Every Legend of Zelda Game Trapped on Old Systems

The Legend of Zelda franchise spans well over a dozen titles across many Nintendo platforms, though now some of them are near impossible to play.

The Legend of Zelda series is one of the longest-reigning gaming franchises ever at 35 years old. Originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1986, the series has seen numerous entries of high-quality games and there is no sign of slowing down. Eventually, when enough time will have passed, fans will clamor for a rerelease such as Ocarina of Time 3D, or a remaster such as The Wind Waker HD, or a complete remake such as Link’s Awakening. Though despite Nintendo’s willingness to please fans, not every game in the series has seen the same amount of love, and as such some games are near impossible to play in this day and age.

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The Legend of Zelda has 19 titles, not including rereleases, remasters, or remakes. This makes it tough for Nintendo because while it focuses on new releases, it also needs to keep an eye out for titles that fans simply do not have access to. Now that it’s 2021 and Skyward Sword is getting an HD rerelease, it’s time to look back and see what games are on older consoles and could use a modern release.

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All of The Legend of Zelda Games Available on Nintendo Switch


The Nintendo Switch is just over four years old now, but surprisingly there are a lot of Zelda titles available. If a fan of the franchise, new or old, were looking to experience the oldest or newest entries into The Legend of Zelda series the Switch is the best console to do so. That is because thanks to its online membership program fans get access to some of the oldest Zelda titles, along with new Zelda releases such as Skyward Sword HD.

These are the Legend of Zelda games available for Nintendo Switch:

  • The Legend of Zelda (1986) – The original entry into The Legend of Zelda series is available through the Nintendo Switch Online membership program. Members have access to a growing library of re-released NES and SNES games, and The Legend of Zelda can be found in the NES library. Alongside the original version is an enhanced edition that gives players a boon of items at the beginning of the adventure to make trekking through this classic a little easier.
  • Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (1987) – Similarly to The Legend of Zelda on the NES, Zelda 2 is also available with the Nintendo Switch Online program. It also has an enhanced version of the game giving the player many items and abilities right from the start, though the game itself is still quite challenging despite this. This makes every NES version of Zelda games currently accessible to Switch owners.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991) – The first Zelda game to release on the SNES was also re-released on the GBA in later years. Like the NES iterations, this entry is also available through the Nintendo Switch Online program in the SNES library. However, unlike the NES entries, A Link to the Past does not include an enhanced version of the game, though this could change with future updates.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993) – This entry is where this list starts to take a turn, as Link’s Awakening game was originally released for the Game Boy and later re-released for the Game Boy Color. It was remade from the ground up in all its glory for the Switch. It includes additional features than the original, but if fans are looking to play the original and not the remake, the easiest way would be the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
  • Skyward Sword (2011) – Now technically Zelda Skyward Sword isn’t available on the Switch just yet, though it will be re-released in HD in July 2021. Before then, however, it was only accessible on the Nintendo Wii and Wii U.
  • Breath of the Wild (2017) – This one is obvious as it’s a staple of the Switch, but it was also available on the Nintendo Wii U at the same time.

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Legend of Zelda Games Trapped on Older Systems

Oracle of ages and Majora's Mask feature photo

Fans of the Legend of Zelda series who only have a Switch are out of luck if they’re looking to give other entries a try. This is because some titles were ported to consoles that are now out of date, while others simply weren’t re-released at all. These Zelda titles are currently unavailable on the Switch, and a few are near impossible to play.

  • Ocarina of Time (1998) – One of the biggest games of the Zelda series has seen a couple of rereleases including a more challenging mode on the GameCube. Currently, the latest iteration of Ocarina of Time is available as the remaster Ocarina of Time 3D for the Nintendo 3DS.
  • Majora’s Mask (2000) – Similarly to Ocarina of TimeMajora’s Mask also saw a rerelease on the GameCube with a remaster available on the 3DS titled Majora’s Mask 3D. If fans are looking for the truest experience, they will have to either find an original N64 copy or the rarer GameCube version.
  • Oracle of Ages / Oracle of Seasons (2001) – This pair of underrated games were originally for the Game Boy Color, and are currently available on the 3DS eShop.
  • Legend of Zelda: Four Swords (2002) – The port of A Link to the Past also included a multiplayer-only adventure called Four Swords. It was re-released temporarily as a DSiWare title with a new single-player option and additional areas. It was later re-released once more on the 3DS eShop to celebrate the release of Link Between Worlds in 2014. It is currently unavailable unless already downloaded on a Nintendo DS or 3DS console.
  • The Wind Waker (2002) – The Zelda game that showcased a cel-shaded art styleoriginally released on the GameCube, was later remastered as The Wind Waker HD for the Wii U. It can still be downloaded through the Wii U eShop.
  • Four Swords Adventures (2004) – This iteration played much like the version seen on the GBA, but was for the GameCube. Though despite this, players who wanted to play multiplayer each required their own GBA and Link Cable. It hasn’t been re-released and can only be played on GameCube.
  • The Minish Cap (2004) – Another GBA title, though this one can still be downloaded on the Wii U through its Virtual Console.
  • Twilight Princess (2006)Much like Breath of the Wild being released on a former console and the latest one, Twilight Princess was available for GameCube at the same time that it was available for the Wii. Twilight Princess HD is the remaster that can be downloaded on the Wii U.
  • Phantom Hourglass (2007) – Originally released on the Nintendo DS, this touch screen focused adventure can also be played on the 3DS if fans still have their original copy. Otherwise, it is available through the Wii U’s Virtual Console.
  • Spirit Tracks (2009) – Just like how Phantom Hourglass can be enjoyed on the 3DS if fans own an original copy, it can also be downloaded on the Wii U’s Virtual Console.
  • A Link Between Worlds (2013) – This sequel to Link to the Past was originally released on the 3Ds and currently can only be played on its original console.
  • Tri Force Heroes (2015) – This was the last Zelda game to be released on the 3DS, and is currently the only console fans can enjoy it on.

Soon there will be 6 Legend of Zelda titles available on the Switch come July when Skyward Sword HD releases. There are currently 5 Zelda titles accessible on the 3DS while the Wii U has 5 accessible through an HD remaster or the Virtual Console. Four Swords was a limited release and can only be found on consoles where it is already downloaded, or the original GBA copy of Link to the Past, while the GameCube iteration Four Swords Adventures has not seen a rerelease as of yet and is currently only available on the GameCube. Perhaps one day the Switch will see more rereleases of past Zelda titles, though only time will tell.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD releases on July 16 for Nintendo Switch.

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