout the series, but with refinements and additions featured in each new game. You are frequently rewarded for solving puzzles or exploring areas. Most Zelda games involve locating and exploring dungeons, in which puzzles are solved and enemies fought, then defeating the dungeon's boss. Each dungeon usually has one major item inside, most of which are required to advance to the boss. Some items are found in almost every game (such as the boomerang), while others are exclusive to a single game (such as the ladder). In later games in the series, items found in each dungeon are usually used in some way to fight that dungeon's boss.


The precise chronology of the Zelda universe is commonly debated among fans, although some fans do not feel the games are definitively connected. As the series progressed, and more games were released, the exact order of the games in an overall timeline became complex and heavily disputed.

In the instruction booklet for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, it is revealed that this particular Link is an ancestor of the Link from the NES games. The Nintendo 64 game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time does the same thing in relation to the SNES Link. Also, in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker it mentions that the flooded Hyrule is a result of "the hero" journeying through the flows of time, referring to the Hero of Time's departure back to his original time at the end of Ocarina of Time. It is not known how much time has passed in Hyrule between each of these games.

In an interview conducted by Nintendo Dream with Eiji Aonuma in December 2006, he mentioned that there exists two different Zelda universes. The split in the timeline occurs during Ocarina of Time, when, at the end of the game, Link is sent back in time by Princess Zelda. Once returned to his original time, Link goes to see her again, and the result of this meeting is an alternate future in which the villain Ganondorf is arrested and tried by the Ancient Sages, which causes him to be banished to the Twilight Realm after a failed execution attempt; The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess then occurs over one hundred years after the Ocarina of Time child Link's era. Meanwhile, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks occurs in the "adult Link" timeline, hundreds of years after the adventure of the adult Link in the future of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.


The Legend of Zelda was principally inspired by Shigeru Miyamoto's explorations as a young boy in the hillsides surrounding his childhood home in Kyoto, where he ventured into forests with secluded lakes, caves, and rural villages. According to Miyamoto, one of his most memorable experiences was the discovery of a cave entrance in the middle of the woods. After some hesitation, he apprehensively entered the cave, and explored its depths with the aid of a lantern. This memory has clearly influenced Miyamoto's work, as cave exploration is often a major component of most Zelda games. Other than Miyamoto's childhood, Norse and Japanese mythologies have played a large role influencing the series. Miyamoto has referred to the creation of the Zelda games as an attempt to bring to life a "miniature garden" for players to play with in each game of the series.

According to Shigeru Miyamoto, he wanted to name the game The Legend of something, but he had a hard time deciding what that "something" was going to be. That's when the PR Planner said to Miyamoto, "Why don't you make a storybook for this game?" He proceeded to suggest a story in which Link rescues a princess and also stated that a famous American author's wife's name was Zelda. Miyamoto wasn't spot-on on the book idea, but hearing of F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife Zelda, Mr. Miyamoto thought the name sounded "pleasant and significant." Paying tribute, he chose to name the Princess after her, and titled his creation The Legend of Zelda.



See also: Hyrule, Distant Nebula, Light World, Sacred Realm, Dark World (A Link to the Past), Koholint Island, Termina, Labrynna, Holodrum, Great Sea, Dark World (Four Swords Adventures), Twilight Realm, World of the Ocean King, Dark Realm, The Sky, Silent Realm, Lorule

The Zelda series has developed a deep story and wide universe over its many releases. Much of the backstory of the creation of Hyrule was revealed in the games A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword.


According to the in-game backstories, long ago, three goddesses descended and created the land of Hyrule. Din, the goddess of power, with her powerful, flaming arms, cultivated the empty space, and created the red earth. Nayru, the goddess of wisdom, bestowed her divine wisdom upon the land, and created the world's laws to give a sense of justice and order to the world, and to guide the people in the goddesses' absence. Farore, the goddess of courage, endowed Hyrule with her powers, creating life to follow this justice.

After their work was completed, the goddesses left a magical artifact called the Triforce, which could grant the wishes of the user. It consisted of three golden triangles, each also called a "Triforce" — one of Wisdom, one of Power, and one of Courage. However, because the Triforce was not divine, and could not judge between good and evil, the goddesses placed the Triforce in an alternate world called the Sacred Realm or the Golden Land, hoping that a worthy person would one day seek it.

