Is Princess Zelda Ever Playable in  ‘Legend of Zelda’ and What Games Can Fans Play as the Hyrule Ruler?

Despite her name in the series title, fans have rarely seen Princess Zelda playable in The Legend of Zelda games. However, as a main character in one of the biggest gaming franchises, Nintendo had to make her playable at some point. Here is every game Princess Zelda has been playable in for the main Nintendo series and crossovers.

Poster for 'Cadence of Hyrule' with a playable Zelda in a 'Crypt of the NecroDancer' and 'Legend of Zelda' crossover
Poster for ‘Cadence of Hryule’ | Nintendo

‘The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks’ has marked the only playable Zelda in the mainline games

In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, the princess finds herself separated from her body, and she possesses a suit of armor as a phantom. The player can guide her along with the Nintendo DS stylus to solve puzzles. She even appeared in Hyrule Warriors.

And of course, Nintendo loves to hide fascinating details in future games. Her connection to the Phantom armor even returned in her down special for a certain fighting game on the Nintendo Switch.

Princess Zelda has been playable in every ‘Super Smash Bros.’ game since ‘Melee’

The first batch of five games comes in Nintendo’s massive crossover fighter. While Link debuted in the Nintendo 64 Super Smash Bros., Zelda did not appear until the sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee.

The playable Princess Zelda quickly became a staple of the series, appearing alongside Link and Ganondorf as fighters. Nintendo even added her alter ego from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Shiek.

They even brainstormed adding another two versions of Zelda as Toon Zelda from The Wind Waker and a so-called ‘Toon Shiek.’ Several fans assume Nintendo referred to the pirate captain Tetra, who Zelda disguised herself as at one point.

‘Cadence of Hyrule’ added Zelda and Link in a ‘Crypt of the NecroDancer’ crossover

While The Legend of Zelda emphasizes music and instruments, it has never ventured into rhythm games. Cadence of Hyrule changed that when Crypt of the NecroDancer crossed over with The Legend of Zelda.

Each character, Link, Cadence, and Zelda, all have unique abilities. Nayru’s Love makes for a reflective shield spell that sends enemy attacks back at your opponents. She also has Din’s Fire, a unique and versatile attack.

“When fired, Zelda remains stationary, and you instead control this orb of fire as it moves around the screen in time with the beat,” Siliconera notes. “It not only can hit a foe on the same level as her but ones on different levels.”

The Philips CD-i games, unfortunately, marked the first time a playable Zelda ever appeared

For those unfamiliar with the infamous Philips CD-i games, Nintendo partnered with Philips to use their CD-i format. This meant Philips could use Nintendo IPs like The Legend of Zelda. However, this turned out disastrous (albeit hilarious).

They made Princess Zelda playable in Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Zelda’s Adventure. Both games are bizarre, broken, and glitchy experiences with uncanny animated cutscenes. Fans have found the best use for them are troll posts on YouTube.

‘Hyrule Warriors’ gave every character the power to plow through armies

The hack and slash gameplay of the Hyrule Warriors series brought a whole new Princess Zelda to players. Wielding a royal rapier, the Wind Waker baton, and the Dominion Rod, this Zelda did not need Link’s abilities to fight her battles.

In Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, the Breath of the Wild Zelda proved herself a creative fighter. She used the Shiekah Slate as a weapon, using the runes to her advantage.

How many games has Zelda been playable in?

Counting five Super Smash Bros. games, two Philips CD-i games, Cadence of Hyrule, Spirit Tracks, and the two Hyrule Warriors games, Zelda appeared playable in 11 games. If you count Hyrule Warriors Legends and Definitive Edition separate, then you could argue that number sits at 13.

The number seems small, but Nintendo fans hope the sequel to Breath of the Wild pushes that number up again.

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