Back in January, we wrote about a Zelda survey for fans of the series. Created by Max Nichols, the survey investigated all manner of opinions the Zelda community has about the games they love. A good portion of those polled actually came from users of our forum!

Now, six months and 5,890 responses later, the results are in, and we have a good idea what our general favorite Zelda game is.

Favorite Game

It was a close battle between the Nintendo 64 games, but Ocarina of Time barely edged out Majora’s Mask for the top spot. Interestingly, when looking only at data from people that have played every game in the series (excluding CD-i titles and remakes), Majora’s Mask was the fan favorite. Last place goes to Four Swords, gathering a whopping three votes.

Favorite_Zelda_Game_Survey

Highest Rated Game

The results of a different question tell a similar story. When fans were asked not to pick just their one top Zelda game but rate every game in the series, Ocarina of Time still came out on top. Games jumped around though, and A Link Between Worlds rose to the #2 spot. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link plummeted to the bottom of the poll to take the title of lowest-rated Zelda game. Check out where the other games stand below, having been rated by fans on a scale from 0 to 3.

Rate_Zelda_Game_Survey

Most Played Game

Fans were also asked which of the 17 Zelda games they have played, again discounting the CD-i games, remakes and spin-offs. It seems Ocarina of Time isn’t just the most popular title; it is also the most played. Only 2.5% of Zelda fans polled have not experienced the iconic game. All games scored high in this category, however. Among the Zelda community, it seems the only game under 50% played was Four Swords Adventures for GameCube.

Played_Zelda_Game_Survey

First Game

Ocarina of Time scores again, this time by an extremely high margin. Over two-fifths of gamers surveyed said that the N64 classic was their first game. At a distant second and third place were A Link to the Past and the NES original; a testament to how long many of Zelda‘s fans have been playing. No one polled said that the newest game, A Link Between Worlds, was their gateway into the series.

First_Zelda_Game_Survey

Other Observations

The survey is a treasure trove of data. There is far too much to report here, so be sure to check out all the answers for the full numbers, as well as analysis from Max and quotes from several of those polled. That said, here are some of the highlights contained in the data:

  • About 80% of those polled indicated that they were male, and about 20% responded as female.
  • The most popular element fans enjoy in a Zelda game is exploration, with plot being second.
  • Most fans agree that Link should always remain mute, but a majority also said that the series should include more voice acting overall.
  • Those polled were split on whether the series should someday feature a female protagonist.
  • Over half of respondents said that they enjoyed Skyward Sword‘s motion controls.
  • When fans were asked how they liked the item rental system in A Link Between Worlds, the most common response was positive, but still not wanting to see it implemented in future games.
  • Majora’s Mask is clearly the fan-favorite for best plot.
  • Almost 70% said that they are confident that the Zelda series is headed in the right direction.

Do you agree with the survey results? Let us know your favorite Zelda game and revelations from the survey.

  • LukesAlike

    Pretty interesting. Glad I’m finally getting into the LoZ series.

  • Ryan Haney

    The only game in the series that I would not give high marks is Zelda II. Having to restart from the very beginning and losing all you experience points when you die is so frustrating I go for months without playing it. I want to see the story play out, but I spend 2 hours getting to a palace and then die in the first conflict with a Darknut and have to spend another hour trying to rebuild my points and getting back. Then the 2nd Darknut gets me and I turn it off.

    • can’t use emulator?
      I mean load and save state? :S

      • Hagareno

        When I was playing Zelda II, I didn’t have internet haha. I don’t even remember if AOL was around at the time.

      • Ryan Haney

        How do you do that on an NES?

        • Gamer_Greg

          Can’t on NES, but you can on 3DS/Wii U virtual console

        • veeronic

          pc is the easiest for emulation, look up virtuaNES

      • Satan

        Blasphemy!

    • Gamer_Greg

      Sounds like you just couldn’t handle it. You get 3 lives, so if you lose 2 on the way to the palace, you should be working on getting to the palace without losing your lives. You don’t even really need the XP outside of temples to level up all the way, just the secret point bag locations. Shield is recommended when fighting darknuts, especially if you have a hard time defeating them.

    • Thomas Andersen

      Yeah, a real challange is stupid!

      Lets just re-spawn with all items, and exp. when we die! It would be stupid if dying actually mattered… or staying a live actually matterd! I vote for getting rid of being able to get killed! Lets just remove all the heart pieces, lets give Link unlimeted healt and bosses no health so they die instantly..

