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What's Your Preference: 2D or 3D Zelda?

What's Your Preference: 2D or 3D Zelda?

  • 2D Zelda

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3D Zelda

    Votes: 1 100.0%
  • Both Are Equally Stellar

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
Inspired by Spiritofzant's thread weighing the peaks and troughs of the Mario franchise in its various dimensions I decided to create a similar topic with respect to Zelda.

The 2D Zelda games are without a doubt more difficult than their 3D counterparts. Enemies are littered far less mercifully and bosses seldom fall victim to the traditional stun, hack-and-slash pattern found in more recent installments. Perhaps above all magic played a larger role in the 2D titles. Adventure of Link boasted a great variety of spells including the shield, fire, thunder, and reflect derivatives. A Link to the Past translated this purer use of the magic meter to its items. Never before or since has Link's arsenal been so dependent on the gauge. These included the fire and ice rods, lantern, and Canes of Somaria and Byrna to name a few.

The 3D installments, on the other hand, offer a deeper and more engaging narrative with a slight shift away from gameplay. While the environments are aesthetically richer, the difficulty gradient in these games is noticeably lower. The extra dimension allows for more docile dodging of enemies. Following the N64 games and to a less extent The Wind Waker magic was ditched in favor of a more physical approach to combat. Musical instruments play a part in this form of the medium like never before ranging from the ocarina to the most recent harp. One personal gripe is Nintendo's refusal to break from the norm and traditionalist conventions in designing dungeons with the added layer. Only with the final dungeons of both Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword did the Japanese entertainment behemoth endeavor something more. Hyrule Castle featured a large optional area, a bonus room, and a branching pathway. Skykeep added its own flavor to the mix by allowing players to alter the room formation if the dungon. But why should innovation be limited to the end?

Which do you prefer-2D or 3D Zelda games? Or are they both equally stellar? I'd like to hear your thoughts regarding each below. Also be sure to cast your vote in the above poll for documenting purposes.
Woo I'm inspirational! :D

For me its 3D every time, which actually hurts for me to say. My first Zelda was AoL, but i didn't know what Zelda was until ALttP which blew my mind (firs time I'd seen rain in a video game) the music was wonderful the graphics were superb and the gameplay was top notch, lots of interesting items, weapons and magic. The land was beautiful and it left a lasting impression, but i also sucked at it, i was always (and still am) very disoriented when playing a 2D Zelda (aside form the ds titles) because of the 'square shift' when you reach the end of the screen. for some reason i really can't get that down in my head and it also feels jarring, its something that has always held me back in Zelda as far as the 2D titles are concerned.

The 3D Zeldas feel like a homecoming for Zelda each time i play one. Zelda's land is beautiful and is always fully realised in 3D, the items are implemented better, and to me, the 3D Zeldas have more diversity.

Majora's Mask is very different from Skyward Sword and even Ocarina itself in terms or gameplay elements and narrative progression despite using the same engine.
Skyward Sword is very different from Twilight Princess and Wind Waker is very different from all of them.

Whereas for me the 2D games seem stuck on repeat. The Oracle games are at the same time, clones of each other and to me, play like a poor man's Link's Awakening.
Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks are clones too aside from one of them having more interesting characters and the other being as annoying as hell.
ALttP and Minish Cap feel very separate but minish Cap feels flat to me having played ALttP first.
There are also less defining elements to the 2D games, sure AoL was a dark horse and did things a little differently and the Oracle games had 2D side-scrolling sections but none of them when compared have the contrast in gameplay when you compare Wind Waker to Twilight Princess for example or Majora's Mask to Skyward Sword.

So 3D everytime, there are more games i like in 3D than 2D despite there only being 5 3D games in the Zelda franchise.


