Here at AIPT, there are plenty of contributors that share a love for the Legend of Zelda Series. We wear our heart containers on our sleeves, and there’s no shortage of debates on which game is the best in the series, what the best characters are, or who the worst NPC Zelda has to offer is (Tingle’s name gets thrown around a lot on that one). But there is an often-overlooked aspect that is a crux of the series: what are the best items that Zelda has to offer? Well, this list is here to remedy that, or more accurately, spark disputes in our Discord (you’re welcome to join!). So, with that in mind, here are the 20 best items in the Zelda series.
20. The Shovel
At first glance, it may seem out of place to have a shovel in the same list as other epic items on the list, but I dare you to deny the satisfying feeling of unlocking the shovel in the Zelda series. The shovel is vital to discovering all the hidden treasures lying just beneath the surface. Appearing in most 2D Zelda games, the shovel is used to dig up treasure and sometimes enemies beneath the soil. It can also unearth holes that lead to secrete passages. There isn’t a significant level of variety to the shovel — I mean, it’s a shovel — but in Four Sword Adventures, it can be upgraded to chime when undiggable secrets are near — essentially becoming a metal detector and shovel all in one.
Your first impression of the Spinner might be, “why is that a thing?” but stay with me on this one. In terms of fun gameplay mechanics, the Spinner is a blast. It’s a giant top that Link can ride Tony Hawk style, hooking onto rails and racing across the boards as if working a grinding combo. The Spinner’s sides can also act as a gear, turning knobs and mechanical parts similar to the inside of a clock, and Link can ride across quicksand and navigate his descent when jump falling. The Spinner is necessary to defeat Stallord, a dungeon boss, in a boss fight that makes full use of its functions. In a series known for its fantastical items, the Spinner is undoubtedly one of the most unique items in the franchise.
18. Ball and Chain
The Ball and Chain is like something out of Soulcalibur that somehow made its way into Hyrule. Making a single appearance in Twilight Princess, Link unlocks the Ball and Chain after defeating Darkhammer (the name doesn’t quite match his weapon of choice). Whether breaking through rocks or ice, deflecting projectiles, or making short work of your enemies, the Ball and Chain is a joy to use. The only detriment is that Link’s movement noticeably slows while it’s equipped. Some items are one-offs that are catered to the mechanics of the game they are featured in, but I can’t help but think that the Ball and Chain would fit perfectly in Breath of the Wild.
Taking the ball and chain to the next logical – or illogical – step is BowWow. I cannot fathom the mind that came up with this, but in Link’s Awakening, Link can use BowWow as a weapon. Taking an obvious visual cue from Super Mario’s Chain Chomp, BowWow is more akin to a dog on a leash that Link has under semi-control. On Koholint Island, Chain Chomps are pets, and for a short period, Link can take BowWow (the biggest one there is) for a walk. Honestly, BowWow has more of a mind of its own, and Link vaguely directs the carnage. No other game in the series has come close to creating such an absurd experience.
16. Pegasus Boots
Sometimes called the Pegasus Shoes, the Pegasus Boots have appeared across six Zelda titles. The premise is simple, but effective: once Link gets his hands on the Pegasus Boots, he can dash at high speeds, which may not seem like much, but vastly improves the quality of life for the top-down games it appears within. With the boots firmly on his feet, Link can dash across the map, a vast improvement when compared to his typical swagger. The boots also provide a running bash; knock objects out of trees like rupees or apples, or charge at enemy’s full boar like a knight jousting his opponent. The Pegasus Boots is an item that deceptively useful; once in your inventory, you wonder how you ever played without it.
15. Ravio’s Bracelet
Many items in Zelda frequently reappear in one form or another, but there are the outliers that make a rare single appearance while still making a lasting impression. Ravio’s Bracelet is one such example. Making its only appearance in A Link Between Worlds, the bracelet granted Link the ability to shift from 3D to 2D, merging with walls in a cave painting appearance. Knowing the team behind Zelda, this seemingly simple power was perfect for solving puzzles, navigating the world, or preceding combat. You can slip through cracks, literally, and travel to the alternate world of Lorule, a warped version of the world with its own obstacles to overcome. Rarely do the Zelda series items feel like throwaways, but Ravio’s Bracelet is the best example of using a newly introduced item to its fullest extent.
Your mom’s favorite mason jars don’t hold a candle to the bottles in The Legend of Zelda. Nearly every Zelda game of note has included a bottle (or four) as an item. It’s impossible to figure out how many times a fairy stored in a bottle has freed you from the clutches of death, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. You can keep magic potions, life elixirs, water, bugs, Lon Lon Milk, and far too many other uses to rattle off on one listicle. The bottle may not be as flashy as other items or provide a thrilling final blow to an enemy, but few other items on this list are as dependable or resourceful as the bottle.
