The conversation about whether video games are even meant to be entertainment for adults has persisted since the medium’s inception. In 2020, video games have matured in terms of themes, content, and style—but to this day, some games that appeal to kids are actually just as impressive and engaging as material meant for grown-ups. There’s no greater proof of this than the enduring appeal of The Legend of Zelda, a fantasy-adventure series conceived of by the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto in 1986.
Although every Zelda game reimagines the cartoon-y kingdom of Hyrule, each iteration retains a childlike innocence the likes of which seem to be disappearing from video games as an artistic medium, as more creators rely on realism, shock, awe, ultra-violence, and grimdark color palettes to sell copies. Although most games in the franchise share similar mechanics (action-oriented combat, time manipulation, a plethora of items and weapons, seemingly endless sidequests), what Zelda games, more importantly, have in common is a lighthearted and upbeat visual style.
Breath of the Wild, the most recent game in the Zelda franchise, was widely hailed as a near-perfect (if not totally perfect) video game. But now, three years after that game dropped, fans of Zelda might be looking for something new. We’ve compiled a list of games that should appeal to fans of Zelda ranging from retro classics to indie experimentations, to new releases.