All Legend of Zelda Games Playable on Nintendo Switch

The Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time

All Legend of Zelda Games Playable on Nintendo Switch

In the era of remasters, remakes, and ports, several iconic series are finally finding themselves available on a single generation of hardware in their entirety. With only a couple exceptions, players can now experience the entire Final Fantasy series on the PlayStation 5. Similarly, the Halo series is entirely playable on the Xbox Series X|S thanks to the Game Pass service. The Legend of Zelda is no different, with nearly the entire series playable on the Nintendo Switch now thanks to both physical titles and the Nintendo Switch Online service.

That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions because there certainly are. Both Wind Waker and Twilight Princess are conspicuously absent from the Switch library, as are the Four Swords games. Still, most of the mainline games in the Zelda series are playable under the umbrella of the Nintendo Switch, and it’s a miracle that they are. With many fans’ first experience with the series being Breath of the Wild or Tears of the Kingdom, including several classics in the series’ history on the hardware only guarantees the preservation and continued appreciation of these incredible games.

The Legend of Zelda (1987)

  • Avaialable via Nintendo Switch Online – NES Collection
The Legend of Zelda NES box

Arriving on the Nintendo Switch courtesy of the Switch Online service is the original Legend of Zelda. This game from 1987 is the adventure that started it all, introducing millions of fans around the globe to the green-clad hero Link and the world of Hyrule. Unique for its time thanks to using a save file system and requiring use of a map, the original Zelda game still stands the test of time as one of the greatest adventures in the medium. That a game more than 35 years old can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with contemporary games is a testament to its greatness. Thanks to the Switch Online service, an entire new generation of gamers now has access to this timeless classic.

  • Avaialable via Nintendo Switch Online – NES Collection
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link NEX box

Coming to the West just a year after the launch of its predecessor, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is a decidedly different kind of adventure. Rather than repeat the successful formula from the first game, Zelda II shifts the perspective to a side-scrolling view and adds in some RPG mechanics. With plenty of puzzles and requirements to speak with NPCs in various towns and villages, many players struggle with the complexity and unclear solutions presented in Zelda II. That the game features much more punishing enemy and boss encounters only adds to the challenge. It’s a worthwhile relic in the history of the franchise, but fails to live up to the heights of the first game or its SNES follow-up.

  • Avaialable via Nintendo Switch Online – SNES Collection
A Link to the Past SNES box

©SNES game key art – Original

Also a fantastic inclusion arriving on the Switch as part of the Switch Online service is the Super Nintendo classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The first and only game in the series featured on the SNES, Link to the Past is quite possibly the best 2D game in the entire series. A triumphant return to the top-down, action-adventure template of the first game, Link to the Past actually takes players back to the era before the original Legend of Zelda. As a prequel to the entire series (at least, up until that point in the series’ timeline), Link to the Past sheds light on some of the series’ most important characters and artifacts, including the iconic Triforce. Not only is this one of the best SNES games, it’s one of the best games ever made, period.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

  • Available via Nintendo Switch Online – N64 Expansion Pack
Ocarina of Time box art

©Zelda key art – Original

Another contender for one of the best games of all-time (and what many consider to be the greatest game ever made), the first 3D Zelda game is nothing short of a revolution. Arriving in 1998 for the Nintendo 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time takes the tried-and-true Zelda formula that the series establishes on the NES and SNES and successfully translates it into a fully-realized 3D version of Hyrule. Not only do several of the gameplay mechanics that Ocarina of Time debuts go on to be included in dozens of other games, its storey is arguably the most important in the complex series timeline. Based on the potential endings of Ocarina of Time, the series splits off into three separate timelines, each with their own games and chronology.

  • Available via Nintendo Switch Online – Game Boy Collection
Link's Awakening DX box art

The original version of Link’s Awakening arrived on the Game Boy in 1993, just one year after the release of A Link to the Past. Following the release of the Game Boy Color, Nintendo remade the title and added in the new color palette made possible with the system’s hardware, re-releasing it just a month after Ocarina of Time had landed in players’ hands. For years, this version of the game was considered to be the definitive Link’s Awakening experience, and for many it still is. Thanks to the new additions to the Switch Online library, several important Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles are now available to play on the system. Thankfully, players can still experience this spiritual successor to the excellent Link to the Past on modern hardware.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)

  • Available via Nintendo Switch Online – N64 Expansion Pack
Majora's Mask box art

For every fan of the Zelda series who considers Ocarina of Time to be the best game in the franchise, there are equally as many that hold Majora’s Mask as dear. Interestingly, Majora’s Mask is the first and only direct sequel to a 3D Zelda title to release on the same hardware until Tears of the Kingdom. Rather than take place in Hyrule, Majora’s Mask sees Link arrive in the new and mysterious realm of Termina, where an accidental curse has caused the moon to be on a collision course with the planet. Link must reverse this tragic fate and save the people of Termina within 72 hours, with only several magical masks at his disposal to help him in his quest. A decidedly much darker game than its predecessor, Majora’s Mask is a wholly unique entry in the Legend of Zelda series.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons (2001)

