Zelda 30th Anniversary | Top 10 Moments

By Az Elias 03.12.2016

Every fan of The Legend of Zelda has their individual fond memories and standout moments, but with the number of titles in the series, and with just how grand each instalment is, there are so many special parts to choose from. Many can be universally agreed upon, with some defining an entire game, whereas others provide more of a personal impact unique to that player. The Cubed3 team highlights ten such amazing moments from The Legend of Zelda franchise.

Navi Flies Through Kokiri Forest - Ocarina of Time

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Ocarina of Time is the first 3D Zelda game, coming in an era where 3D gaming was new and full of wonder. Perhaps no moment highlights this better than when players are treated to a first-person fly-through of Kokiri Forest through the eyes of Navi, as she heads toward Link's house to wake him up and send him on his adventure. The moment is complete with Navi bumping into a fence post, making this more than just a panoramic view of the town and into something with depth and character.
- David

Turning into Bunny Link - A Link to the Past

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When people enter the Dark World, they are turned into what is reflected in their heart and mind—so it is told in A Link to the Past, and so it is a weird, humorous and worrying moment when Link is transformed into a rabbit upon warping to the Sacred Realm. Link's kindness is perhaps best reflected in this cutesy animal, and the fact his change is accompanied by a light-hearted music track emphasises how little of a threat he is.

It is all the more worrying, though, when Link either doesn't grab the Moon Pearl item in the Light World that prevents the changing process, or is hit by a Rabbit Beam in various dungeons, as he is unable to use his sword or any items, making him vulnerable in risky situations and in areas with enemies. Link may have changed into more capable creatures in other games, like a wolf in Twilight Princess, but Bunny Link is still one of the most bizarre and unforgettable moments of the series.
- Az

Midna and Link Say Farewell - Twilight Princess

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Ganondorf has been defeated, Midna has been returned to her true form, and order is restored. There's just one problem: so long as the Mirror of Twilight exists, the worlds of light and shadow will always be in danger. Knowing it means saying goodbye forever, Midna uses her power to shatter the mirror, protecting both worlds, but separating her from Link forever.

Navi flew away without a word, Tatl was returned to Skull Kid, and Fi will forever be at Link's side in the form of the Master Sword, so Midna's departure is easily the most bittersweet goodbye across the console games. Few companions played as large a role as Midna, let alone went through the depth of character she shows. Perhaps hardest of all is that, for the first time in the series, there's obvious love there, and the ending of this game becomes a series high in terms of storytelling.
- David

Second Quest - The Legend of Zelda

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If you were one of the skilled ones to complete the first Legend of Zelda, you would have been treated to quite the surprise upon returning to the file selection screen. Thought the adventure was over? Think again! Link is able to restart his quest…albeit with a number of changes.

A higher difficulty and dungeons placed in completely different locations are the main features of the Second Quest in the original NES title. Even heart containers and shops are found elsewhere, just to mess with players' heads that little bit more. Supposedly created due to the programmers only using half of the map space data on the cartridge, the Second Quest is a hugely surprising gift to those who love a challenge, and it is interesting that such design didn't carry over into future Zelda games until the remixed dungeons of Ocarina of Time Master Quest. New Game Plus and Hero Modes with tougher enemies found their way into other titles in the series, but The Legend of Zelda's Second Quest is still unmatched in its apparent randomness at shuffling the dungeons and making life extremely difficult for players looking to run through the game again.
- Az

The Moon Crashes Down on Termina - Majora's Mask

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The destruction of the world is threatened in most Zelda games, but none face such utter and total annihilation as that of Termina in Majora's Mask. In three days, the moon is coming down, and nothing will survive.

The object of the game is to prevent this, but it's pretty much given that anyone who plays it will let that clock run out at least once, just to see what happens. What ensues is an epic, hauntingly beautiful cinema that turns destruction into an art form rather than a punishment screen—a huge effort considering it's a movie scene players are theoretically supposed to never see.
- David

First Time Running Around as Wolf Link - Twilight Princess

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Often, the fun in a game is less about what you're doing, and more about how the world reacts to you. While normally most of the residents of Twilight Princess' biggest town are too busy to take even the slightest notice of you, that all changes if you enter the city in wolf form. Their aloof "too busy to care about anything" facade falls away to be replaced instead with a lot of screaming and running. As you casually stroll about town as your quadrupedal alter ego, fear and panic grips everyone else in a most satisfying manner.