Staff member
Jun 15, 2010
Now I'm thinking I'm the one who should have made that Mario thread, Spirit. :bleh:

I tend to enjoy the 3D games more, with all of them being among my favourites. Link to the Past is the only 2D game I find comparable to them. All the games I find boring (Link's Awakening, Oracle Games) are 2D. This is no coincidence. I prefer the 3D games more.
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Mad haters lmao
May 26, 2010
Hylian Champion
You know, I can't really decide. The 2D games have all held strong and haven't truly disappointed me. The 3D games fell from grace after TWW. However, the 3D games include OoT and MM, so yeah. Oh, and something else: the 2D and 3D games all have the same format, it's just the dimensions we're restricted to. It isn't that much of a difference compared to Mario 2D vs 3D, just the limited graphics and the dimensions.

I'll pick 2D for poll purposes; it has strong and only strong titles (PH isn't weak but it isn't strong). However my heart goes with 3D for OoT, MM, TWW and TP. SS is a deep scar in the glasses, yes, but it CAN be repaired.


Jun 22, 2011
I think I'd have to say 3d Zeldas are my preference because there are less of them yet I've collectively played them probably two times more than all the 2d games combined. Ocarina of Time alone I've played more than all the 2d games in the series combined. The only 2d games that I've played more than once are Legend of Zelda (probably about 7 times), Adventure of Link (2 times), A Link to the Past (around 8 times), and Link's Awakening (around 4 times). On the other hand the 3d game I've played the least is Skyward Sword and so far I've played it three times. Twilight Princess I played probably 4 times, Wind Waker probably 6 times, Majora's Mask probably 8 times, and Ocarina of Time probably 35-40 times. My preference is shown by the amount I play the games generally.


~ It's me, Dio!~
Jul 6, 2011
Absolute unit
3D every time. Allot more effort and time go into creating the 3D games and from the Zelda games that I have played the 3D titles are much richer experiences. I love an engaging story in the games that I play and the 3D titles always tell it better. Graphics of course play a big part here, it's hard to get emotional over a sprite wheras when there are full 3D models which can show feelings then it makes you care more for the character and gives you a better idea of what they are like.

2D titles:
LOZ and AOL- I did not enjoy either of them. Little or no story and too hard
ALTTP- Better story than LOZ but I'd played OOT first, it just felt inferior gameplay and storywise
FSA- Lacked the emotion of the WW

3D titles
TP- Engaging stories, immersive atmospheres, fun gameplay

3D Zelda wins hands down for me, they are just better games.


Jan 10, 2011
On the midnight Spirit Train going anywhere
Both styles are great, so I really can't choose. Even though I voted "both are equally stellar", in the end, I ultimatley find myself playing the 3D titles more simply because the immersion is greater due to the multiple dimensions. Most of the 3D titles are better than the 2D's, as well (namely OoT, MM, and SS), so they really have that going for them. Still, I can't bring myself to favor one or the other. Especially since every Zelda game is fantastic. :yes:


If I was a wizard this wouldn't be happening to me
Forum Volunteer
May 20, 2012
Sub-Orbital Trajectory
3D. I always have trouble in 2D, since an enemy just has to touch you to do damage (exception in PH/ST). Bottom line, I have way more fun exploring a 3D game than a 2D game. The top-down perspective gives a lot away (ignoring the one-time sidescrolling), whereas the 3D perspective feels immensely more immersive.


Hero of the Stars
Nov 10, 2011
Lost Woods
I'd have to say 3D. I love the 2D games as well, however Nintendo often puts a LOT more effort into making a 3D game good.

Also, I like the 3D games more in General. I loved almost every 3D title that has come out. However with 2D, i only love ALttP and the Minish Cap. Link's Awakening was pretty good (Spirit Tracks counts as 3D right?)


Pokalink the avaricious
Feb 5, 2012
Outset Island
As much as i love the 2d games the 3d games are awsome the graphics are epic and battle is amazing, 2d is fun but once 3d came out it was old news.


one of many
Sep 27, 2011
Talking to the other zellinkdas
I prefer 3d games because of the detail of everything. although I enjoy 2d Zeldas like The original Legend of Zelda, my favorite games are all 3d zeldas. in 3d zeldas I can feel like I'm in the game. it feels a little more alive, rather than feeling like it's fake (even though it is..).
Jun 16, 2012
Faron Woods
I grew up with 2d Zelda games with A Link to the Past and the puzzles within it though when Ocarina of Time came out, it took a while to get used to the 3d world. I think that 3d worlds are better and more detailed but since I liked 2d worlds too, I think both are equally fun to play on!


