“The Adventure of Link after the Breath of the Wild”

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“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”
-William Feather

 

 

We love The Legend of Zelda. Thousands and thousands of people are playing Breath of the Wild right now. Nintendo’s latest entry in the long-running staple series has been met with widespread criticism. Positive criticism. As in, it is one of the best rated games of all time, an instant classic, an experiment in perfection, and so on. Breath of the Wild over night made Nintendo a household name again, at least for now.

I think Breath of the Wild is so successful because of an execution which emphasizes the best elements of the Zelda series: exploration, curiosity, acquisition, history. While many of us are experiencing that elusive sense of childlike wonder again by exploring the world of Hyrule, the nagging thought turns restlessly at the back of our minds, as it does with any engrossing game experience which we know must someday ultimately end or lose its appeal. That thought is: “What am I going to do once Breath of the Wild is over?”

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Earlier today, I had the pleasure of reading someone’s article on this very matter. Breath of the Wild was their first Zelda game (no one should judge you for your life’s experiences) and they found it as delightful as practically everyone else but they wondered what they should play once Link’s newest adventure was over. By the by, if that’s you that wrote that article, I’d be happy to link to it. I tried to go back to look for it but couldn’t find it.

The good news is, NPCs, that The Legend of Zelda series has been around for over thirty years. With such a rich heritage of gaming history to choose from, those out there looking for another Zelda game to delve into after Breath of the Wild need only a guide to point them in the right direction. It’s dangerous to go alone and that’s where your friendly, neighborhood Well-Red Mage comes in. Is there life after the Wild? Yes. Yes, there is.

Simply put, here are my five recommendations for Zelda games to play after Breath of the Wild. And if you think I was planning to recommend Zelda II after reading a title such as the one for this post, then you’re sorely mistaken.

 

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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

One of the most popular of the Zelda games, you’ll find a lot of similarities in Ocarina after coming off of Breath of the Wild. However, be prepared for some primitive 3D graphics and some clunky controls by comparison. Still, Ocarina is an incredible game with strengths far outweighing its weaknesses. It’s often cited as a personal favorite.

 

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

You could simply go further back in time before 3D gaming dominance for sleeker presentation and more refined handling with one of the best titles from the Super Nintendo. A Link to the Past is very much a classic Zelda experience, with that top-down perspective and everything, so if you’re looking to get at the center of what makes this series tick, then look no further.

 

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The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

This is actually my personal favorite Zelda game. Play it in the original black and white if you can for the ultimate retro experience. I’ve frequently heard Link’s Awakening described as haunting. It’s hard to forget it even after all these years. Zelda and handhelds have had a long history together and this is one of the best you can play on any handheld. It plays like a dream.

 

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The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Wind Waker is a great example of Nintendo’s inclination toward charm, magic, and fun. Somewhat controversial at the time for its cartoony aesthetic and cel shading, you won’t hear too many detractors now as Wind Waker has successfully become a classic in many a gaming heart. It’s a unique game in the series, so maybe it isn’t the best example of the foundations of the series, but as a 3D Zelda it’ll resemble Breath of the Wild in a lot of ways, not merely in its scope and size.

 

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The Legend of Zelda

I’m generally of the persuasion that the original entry in a series is the most fundamental, the most definitive, influential, and essential. If you consider yourself a fan of the Zelda series but haven’t played the original NES title then I may have just judged you for your life’s experiences. Just kidding. But this should unequivocally be your next destination after Breath of the Wild if you haven’t played it yet. All of these yuppies yelling about how Breath of the Wild is the hardest Zelda game in the franchise are beyond wrong. I challenge you to beat the first and second quests in The Legend of Zelda and tell me that they were easier than Breath of the Wild. Also, they’re wrong when they say that Breath is the first open-world Zelda game. Again, play the original. You could explore nearly anywhere in that open world. “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it”, my friends.