      If dying in the first place shouldnt matter, why even have the system of health in the game?

      ….but honestly, I hate this view! Its a quitting noobs view! The “new” generation of gamers are the worst bunch of quitters ever! (not every one, but way to many)

      Why work at it? Practice? Get better? …no, just quit when you dont get it at the first or second try! Trying to get better over time, why bother..

      Please Nintendo, dont listen to the quitters! They arent real gamers, they dont want to play a GAME! They only want an interactive experience! They can have this, by watching Lets Plays on youtube!

      So give us, who actually wants to play a GAME, the game we deserve! With real challanges, no handholding and real punishment for failing!

  • Jesse Ø Webster

    I tired playing through all the Zelda games but I have to be honest, they are started to feel the same.
    Maybe thats why they only release one every few years

  • “About 80% of those polled indicated that they were male, and about 20% responded as female.”
    and about 10% who responded as female are men.

    • Hannah Elizabeth Ravensong

      I really doubt it. I have very obsessive LOZ fangirls as friends, obviously I, myself am also female.

    • Max Nichols

      Anecdotally, I’d say that Zelda has a very large female fanbase, and the survey was consistent with that.

    • Kira0222

      I disagree. I’m an avid Zelda fangirl, I’ve played them ALL. 😉
      I also have collectables and a hylian sheild in my living room. (Saving money for the sword) No regrets!!! ^-^

  • Muayiad Mohammad

    Played all Zeldas except zelda 2…don’t like the side scrolling.

    • Royal Conquest

      That’s fine you’re not missing much

    • Shona

      I want to say that the side scrolling is not bad, just different. In the days of the NES, it was just different to Zelda 1, but there was no precedent of 2D Zelda games being top-down at that time. In fact, the map was still top-down. LoZ was my first Zelda, and AoL my second, and I had no problem with the side-scrolling at the time because a lot of other games I played on the NES were the same. My main issue was that it was hard, and as I didn’t have an instruction manual it was a little hard to figure out what to do (the level system felt more strange to me than the side-scrolling). The top-down perspective definitely worked better, and that’s probably why Nintendo returned to using it. So now AoL seems VERY different compared to all the other 2D Zeldas.

  • Lttp needs more love.

    • Xethalz

      Completely agree :/

    • Shawn Taylor

      Between the nostalgia, the difficulty, the music and the huge arsenal of weapons, it remains my favorite.

    • Billy Howell

      The last question said everything I needed to know to understand the rest of it. 40% of respondents played Ocarina of Time first. There were a bunch of young’ns answering these questions.

      • Royal Conquest

        That game is nearly 20 years old. Unless you count anyone under 30 as young’ns I have to disagree

        • Morgan McCollum

          The game is 16 years old, I was exactly 13 when it came out, on my birthday. If you assume a 5 year old could beat the game (unlikely) that means someone born in 1993, so someone just turning 21. AKA, a young’n

          • Deva Ashera

            When it comes to Video Games, I wouldn’t really call someone in their 20s a ‘young’n’. I’m 26 and Ocarina of Time was my first Zelda game, even though I’d been playing Video Games since the NES and SNES days (my first Mario game was Super Mario Bros when I was 4 years old).

          • HeatherKirsten Aubuchont

            well, so you know, i played link to the past first, then the legend of zelda and links adventure. i played ocarina at about 15. im 20. so yeah, young, but its how youre raised. tp was my fave, and i hated the controls for skyward sword.

          • Eleclya

            Similar story to me. Just played OOT when it came out 1998.So lttp was my first when i was about 3years old, then i played the first two, cause i loved the series. Then i looked forward to every new Zelda game that came out,Cept Skyward sword. I’ll be 25 in august just an fyi

          • Jillian

            I beat the game when it first came out. (I was born in 90) with no problems. I don’t really think of myself as youn’un. I played mortal kombat on my brother’s sega genesis at 4 before I ever played zelda. It was a beautiful experience. I’m 24 now, and have nannied, worked for a bank, designed a national marketing campaign for a bank.

        • Billy Howell

          16 this year which is a big difference in gaming and technology from 20. I played the original first back around when it first came out in ’87. So, there are eleven years between the first game I played and the release of Ocarina of Time. To illustrate my point, look at Final Fantasy. The first one came out in ’87 as well. By ’98, the year Ocarina of Time was released, FFVII had been released the previous year. Eleven years is a massive jump in gamer generations and game technology in my opinion.

