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All of the Zelda games on Switch, and which ones are best

Want to play more Zelda games on Switch after beating Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom? There are plenty to choose from.

Nintendo has traditionally pulled out all the stops when it comes to making Zelda games great. There have been a few misfires over the years, but many of the titles are regarded as classics and several are ranked among the greatest of all time. The Nintendo Switch doesn’t offer access to every single Zelda game on the market, but it does give players 14 to choose from.

Nintendo Switch players have access to a long list of classic titles, remakes, and spin-offs. Here are all of the Zelda games on Switch, how to play them, and which ones are the best.

Link with Master Sword in Zelda Tears of the Kingdom

The mainline Zelda games on Switch

Seven different The Legend of Zelda games have received a physical release on Switch, and there are seven others that are currently playable through the Nintendo Switch Online service. The Switch games that received a physical release are a mix of new games, remasters, and spin-offs. All Nintendo Switch Online games are emulated versions of classic games.

All of them are good in some way, but not all of them are equally great. Here are the must-play games for anyone that has a Nintendo Switch.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild artwork

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Though it was technically a Nintendo Wii U game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was also made available on the Switch as a launch title and served as its first killer app. The game offers a unique take on the open-world sandbox genre, giving players a handful of tools that they need to use in creative ways in order to advance. The game also affords players a great deal of freedom, letting them explore a vast world or run directly to the final boss.

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom artwork

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Tears of the Kingdom is a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild and recycles many of the assets and areas. The game is a true sequel though, expanding on the world vertically with flying islands and enormous caverns. It also gives Link a different set of tools that force players to get even more creative, particularly with a building tool that lets players build mechs, hydraulic presses, and other wacky weapons.

Zelda remakes and remasters on Nintendo Switch

There have been two mainline Zelda titles on the Switch, but there have also been some established games in the series that were re-released on the platform.  These games received radically different treatment, but both enjoyed solid critical praise.

Zelda: Links Awakening Switch artwork

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

In 2019, the first handheld Zelda game received a complete remake with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The game received no additional branding relative to the original but the differences are stunning, with the game receiving a stunning visual overhaul. The game is classic Zelda action, but it stands as a shaky value proposition for fans. The game can be beaten in 10 to 15 hours but commands a full price tag and rarely goes on sale. The original is also available through Nintendo Switch Online, and holds up well in its own right.

Zelda: Skyward Sword HD artwork

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

Skyward Sword for the Nintendo Wii was one of the most maligned Zelda games in the franchise, but Nintendo opted to bring it back with an HD remaster on Switch. Opinions have softened over time and the game can be played for a long while, but the game has a relatively humble 80% average score on review aggregators.

Every Zelda spin-off on Nintendo Switch

Alongside the mainline Zelda titles, three spin-offs arrived on Switch. Each one has a distinctive Zelda look and feel, but doesn’t offer the same kind of gameplay fans might be expecting. All of them had solid reviews though, so each one offers something of value to players.

Link in Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

Koei Tecmo has found a unique niche in the video game industry, taking the gameplay engines of its Dynasty Warriors and Nioh franchises to create spin-offs of other franchises. One of the first examples of this was Hyrule Warriors for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, with the games offering an over-the-top, hack-and-slash adventure through Hyrule.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity splash art and logo

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

While the original Hyrule Warriors took place in a generic “Zelda” setting that offers up reimagined versions of staple characters, Age of Calamity does something different. After the success of Breath of the Wild, Nintendo and Koei Tecmo created a prequel to the game with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. The game depicts the events of the Great Calamity, an apocalyptic event that decimated Hyrule. Neither of the Hyrule Warriors games garnered significant critical praise, but both are solid for Zelda fans who want some hack-and-slash action on Switch.

Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda

There have been plenty of subpar rhythm game spin-offs throughout the video game industry, but Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda isn’t one of them. Crypt of the Necrodancer was a popular game that combined procedurally generated dungeon crawlers with rhythm games. It was a winning combination and it was a great formula to apply to Zelda, a franchise with iconic tunes. The series combines characters from both Zelda and Crypt of the Necrodancer, and offers a fun new take on the classic formula.

Emulated Zelda titles available through Nintendo Switch Online

A perk of Nintendo Switch Online is that it offers access to a number of games from retro Nintendo platforms. Basic Nintendo Switch Online subscribers get access to NES, NES, and Game Boy games while NSO + Expansion Pack subscribers also get access to Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64 games. The games cannot be purchased outright and require an active subscription in order to be played.

The Legend of Zelda (NES)

The original Zelda title is available to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. The game remains a classic, and holds up quite well despite being 35 years old at this point. Though few would say it’s their favorite Zelda, it’s one that every fan of the series should try out at some point.

Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (NES)

Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link is the black sheep of the family. Instead of the top-down view that is the classic Zelda standard, Zelda 2 is a platformer with true RPG elements. The game is regarded by many as one to skip due to how different it is from the rest of the franchise but in a vacuum, it’s a generally solid NES game. People looking to try out a new Zelda game on Switch out to give this a look, if only for a moment.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

The one and only Zelda game that dropped on the Super Nintendo is regarded by many as the best in the series. This is justified as it set the framework for Zelda games moving forward and has held up very well over time. This game can be played through the SNES collection that is available to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (GBC)

The Game Boy Color remaster of arguably the best original Game Boy game was made available in 2022 when Game Boy games were made available through Nintendo Switch Online. Link’s Awakening DX hasn’t aged as well as Link to the Past, largely due to the fact that it was on a platform that only had two face buttons. It’s still a fun romp, but fans who want the same experience with modern sensibilities may want to check out the remake.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time. It’s credited with popularizing the lock-on system, and introduced horseback riding to the series for the first time. The game shows its age in many ways with its blocky graphics and slow-paced combat, but that’s not the biggest issue. The game’s UI doesn’t acknowledge modern controls, so players will be forced to remember which button C-Down is actually mapped to.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)

The Game Boy Advance offered players the ability to enjoy classic 2D Zelda games. Though it was overshadowed by the remake of A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap has been remembered as one of the best 2D Zelda games. It received some criticism at the time for being beatable in just under 10 hours, but that could be appealing for those who are wanting a fun jaunt.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64)

The direct sequel to Ocarina of Time improved upon the original in many ways, even if it didn’t garner the same critical praise at the time. Majora’s Mask offers much more diversity in its combat with more creative enemy designs and the ability to transform Link using masks. Unfortunately, it also suffers a bit from the awkward UI transition from the Nintendo 64 to a modern console.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons (GBC)

Pokemon isn’t the only Nintendo franchise that dabbled with the concept of “generational” game releases. The Game Boy Color’s first original Zelda titles were Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, games that have similar gameplay but some key differences that set them apart. The pair came available together and offer a more modern take on Zelda in comparison to Link’s Awakening DX, though it’s open to debate if they’re actually better.

What is the best Legend of Zelda game to play on Switch?

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and A Link to the Past are the best Zelda games to play on Switch. The two stand as arguably the best 3D and the best 2D games in the series, respectively. That makes the duo a great cross-section of the franchise as a whole.

Some might argue that Tears of the Kingdom is a better game than Breath of the Wild, and many would agree with that sentiment. The trouble is that Tears of the Kingdom adds a number of new features to Breath of the Wild’s gameplay, so starting with TotK will make it relatively difficult to go backward to BotW. Both are great and playable, but this is one of the rare instances where it’s better to play the Zelda games in order.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2.

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