 

I’d also like to invite you, dear reader, to participate in the poll below. Personally, I’ll be seeking out Skyward Sword after Breath of the Wild. Haven’t played that one yet. But what are your highest recommendations from The Legend of Zelda series? Be free to leave the details in the comments section. If you’ve written some quality reviews on these games, I’d welcome your links to those, as well. And as always, thank you for reading!

-The Well-Red Mage  rmage2

 

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34 thoughts on ““The Adventure of Link after the Breath of the Wild”

  1. I’m very happy that Link’s Awakening is high on your list. It used to be on my top five (a certain new game might have taken it out of there), and the DX version was my first 2D Zelda experience. As much as I love the classic Triforce story, I’m a huge fan of the sidestories that take the game to weird places like Majora’s Mask. Link’s Awakening is the perfect portable Zelda, fitting in bite-sized dungeons in a complete new world, while telling a bittersweet story. Aside from the classic games that everyone loves, I’m also a huge fan of A Link Between Worlds, for its clever mechanics, open-ended structure (pre-BotW), and excellent characters. Then, as I mentioned before, Majora’s Mask is one of my favorites. It’s a character-focused game, and the NPC’s emotional tales and reactions to the falling moon sell it for me.

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    • It’s interesting thinking about the franchise in those terms of the “canonical” and the “monster of the week” sort of games like Awakening and Majora’s Mask. It sounds increasingly like I need to get my hands on A Link Between Worlds. Do you think that BotW represents the first open-world Zelda game or would you categorize the first several Zelda games as such?

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      • Hard to say, because the definition of open-world has changed so much. Many people now think of it as a formula, (odd to think about for “open-world”) in which you can go anywhere, find sidequests, and improve your stats. I’d say that the first game is an open adventure unlike most modern Zelda games. It’s a very prototype build of what open adventure games are like today. I would even say that A Link Between Worlds has elements of open-world, though you technically can’t reach everywhere all at once. It’s actually a great balance between Breath of the Wild’s open structure and traditional Zelda mechanics, which hopefully spells for a good recommendation.

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        • It is hard to say, because I think that open-world is hard to pin down sometimes. Even in FFXV, there were many areas that weren’t immediately or even always accessible. I tend to get conflicting answers when I ask this question, so it’s one which intrigues me. Open adventure might be a more appropriate term than open-world, so I think I’ll have to borrow it from you. BTW I’m also super jealous of you, my black and white rival, that you finished your Breath of the Wild review before me! Haha! I’d love to read it but for those big games I need to avoid reviews to maintain my only thought patterns until I can finish a review of my own. That’s just more incentive for me to finish so I can read your thoughts on the game! I’m most curious as to whether you had any significant but non-detracting complaints or grievances with the game.

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          • I can’t wait for your review! Likewise, I can’t wait for you to read my review! I’m sure both will lead to great discussion! 🙂 Best of luck in getting yours finished! I might have had significant but non-detracting complaints or grievances. Or maybe I didn’t. Can’t wait for you to find out, haha!

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            • Gah the curiosity is going to keep me awake tonight! It’s like I want to be as hard as possible on this game but the few things that are blemishes are barely anything at all in the long run.

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  2. Great picks! I’d also suggest Twilight Princess and Majora’s Mask… oh and Zelda II. Most people don’t like that one, even though I quite enjoyed it… 🙂 I’d also recommend playing Skyward Sword. As much as it had its – erm – interesting moments, it had solid dungeons and great puzzles.

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  3. We share a favourite game: Link’s Awakening. I agree with your dream-like gameplay comment. Well put! It was the second game from the Zelda series that I got my hands on and I got stuck on the Eagle Tower for years until I picked the game up again a few years ago and beat it completely. I adore it – the music, the sprites, the story… everything in that game is still wonderful to me. The ending credits music is some of my favourite from any Zelda game. Also, I obviously love the first game in the series (see screen name and avatar). Every time I play it, I discover something new even after all these years of hammering through it.