13. Cane of Somaria
It’s a wonder that the Cane of Somaria hasn’t reappeared in the Legend of Zelda series more often, considering how easily it lends itself to puzzle solving. With only two occurrences in the Zelda franchise, A Link to The Past and Oracle of Ages, the Cane of Somaria could (and should) appear in future Zelda outings. The cane can create a single block that Link can push, or carry around, but only one block can exist at any given time. It can be used to hold down switches in dungeons or double as an object to get behind during battle. Years before Breath of Wild’s remote bombs, the blocks in A Link to the Past could be detonated.
A shield may not be as fun as other items, but when a fireball is hurled toward you at breakneck speed, you’ll wish you had something to defend yourself with. The sword and shield go hand in hand, and although the sword may be the more gratifying item, the shield changes the flow of combat significantly. Without it, all you can do is duck, dip, dive, and…dodge attacks. Beyond merely bearing the brunt of attacks isn’t all the shield can do; the shield can also deflect projectiles or take a rare offensive approach with the aptly titled Shield Bash in Skyward Sword.
Like other traditional Zelda items, the shield has taken on many forms throughout the years. Wooden shields, ancient shields, and even the renowned Hylian Shield, but no other shield has been as popularized as much as the Mirror Shield. First appearing in A Link to the Past, the Mirror Shield can reflect magic and light. Majora’s Mask featured the mirror shield most prominently, reflecting light to crumble objects and solve puzzles.
11. Sheikah Slate
The Shiekah Slate may be a bit of a cheat, considering its addition to this list includes the myriad abilities it provides: two Remote Bombs, Magnesis, Stasis, Cryonis, a camera, and intel on the overworld. It’s essentially Zelda’s version of an iPad ratcheted up to 11 and imbued with magic. Instead of making you wait, most of the abilities are unlocked relatively early in Breath of the Wild, allowing players to test the waters on the game’s physics, essentially finding alternatives to solving puzzles and new ways to tackle combat. In terms of sheer versatility, few other items in the Zelda-verse can provide this much depth and diversity. Unlike other items, however, the Sheikah Slate can only be applied to the Nintendo Switch. No other game engine before it could do the Shiekah Slate justice.
As the old saying goes, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” It refers to an over-reliance on a familiar tool, metaphorically or literally. However, in the case of The Legend of Zelda, the hammer is genuine. But who can blame players for resorting to the hammer whenever the opportunity arises? The Hammer in Zelda always comes in handy, whether stomping down on a gigantic button, smashing boulders to dust, or turning a block of ice into cubes. And it also makes for a great alternative in combat, making short work of enemies. The Skull Hammer, in particular, found in the Wind Waker, is immensely satisfying. The cel-shaded aesthetic and the oversized bulk of the tool is something out of a Warner Bros. cartoon.
A variation of the Paraglider can be found in Skyward Sword as the Sail Cloth or the Deku Leaf in Wind Waker, but Breath of the Wild made extensive use of it. Considering the literal peaks that can be reached, the Paraglider makes traversing the world enjoyable rather than feel like a chore. Of course, you do have your trusty steed, but it doesn’t compare to putting a few kilometers behind you with a leap of faith. Find hidden areas, double back to points of interest below, or get an improved bird’s eye view to what lies beneath; the Paraglider is a perfect example of an item that doesn’t wear out its welcome. The Paraglider is still as satisfying to use the hundredth time as it was on the first.
8. Magical Rods
Magic Rods have appeared in Zelda since 1986’s The Legend of Zelda. In its simplest form, the Magic Rod fires a generic energy blast, but Magic Rods have become more specialized throughout the years. All of them unlock the Harry Potter within Link with miraculous glee. Granted, some of the Rods’ abilities are duplicated by other inventory items with more significant effect, but the Magic Rods never fail to prove fun to wield. The best rods unleash their powers with fury — the Fire Rod scorches the environment and enemies with reckless abandon, the Sand Wand can create pillars of sand in Spirt Tracks, and A Link Between World’s Tornado Rod can lift Link into the air. Considering how pretty much any novel magic power can be applied to rods, it’s only a matter of time before another magic rod appears in future Zelda games.
7. Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda has some of the best soundtracks in all of gaming. Few other game series are so intrinsically tied to their musical scores or their implementation of music as a game mechanic quite like Zelda is. Harps, flutes, and even a conductor’s wand have all made appearances throughout the years, but none of them are as legendary as the Ocarina of Time. The magical wind instrument is a necessity to beat both Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. The intuitive and straightforward method of playing the Ocarina is rewarding — some of you might even still remember the button configuration to Epona’s Song. You can fast-travel, manipulate the weather, or jump back in time three days to make things right. Honestly, did you know what an ocarina was before Zelda?