It's quite fun taking a break from being the hero to indulge in this mild act of terrorism, and while it doesn't affect the plot, it arguably adds character both to the residents, and to Link himself, who is normally above such acts of mischief.
- Thomas

Kafei and Anju - Majora's Mask

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The Zelda series has always had side-quests, but none are as involved as the mission to reunite Kafei and Anju in Majora's Mask. Across the three-day span found within the game, players must perform exact actions at exact times to keep things moving forward; one wrong move and Kafei and Anju will never have closure (unless Link turns back the clock and begins anew).

Across dialogue, stealth missions, puzzle segments, and even waiting until dangerously close to the end of the world, all the pieces must fall into place for these two to finally reunite, and throughout their hardships and misfortune, in the end they decide to simply sit out the end of the world together. Of all of the reasons to try to save Termina, these two are pretty high on the list.
- David

Lifting the Master Sword - Ocarina of Time

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So much happens and so many questions arise with the single action of young Link when he steps onto the pedestal in the Temple of Time and lifts the Master Sword from its slumber. A flash of light, a brief sequence of Ganondorf laughing maniacally at the entrance to the Sacred Realm opening up with Link's unlocking of the Door of Time, the revelation from the Sage of Light that Link's soul was sealed for seven years and that he is now an adult, and the meeting of a mysterious Sheikah named Sheik that points Link in the directions of the Sages that need awakening… This all occurs following that very moment.

The truth that Link has now travelled in time seven years paints a grim reality once he steps outside of the Temple of Time. The previous bustling market of Hyrule Town is effectively dead and littered with zombie-like redead enemies, the discomforting and dark Ganon's Castle now stands where the once-beautiful Hyrule Castle and its surrounding gardens used to be, the lush waters of Zora's Domain have been frozen over, the Gorons have lost their food source and been locked up as grub for an evil dragon… It may be seven years for Link, but it is but a few moments for the player, and it is a remarkable set of circumstances to discover after exiting Hyrule Town and revisiting the locations of old. It's exciting, if usually depressing, to find out what else has happened in the time Link has been asleep, unable to prevent the taking over of Hyrule by Ganondorf. Certainly, that first time time-travelling is a scenario every Ocarina of Time player will never forget.
- Az

First Time Setting Sail - The Wind Waker

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Departing Windfall Island once Link obtains a sail for his new companion ship, the King of Red Lions, is a wondrous moment. Granted, at this point in the story, Link must travel straight to Dragon Roost Island to receive the Wind Waker baton, which enables him to change the direction of the wind to his will, and it is at this point that the real adventure begins.

The vast expanse of the Great Sea and the freedom granted to the player to explore anywhere they like is one aspect that defined the original Legend of Zelda, but the same kind of feeling wasn't offered to such a similar and huge extent again until The Wind Waker, where Link is able to reach uncharted islands and scavenge the depths of the underground to reward in upgrades, items and heart pieces. That sense of total non-linearity, where the world is your oyster, brings a totally exciting aspect to the game, and fans that have replayed it multiple times will always have their favourite places to travel to as soon as the Wind Waker is in Link's hands.
- Az

Koholint Island Disappears - Link's Awakening

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There are some beautiful and standout moments in Link's Awakening: Link and Marin's time together at the beach; taking Bow-Wow the chain chomp for a walk; and stealing an item from the local shop, only for you to be referred to as "THIEF" for the duration of the adventure and killed by the shopkeeper upon re-entering the store. The ending itself leaves an incredible long-lasting impression, though.

With so many hints and mentions that what Link is experiencing is all but the dream of the Wind Fish, it was forever on the mind of the player exactly what would happen come its awakening. What would happen to Koholint Island and its inhabitants, or, indeed, Link himself? It is a heartfelt moment when we see Link being returned to his broken raft on the ocean and the very island he was just on flashes and disappears before his eyes. As Link looks to the sky, though, he hears Marin's famous song and sees a lone seagull fly across his view. Given Marin's wish in the game, could that bird be her? Aside from the fact it would be a terrible shame if that lovely girl really did change into a seagull (of all creatures), it is truly an emotional moment to witness the island that this wonderful adventure took place on vanishing before Link, questioning whether the people there and the experiences he had were real.
- Az

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