The 15 best video games of the 1980s

15 of 16

2. The Legend of Zelda

Released: 1986 (Japan) / 1987 (North America)

Platforms: NES, GameCube (promotional disk only), Game Boy Advance, Wii/Wii U/Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console

When presented with the opportunity to choose between multiple games in the same series, the principle this writer has followed has been “go with the better overall game.” Whether or not I’m following the principle by choosing the original Legend of Zelda over Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is up to you; for what it’s worth, I think I am.

The Legend of Zelda sets you down after one screen of the story saying that you, Link, need to rescue Zelda by retrieving the eight pieces of the Triforce. You’re given one sword and then given leave to do pretty much anything you want. There are no “stages,” per se; the dungeons can be done in any order, and you’ll need to explore to find them.

Is it the most user-friendly game out there? No, and that’s what’s stopping it from absolutely topping this list. It’s one very small flaw in a game that still holds up otherwise, from the iconic music themes to the fact that Link hasn’t stopped adventuring since. What puts it over Super Mario Bros. 3 is that The Legend of Zelda has a second quest.

Don’t believe us? The next time you start a new file, put your name in as Zelda.