According to legend, if the discoverer of the Triforce has a balance of power, wisdom, and courage, they will receive the Triforce as a whole. If they are unbalanced, they will receive the part of the Triforce that represents the characteristic they most demonstrate, with the remaining parts of the whole transferring into the people in Hyrule who most exemplify the other two traits. The Triforce was first distributed as such starting in Ocarina of Time, as the Triforces of Power, Wisdom and Courage were each held by Ganondorf, Princess Zelda, and Link, respectively. While the Triforce of Power and Wisdom have been part of the series since the original The Legend of Zelda, it was only in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link that the Triforce of Courage was first introduced, being obtained by Link at the end of his quest. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, released after The Adventure of Link, but before Ocarina of Time, featured the Triforce, but made no mention of its three qualities or distribution, beyond Ganondorf obtaining it.

Eventually, Interlopers attempted to steal the Triforce and establish dominion over the Sacred Realm. In response, the goddesses sent the light spirits Eldin, Lanayru, Ordona and Faron to seal away their dark magic within the Fused Shadows. The interlopers themselves were banished to the shadowy world of the Twilight Realm, with only the Mirror of Twilight linking the two worlds. There, they would eventually become the Twili race. The Mirror was left in the protection of ancient sages.

The fictional universe established by the Zelda games sets the stage for each adventure. Many games take place in lands with their own back-stories. Termina, for example, is an alternate dimension that has no knowledge of Hyrule.


Main article: List of games

Main series games

Sub series games

Nature of the protagonist

Main article: Link

According to the official website, Link is described as humble but brave, attributes appropriate for the bearer of the Triforce of Courage. Sometimes Link will bear a special title, such as "Hero of Time", "Hero of the Winds", "Hero Chosen by the Gods", or "Waker of the Winds". A long-eared Hylian, he is portrayed as being anywhere from 7 to 19 years old, depending on the game. Link usually wears a green tunic, an undershirt and a long, floppy green cap for at least part of each adventure. Most incarnations of Link are left-handed. The first game to feature a right-handed Link is the Wii version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, in which Link is right-handed due to the "mirroring" used to accommodate the right-handed control scheme. The mirroring effect in Twilight Princess flips the entire game layout from its Nintendo GameCube counterpart. Skyward Sword is the first canon game where Link is right-handed.

Link does not usually speak, and only produces grunts, yells, and other such sounds. One exception to this is The Wind Waker. In the English-language release, the audible phrase "Come on!" is used in dungeons to call either special statues or other characters (Medli or Makar) to follow Link. In prior games, such as A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, players can answer questions by choosing options from a list; no voice acting accompanies Link's answers. More typically, the character uses facial expressions to indicate mood; particular emphasis is placed on this in The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.

Arguably, Link "speaks" two lines in The Adventure of Link. When he locates a mirror under a table, the text, "I found a mirror under the table" appears on screen. Later, if Link examines a fireplace that he can enter, "Looks like I can get in the fireplace" is displayed.

Although the character's accepted name is Link, the player can name him before the start of most games, and characters will address him by that name in the text. The reason for his silence is so that the player can envision themselves as the hero.


The Legend of Zelda series has generated many extremely positive reviews within the gaming industry. Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and Skyward Sword have all received a perfect 40/40 score (10/10 by four reviewers) by Japanese Famitsu magazine, making Zelda the first and currently only series with multiple perfect scores. In addition, A Link to the Past and Phantom Hourglass received an almost-perfect score of 39/40. A Link to the Past was awarded Famitsu's first near-perfect score and Ocarina of Time their first perfect score. The website IGN.com awarded Ocarina of Time, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, Link's Awakening and Skyward Sword a score of 10/10 each. GameFAQs has held a contest for the best video game series ever, with The Legend of Zelda claiming the top position. GameFAQs also has a tradition of running an annual "character battle," in which site users vote for their favorite video game character; Link routinely scores in the top ten and is the only character to have claimed the top spot more than once.

In Nintendo Power's Top 200 countdown, Ocarina of Time took first place, and seven other Zelda games placed in the top 40. Moreover, the editors of GameRankings, GameStats, and Metacritic, who compile major numeric reviews given to the game on its release, have all given Ocarina of Time their highest aggregate scores. Nintendo Power named Twilight Princess 2006 Game of the Year, as well as giving it their awards for Best Story/Adventure, Best New Character (Midna), and Game of the Year for both the Nintendo GameCube and the Wii. In 2011, the series won G4tv.com's Videogame Deathmatch: Best Franchise, defeating Starcraft in the final round. In a recent poll the The Legend of Zelda series appeared as the favorite Nintendo one, ahead of Super Mario and Pokémon video game series.

