Prior to more modern generations of console hardware, the prospect of having every entry in a favorite franchise available on one platform was something of a pipe dream. Since the launch of the Wii in 2006 and the incredible popularity of its Virtual Console service (as well as an industry-wide shift to online gaming and persistently-online consoles), developers have steadily released older games on newer hardware to help make this onetime dream now a reality. With the release of the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters on PS4, nearly every entry in that series is now playable on a PS5 (with the sole exceptions of Final Fantasy XI and XIII). In terms of franchises exclusive to Nintendo’s hardware, no other series is as close to complete on the Switch as The Legend of Zelda.
Launching with Breath of the Wild in 2017, the Switch is now home to the largest single library of Legend of Zelda titles of any Nintendo console thanks to both physical and digital releases, and the Nintendo Switch Online service and its classic game collections. Not only are fans treated to a brand-new mainline entry this year in Tears of the Kingdom, two of the best (and criminally overlooked) 2D Zelda titles arrived a month later via Switch Online with the release of Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. The following is a list of all available Legend of Zelda games on the Switch in the order of their release.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
The first Zelda game to arrive on the system is the Switch launch title and killer app for the hardware, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. After somewhat disappointing sales of Skyward Sword, series producer Eiji Aonuma and his team went back to the drawing board to reimagine 3D Zelda as an open-world adventure. The result is one of the most critically-acclaimed and best-selling games in the entire series, with the sales of Breath of the Wild totalling the cumulative sales of every 3D Zelda before it combined. And, in terms of a launch game for the Switch, you couldn’t ask for a better system seller. In the early days of the console’s lifespan, with not much initially available, Breath of the Wild could easily account for hundreds of hours of quality gameplay.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (2018)
The second game in the Zelda series to arrive on the Switch is not a main series entry but rather a port of the Wii U spin-off Hyrule Warriors. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition takes the classic musou gameplay of the Dynasty Warriors series and combines it with the setting and characters from the Legend of Zelda. The result is an addictive and noteworthy spin-off that provides dozens of hours of hack-n-slash fun with a willingness to not take itself too seriously. Musou games can wear thin pretty quickly, but Hyrule Warriors drip-feeds new mechanics and character progression just enough to keep the player engaged throughout its runtime.
The Legend of Zelda (2018)
With Nintendo launching the Nintendo Switch Online service in September 2018, as well as the NES Classic Game Collection as part of a subscription, it was almost a guarantee that both Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda would arrive as part of the launch. Sure enough, one of the first NES games available through Switch Online was the original Legend of Zelda from 1987. This version of the timeless classic features modern quality of life features such as save states and the Switch Online’s “Rewind” feature, allowing players to jump back in time to correct mistakes. Thankfully, for those that want a pure experience of playing through the original Zelda, these features are completely optional.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (2019)
Zelda II arrived on the Switch courtesy of the January 2019 Switch Online update, bringing with it a slew of new NES titles for players to experience via the Switch Online NES Classic Collection. Similar to the other NES games available via the service, Zelda II now features “Rewind” functionality as well as the ability to use save states. These save states truly come in handy in the case of Zelda II, which is notoriously more difficult than its predecessor. Zelda II might not have aged as well as the original (like the other NES-era sequels of beloved franchises) but it’s still an important piece of the series’ history that’s great to have available on Switch.