    I would highly recommend Skyward Sword. Lots of people didn’t like the game because of the motion controls (boo, don’t play a Wii game then!), but I found it to be a great experience. There are some really emotional, moving components of the story in that game, and I think it was the second Zelda game to bring a tear to my eye after Link’s Awakening. I’m a pretty emotional person, but before seeing the trailers for Breath of the Wild, Skyward Sword had my favourite iteration of Zelda. I hope you like it whenever you get to it!

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  4. Great post! I’m a huge Zelda fanatic (even the glorious FFXIII trilogy get bumped by that fandom, haha), and Ocarina of Time is still my all time favourite game. I just played the original NES game for the first time last year, and I absolutely loved it! That “simple” 8 bit game has withstood the test of time quite well.

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    • Ahaha I had no idea that your love of FFXIII was not primary! I’m so happy to know that you’re one of those who can go back to a now practically ancient game and appreciate it for what it is. That’s the sensible thing. The original Legend of Zelda is one of the best there is! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I would also submit to this list A Link Between Worlds. It’s a more recent game so it may be a little easier to get ahold of, and while it isn’t fully open-world it offers the ability to choose the order in which you complete the main quests. It also emphasizes exploration and the way items work resembles the Sheikah Slate in that you just have to recharge rather than worrying about ammo. Of course, there’s really no “bad” place to start the series, as there are lots of wonderful Zelda games!

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    • You couldn’t have said it more accurately. There really is no wrong place to jump into the Legend of Zelda. I would say that so many of them are definitive and it’s a series which has been positively reinvented throughout the gaming generations. Thanks for sharing your recommendation! I haven’t played A Link Between Worlds so that’s one I’m going to have to hunt down now. Is it 3DS? Maybe it’ll be on the Switch Virtual Console eventually.

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      • It is a 3DS title. If you like A Link to the Past, you should definitely enjoy this one as well. It does a good job of capturing the spirit of the original while also using new mechanics to help the game feel fresh.

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  6. I would suggest Ocarina of Time, it was a very enjoyable game with an interesting story and good gameplay. I would also suggest Majora’s Mask, the focus on the world outside the dungeons means a lot of interesting characters were created and parts of the game had a slightly surreal feel. I would also suggest Skyward Sword, it was playful, with interesting level designs and some interesting ideas. I actually also liked Twilight Princess, I liked the more serious portrayal of Hyrule and the contrast between the light and twilight worlds.

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  7. I’ll never forget the set of NES games that got me started on the road to gaming: Super Mario Bros, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Warrior. These four games are like seeds that sprouted into the game industry, as all four of them are easily top name titles and carry prestige (though Metroid has had a rocky career). TLOZ was amazing for it’s time on the NES, and has only gotten better with each new entry into the series. Though I have only spent a short period of time with the portable iterations of the game, I will never EVER forget ‘A Link to the Past’ on the SNES which I played through multiple times and will likely play again now that LOZ is back in the spotlight and I don’t have the cash for a Switch.

    If your new to the series and have never played A Link to the Past, do yourself a favor and do not skip over this epic game. It is a must play for any gamer worth their salt, and you will not be disappointed.

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    • The wonderful, wonderful NES. I can agree with you on all of those except I’ve never had the chance to play Dragon Warrior. I love the original Zelda. Thanks for sharing your recommendations! It seems people sometimes forget about those golden oldies.

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    • Thanks! I’ve always wanted to get into Zelda II but I’ve only played an hour or two into it and couldn’t beat the first boss. That is one of the hardest games I’ve ever played! Any tips or tricks for a struggling mage such as myself? I may have an opportunity to return to Zelda II someday, after all.

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      • Practice, practice, practice. Also embrace levelling up via random battles. If you have the NES Atlas, there are maps for all of the areas, if you get stuck. I sure did back then. A lot of folks crap on the game for not being top down the whole time, but it’s a pretty good entry.

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        • Yeah it was definitely the steep difficulty that put me off of it, in tandem with having other games to play. I like the side-scrolling and it’s unique for the series, so I’ll have to give it another go someday. Thank you for the tips! I’ll engrave them on my subconscious.

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