          • sniktawekim

            “gamer time” is slowing down.
            Back then, what was a HUGE amount of time is now like pretty standard.
            I mean, look at the release times between OoT, Majora’s Mask, and WW. and that was, what, 8 years ago?

      • Deva Ashera

        I’ve been gaming since I was 5 Years Old on the NES, but my first Zelda game was Ocarina of Time as well, and I am now 26. Its common for a series most famous/popular game to be many people’s first game in a series. I bet alot of people also had Final Fantasy VII as their first Final Fantasy (though mine was 10).

        • LinkFanatic

          I’m 40, own EVERY Zelda game, started with the NES original, and my favorite is TP. I did start my FF with 7, but 10 is my favorite and I own all of those too…just an old farts perspective for you guys!

          • FFX is my fav too, although ff6 was my first ff. 🙂

        • Billy Howell

          I will be 30 this year. I didn’t realize Ocarina of Time is 16 this year. It still seems like a younger generation gaming group. I started with the original. Haven’t enjoyed too much of it after LttP although I did play the Oracle of Ages and Seasons games. I also need to realize that I’m just weird anyway. For instance, I love FF, but I still don’t understand why so many people worship FFVII. I think FFVI (III on the SNES) and FFVIII were far superior. X even gives it a run for its money.

          • Deva Ashera

            Final Fantasy VI and IV are actually my favorites (with Terra & Rydia as my fav characters), even though I started with X, then X-2, VII, VIII, and IX before playing VI for the first time.

          • sniktawekim

            I thought 8 was like.. the worst.

            I loved 7, but 9 was probably the best of those.

            You did play seasons and ages, but not Oot?

      • arkane9

        Putting Ocarina aside, what’s interesting is that 28% started with LttP or the first Zelda (not exactly youngn’s), yet MM and TP are people’s most favorite Zelda games (after Ocarina).

      • sniktawekim

        I played OoT>Links Awakening>Link to the past.
        But I finished lttp before la.
        LA just completely overshadows lttp. I don’t see how anyone could put lttp as their favorite, to be honest.

    • Morgan McCollum

      LTTP Zelda is the best Zelda

    • Mysti

      Agreed, but that might just be because it was my first and adore it to death lol

      • It was also my first, and although I enjoyed every game after it, it was just my favourite afterwards, all components considered. 🙂

    • arkane9
      • That makes me feel a bit happier. I suppose its all about who they poll. Unless you were to poll every single Zelda fan who ever lived, then it won’t be accurate haha. 🙂

      • Max Nichols

        Very different audience though. So yeah, I’d expect to see different results.

  • Nightfury23

    Im surprised to see that TP scored pretty high on most things. I love that game, it deserves more credit.

  • Reece Heather

    It’s not my #1 favourite, but I feel a bit badly for Four Swords Adventures; it was a brilliant game. Oh well, I still love you Purple Link. <3

    • Shawn Taylor

      I really enjoyed it too! It was a beautiful game, it had a great story, and it was so dynamic and varied. It had a bit of depth and the puzzles were difficult.

    • Kevin Meeker

      I was thinking the same thing! It really was an amazing game! And as a kid, I hardly had the chance to play multiplayer. I was a little shocked at the low results it got, but I guess it just wasn’t as talked about. It had a lot of elements from Link to the past (except it was a bit more direction oriented, and less character progression; but still a great game). But the puzzles were pretty fun, too, as were the bosses.

    • Deva Ashera

      I think it only got low results due to how it required everyone to have their own GameBoy Advance and Gamecube to Advance Cable to play it with Friends, which was its main draw even if it had single player.

      • Shona

        Exactly. That’s what stopped me playing it very much.

      • Reece Heather

        I could see that. I think I was quite fortunate to have a buddy with a GBA at the time who was prepared to play through the whole thing with me.

        If anyone here’s not yet experienced it, it may be a little hassle to find and use some GBAs and cables; but still so worth it!

        • Deva Ashera

          Completely agree, I played through the whole thing with my friends since we all had GBAs and my friend that owned FSA owned 4 Cables and 2 GBAs himself.
          I’m still hoping that Nintendo ends up porting Four Swords Adventures to Nintendo 3DS like they did with the original Four Swords for DSi.

  • MDH

    I’m pleased about ALBW’s very positive reception! I guess this shows that it really was a breath of fresh air and made people confident Nintendo know what they’re doing for Zelda U.

    On a personal note, I love that Link’s Awakening consistenly scored higher than the Oracle games. They just can’t hold a candle to it, apart from some dungeons.