Masks have become as much a part of the Zelda series as the Hookshot. Even when a Mask isn’t an item in Link’s inventory, an NPC can be found wearing one, or an Easter egg is thrown in for good measure. Majora’s Mask made masks indispensable if you want to reach the end credits. There are far too many to list off here (that would be its own list), but there are masks that remain memorable: The Bunny Hood increases Links running speed and staves off Stalchildren from appearing in Hyrule Field, the Mask of Truth allows Link to speak to gossip stones, revealing secrets and an ability to talk to animals, and the Deity Mask transforms Link into Fierce Deity Link, a massive, suped-up version of Link straight out of the pages of a comic book.
Bombs have been around since The Legend of Zelda and have appeared in one form of another in every mainstream entry except for the Adventure of Link. Blowing things to smithereens is a good time in any game, but bombs are essential to discovering/unlocking hidden treasures in the Zelda series. Fans have come to recognize the signature cracks in the walls or give a closer look at a misplaced boulder, knowing in the back of our head we just need to gain access to bombs in our inventory in order to double back and see what lies just beyond.
The Zelda series’ best items can pull double duty by unlocking secrets in the world and affecting battle. Who hasn’t finished off an enemy or two with a well-placed bomb or yelled “kobe!” as they throw a bomb into a group of foes just waiting for the satisfying boom? In terms of reliability, damage levels, and joy of use, the bomb is among the best items Zelda has to offer.
Some items in Zelda have become so synonymous with the series that their absence in any game is immediately felt. The boomerang is among them. First appearing in The Legend of Zelda, boomerangs are a go-to for any Zelda title. Whether we collect distant items in the drop-down style games, stunning foes, or acting as a reliable weapon without the worry of running out, the boomerang tends to be in heavy use in the early hours of most games. The best version comes to us from the Wind Waker, as you can lock on to up to five enemies/objects and let loose. The only drawback is that once other long distant weapons are unlocked in some games, the boomerang becomes an afterthought. And yet, once your out of arrows or magic levels have depleted, we whip out old reliable.
3. Bow and Arrows
Bow and Arrows are every Zelda player’s go-to item outside of the sword and shield. Perpetually mapped to the B button for good use, Link’s prowess with a bow and arrow puts Green Arrow and Hawkeye on notice. Ask yourself, what is the last title to omit bow and arrows from your inventory? I’ll wait. It’s that natural association with Zelda and the bow and arrow that gives the item such prominence on the list. It may feel like a fantasy trope, but Zelda makes fair use of the bow and arrow with every appearance it makes, whether it’s a top-down or 3D outing.
It is primarily used as Link’s best long-distance weapon, and it also functions as a tool for solving puzzles or triggering switches from afar. In Breath of the Wild, the final boss battle requires The Bow of Light, arguably the best version of the bow and arrow to ever grace a Zelda game, firing arrows of pure light to end the darkness. I mean, as far as physical metaphors go…
First appearing in A Link to the Past, the Hookshot has become an item you anticipate gaining access to. Once unlocked, those pesky gaps or ledges high above are only a satisfying rattle of chains away. The spring-loaded chain hook has various functions depending on whether it’s making a 2D or 3D appearance, but its utility can’t be denied. You can stun enemies, pull items towards you, or pull yourself to a distant location.
Twilight Princess gave the Hookshot a fresh makeover with the Claw Shot, but it’s Skyward Sword‘s double dose of Claw Shots featuring three grapple hooks with dimensions like an animal’s claw that makes the best use of the item. Link could swing from one location to the next or lean on a wall with one hand while looking for the next grapple point. Call it what you will: a hookshot, long shot, claw shot, or double claw shot, but the Hookshot is as much a part of the Zelda series as the dungeons.
1. Master Sword
Seriously, was there ever any doubt that the Master Sword would top this list? Many Zelda titles in the pantheon of the series have included the Master Sword in one form or another. Unlike other items or weapons that could be forgotten with a series omission, fans anticipate the exact moment Link wields the Master Sword in all its wondrous glory. Making its debut in A Link to The Past, defeating Ganon without it feels unnatural. Not every game implements the Master Sword, but when it does, the moment of acquisition is colossal. The Master Sword’s most notable appearances can be found in A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time as the source of Link’s time travel, but it is also a welcome entry in Breath of the Wild as the only weapon that doesn’t break after taking enough damage.
Like Arthur pulling the sword from the stone, the Master sword is equally as embedded within Zelda legend, a weapon that is much a part of gaming lore as Excalibur is to the pages of written legend. Link can fire energy beams with his weapon of choice in hand, inflict increased damage, and victoriously quell foes. Even among the entirety of gaming, where swords are likely the most prolific and ubiquitous weapon to be found, the Master Sword stands as one of the most extraordinary blades to ever grace screens across the world.
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