When it comes to genre-changing games, look no further than The Legend of Zelda.
Originally created by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka in 1986, the franchise has 19 installments known for their free-roaming gameplay, colorful characters, and beautiful fantasy setting.
From the very beginning Zelda stood out from other games at the time. Most console offerings of the era were similar in style and function as their arcade counterparts. Gameplay was segmented into clear-cut levels, following a traditional left-to-right scroll, as the player jumped, punched, collected, and 1-Uped their way to the end of the game. Zelda, however, flipped things entirely on their head, giving the player an open world filled with friends, foes, and mysteries — not to mention the odd creature or two.
Zelda also stood apart from other genre offerings thanks to its classic fantasy plot and worldbuilding. The franchise takes place in the mythical land of Hyrule, which was created by the goddesses Din, Nayru, and Farore. After creating Hyrule, the goddesses designed an object made of three golden triangles known as the Triforce. The Triforce grants its owner special powers so long as they possess a balance of the goddesses’ three virtues: power, wisdom, and courage.
Each game in the series tells an important part of the history of Hyrule that — thanks to a wealth of games, spin off comics, novels, and an animated series — has resulted in a massive mythology that has steadily expanded over the franchise’s more than 30 years.
Working in tandem with the narrative are the beautiful settings inspired by Miyamoto’s childhood in Kyoto. Rolling green hills, blue skies, and breathtaking vistas combine with the narrative to create a familiar world infused with the fantastic. It’s easy to imagine a young Miyamoto roaming the Kyoto countryside, imagining similar stories of courageous heroes, wise princesses, and powerful foes.
Franchise: The Legend of Zelda
Original Release Date: February 21, 1986
The Legend of Zelda (1986)
Ocarina of Time (1998)
Majora’s Mask (2000)
Twilight Princess (2006)
Skyward Sword (2011)
Breath of the Wild (2017)
Learn more about the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inductees at MoPOP. Nominations for the 2018 inductees open March 14, 2019.