  • biggubossu

    Why are you always the last one to deliver the “news” ZU?

  • Guest

    TP in third place and every single 3D game over even ALttP?… I guess most of those who voted are kids.

    • Royal Conquest

      Or they can recognize that games improve over time.. I played the first Zelda, albeit it was a bit late for my time, Links Awakening and a Link to the Past before I played Ocarina and I still prefer it over them. I still prefer Links Awakening over ALttP actually. I’m sure many who voted Ocarina did it out of nostalgia but many of us have opinions not blinded by nostalgia, much unlike you who is really stating the same thing with your comment just in a different circumstance.

  • Chad

    Why is a link between worlds so high in the experience? It’s too easy and there was no feel to the items. It was honestly just a glorified remake of Alttp. I feel sorry for Alttp not getting credit where it’s deserved. :/

    • Deva Ashera

      Probably because people really enjoyed it and its far from a remake considering all of the temples, story, and even exploring are different from Link to the Past. It actually surpassed Link to the Past as my favorite game in the series due to its story and characters (I love Princess Hilda).

  • Jeffrey LaBelle

    For those people who haven’t yet played Ocarina of Time / Majora’s Mask, download 2.1 of this: Project 64. http://www.pj64-emu.com/downloads/project64/binaries/

    You can play about any Nintendo 64 game you can think of, but you have to download the ROM. I prefer using this: http://doperoms.com/roms/Nintendo_64.html , but you can use something else if you can find it online.

    You can naturally use your keyboard for the controls, but if you dont want to do that (I know I didnt), then you can buy a N64 controller with a USB plugin instead of an N64 plugin here: http://www.amazon.com/Retrolink-Nintendo-64-Classic-Enabled-Controller/dp/B008L3UUPS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405022855&sr=8-1&keywords=Nintendo+64+usb+controller

    I’m only doing this because it annoys me that about 5-10% of people have never played OoT or MM. They both deserve to be played, so enjoy.

  • WiicardoBA

    I’m glad to see Majora’s Mask under OoT where it belongs.

    • eByTech

      Majora’s Mask FTW!

  • Josh Adams

    Four Swords Need more love T^T

  • Morgan

    any study needs a truly random sample. was this a truly random sample? I haven’t read the source to see their sampling methods, but as someone who began in research writing the findings may actually be flawed. just IMO. and legitimate study needs a completely random sample to really prove legitimacy. was this sample in fact random and representative, most importantly, of the Zelda community?

    • Max Nichols

      It was not truly random, nor do I claim that it is a rigorous scientifically sound study.

  • Ceres Leaf

    Four sword adventures was amazingly cool, however I can see why it would loss to the more epic Zelda’s.
    Red Link to the rescue!

  • Samuel James Bird

    Clearly skyward sword is heavily underrated. Considering that the franchise is 28 and you have to be at least 8 to understand Zelda, I would say anyone under 25 should not be allowed to vote. There are kids today that believe ocarina came out on the gamecube.

    • Tan San

      that’s the most self centered crap I’ve ever heard. There shouldn’t be an age limit on a fandom. Just because someone doesn’t know as much about outdated good-in-their-time games doesn’t mean they aren’t a fan of the series.
      I’m 22, and have played literally every single zelda game out there, I started with ocarina, but went back to the older games after I beat mm cause I loved it so much.

      The elitism is strong with this one.

      • Deva Ashera

        I agree. I may be 26, but when I became a fan of the Legend of Zelda with Ocarina of Time back in the day, I purposely tried to find out about the older games in the series, starting with my 2nd Favorite, Link to the Past, since it was still available at a Video Rental Place (Link Between Worlds recently surpassed it, though SS is my favorite for characterization since even Link had a great personality in that game..but mostly for the characterization of Zelda, she was awesome in that).
        Age is purely a number. Any fan of any age who would take the time to answer this poll likely knows their Legend of Zelda history as any who don’t would likely not care enough to even take the poll.

    • Shona

      I don’t think it matters which platform you played it on – if you enjoyed the game or it was your first Zelda game then you’re entitled to vote for it all the same. I was happy to see some of the classic games, especially the original LoZ, rating fairly high in the list of what has been played. It shows that the re-releases on Virtual Console and similar give younger gamers a chance to experience games that came out in previous generations.

    • Thomas Andersen

      Skyward Sword is Overrated based on this survey! Worst Zelda after Spirit Tracks! The only two Zeldas I dont enjoy!