Other incarnations


The Legend of Zelda was made into an animated series as a "show within a show" in the live-action/animated Super Mario Bros. Super Show TV series produced by DiC. The animated Zelda shorts were aired each Friday, instead of the usual Super Mario Bros. cartoon that aired during the rest of the week. The series loosely followed the NES Zelda games, mixing settings and characters from those games with original creations. Thirteen animated Zelda shorts were featured within the show's 65-episode run. Somewhat modified versions of the show's incarnations of Link and Zelda, with the same voice actors, also appeared in various episodes of Captain N: The Game Master during its second season.

TV series

There are rumored plans for a tv adaption of the series exclusive to Netflix.

Comics and manga

Valiant Comics released a short-lived series of comics featuring characters and settings from the Zelda cartoon as part of their Nintendo Comics System line. In addition, mangas have been created based on the many of the series' games, including A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, The Wind Waker, Four Swords Adventures, The Minish Cap and Phantom Hourglass. The comics and manga are not considered canonical.

CD-i games

A series of video games were developed and released for the Philips CD-i in the early 1990s as a product of a compromise between Philips and Nintendo, after the companies failed to develop a CD-based peripheral for the SNES. Created with no influence from Nintendo, the games are Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, and the live-action Zelda's Adventure. The "trilogy" is a large departure from the rest of the series, and they are generally considered poor efforts by fans and reviewers alike. Nintendo has erased them from the Zelda canon, evidenced by their absence from any of Nintendo's websites and publications. The character designs and personalities used in the games appear to be based heavily on the aforementioned cartoon series of the game.


See also: Cameos
  • Ōkami director Hideki Kamiya (Capcom, Platinum Games) states that he has been influenced by The Legend of Zelda series in developing the title, citing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past as his favorite game of all time.[1]
  • The developers of the game Dark Sector (Digital Extremes) have stated they have been heavily influenced by The Legend of Zelda series, and that the structure of the game is much like a Zelda game.[2]
  • Fable creator Peter Molyneux (Lionhead Studios, Microsoft Studios) stated that Twilight Princess is one of his favorite games. "I just feel it's jaw-dropping and its use of the hardware was brilliant. And I've played that game through several times," he said to TechRadar.[3]
  • Rockstar Games founder and Grand Theft Auto creator, Dan Houser, stated, "Anyone who makes 3-D games who says they've not borrowed something from Mario or Zelda is lying".[4] Rockstar founder and Grand Theft Auto creator Sam Houser also cited the influence of Zelda, describing Grand Theft Auto III as "Zelda meets Goodfellas".[5]
  • Mega Man and Onimusha producer, Keiji Inafune (Capcom, Comcept), named A Link to the Past as his favorite game of all time.[6]
  • Wing Commander and Star Citizen creator, Chris Roberts (Origin Systems, Cloud Imperium Games), cited Zelda as an influence on his action role-playing game, Times of Lore.[7] In turn, Times of Lore inspired several later titles by Origin Systems, such as the 1990 games Bad Blood, another action RPG based on the same engine,[7] and Ultima VI: The False Prophet, based on the same icon-based interface.[8][9][10][11] Richard Garriott said that he was inspired by Times of Lore, influencing later Ultima titles such as Ultima VI: The False Prophet and Ultima VII: The Black Gate.[12][10][11]
  • Soul Reaver and Uncharted creator, Amy Hennig (Crystal Dynamics, Naughty Dog), cited Zelda as inspiration for the Legacy of Kain series, noting A Link to the Past's influence on Blood Omen and Ocarina of Time's influence on Soul Reaver.[13] Soul Reaver and Uncharted creator, Richard Lemarchand (Crystal Dynamics, Naughty Dog), cited A Link to the Past's approach to combining gameplay with storytelling as inspiration for Soul Reaver.[14]
  • Unreal and Gears of War creator, Cliff Bleszinski (Epic Games), was inspired by Zelda as a child and cited it as a chief influence on Gears of War, including its storytelling and world-building elements, acquiring and mastering of tools, and underground environments.[15]
  • Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki (FromSoftware) named A Link To The Past as one of his favorite role-playing video games.[16]
  • Darksiders creator David L. Adams (Vigil Games) cited Zelda as an influence on his work.[15]
  • Fez creator Phil Fish, whose father translated The Legend of Zelda into French, cited the game as a formative influence on his career and on Fez.[17]
  • Final Fantasy and The 3rd Birthday director Hajime Tabata (Square Enix) cited Ocarina of Time as inspiration for the seamless open world of Final Fantasy XV.[18]
  • Prince of Persia and Assassin's Creed director Raphael Lacoste (Ubisoft) cited The Wind Waker as an influence on Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.[19]
  • Braid artist David Hellman cited Zelda as inspiration for his graphic novel Second Quest.[15]
  • Koji Igarashi, creator of many Castlevania games and Bloodstained, cited Zelda as inspiration for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.[20]
  • CD Projekt Red (The Witcher, Cyberpunk 2077) cited the Zelda series as an influence on The Witcher series, including The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.[21]