Well Guys it all depends on the game. right now I am playing link awakeng and it is awesome and same with Ocarina of Time 3D but if the original OoT sucked then the newer one would be the same but in 3D see it all depends on the game. You are probably tinking of the worse 2D games like Zelda 2 Ithink both are great

Why doou have twinbellows from uprising on a zelda site?


Nov 12, 2010
Well, I think it's time someone says the answer no one else seems to want to say; I love 2D Zeldas far more than 3D ones. Unlike many people, I did not grow up with 2D Zelda; my first Zelda game that I beat was Twilight Princess. I technically played A Link to the Past first, but I didn't understand what to do when I originally played it. With this kept in mind, I played most of the 3D Zeldas prior to the 2D ones. I feel that this fact has kept almost all of nostalgia out of my adoration for the games - although some do linger for 2D Zeldas - providing as little bias as possible.

Let's take the one factor that always has bothered me; 3D Zelda lacks magic meters most of the time. The 2D game have always had an assortment of items - or spells - that require magic to use. This has added another element to the game that increased the difficulty; some dungeons required these magic-taxing items frequently. The lack of these types of things in 3D Zeldas were ridiculous; Skyward Sword could have utilized it for sure.

The next thing is the overall difficulty. I feel that a number of factors affected this. One of the most notable reasons is the lack of significant hints in the 2D games; the few guides that Link encountered in the 2D Zeldas offered little advice. The 3D Zeldas however, have guides that badger you constantly with helpful hints - many of which that people find to be exceptionally annoying. I don't think anyone has complained about hints in 2D Zeldas, and there's a good reason for that.

The next portion of 2D Zelda difficulty level would be the puzzles. I have always found 2D puzzles to be far more difficult than the 3D ones. The attention to every last dungeon design - at least to me - was taken into consideration when constructing some of the puzzle designs. Small things have stumped me in 2D dungeons for days on end, before I finally take a small guess, and end up being correct. Moments like this make me feel accomplished - far more than when playing a 3D Zelda.

Enemies also added to the overall difficulty of 2D Zeldas. The AIs were far more simple back then, and yet, the enemies were a lot harder to defeat than 3D ones. Granted, 3D ones end up being more laborious to defeat, but taking time to kill an enemy is not always due to difficulty. The sheer quantity of enemies in 2D Zeldas contribute to this difficulty as well. There are so many lurking in the overworld - and dungeons - that each and every last heart that you obtain may end up saving you from seeing that "Game Over" screen.

Bosses were also far more difficult to defeat. 3D Zelda bosses boast size and girth, but 2D Zelda bosses boast intelligence and cunning. I doubt that everyone here can say that the size of the boss in comparison to the room itself made it far more difficult to avoid attacks. In 3D Zeldas, you're forced to run in a circle around the perimeter while waiting for an open spot to attack. 2D Zeldas do not offer such luxuries. I have died many more times in 2D Zelda boss fights than 3D ones.

And this leads me to my final point; I feel the essence of Zelda has remained in 2D Zelda far more than 3D Zelda. This is a very opinionated stance, and I'm aware many people disagree with me on this, but after playing Four Swords Adventure, I felt that that should have been the standard for other Zelda games in terms of gameplay. The puzzles could have been more difficult, but that would be no issue to the mind of Miyamoto; his puzzles in A Link to the Past have stumped me far longer than any 3D Zelda puzzle has, To me, 2D Zelda just feels right.

PokaLink said:
2d is fun but once 3d came out it was old news.

Then why was Minish Cap released after Majora's Mask had already been made? Why did it do so well? I don't consider 2D to be old news at all.

r2d93 said:
Nintendo often puts a LOT more effort into making a 3D game good.

A lot of effort? You mean the same amount that they did with 2D, but with more resources and power to put the games in 3D? I don't think, had they tried hard enough, they could have made the original Legend of Zelda in 3D.

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