All Zelda games in order

you’ve ever wondered how to play all Zelda games in order, then look no further than our guide covering the chronological release and different timelines.,

Are you bored with a lot of time on your hands? Why not play all Zelda games in order from start to finish? If you want to take on the challenge, here’s a comprehensive list of all the games in release order, chronological order, and an explainer on the Zelda timelines. Buckle up. It’s going to be a long ride. We all know how the story of Hyrule

goes, but here’s a quick summation that applies to almost every entry in this list; an ancient legend prophesizes that evil Ganon tries to dominate Hyrule, using the triforce, but constantly falls to a legendary hero – usually with the help of seven sages. To

prevent this from happening again, they split the triforce into three pieces. Then? Chaos ensues.

What are the Zelda timelines?

Let’s get this out of the way first, as I’m going to mention it a few times. What’s all this different timeline business? Basically, three official timelines exist and they all branch from the events in Ocarina of Time. Nintendo published the Hyrule Historia book in

2011, laying out the timelines, with Eiji Aonuma himself also confirming them – though that was back in 2003 before the addition of the ‘Fallen Hero’ timeline.

These canon timelines are the Child, Adult, and Fallen Hero timelines – though a fourth is now apparent in the Switch titles. If we look at the BOTW Creating a Champion book, it states that everything before Breath of the Wild’s backstory ‘faded into myth,’ thus

creating yet another timeline for the games centered around the Switch title.

The ‘Child’ timeline and the ‘Adult’ timeline both split from a situation where Link defeats Ganon, and Zelda sends Link back to his childhood. The ‘Child’ timeline branches off

and follows Link in his own time, and the ‘Adult’ follows Link after disappearing. Finally, the ‘Fallen Hero’ timeline branches off from a situation where Ganon wins.

Basically, the three (or four) timelines allow you to explore situations in alternate worlds where different things happen to widen the world of Hyrule.

All Zelda games in release order

Here we go, Hyrule’s entire history in one helpful list:

The Legend of Zelda

  • Initial release date: 1986 on NES

The Legend of Zelda is the first game, the beginning of it all, and our introduction to Link, Zelda, and Hyrule. In true Nintendo style, the hero sets out to save a princess from an evil monster. Link accepts the quest to save Princess Zelda from Impa, whom he

finds by chance and rescues in the overworld. Along the way, Link must find the pieces of the triforce and use them to his advantage after Ganon’s invasion, hiding the pieces in different dungeons. This first game introduced many core features of the series, like

heart containers, weapon upgrades, and some key enemies that crop up time and time again.

Originally on the NES, the Legend of Zelda did get a release on GameBoy Advance in 2004 and is now on the Nintendo Switch Online service for you to dive back in.

In terms of the timeline, this game isn’t actually the first in the history of Hyrule – it allegedly takes place in an alternate reality in the ‘Era of Decline’ where Hyrule is no longer a giant ruling area and is only a small kingdom.

rerelease on 3DS in 2011. It’s a pivotal game for anyone wanting to understand the Zelda series, along with being one of the best games ever released.

To try and briefly summarize the events in Ocarina of Time, Link gets sent to speak with Princess Zelda after visiting the dying Great Deku Tree. Zelda tells him of her worries about Ganondorf, the Gerudo King, who she believes is after the triforce. Zelda then

asks Link to perform a tiny errand – collect three spiritual stones, go into the sacred realm, and get the triforce first. No big deal, right? Link makes it to the realm eventually, though Ganondorf sneaks through with him, and he nabs the triforce.

This is where it all gets a bit nasty. Link becomes sealed in the realm for seven years until he comes of age and can wield the Master Sword against Ganondorf – who took over Hyrule with the triforce in hand. From there, Link visits the seven sages to gain their trust and defeat Ganondorf again. And then again, after he turns into a beast – Ganon – and turns Hyrule Castle into a pile of rubble. In the end, Zelda sends Link back in time to his childhood using the ocarina, where he remembers what happened…

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

  • Initial release date: 2000 on N64

Majora’s Mask is the first entry into the ‘Child’ timeline and picks up a few months after the events of Ocarina of Time, though it’s set in Termina – an alternate version of Hyrule. Here, Link tries to reunite with Navi but falls prey to the Skull Kid, who steals the ocarina.

As you make your way through Majora’s Mask, you retrieve the ocarina and can reset time to the beginning of the three-day cycle you’re stuck in before the very friendly-looking moon falls onto Termina’s Clock Town area, thus ending the world. Link sets about fixing the plight of those in this world and awakens the four guardians in order to stop the moon from falling.

Majora’s Mask also got a 3D remake on 3DS in 2015, bringing it in line with Ocarina of Time.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons

  • Initial release date: 2001 on GameBoy Color

kidnaps his sister. With the help of pirate Tetra, Link heads to the Forsaken Fortress to rescue his sister. Here, he becomes captured instead. He escapes and meets the classic talking boat, the King of Red Lions. He tells Link that Ganondorf is behind all of this and that Link must defeat him with the power of the Hero of Time. So, he sets out to do just that.

