The 10 best games like The Legend of Zelda on iPhone and iPad


The 10 best games like The Legend of Zelda on iPhone and iPad

Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series is so deeply embedded in video game culture that it goes beyond simply being part of the furniture.

It’s part of the foundations.

Just look at the number of games - across platforms, decades, and genres - that have pinched a feature or two from the Zelda series.

Whether it's the whimsical world design, lightweight RPG systems, themed dungeons, rhythmic combat, or distinctive armoury, Zelda's fingerprint can be felt on thousands of games.

On iOS alone there are dozens of games that can trace their lineage directly back to a Zelda game. Here are ten of our favourites.

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
By Cornfox & Bros. - buy on iPhone and iPad

Oceanhorn isn’t just the most recent Zelda-inspired game on this list - it’s also the most blatant. Its vibrant world, charming character design, and gently taxing dungeons certainly ring a bell.

Its suspiciously familiar UI elements rip that bell right off the wall.

All is forgiven, though, because Oceanhorn does such a bang-up job of it. This isn’t a rip-off, it’s a worthy tribute.

Ittle Dew
By Ludosity - buy on iPhone and iPad

Another recent addition to the Zelda fan club, Ittle Dew harks back to Link’s top-down 2D adventures of yore. As with certain other games on this list, Ludosity attempts to disguise its infatuation with Zelda by cracking jokes at its expense.

Still, with plenty of puzzle-strewn dungeons, a drip feed of inventive items and weapons, and a steadily unfurling game map, its affection is obvious.

By Phosphor Games Studio - buy on iPhone and iPad

Horn is the only game on this list to aim for the full 3D opulence of Link’s console outings such as Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword. Obviously it’s not as good as any of those games, but then Horn has its own unique charms - chiefly its strangely beautiful fantasy world.

While it adopts a Zelda-esque semi-open structure and a familiar mixture of third and first-person mechanics, Horn’s controls have been wisely tailored to its host platform - which, in its own way, is another trick influenced by Zelda.

LostWinds 2: Winter of the Melodias
By Frontier Developments - buy on iPhone

LostWinds 2 might be a side-scrolling, touch-driven game, but its charming and wholly convincing world design, supreme level of polish, and finely calibrated mixture of puzzles and action are pure Zelda.

The concept of controlling the elements through various intuitive gestures is also blatantly a trick Frontier learned from a certain boy in green.

Mage Gauntlet
By RocketCat Games - buy on iPhone

Mage Gauntlet focuses on the action part of the action RPG genre, but it still wears its Zelda influence proudly. Indeed, in the app’s description Rocket Cat explains that "It's inspired primarily by 90's action RPGs for the Super Nintendo, such as Legend of Zelda: LTTP."

That’s why you get a slick top-down adventure game that cuts out the dull fetch quests and replaces it with thrilling, tactile action. It might lack Zelda’s brains, but Mage Gauntlet is full of the great series’s plucky spirit.

My Little Hero
By Acne Play - buy on iPhone

Many games, in trying to emulate Zelda, go for a sweeping epic tone. My Little Hero, however, understands that Nintendo’s series is built on the simple child-like desire to explore.

In fact, it takes to the theme quite literally, placing you in the role of a kid venturing out into the world with a cardboard box helmet and a similarly flimsy cardboard sword to take on the boogeyman. Lovely stuff.

By Touch Foo - buy on iPhone

Swordigo looks to an oft-forgotten chapter of Link’s storied history for inspiration. The second ever Zelda game, which was launched on the Nintendo NES, switched to an unorthodox side-scrolling perspective, and the same is true of Touch Foo’s game.

By mixing platform elements with the usual action-RPG tropes, Swordigo manages to stand out from the Zelda fan club.

Zenonia 3
By Gamevil - buy on iPhone

The Zenonia series has somewhat lost its way in recent years, failing to address persistent issues (it’s a bit grindy) whilst adding a large dose of IAP-induced pain. Zenonia 3 marks the last point at which it was simply an enjoyable and generously proportioned Zelda-indebted action-RPG.

Take your blank slate blonde swordsman and slice your way through a verdant fantasy land, gaining new skills and narrative clarity along the way. Come on, you love this stuff as much as we do.

By Pixel and Texel - buy on iPhone

Fara is another game to adopt a suitably childish approach to its Zelda crush. Confronted by its overwhelming love for Miyamoto’s creation, it relentlessly takes the mickey out of it.

In fairness it’s a parody of all things RPG, but its structure and lack of hardcore RPG elements are all classic 2D Zelda.

Anodyne Mobile
By Analgesic Productions - buy on iPhone

We gave Anodyne Mobile a bit of a hard time when it was first launched thanks to some slightly broken virtual controls (it’s a conversion of a Flash game). It’s still not quite as slick as we’d like on that front, but the developer has undoubtedly improved matters.

These control improvements allow us to better appreciate the excellent Zelda-like action contained within. Again, the developer mixes a healthy dollop of self-aware humour into Anodyne’s top-down gameplay, but it’s also surprisingly moving in places.

Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.