Over the storied history of the Legend of Zelda franchise, each and every Nintendo console has been blessed with at least one new entry in the series. However, some consoles get a few more games than you would expect. Since its inception, the Zelda franchise has been a prime candidate for spin-offs of every variety. Whether it be the on-rails shooter of the Wii, or the rhythm-adventure entries, Zelda has flirted with a variety of different genres over its 30 years. Today, we’ll be taking a look at all of these spin-offs, and ranking all of them. As you’ll come to see, when you hand developing reigns to different studios, you’ll be met with a shockingly varied range of results.
Before we jump into the list, an honorable mention must go to the Satellaview Zelda games. This trio of titles were broadcast through the Super Famicom Satellaview add-on, and would allow players to enjoy remixed and enhanced versions of the original Legend of Zelda and Link to the Past titles, with brand new maps and plotlines.
These games aren’t really playable in their original forms, thus, it would be hard to rank them in the list. Pretty weird that Nintendo did a streaming service in the 90s and in 2019 it takes three days to download a JPEG on some Wi-Fi speeds.
Yeah, do we really need to go into it? I guess we should, but let’s not dwell too long. This little trio of titles, all developed for the Philips CD-i, are very very bad. The first two titles are sidescrollers, with the final being a top-down game. Every single one of them seem to have been developed by a team of moderately skilled infants. Nothing works as intended. The first two games feature horribly animated cutscenes that have just spawned… all of the memes. The third features completely incoherent live-action cutscenes. Horrible to play, fun to look back on.
Link’s Crossbow Training is a title that was developed for the Wii, off of the back of Twilight Princess. The game used many assets from the title, and was a pack-in with the Wii Zapper, number #48 of completely unnecessary plastic Wii peripherals that don’t do a thing. The game is fine, and is essentially an expanded version of the shooting mechanic found in Twilight Princess. It is fun, even if it is terribly short. Overall, it justifies the purchase of the Wii Zapper, but that’s just about it.
The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest is one of the minigames featured in the Wii U title Nintendo Land. Playing in either multiplayer or singleplayer mode, the team of Link themed Miis must take on a crowd of enemies as archers of swordsmen. The game is still on-rails, but is much more of a full-fledged package than the aforementioned Link’s Crossbow Training. The multiplayer mode is fantastic organized chaos, and the single player mode is a fun time too. Overall, just another great aspect of the wildly overlooked Nintendo Land.
We have to talk about this one, and honestly, it’s pretty good. To break it down in simple terms, Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland is a Zelda style dungeon exploring title, but you play as Tingle. However, the game isn’t 100% Zelda. The combat is basically button mashing until Tingle wins, and there is an entire layer of the game that focuses on Tingle earning as many Rupees as possible so he can become a true fairy. While the game isn’t bad at all, the next Tingle game was a dating sim, but since it never came out in Enlgish, it will not be on this list. Thank God.
The colon filled title of My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a My Nintendo exclusive 3DS title released to celebrate the remaster of Twilight Princess for the Wii U. Obviously, this game is just a regular old Picross title with a great Zelda coat of paint.
Who would complain about that? It also has Miiverse compatibility, which is a great feature to play with even to this da- oh. Nevermind.
The multiplayer spin-offs of The Legend of Zelda series, Four Swords (and Adventures) and Tri Force Heroes, are a bit different from some of the other titles on this list. These games are included on the official timeline, and are Nintendo developed games. The gameplay of these titles is just good old Zelda gameplay (specifically, they’re similar to A Link to the Past) with a multiplayer twist to it. You and your friends, through whatever method is required to do so through the system you’re playing on, engage in Zelda adventures together. Sounds like an absolutely fantastic adventure for any Zelda fan.
Cadence of Hyrule, a mashup between Crypt of the Necrodancer and The Legend of Zelda is a rhythm based adventure title and just… yeah. Absolutely yes. 100%. The game is absolutely fantastic, blending rhythm style gameplay with traditional Zelda mechanics. Obviously, this title is chock full of Zelda music, which by itself is amazing, but when it’s a central mechanic of the game? Oof. Superb. If you haven’t already, this budget Switch title is a must have for any Zelda fan. Plus, you can actually play as Zelda in a Zelda title. Shockingly, that’s actually pretty rare.
While it is a very close race with Cadence of Hyrule, the best Zelda spin-off is Hyrule Warriors. A Dynasty Warriors styled game, Hyrule Warriors pits Link, Zelda and just about every other character imaginable against Ganandorf’s army. While set outside the official timeline, the plot is an absolute blast to play through, and both it and the gameplay features a ton of fanservice. With the tried-and-true gameplay of Dynasty Warriors mixed with Zelda elements and characters, it’s an absolute blast and a recipe for success.