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda (2019)
The next Zelda spin-off arriving on the Switch is the excellent Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda. This action-adventure/rhythm game hybrid is a perfect fit for the Legend of Zelda, taking the characters and settings from past Zelda games and importing them into the gameplay of the much-loved roguelike Crypt of the Necrodancer. Players must move and attack to the beat of each stage’s music, and Cadence of Hyrule features incredible remixes of classic and familiar tunes from across The Legend of Zelda series.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (2019)
If having The Legend of Zelda arrive as part of the first wave of NES games with Switch Online was a given, then it stands to reason that A Link to the Past would be one of the first SNES games available on the system. Sure enough, the first wave of SNES titles to arrive on the platform included the 1992 classic A Link to the Past, and it brings with it all of the additional quality of life improvements of its predecessors’ Switch versions. Players can use the “Rewind” functionality to get the upper hand on boss fights or one of the title’s games of chance, and the use of save states helps with being able to pick back up right where you left off rather than starting from Link’s House or the Pyramid of Power.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019)
In a move that very few saw coming, the next Zelda game arriving on the Switch in fall of 2019 was none other than a complete remake of one of the fan-favorite games in the series: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The remake borrows heavily from the general flow of gameplay and content from Link’s Awakening DX on the Game Boy Color (including that version’s additional dungeon) but otherwise completely transforms the visuals to a 2D/3D hybrid that calls to mind plastic toys. The result is both one of the best remakes of a classic game and one of the best Zelda games, retaining the charm and brilliance of the original while updating it for a modern audience.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (2020)
Breath of the Wild‘s popularity is so immense that it was practically a guarantee that other games would want to capitalize on it, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity takes the winning formula of the original Hyrule Warriors and skillfully combines it with the setting, visual style, and gameplay features of Breath of the Wild. If you can only play one Hyrule Warriors game, Age of Calamity is arguably the better choice, as the ways it subtly weaves in gameplay mechanics from Breath of the Wild completely transform the traditional musou experience into something wholly unique within the genre. As a bonus, at the time of Age of Calamity‘s release, the title helped to ease the wait for Breath of the Wild‘s then in-development sequel.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (2021)
For the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo decided to remaster one of the more divisive games in the series — The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. As the lowest-selling mainline game in the series since its transition to 3D, it’s surprising that Nintendo would prioritize Skyward Sword over a remaster or Switch port of Wind Waker or Twilight Princess, but simply playing Skyward Sword HD helps to illustrate how worthwhile an endeavor it is. Skyward Sword has some of the best combat and dungeon design of any of the 3D Zelda titles, and that it was somewhat held back by its motion controls upon release is mended through the Switch version’s option to use the new analog stick control scheme. This is the definitive version of an incredible and important title in the series.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (2021)
Nintendo’s announcement regarding the Expansion Pack to the Nintendo Switch Online service came at a time when both Microsoft and Sony were adding tiers to their online subscription services, meaning eyes were on the “House that Mario Built” to see how the company would respond. Their play? To add both Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis classics to the service’s premium tier, including the arrival of the most critically-acclaimed game of all-time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, on the Switch. The greatness of Ocarina of Time is still apparent more than 20 years later, and its Switch release via the Expansion Pack means being able to play this classic with the benefit of all the Switch Online features.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2022)
Shortly after the launch of the Expansion Pack tier for Switch Online and the first wave of Nintendo 64 titles, Majora’s Mask arrived as part of an update in February 2022. This darker, more esoteric Legend of Zelda game is a fan-favorite for a reason, and the release of the title on the Switch via Switch Online has only helped to spread the good word of Majora’s Mask further. Even better, the game’s continually dwindling clock is made much more manageable through the use of save states and “Rewind” functionality, making this version of the Nintendo 64 classic the most accessible and beginner-friendly.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (2023)
If the Switch is going to have the remake available for players, of course it needs the Game Boy Color version of the original, right? Link’s Awakening DX comes to the Switch courtesy of an early 2023 update to the Switch Online service that finally brings with it Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles. Link’s Awakening is one of the first wave of titles to arrive on the service, which is thankfully part of the basic subscription tier. Playing the original helps to illustrate both how brilliant of a game it is and how much work went into the 2019 remake. This is many fans’ favorite Zelda game for a reason, and being able to play it on the Switch is a boon for fans of the series.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2023)
Perhaps the most criminally overlooked game in the entire Zelda series, The Minish Cap‘s arrival on the Nintendo Switch is the ultimate treat for Zelda fans who never experienced the game at the time of its release. The last of the games in the series co-developed by both Nintendo and Capcom, Minish Cap features some of the best dungeons and puzzle designs of any game in the series, and while it might be lesser-known among fans, it still exudes plenty of charm and is a must-play for those that haven’t completed it. As a testament to its greatness, Minish Cap is one of the first 6 Game Boy Advance games to arrive on the Switch Online service via its February, 2023 update.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023)
2023 finally saw the arrival of the long-awaited sequel to Breath of the Wild, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and somehow Nintendo was able to do the impossible. Tears of the Kingdom expands on the formula of Breath of the Wild in so many new meaningful ways that it’s hard to believe that everything the developers fit into it could exist within the space of a single game. Outside of the improvements it makes to the newer Zelda formula, though, Tears of the Kingdom truly understands what fans love about the Zelda series as a whole to potentially dethrone Ocarina of Time as the best game in the series. Considering that Nintendo will likely announce the Switch’s successor sometime soon, Tears of the Kingdom is a fitting series swansong on the platform.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons (2023)
A surprise release just a month after the launch of Tears of the Kingdom and the latest Zelda games to arrive on the Switch are The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. These two Game Boy Color classics are the first two games in the series to feature co-development from Capcom, and it’s a wonder that Nintendo and Capcom don’t team up more often for first-party games as both Ages and Seasons are incredible 2D Zelda games. The puzzles are deviously difficult and the combat is well-balanced and fine-tuned as one would expect. With these games largely unavailable for years, their arrival on the Switch means that an entire new generation of fans can experience their greatness.