Yeah, I think I agree with you. With this it's not really a matter of the games and their actual quality, it comes down to nostalgia and personal preference. I played both OoT and ALttP before Majora's Mask, which is my favorite, but I didn't consider it my favorite right off the bat. I had to think about it for a while.
Exactly. At least for me. When I get my "gamer mode" opinion on, I have to say OoT is the better game due to challenge and interesting puzzles. Adventure of Link is harder because of sheer fight, hard enemies, but I'd say OoT is better because of more puzzles, which are more interesting. Oracle of Ages is also great for difficulty and brain-teasing puzzles. This is sheer "game challenge opinion." Twilight Princess, on the other hand, compared to these games - is easy. I found Wind Waker to be the easiest Zelda game I've played, but Twilight Princess, despite the "epic" looks and setups... has puzzles that are fairly simple (the Guardian puzzle gets me every time, tend to trial and error it, but most others are not too hard), and many of the bosses are depressingly easy to take down. (They *weren't* on my first playthrough, but after facing Bongo Bongo in OoT, most other bosses in any Zelda game are cake)!
I'm trying to get my fiance' into Zelda. He likes to watch me play, and sometimes will take up a point on a game and play through a little without saving, but all he ever does is fiddle around. I've tried to encourage him to go through with his own serious quest. He's played a little of TP on his own file, but mostly just to screw around (LinkBOB likes to chase squirrels and try to run Ilia over with Epona. Quest? What quest)?! I've tried to encourge him on a serious playthrough of a Zelda game and I've steered him toward TP - because... it's fairly easy. I think it is a good starter game for an adult gamer who's not had much gaming or Zelda experience. So maybe it is a "noob" game in a sense, but I really hate the term "noob" - such an annoying insult and it doesn't apply to every TP fan, certainly not to old school me.
However, Twilight Princess is my favorite - and it's because it hits upon specific themes that are very special to me. Link's life is a bit like my life, starting out - I relate to him very well. I love themes of "dark things" and the whole "dark isn't always evil" thing. It goes so far as to... before I played TP, I had written and completed a fantasy novel that featured a werewolf as one of the main characters! (A lady character who discovers her hidden heritage and revels in it because she wishes to "quit humanity.") Even some of the "Western-ish" aspects of TP hit right on the heart for me... having been born and raised in the American Southwest and coming out of a seven-year long obession with a Western-themed anime... TP just really pushed all kinds of buttons for me and came to me at just the right time, so I defend it pretty hard - it is, basically, "The Zelda game that was *unknowingly* made special for Shadsie." Sometimes, insults to TP - to its story and themes, anyway, feel like they're almost insults to *me,* but I keep it in perspective that different story elements appeal to different people and some of the things that I really love just don't appeal to other people. TP does have some very specific themes. Some people (such as me) love them and lap them up. Some people find them off-putting. Some people are indifferent.
As for the hype... Hype can ruin anything. Before I'd played TP, I hadn't been "into" the Zelda series for quite a while, so I didn't really pay attention to the hype like a lot of the ardent fans no doubt did. I saw commercials on TV and thought it looked neat, but, like all the N64 generation stuff I had missed, didn't think I'd ever get to play it, so I didn't pay too much attention to the fandom-hype becuase I was not, then, in the fandom. After getting to play TP, and getting ahold of the classics collector's disk to play OoT... I *had* heard the hype surrounding OoT. I'd entered the fandom through TP, saw people touting how wonderful OoT was, had online friends who were sure it would become my favorite game ... just wild over it... and... I guess it was all the hype, I was expecting a *lot* from OoT, so much, in fact, that it dissapointed me a little. As I said earlier, if I didn't see OoT's hype, I could have better appreciated the game on its own merits, instead of having all these wild expectations for it. I think TP is that way for those longtime-in-the-fandom folks who awaited its release, saw a lot of hype, and got their hopes up.
In any case, it's nothing to worry about. As my good longtime from anime fandom and sometimes co-fanfic-writer buddy says "Everyone has their favorite" (regarding Zelda games). Also, Zelda fandom is what TV Tropes calls an "Unplesable Fanbase." Any new game that comes out is going to have its fans and its detractors - not everyone will be pleased. Morevoer, I think everyone or almost everyone on this board likes all the Zeldas to more or less degree. Like Mases, said, just because a game is on the bottom of his "Zelda series list" - he still loves it as a game in genreal - I think most people here are like that. I think most people here would claim that there really is no such thing as a (Nintendo-made) truly "bad" Zelda game.