The Legend of Zelda is arguably Nintendo's best long-running video game franchise.

Sure, the Super Mario series is lovely and all, but my little buddy Link could easily take Mario in a fight. And that's all that matters, really.

But how has Link specifically fared on handheld consoles over the last two decades?

As it turns out, rather well. He's starred in around a dozen games on Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, DS, and 3DS. And he's looking just as plucky now as he ever was.

Follow us, then, as we take a walk down memory lane with the green-suited hero.

The Awakening

Although The Legend of Zelda series started way back in 1986 with The Legend of Zelda for the Family Computer Disk System (and for the NES soon afterwards), Link's first outing on a handheld system didn't materialise for another seven years after that.

Of course, it was thoroughly worth the wait. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is still considered by many as one of the best Zelda games ever.

What made Link's Awakening utterly memorable was the fact it was the first Zelda title to be set outside Hyrule. Oh, and it didn't feature Princess Zelda at all. It was later released as a deluxe launch title for the Game Boy Color and on the Virtual Console for 3DS.

Then, there was a Legend of Zelda lull. Link wasn't allowed back out of his box for five whole years - either on console or handheld. And when he finally did re-emerge, he wasn't on handheld.

A Link to the Past

In fact, Link was to star in two massive N64 games (Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, of course) before he'd be seen again on a Nintendo handheld.

But his next handheld outing in 2001 - or should we say 'outings' - was a cult classic.

Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages are a pair of Zelda titles that remain firm favourites among many Zelda fans to this day.

Interestingly, they were the first 'proper' Zelda games to be developed by a company other than Nintendo. Capcom, in fact, handled development of these games. The two games were interconnected, so if you finished both, you could link them up and reveal the true ending.

Factoid for you: there was actually a third game in the Oracle series, making up the three parts of the Triforce, but it had to be cancelled since Capcom simply couldn't afford to take on such a massive amount of work.

Oh, and if you're wondering where this pair of games slots into The Legend of Zelda timeline, the events in these games lead up to Link's Awakening.

GBA and DS calling

We didn't have long to wait until the next handheld Zelda instalment. And it represented another rather interesting addition to the franchise.

2002's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords for the Game Boy Advance wasn't just a port of the NES original; it came with the first ever multiplayer Zelda game, Four Swords, played via a link cable (remember those?)

And then Link went on a handheld bender. Four Swords prequel The Minish Cap debuted on Game Boy Advance in 2005. Link then made the switch to DS for Phantom Hourglass in 2007. Both of these were incredible games.

He didn't stop there, either. Two years later, Spirit Tracks popped up on DS, marking a continuation of the cel-shaded visual style from Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass.

Yet again, Ninty had cooked up a wonderful treat. This time around, you had to focus on guiding trains around the overworld. In between, though, you could enter your classic Zelda dungeons.

The 3DS era

By the time the stereoscopic 3D version of Ocarina of Time landed on 3DS in 2011, Link was officially a handheld veteran. In the seven years prior to this, you see, he had embarked on three handheld adventures (compared to just the one on console - Twilight Princess).

It didn't stop there for Link on handheld. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition went live on DSiWare in 2011, with new content and a single-player mode on top of the Game Boy Advance original.

And plenty of older Zelda titles got re-released on the 3DS Virtual Console around this time. I mean, there ain't no Virtual Console party like a Zelda-packed Virtual Console party, right?

Link finally saw some more console action at this point, by the way, via Skyward Sword on Wii and The Wind Waker HD on Wii U. All of which leads us to the here and now, as A Link Between Worlds debuts for 3DS.

What makes this latest instalment in the series special is that there are direct links here to the world of 1991 SNES classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, meaning that Legend of Zelda veterans will have plenty to smile about.

You should now be counting down the hours until November 22nd...

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