Where to (officially) play every Legend of Zelda game in 2023

Where to (officially) play every Legend of Zelda game in 2023

Updated: 5 days, 6 hours, 16 minutes, 58 seconds ago

In 2023, Polygon is embarking on a Zeldathon. Join us on our journey through The Legend of Zelda series, from the original 1986 game to the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and beyond.

With The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom on the horizon, you might find yourself looking to revisit Link’s history. The Zelda series has graced every official Nintendo console over the last (almost) 40 years, been (re)released on Virtual Consoles, and a few games have even been remade or remastered. And that means replaying the games is not exactly easy.

In 2023, Polygon is embarking on a Zeldathon. Join us on our journey through The Legend of Zelda series, from the original 1986 game to the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and beyond.

We’re going to focus on the mainline Zelda games here and skip over games like Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures, Tri-Force Heroes, Link’s Crossbow Training, and Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland. We’ll also ignore games on consoles like the Phillips CD-i or the Barcode Battler II.

The short answer here is: If you only have a Switch, you can play seven of the 15 main story games. The longer answer is: If you have a Switch, Wii U, and 3DS, you can play most of them — for now (more on this below). The longest (and most unlikely) answer is: The surest way to be able to play all Zelda games is to already own physical copies (or find physical copies) of the games along with the consoles they were released on — but, if that’s the case, this guide really isn’t for you (and we are jealous).

Below, we’ll list where you can play every mainline Zelda game in 2023 (for now) and talk about our caveats to the list.

Some caveats and notes...

We’re going to stick with the mainline games here and not branch off into the many spin-offs or releases on, frankly, forgotten systems. We’re only going to cover the main 15 games in which Link is the protagonist, and that more or less belong to the official timeline.

We’re also going to keep our options limited to the Wii U (remember the Wii U?), 3DS, and Switch, along with their respective stores, Virtual Consoles, and Nintendo Switch Online service (which requires a Nintendo Switch Online subscription for $19.99/year or $49.99/year for a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack).

We’re not going to include any old consoles you might still have, or might pick up on eBay along with physical copies of old games — it’s possible, and more power to you, but it involves things like an HDMI converter, and that sounds like a whole thing.

We’ll also include the the NES and SNES Classic Edition consoles (Nintendo no longer lists these machines in their store, but you can still occasionally find them at third-party retailers for around $200) and the Nintendo Game and Watch: Legend of Zelda standalone device for the couple of games it gives you access to.

The biggest caveat, though, is that you’ll have access to some of these games for only a couple more months, as of this writing, because…

The Wii U and DS eShops are closing

It’s important to note here that the Wii U and 3DS Stores will be discontinued and no longer supported by Nintendo as of March 27, 2023. You can make purchases (and download your games) up until then, but only if you link your (old) Wii U/DS Nintendo Network ID wallet with your (new) Nintendo Account wallet.

Unfortunately, this also means that the Virtual Consoles for both will stop working on that date. This means you’ll that lose access to a lot of the games below — you’ll still have access if you bought and downloaded the games through the eShop, though.

Where to play every Zelda game

With all of the caveats above in mind, you’ll find a list of where to play all of the main story Zelda games below.

To cover them all, you’ll need a Switch, Wii U, and a 3DS, along with access to their virtual consoles. If you’ve only got a Switch, you’ll miss out on eight of the 15.

The Legend of Zelda (1986) Switch: Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online 3DS: Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console Other: Game and Watch: Legend of Zelda Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988) Switch: Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online Wii U and 3DS: Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console Other: NES Classic Edition and Game and Watch: Legend of Zelda The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1992) Switch: Super Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online Wii U and 3DS: Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console Other: SNES Classic Edition The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993) Switch: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was remade for the Switch in 2019. 3DS: Nintendo eShop and Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console Other: Game and Watch: Legend of Zelda The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998) Switch: Nintendo 64 - Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack Wii U: Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console 3DS: Nintendo eShop The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000) Switch: Nintendo 64 - Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack Wii U: Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console 3DS: Nintendo eShop The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (2001) 3DS: Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003) Wii U: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD was released for the Wii U in 2013. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004) Wii U: Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006) Wii U: The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess HD was released for the Wii U in 2016. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (2007) 3DS: Phantom Hourglass was released for the DS in 2007, but no longer seems to appear on the My Nintendo Store. The 3DS is backward-compatible, so physical copies are playable. Wii U: Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009) 3DS: Spirit Tracks was released for the DS in 2007, but no longer seems to appear on the My Nintendo Store. The 3DS is backward-compatible, so physical copies are playable. Wii U: Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011) Switch: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD was released for the Switch in 2021. Wii U: Nintendo eShop - Virtual Console The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (2013) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017) and The Master Trials and The Champions’ Ballad DLCs (2017)