The consensus of Legend of Zelda fans know that the two most beloved games from the franchise are Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past. While this realization is obvious, details surrounding the most popular entries after these two become quite murky. What other games from the series do fans love? Do they love the darker tone of Majora’s Mask, the cartoonish elements of Wind Waker, or another game altogether? Hop aboard the game analytics hype train, as our results may surprise you!
We hosted our ‘Biggest Giveaway Ever’ contest in November, which involved giving away a Hylian Gold 3DS XL system. To enter, fans flocked to the VG Tribune Facebook and Twitter accounts and told us about their favorite game from the Legend of Zelda series.
The dataset consists of 15 games from the ‘comprehensive’ Legend of Zelda universe. ‘Comprehensive’, in this context, is defined as games created exclusively by Nintendo and/or from 3rd party developers. If at least one user mentioned the game, then it was included into the dataset. The complete list of Legend of Zelda titles used for this dataset are below:
- The Legend of Zelda
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
- Hyrule Warriors
The results from the giveaway concluded that the original Legend of Zelda (NES) is the most popular title after Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past, which accounted for 11.38% of all user entries. It is also interesting to note that these top three games accounted for more than 60% of all user entries. Next to the original Legend of Zelda, users also recognized Majora’s Mask as a favorite title (with 9.36% of all user entries). The complete results can be viewed below:
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (27.34%)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (22.57%)
- The Legend of Zelda (11.38%)
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (9.36%)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (8.26%)
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (7.34%)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (5.14%)
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2.57%)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (2.39%)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (1.28%)
- Hyrule Warriors (.73%)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (.55%)
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (.55%)
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (.37%)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (.18%)
Insight#1: Legend of Zelda titles from the ‘retro’ era (Pre-GameCube) are among the most popular.
It is not to completely say that the so-called ‘honeymoon’ period of the Legend of Zelda series is over, but the dataset clearly shows that titles prior to the GameCube era (i.e.: Nintendo 64/Game Boy Color and before) are a bigger hit among gamers.
Since the dataset’s original view was broken out by title, the insight above can be difficult to comprehend. To help clarify this, I decided to group each title into a Generation segment. This Generation segment is defined by the game systems (both console and handheld) that came out during a specific timeframe. Taking these timeframe definitions off of Wikipedia, I was able to classify each system under the following generations:
Generation 3: NES
Generation 4: Super Nintendo/Game Boy
Generation 5: Nintendo 64/Game Boy Color
Generation 6: GameCube/Game Boy Advance
Generation 7: Wii/DS/DSi
Generation 8: WiiU/2DS/3DS
From there, I was able to further classify each Legend of Zelda title under a specific generation. The alternate dataset view looked something like this:
Generation 3 (NES):
The Legend of Zelda
Zelda II: Link’s Adventure
Generation 4 (Super Nintendo/Game Boy):
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Generation 5 (Nintendo 64/Game Boy Color):
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
Generation 6 (GameCube/Game Boy Advance):
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess*
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Generation 7 (Wii/DS/DSi):
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess*
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Generation 8 (WiiU/2DS/3DS):
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes
*Note: Since The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was a multi-platform title (coming out for GameCube and Wii), I had to accurately split up the percentages into these two generations. I did this by looking at the sales numbers for the title on each platform. Roughly 20% of all sales for Twilight Princess were on the GameCube. As a result, I categorized 20% of the user’s responses who answered that this was their favorite game into the GameCube generation. The remaining 80% went into the Wii generation.
When adding up the percentages of users’ responses based on our poll and segmenting them by Generation, the final view looks like this:
Generation 5 was the clear winner, which accounted for 37.43% of all user entries. In fact, the top three most popular Generations were from the ‘retro’ era. This goes to show that the impact these older Legend of Zelda titles had on gamers far outweighs any of the titles released within the previous decade.
Insight#2: Only one DS/3DS Legend of Zelda handheld title was ever mentioned as a favorite.
Out of all the handheld titles released on the DS/3DS, only one title was mentioned as a favorite among gamers – The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. None of the other major handheld titles released on these platforms (i.e.: Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, and Triforce Heroes) were mentioned.
Why is that? One would think that these titles would make an impact, since the Nintendo DS/3DS are among the biggest selling systems of all time (Nintendo DS = 154.01 million units sold; Nintendo 3DS=54.34 million units sold). Each title sold relatively well, in fact, which further complicates this insight (Phantom Hourglass = 5.10 million units sold; Spirit Tracks = 3.34 million units sold; Triforce Heroes = 490,000 units sold). But alas, a ‘great selling game’ does not necessarily translate into a ‘meaningful game that generates different emotions/feelings for each gamer’.
Whether you are a veteran Legend of Zelda fan since the NES or newcomer to the series, it is clear that all of the titles have made an impact on gamers worldwide. While this data is only an extremely small representation of all Legend of Zelda fans, it is still great to analyze the feedback given on each of the titles listed. Being able to quantify the magnitude of this franchise through data shows the power of game analytics. Game analytics has and will continue to have a profound influence on the way we view video games.