2011 is the 25th anniversary of the NES classic Legend of Zelda launching in Japan. Many of us have fond memories of a certain entry in the series, and for many they represent the very best gaming has to offer. To celebrate Link's birthday and the release of the superb Skyward Sword on Wii, we've put together a list of titles from Nintendo's masterful series. Just don't talk to us about Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland.
Legend of Zelda - NES, 1986
The first of the franchise. The first glimpse of tunic. The first time you started regularly referencing the Triforce in conversations. For most of you it was love at first sight, and possibly the beginning of the end for any chance of a non-video game related existence from here on out. These days it can be downloaded to the Wii via the Virtual Console.
Adventure of Link - NES, 1987
Just a year after the original and Adventure of Link was already a radical departure, introducing side-scrolling to the Zelda series and throwing in additional RPG elements for the first time. Experience Points were included and Link was now given extra lives. It was terrible. If you want to see why it's considered one of the worst Zelda games, check it out on the Wii's Virtual Console.
A Link to the Past - SNES, 1991
Most of you weren't even born yet! Imagine that! It makes me feel physically ill! A Link to the Past brought to the table now commonplace elements, specifically the use of multi-level dungeons. It's available now on the Virtual Console.
Link's Awakening - GB, 1993
Two years on from A Link to the Past we had Link's Awakening, the first of the Zelda series to be brought to handheld. It was 1993 and you were wearing a Kurt Cobain lumber jack shirt, counting down the days until Jurassic Park came to cinemas, Game Boy in hand. Link's Awakening DX is available to download via the Nintendo eShop.
Ocarina of Time - N64, 1998
Almost unanimously considered the best of the series, Ocarina of Time has influenced the shape of gaming since its release, having helped to set the trend for 3D RPGs and becoming a benchmark for a new era of games. This year will see Ocarina of Time re-released for the 3DS. Link in three dimensions! It's like the future! It's now available to download for the Wii and in updated form on the 3DS.
Majora's Mask - N64, 2000
The second in the series to use 3D graphics, and often considered the darkest of the Zelda series, Majora's Mask continued to make use of the N64. There's no 3DS version yet, but you can download it for the Wii.
Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages - GBC, 2001
Both games were released at the same time, interacting via a Game Link Cable and password system. The games could be played in any order, but included a single overall plot that would be revealed once the player had finished both games.
Wind Waker - GC, 2003
Wind Waker brought a slightly different visual look to the series, combining cel-shaded graphics with a slightly younger looking Link, and is often said to have one of the best endings in Nintendo's history. Currently it's only available to play on the GameCube.
Minish Cap - GBA, 2004
A handheld title developed by Capcom with a style similar to Wind Waker, Minish Cap came back to the Gameboy for the first time since both Oracle titles, this time bringing talking hats to the world of gaming.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures - GameCube, 2005
Four Swords Adventures makes the list for being the most original. This four-player adventure let you use Game Boy Advances as extra screens. The original Four Swords is available to download for the 3DS and DSi.
Twilight Princess - Wii, GameCube, 2006
Zelda continued to stretch her tendrils onto a new console in 2006 with Twilight Princess, taking the series to Wii and helping to legitimise the console outside of the typical casual gamer market. Due to its delayed release it also arrived on GameCube.
Phantom Hourglass - DS, 2007
In 2007 Phantom Hourglass rolled on over to DS. Fantastically innovative with how it rethought Zelda's gameplay, Phantom Hourglass made use of everything from the DS' touchscreen to the microphone. For many it was yet another reason to buy a DS if they hadn't already.
Spirit Tracks - DS, 2009
Not necessarily a huge leap for the franchise and continuing with the cel-shaded style we had been seeing for years in the franchise, Spirit tracks was still generally considered to be a better variation on Phantom Hourglass and one of the best games on the DS.
Skyward Sword - Wii, 2011
The game we've said could well become your new favourite Zelda title. It's the first in the series made exclusively for the Wii and as such features excellent motion controls.