Skip to main content

In 1986, The Legend of Zelda released on NES, taking players through an adventure with Link to complete the Triforce, defeat the evil Ganon, and rescue Princess Zelda. The series has gotten more complex over the years, involving Zelda Timelines, Hyrule Warriors spinoffs, and more. Here’s how many Legend of Zelda games Nintendo has published since the 1986 NES original and what order you should play them.

Young Link from 'The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D' for Nintendo 3DS
Young Link from ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D’ for Nintendo 3DS | Nintendo

How Many ‘Legend of Zelda’ Games Are There From Nintendo?

Counting every mainline title from the 1986 Zelda on NES to Breath of the Wild 2, Nintendo has released 20 games.

However, Nintendo has released several spinoffs. These include the Hyrule Warriors games, The Legend of Zelda Game & Watch (the 1989 version, not the 2021 version). And then there are the infamous Zelda CD-i games.

How many games tie directly into The Legend of Zelda series with an original and non-remixed story, the number would jump from 20 to 31. This includes Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, Link’s Crossbow Training, the Japanese exclusive Tingle games, the Philips CD-i games, and more.

However, Nintendo also had remixes of The Legend of Zelda and A Link to the Past available for their experimental Satellaview in the 1990s. Depending on how fans count what counts as a new Zelda game, the number can change.

Which of the Nintendo games should you play first?

With around 20 mainline Legend of Zelda games, some players can be uncertain where to start. 

Luckily, no matter how many Legend of Zelda games Nintendo releases, players can play most without playing any other entry. However, for those wanting to jump into the Legend of Zelda lore, knowing where to start and what order to play the Nintendo games can make things easier.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time built out the story of the whole series. It introduced the three Golden Goddesses, Din, Farore, and Nayru, and featured the first Ganondorf.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword features a bigger story that explains the origin of several Zelda elements. It helps explain why Link and Zelda continuously fight evil in Hyrule. Some Zelda theorists think Skyward Sword even introduced Malice before Breath of the Wild.

For fans wanting to jump into the 2D Zelda games, A Link to the Past established several iconic elements like the Master Sword.

In what order should you play ‘The Legend of Zelda’ games?

With how many Legend of Zelda titles followed the 1986 original, knowing what order to play them after your first Zelda game can be a task in and of itself.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and The Wind Waker have stories that directly follow Ocarina of Time. 


‘Legend of Zelda’: Does Zelda Love Link in ‘Breath of the Wild’?

Twilight Princess features Link in a much darker story. Link and Midna try to stop the villain Zant from leading an invasion from another world. The Wind Waker has a much more lighthearted tone. It even has two direct sequels in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks on Nintendo DS.

A Link Between Worlds follows a story that closely resembles A Link to the Past. However, the company remade Link’s Awakening on Nintendo Switch, another fun 2D game.

How many The Legend of Zelda games Nintendo puts out luckily does not matter as much as some games, since each adventure with Link and Zelda usually stands on its own. However, knowing which games you should play first can help you understand the lore.