  • Available via Nintendo Switch Online – Game Boy Collection
Zelda: Oracle of Ages box
Zelda: Oracle of Seasons box

The latest games to arrive on the Nintendo Switch are the Game Boy Color classics The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. Capitalizing on the popularity of the Pokemon franchise and its different game versions relasing under the same banner, these Capcom-developed adventures are still looked back on fondly as some of the best titles on the Game Boy Color. Ages implements a unique time-travel mechanic for solving some of the series’ trademark puzzles, while Seasons (as the name implies) does the same but with a weather-controlling mechanic. Both games feature some of the best and most challenging combat in the series (handheld or otherwise) and are absolutely worth playing for any Zelda fan. It’s amazing that we finally have these underrated classics available to play on the Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004)

  • Available via Nintendo Switch Online – Game Boy Advance Expansion Pack
Zelda: The Minish Cap box

The Minish Cap is the last of the core games in the Zelda franchise to feature development contributions from Capcom, injecting their excellent pedigree of crafting some of the best action and adventure games into the world of The Legend of Zelda. The story of The Minish Cap brings players to the main, unbranching timeline in the era prior to Ocarina of Time and features a unique mechanic via the Minish Cap. With this titular item, Link can shrink down to the size of the Picori (otherwise known as the Minish) and enter spaces that would ordinarily be much too small. The game features tight combat and excellent puzzle design, yet The Minish Cap is an excellent yet somehow overlooked entry in the Zelda series. With the Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription option, players now have access to this GBA classic as well as several others.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

  • Avaialable in physical Nintendo Switch cartridge or digitally via the Switch eShop
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild box

Both a launch game for the Nintendo Switch and what many consider to be the system’s “killer app”, Breath of the Wild is one of the most important games in both the Zelda franchise and the gaming industry as a whole. Not only does the title completely revitalize the Zelda franchise and bring players back to the sense of limitless freedom and adventure that the first game only glimpses at, it successfully reinvents open-world game design during a time when many open-world games were beginning to feel like little more than bloated fetch-quests and marker chasing. Breath of the Wild embraces the spirit of the Zelda series while also just being a simply amazing game. Quite possibly one of the best games ever made and a watershed moment in the Zelda franchise’s history.

  • Avaialable in physical Nintendo Switch cartridge or digitally via the Switch eShop
Link's Awakening box

In order to help bridge the gap between Breath of the Wild and its (at the time) untitled sequel that had just been announced, Nintendo completely remade the excellent Link’s Awakening using a new 2D/3D art style. With textures that bring to mind plastic toys and collectibles and the introduction of some much-needed quality of life features, the Switch version of Link’s Awakening is a must-have for any new or longtime Zelda fan. Considering that the game arrived on the Switch prior to the Switch Online service getting a Game Boy collection, this was the only way to play the fantastic Link’s Awakening on Switch for years. Now, it exists as an excellent alternate version and remake of an all-time classic.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (2021)

  • Avaialable in physical Nintendo Switch cartridge or digitally via the Switch eShop
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD box

Coinciding with the 35th anniversary of the series in the West is the release of Skyward Sword HD. This complete rework of the excellent 2011 entry in the Zelda franchise makes some notable changes over the original. First, the original game’s requirement of using the WiiMote to mimic controlling Link’s sword is gone. Instead, players now use the right analog stick to complete the same motion inputs. The result is a control scheme that’s much more intuitive and less cumbersome. Aside from the changes to the controls, the title receives a full HD texture upgrade that highlights its incredible art design. As the chonological first game in the series and featuring some of the best dungeons of any Zelda game, this title is absoutely a requirement for any Zelda fan with a Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023)

  • Avaialable in physical Nintendo Switch cartridge or digitally via the Switch eShop
Tears of the Kingdom box

The most recent title to release in the Zelda series, Tears of the Kingdom is nothing short of a masterpiece. It takes everything that makes Breath of the Wild one of the best 3D Zelda titles and expands on it, providing players with what amounts to actual limitless freedom thanks to its clever crafting system. Now players can experience traversing the world of Hyrule like never before with the inclusion of the Zonai artifacts and Ultrahand ability, transforming the simple act of getting around the game’s map into something like Minecraft. Beyond the excellent additions and innovations to the series’ gameplay, Tears of the Kingdom features an excellent story that picks up directly after the events of Breath of the Wild and provides a satisfying conclusion to this era of the Zelda timeline.

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