      Yes, SS had great Story, Great Art and Amazing Music! Thats it…… gameplay was horrible! No challange, and no Rewards what so ever! I obviously never died in the game, after reaching 10hears I was NEVER below 10hearts!

      Enemies where a total waste of space! Not visually, since many of the bosses and enemies looked great and could have had some real meaning.. but when the Last boss dont even manage to get half of my 20hearts, and I got several filled bottles with potion(cause I thought he might be a challange) then something is seriously wrong with the game!

      Im sure new beginners and 10-16year olds had fun and had a challanging experience.. but I have played Zelda for 25years now… It needs to be 10x as hard for me, than what SS was!

      When its this easy, hear pieces, bottles and potion-creating items doesnt matter, they dont serve as rewards anymore! + rupies flooded the world, and nothing to spend it on! I had 9000rupies at one point, with NOTHING to spend it on!!!!!!

      I really hope for a Veteran Mode from the get go in Wii U Zelda.. Where enemies, and bosses are 10x as hard, potions 80% less effectfull, Hint Stones GONE! Hear Pieces hidden better, rupies are Rare and harder to find and boss room chaos(instead of just the boss, more obsticales etc) .. yeah, I really hope we get a Real game again, and not just an interactive experience!

  • Max Nichols

    Don’t forget to read the link if you want more! The questions highlighted here are only about 1/10th of the actual results.

  • popopoi

    I will repost here my comment from the original complete article:

    Interesting to notice the weight the first Zelda Game played; and thus inherently the age and context of such first experience, as well as being the first experience, influenced the results as a whole…

    Also, congratulations for the effort on making this survey, and working the data.

    And people remember the caveats the author himself pointed, he took care to make them clear, so that we also do take care when making statements or using the articles’ data..

    I would have loved to answer it too…

    And I felt like the portable titles of the franchise got a little overshadowed by the console ones…
    Usually when thinking, I separate them into such “categories”… Maybe a survey like this but only with portables would tell us more about them.

  • Petrina Waldie

    My first game was majoras mask, I think I was about 6 when I played it…I’ve played, phantom hourglass, link between worlds, skyward sword, twilight princess, spirit tracks, wind waker, legend of zelda, and I’m currently playing ocarina of time on 3ds. My favourite would definitely be majoras mask though!

  • Katyun

    Twilight Princess was the first game I played ^^ Loved it

  • Linusjo5000

    The DS Zelda games need much more appreciation. Phantom hourglass and Spirit Tracks were not conventional zelda’s, but they were fun, and had all the heart that a Zelda game should.

  • Trinosaur

    Phantom Hourglass was my first game, believe it or not. And I thought it was the coolest game I’d ever played…. until I played the console Zeldas. I still have a certain amount of nostalgia for it, but perspective always helps when forming on opinion on what Zelda game is my favorite. Haha

  • ningfesty

    Interesting survey. As a 16 year old male who just got into the Zelda series two years ago, it is interesting to see every Zelda fan’s take on the series as a whole. Personally, Ocarina of Time was the first Zelda game I played, but that wasn’t until 2012. The second game I played was Majora’s Mask, and is my favorite in the series. I hope that more surveys like this can be done in the future.

  • Russ

    They should have polled the ages of each voter, these must be mostly 20-somethings. My first game was TLOZ, I played it in Middle School.

  • “OoT was my first Zelda, so it’s the best one.”

  • kamikazemind

    I will get flamed…I rarely comment…but I will never understand the fascination with MM…just my opinion folks!

    I remember playing OoT at 10 years old when it first came out and beating it and replaying it. Just loving that game. I get MM and I’m like YES ANOTHER ZELDAA and then I’m let down horribly. I didn’t even finish the game. I was too outdone with the saving system and and it didn’t capture me. I tried to play it later one when I was like 21 and still didn’t care for it. Like I kinda have disgust for it tbh lol.

    In recent years it’s become very much the thing to love MM and the “cult” like following…especially with this BEN crap and stuff lol. I’ve noticed it with “younger” players in recent years. like it was “trendy” or something..

    eh.

    K i’ll stop acting like a 90yr old grandpa in a rocking chair who says mean stuff about every kid who passes lmaoooo

  • Thomas Andersen

    My Top5: Oot>ALttP>MM>ALbW>Link’s Awakening

  • Young Link

    It’s no wonder most people love Ocarina. It’s most of the Zelda’s fan bases’ first game. My first game was Link’s Awakening ‘XD’ buy my favorite is Wind Waker followed by Majora’s Mask then Twilight Princess.