I’m skipping over a lot here, but Link gets the Master Sword and then heads to end Ganondorf once again. It’s no use, though, as the sword is out of power, and Ganondorf realizes that – gasp – Tetra is a reincarnation of Zelda! Link sets out to restore the sword’s power, awaken new sages, battle through temple trials, and hunt down the shards of that pesky triforce once again. You’ll never guess what happens next – Ganondorf kidnaps Tetra, meaning an epic battle ensues between Link, Tetra, and all manner of powerful allies before Link stabs Ganondorf with the Master Sword and turns him to stone. By the way, the land of Hyrule? Totally submerged in Wind Waker.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

  • Initial release date: 2006 on GameCube/Wii, 2016 on Wii U

Twilight Princess nestles in the middle of the Child timeline after defeating Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time. A dark presence falls over Hyrule as children start to disappear, which Link tries to investigate – but falls prey to a curse, turning him into a wolf. An odd spirit, Midna, offers to help him, and they go to find Princess Zelda. In order to rid Hyrule of the Twilight’s power, he must revive the Light Spirits. This is not enough, and Link must continue on and find the Master Sword. Fun tidbit: as they work to save Hyrule, Midna and Link encounter the Hero’s Shade – the ghost of the same Link in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.

Link and Midna learn of a mirror that can let them into the Twilight Realm, where they may fix the issues emanating from it. It’s broken, though, so they must find the pieces to fix it. Once they fix the mirror, it turns out Midna can wield it and that she, too, is under a curse. The first villain is Zant – who cursed Midna – whom Link defeats after learning he made a pact with our old friend Ganondorf.

Here we go, gang. It’s back to Hyrule to fight Ganondorf in the castle. A vicious battle ensues between dark beast Ganon and Link in his wolf form before Ganondorf gains the upper hand and destroys the castle. The two lads take off on horseback and end up having a battle in their humanoid forms, where Link does him in with the Master Sword… again. At the end of Twilight Princess, Midna takes her leave and severs the Twilight Realm from Hyrule. Link then goes off on his own adventure, but no one quite knows where he goes.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

  • Initial release date: 2009 on DS

Spirit Tracks is the last game in the ‘Adult’ timeline, an entire century after the Phantom Hourglass and Wind Waker. In this game, Link is a train driver, which is honestly a nice change of pace. Though, of course, there’s an issue – the Spirit Tracks are disappearing, so Princess Zelda enlists Link to help investigate.

You’re not going to believe this – Zelda’s body gets kidnapped. Her spirit follows Link as he works to retrieve it, revive the Spirit Tracks, and fix the mess plaguing New Hyrule. This is a nice and contained story, without the influence of Ganon or Ganondorf for once, with little integral history or lore to affect the timeline.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

  • Initial release date: 2011 on Wii

Though it’s a late entry into the series (and got a fancy 2021 remaster on Switch), Skyward Sword holds a lot of sway in terms of the Zelda timeline. Chronologically, it’s the first game. Skyward Sword is set in Skyloft, where Hyrule’s people get sent by the goddess Hylia to safety – after the Demon King Demise terrorizes the land in search of that pesky triforce.

To summarize, Zelda gets snatched away by an evil force, and Link must set out to save her, as he follows a voice hidden inside a sacred Goddess Sword. This is Fi, his companion throughout the game. By drawing the sword, he takes his place as the prophesied hero and must travel across the surface in search of Zelda. Here’s where it gets interesting – Link finds Zelda and Impa just as Ghirahim, a villain set on freeing Demise, descends and fights him. Zelda and Impa escape back in time through a gate.

After a lot of trials and combat, Link finds another gate and heads back to find Zelda, who it turns out is a mortal reincarnation of the goddess Hylia, unfortunately too weak to seal Demise. She forged the Goddess Sword and prophesied a hero to do away with Demise once and for all using the triforce. Zelda then gives her power to the Goddess Sword, which becomes the… Master Sword. Bet you didn’t see that coming!

The really interesting part is that after some more back and forth between Zelda’s second kidnapping by Ghirahim, Link defeats him, but not being able to stop Demise from resurrecting, and then Link defeats him too – Demise places a curse on both Link and Zelda’s bloodlines, setting into motion all these generations of Links and Zeldas that are fated to deal with Ganons and Demises across time for all eternity. Despite this, Link and Zelda establish the kingdom of Hyrule on the surface of the land, and it’s all smooth sailing for a few years.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

  • Initial release date: 2013 on 3DS

A Link Between Worlds falls as part of the ‘Fallen Hero’ timeline, somewhere between the events of A Link to the Past and the two Oracle games. In it, we’re introduced to Lorule as well as Hyrule, two lands living simultaneously. Lorule does not have a triforce, however, and falls into ruin because of it.

Link, a plucky young blacksmith’s apprentice on his way to deliver a sword, gets caught up in an altercation with villain Yuga. He reports this to Princess Zelda, who tells Link to find three pendants in order to wield the Master Sword and defeat evil. Link takes on Yuga but becomes cursed with the ability to turn into a painting at will, allowing him to sneak along walls and such. Yuga, of course, kidnaps Zelda and whisks her away to Lorule, where Link follows.

Lorule’s ruler is Hilda, who assists Link but requires him to rescue the seven sages in the land so they can create the triforce of courage. But! Hilda steals it, and it turns out she’s behind all of this mess, but she too gets hoodwinked by Yuga. Link beats him – of course – and Hilda apologizes, so they all work happily together to restore Lorule. That’s the gist of it, anyway.

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