Cultural influence

The Hyrulean Crest appearing in Metroid Prime 3

The worldwide success and popularity of The Legend of Zelda series has influenced popular culture. Elements of the series has been referenced and parodied, both by other video game series, as well as television and movies. In particular, a plethora of other Nintendo games reference the series, often including items or characters from the series as cameos.

Hideki Kamiya, the head of Platinum Games, was the director of Ōkami back during his time at Clover Studio, and stated that he had been influenced by The Legend of Zelda series while developing the title. Both Ōkami and Twilight Princess feature a wolf as a playable character, except the wolf in Twilight Princess is Link in the form of a wolf, while the wolf in Okami is a wolf to begin with. The developers of the game Dark Sector have stated they have been heavily influenced by The Legend of Zelda series, and that the structure of the game is much like a Zelda game. Additionally, the games Darksiders and 3D Dot Game Heroes are widely regarded as borrowing heavily from the structure and elements of Zelda games. Other games influenced by the series are Donkey Kong Country 3, the Animal Crossing series, and World of Warcraft.


  1. ^ Jonti Davies (March 2007). Okami creator 'disappointed' by Twilight Princess. joystiq.com.
  2. ^ Mike Jackson (March 2007). Dark Sector Interview: Sinister, gory and influenced by Zelda. Computer and Video Games. Archived from the original on March 9, 2007.
  3. ^ Hugh Langley. Peter Molyneux's top five games of all time. TechRadar. Retrieved on November 1, 2013.
  4. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/arts/video-games/q-and-a-rockstars-dan-houser-on-grand-theft-auto-v.html
  5. ^ http://ign.com/articles/2001/09/10/rockstars-sam-houser-mouths-off
  6. ^ https://www.engadget.com/2012/09/26/keiji-inafunes-favorite-game-is-zelda-a-link-to-the-past/
  7. ^ a b Matt Barton (2008), Dungeons & Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games, pages 181–182 & 212
  8. ^ Chris Roberts, MobyGames
  9. ^ http://www.wcnews.com/news/4346
  10. ^ a b https://archive.org/stream/Ultima_Guide_OfficialBookOfUltima#page/n49/mode/1up
  11. ^ a b https://archive.org/stream/Ultima_Guide_OfficialBookOfUltima/Ultima_Guide_OfficialBookOfUltima_djvu.txt
  12. ^ Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time, page 347
  13. ^ Brandon, Alexander. Interactive Composition Column 1.2. IASIG. Retrieved on 2012-10-31.
  14. ^ Atari to Zelda: Japan's Videogames in Global Contexts, page 203
  15. ^ a b c http://www.gamespot.com/articles/the-legacy-of-zelda/1100-6434921/
  16. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20120204210941/www.edge-online.com/features/dark-matters-0?page=2
  17. ^ Going Indie: Fez Creator Phil Fish's Moment Of Clarity. Kotaku. Gawker Media (April 20, 2009). Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved on January 1, 2014.
  18. ^ http://www.psu.com/News/29695/Final-Fantasy-XV-inspired-by-Zelda--Ocarina-of-Time
  19. ^ http://kotaku.com/5988343/yes-the-new-assassins-creed-is-like-that-lovely-zelda-game
  20. ^ http://zeldauniverse.net/2014/03/23/how-zelda-influenced-castlevania-symphony-of-the-night/
  21. ^ Episode #478 – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Interview with CD Projekt RED (48:45)

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