The Legend of Zelda was the first entry into the series 25 years ago. The latest entry, Skyward Sword, is released this week. (Graphic: Ryan Hemsworth)

The legend of the Legend of Zelda

A multimedia retrospective on Nintendo's landmark video game series.

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A timeline of each video game release in the entire Legend of Zelda series.

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A visual companion to our top five games in the Legend of Zelda series. (Video: Ryan Hemsworth, Original music: Koji Kondo)

The Legend of Zelda is one of the world's most popular video game franchises, spanning 18 titles over 10 Nintendo console and handheld systems. With its rich 25-year history, it's safe to say that in general, people of our generation (now 20-somethings) grew up playing--and loving--at least one Zelda game.

To celebrate the highly-anticipated release on Nov. 20 of Skyward Sword, the latest installment of Zelda games, we decided to do a retrospective of the entire series for fellow Zelda fans, including our five favourite titles in the franchise.

Our top 5 Zelda games

The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo Entertainment System, 1987)
This was the beginning of a revolution for the video game industry. Super Mario Bros. had already broken onto the scene, but near the end of the '80s, all eyes were on Zelda's Link, the game's hero. By the time I was old enough to hold a controller, the Legend of Zelda was almost a thing of the past. But at the age of eight or nine, I'd go to this kid's place once in a while--a very cold, white-walled apartment--where we'd boot up the Nintendo and get thrown into this crazy, far more interesting, 8-bit world. "Heart containers," "puzzles," and "dungeons" were terms casually thrown around by kids who couldn't even do simple math yet. Also, as the first game to let you save your state, turn the console off and go do something else, you were given something new to look forward to every day. This is where the addiction began for many people. RH.

A Link to the Past (Super Nintendo Entertainment System, 1992)
You'd be hard-pressed to not find this on someone's list for the greatest games of all time. This is the game that made Zelda a household name. I remember getting a Super Nintendo as a present from my parents for a now-forgotten occasion and spending hours upon hours trying to get through the dungeons of Hyrule. A Link to the Past brought many innovations to the game that became the standard for future Zelda titles and other video game franchises to come. In all my years of playing SNES, this was one of the only two games I actually owned (the other being Super Mario World). I always rented SNES cartridges from video and game rental stores (remember those?), but none of them really proved worthy enough to secure a place in my highly-exclusive SNES game library as A Link to the Past did. JT.

Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64, 1998)
Everything was perfect. It just was. Ocarina had the kind of hype that should've quashed the expectations of anyone picking it up for the first time. It should've, but it didn't. Expectations were left in the dust because Ocarina challenged you without discouraging you (no matter how hardcore a gamer you were) and it offered both kids and adults a humongous, pleasant, and believable world to explore. Add to that some timeless, simple storytelling and extremely subtle characters. Characters who, in my memory, feel like people I used to know as a child, not see on the TV screen. All of this... released a month before Christmas, 1998? This generation's parents never stood a chance. RH.

The Wind Waker (Nintendo GameCube, 2003)
If this one was an immediate follow-up to Ocarina of Time, it might've had some trouble getting off the ground. But thanks to the controversy around Majora's Mask, this one was welcomed by most fans--for taking steps both forward and back. After Ocarina, it was safe to say fans would be happy with more of the same, so when the immediate sequel (Majora) overwhelmed a lot of gamers with far-stretching ideas, it gave Wind Waker a chance to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. It went back to the old gameplay that we all loved, smoothed it out, and embraced a new, glossy visual style with cel shading. In many ways, it was the opposite of its predecessor. Although it looked childish with its sometimes overly-expressive graphics, Wind Waker offered up a great escape for gamers and helped to keep the series from fizzling. RH.

Twilight Princess (Nintendo GameCube and Wii, 2006)
This game continued to meet the high standards set by preceding flagship games in the Zelda canon. It's also notable as the last Zelda game that makes use of the conventional video game console controller. Thanks to the Nintendo Wii, pitiful, maladroit gamers now have to get up from the comfort of their couches and inconveniently swing their controllers around like a maniac whenever they want to play a Zelda game. The fact that Twilight Princess came out simultaneously on the outdated GameCube console, however, gave lonely gamers everywhere their last chance to woo nobody, as they set off to battle the evil hordes of Ganondorf by dexterously moving only their thumbs (and ocassionally their index fingers). JT.

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