From the very beginning, Zelda games have given players a big wide world to explore, and although the world size and level of freedom varies throughout the series, most include some form of transportation to help you navigate quicker and more adventurously than walking. It wasn’t until Ocarina of Time that we got the iconic Epona to get us around, and since then the series has introduced numerous unique forms of mobility that are not only useful, but super fun too. In fact, they’re usually way more fun than driving a car around, which is often the default mode of transportation in games. Boo, I say! I can do that in real life all I want. With that in mind, here’s my personal countdown of five fun ways to get around in Zelda games.
Realm of Memories is a series where we reflect on our absolute favorite moments in The Legend of Zelda games. These could be the times we first fell in love with a game, were moved by the events of the story or actions of a character, felt triumphant when overcoming a tough boss or challenge, or we had an experience so unique that the adventure truly became our own. The Zelda series has touched our lives in many ways, and just as Hyrule has endless stories to share, so do our writers!
5) Horses (Breath of the Wild)
Let’s start the countdown with what, in my opinion, truly started it all. However, it’s too easy to put Epona on here. She’s so staple to the series that it goes without saying. So, I thought I’d highlight horseback riding in its most recent iteration: Breath of the Wild. I remember the first time I found a horse in Breath of the Wild, the first time I realized I could feed it carrots and comfort it while riding to gain its affection — it was wonderful.
I love that I can tame wild horses and give them whatever name I want, and that there are numerous different types throughout Hyrule. Although most differ simply in terms of color and stamina, there are also rare breeds, such as the giant horse, Stalhorses, and the majestic Lord of the Mountain, who is too regal to be tamed. I will always love Epona, but this variety in Breath of the Wild is a welcome change.
4) Wall Merging (A Link Between Worlds)
When playing A Link Between Worlds, I was pleasantly surprised by the Wall Merging mechanic. I genuinely thought it’d feel gimmicky and just as restricted as the Spinner from Twilight Princess. However, I found myself using it in unexpected places and thinking about how to reach other locations with it. Plus, it’s just fun to see Link flattened and effortlessly slip through nooks and crannies. While it isn’t the most challenging game, A Link Between Worlds really spiced up traditional puzzle gameplay with Wall Merging.
3) Flying (The Wind Waker)
I am a cheater and am including not one, not two, but three forms of flying from Wind Waker here because I can. But honestly, can ya blame me? Flying is what every person dreams of being able to do. It’s only fair we highlight the most unique ways Zelda fulfills this fantasy.
First off, there’s the Deku Leaf, which we can all agree is fun to use to glide between updrafts. It’s a shame it’s so restricted early on by a lack of magic, but once you get that full bar, the Bird-Man Contest is yours for the winning!
Then there’s the ability to control seagulls by using Hyoi Pears. The best part about being a seagull is not getting to inaccessible heights or peering across the vast ocean from above, but rather using the seagull to look at Link’s hilarious, scrunched-up face as he controls it. If you’ve never noticed it before, go admire it for yourself, right now. It’s golden.
The third form of flying I love in the Wind Waker is when you get to control Medli. I really wish the dungeons in the game were more interesting because her ability to fly around would shine brighter if so. Most of the Earth Temple is just grey walls and statues and not much else. Despite that though, it’s still fun assuming her form to fly around.
2) Sailing (The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass)
Any time I see or experience some form of sailing in a game, that amazing “Great Sea Theme” from Wind Waker plays in my head, without fail. But setting aside the fantastic music, I think the sailing in Wind Waker is just genuinely fun and adventurous. I know a lot of people actually dislike the sailing and say it’s boring, and to that I say: why?! It’s so relaxing whooshing across the ocean, listening to the sea rise and fall, to seagulls squawking behind you, all while looking for islands to explore. I’ll agree that many islands don’t have tons of substance, but at the time of first playing Wind Waker, it blew my mind that I could cross the world with no loading screens whatsoever. You can just hop on and off the boat, nosy an island, maybe get a Heart Piece or two, and sail on your merry way. I loved it, and still do!
I want to also give a little shout-out to the S.S. Linebeck from Phantom Hourglass. I love Linebeck — he’s so underrated, as is his boat. I know it’s not much compared to the King of Red Lions, and I know there are a lot of flaws with the game, but I really enjoyed the customizable boat. I had all sorts of monstrous combinations of parts on my S.S. Linebeck until I got full sets, and I thought it was hilarious. I loved looking for them and seeing what ugly thing I could create next. I eventually got that golden set and felt truly royal sailing around – as well as a big fat target for pirates.
1) Goron Link (Majora’s Mask)
What can possibly top the speed and mobility of rolling around as Goron Link? Nothing compares to how entertaining it is. It’s so satisfying building up your momentum until you hit max speed, spikes pop out your back, and you speed off like a deadly steamroller. Whenever I replay Majora’s Mask, it’s my primary goal to max out that magic bar, acquire some Chateau Romani, and roll around Termina to my heart’s content.
Goht is arguably the best boss in the game purely because Goron Link is so fun to play. Likewise, the best mini-game is the albeit hard-to-unlock Goron races because Link dominates so hard. I’ll never get bored of it, and I hope future Zelda games include more mechanics like it. Until then, I guess the next best thing is riding flying boulders with Stasis in Breath of the Wild.