IGN Has Called Every Mainline, 3D Zelda Title the Best Zelda Game Ever Made

Googly-Eye Link

I’m not always comfortable trying to predict whether an upcoming video game will be any good, especially if it’s something we know very little about.

I learned my embarrassing little lesson with a game called Brink, which I paid very close attention to, watching and re-watching every trailer and gameplay video as they came out. This was being published by Bethesda, and all the videos looked awesome. How could it not be fantastic? I was salivating over Brink right up until launch, when I picked it up and put it back down just a couple hours later with a disappointed frown upon my face.

And I don’t think I need to remind you about how disappointing Aliens: Colonial Marines was after all the hype it received in the months leading up to its completely disastrous release.

But there’s one prediction that I’m pretty confident we’ll see come to pass: When the next Legend of Zelda game comes to the Wii U, IGN will call it the best Zelda game ever made.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend over at IGN: Every major console Zelda game (this excludes handheld-only releases) since Ocarina of Time has been called the best Zelda game ever by those guys at some point in time.

Zelda Wii U Field

Obviously, back in 1998, Ocarina of Time was hot stuff. So no one can blame IGN for making the claim that “Ocarina of Time is easily the best in the series,” in their official review. Despite my firm belief that it hasn’t aged well, I still respect the hell out of this game for being so groundbreaking.

But things start getting suspicious as we move into the Wii era. When Twilight Princess came out, Matt Casamassina, in his official review for IGN, made the claim that “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princessis, in my opinion, the greatest Zelda game ever created and one of the best launch titles in the history of launch titles…” Personally, I’ve felt this way for a long time. Twilight Princess was a game that consumed my life for weeks, and it has a special place in my heart that very few other games — even other Zelda games — can try to claim. But I can’t help but feel that this is the minority opinion, not the majority.

When Skyward Sword came out, Richard George wrote IGN’s official review for Nintendo’s motion-controlled opus. He claimed, in the review’s opening line, “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the greatest Zelda game ever created.”

Skyward Sword Bird

Wait, wasn’t Skyward Sword one of the weaker games in the series? It’s a fine game, if you’re into all that sword-waggling stuff, but it’s pretty hard to support an argument that it’s the best Zelda game. Remember, this is a series that contains gems such as A Link to the Past and The Wind Waker.

In George’s defense, IGN ran a video survey — a grand Skyward Sword vs. Ocarina of Time showdown— and IGN devotees voted on Skyward Sword as the superior game. So IGN’s readers were in agreement with him — at least, they agreed with him for a short period after the game’s launch.

Now, I admit that I’m going to cheat a little bit with my next two examples.

In the official IGN review from 2003, Matt Casamassina resisted the IGN urge to call The Wind Waker the best Zelda game of all time. He did say that, “Wind Waker is a masterful achievement — a shining example, in fact, of how videogames should be made and a case study for developers wondering what makes a compelling game.” That’s high praise, but its’ arguably not “better than Ocarina” praise.

But then the HD remake came out for the Wii U, and IGN did another review. In it, Jose Otero writes, “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD holds up as a marvelous game full of unique and wonderful surprises that remind me why it’s the best of the 3D Zeldas.” Best of the 3D Zeldas? So, better than Ocarina of Time then, huh? Note that he says that it “remind[s] me why it’s the best of the 3D Zeldas,” which implies the original GameCube version is the best 3D game in the series and the HD remake is a reminder of this, not that the HD remake was good enough to launch Wind Waker above Ocarina.

Wind Waker Ship

Now, to be fair, Otero did call out “3D” in his review, which means he probably considers one of the pre-Ocarina Zelda games to be his personal favorite (I’m putting my money on A Link to the Past as Otero’s true jive). Still, this review claims that Wind Waker is, in no uncertain terms, superior to Ocarina of Time. (I actually agree with that statement, though I again admit that it’s almost certainly not the majority opinion.)

Now, we’ve got one major post-Ocarina Zelda game left to talk about, the elephant in the room: Majora’s Mask.

I’m going to be honest here: I can’t really tell if this counts or not. IGN’s Majora’s Mask reviewer was Fran Mirabella III, who claimed “This title would have received a perfect score had it not been for the fact that Zelda: The Ocarina of Time already introduced so much to the 3D world of software. Majora’s Maskis that good, and better on some levels.” I don’t know what this means. Majora’s is as good as Ocarina, “and better on some levels,” yet a tenth of a point was deducted because Majora’s came after Ocarina. My interpretation is that Mirabella sees Majora’s as equal to Ocarina in a lot of ways, and better than it in others, yet it’s objectively less groundbreaking. Which is fair, but I won’t count that as evidence of my initial thesis quite yet.

However, IGN’s Editor in Cheif, Colin Moriarty, later offered an editorial called “Why Majora’s Mask Is the Best Zelda Game.” In it, he argues the very thing he states in the title, calling Majora’s Mask the best Zelda game ever made.


Majora's Mask Moon

So, to recap, here’s an easily digestible bulleted list:

  • Ocarina of Time – “easily the best in the series”
  • Majora’s Mask – “the best Zelda game” (retroactively)
  • The Wind Waker – “the best of the 3D Zeldas” (retroactively)
  • Twilight Princess – “the greatest Zelda game ever created”
  • Skyward Sword – “the greatest Zelda game ever created”

Clearly, IGN has a history of calling every major console Zelda release the best in the series. I have no reason to expect them to change their tune with next iteration. However, if it winds up being as interesting as it sounds like it might be, IGN might actually be correct this time.

But I’m trying to not get my hopes up too high quite yet; I don’t want to relive my Brink experience all over again.

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