While we never thought we would see a true successor to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Nintendo went ahead and finally released its sequel almost 22 years later. During those 22 years, some great games have come and gone which hoped to continue the revolutionary gameplay of A Link to the Past and the rest of The Legend of Zelda series, which we have compiled onto this list of the 10 Best Zelda Clones. Let's take the time to put the spotlight on the titles which were most influenced by Link's journeys and tried to make their own adventures of a similar fashion. Whether these titles were blatant ripoffs, riding coattails or paying homage, they share common features with Link's adventures: hearts for health, expansive worlds, long dungeons, tools for exploring and dispatching enemies and epic boss fights. Someone had to keep the Zelda-style of gameplay fresh while Ganon was pulling Light Arrows out of his back, and it was the 10 Best Zelda Clones!
3D Dot Game Heroes (2010)
Starting off our list of the 10 Best Zelda Clones, we have a unique title which pays tribute to the 8-bit top-down, action adventure games with a modern twist - everything is made out of dots (technically called voxels). Well, they were more like squares, but who would play a game called "3D Square Game Heroes". 3D Dot Game Heroes takes everything we love about The Legend of Zelda and mashes it together with the recent surge of Lego-based games. You even had an arsenal which consisted of a boomerang, candle, and bow. The castle we have featured in our picture looks very similar in design to the version of Hyrule Castle featured in A Link to the Past.
PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Darksiders would have definitely ended up higher on this list, but it draws elements from the God of War and Devil May Cry series as much as it does from The Legend of Zelda franchise. In Darksiders, you control War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and must fight, explore and solve puzzles in order to progress through the story. Many of these puzzles have the "Metroidvania" effect where certain areas are unreachable until War finds the appropriate power-up to unlock it. The combat system is similar to Ocarina of Time's targetting system (which influenced much of the third person action genre), where War can throw his Crossblade similarly to Link's boomerang. Abaddon might not be Ganon, but Darksiders still holds up well on its own.
Golden Axe Warrior (1991)
Sega Master System
A spin-off from the popular Golden Axe series, Golden Axe Warrior was another one of Sega's attempts at trying to cash in on the success of the original Zelda title. Warrior tried to be true to the Golden Axe lore by included characters from the original series and included the Golden Axe itself. Warrior was widely criticized for shamelessly stealing from Nintendo. Even in this picture, we were expected a Zora to emerge from the water and spit out a fireball.
Neutopia II (1992)
Neutopia II contains obvious influences from the original Legend of Zelda title for the NES. Using bombs at cracked walls or clearing trees to unveil hidden entrances were directly taken from the original NES Zelda. Even on its box art, there is a blond haired man in green with a sword and shield protecting a woman dressed in white, which were obviously inspired by Link and Zelda. Nevertheless, for a TurboGrafx-16 title, Neutopia II had good visuals, music and offered a long, open-ended adventure for players to explore.
Crusader of Centy (1994)
Crusader of Centy was Sega's counterpart to A Link to the Past. In Crusader's intro, 14 year old Corona (the main character), receives the sword and shield of his deceased father, a hero of the city. Instead of tools or spells, Corona had a following of animals who would help him. Corona's dog, Mac, would bite enemies and hold them in place so Corona could slash them. Chilly the Penguin (maybe a reference to the 1950s cartoon), would bestow your sword attacks with the ability to freeze enemies in their tracks. In the provided picture, we have a scene which seems oddly reminiscent of the cathedral from A Link to the Past. Throughout the adventure, we find out that humans are at fault for many of the calamities which plague the world, offering a philosophical message about humanity as opposed to Zelda's traditional good vs. evil story.
Beyond Oasis (1995)
In the middle of our 10 Best Zelda Clones list, we have a title which is more like Secret of Mana than it is Zelda. But the weapons and level layouts are much more in tune with A Link to the Past. Beyond Oasis protagonist, Prince Ali, is able to wield swords, bows, bombs and magic spells throughout his adventure. Ali finds a golden armlet, which can summon four elemental spirits, which he must use to stop an evil person wearing the opposite armlet who is trying to destroy the world. Beyond Oasis might have been 2D, but it incorporated the same use of stairs seen in A Link to the Past in order to simulate a sense of depth.
Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole (1993)
Landerstalker: The Treatures of King Nole took the top-down Zelda perspective and turned it to an isometric view (which would go on to be popularized by the likes of Breath of Fire 3). Even on its box art, Landstalker depicted its protagonist, Nigel the treasure hunter, as an elf, dressed in green, with dirty blond hair. Toss in certain anthropomorphic creatures you have to help in order to find an ultimate treasure sought by people in high places, and Landstalker becomes quite familiar. Though Landstalker was more RPG in nature compared to the rest of the titles on this list, its Hylian roots are still evident.
Okami's director, Hideki Kamiya, has been quite vocal as to The Legend of Zelda's influence onto his 2006 classic. Okami was one of the most beautiful and unique games we have ever seen, but we just could not escape the overall Zelda vibe we got while playing. Issun can be the Okami equivalent to Navi. Ocarina of Time and Okami both have a giant spider as first boss. The Divine Wind is similar to the Gale Boomerang. The Vine works similarly to the Hookshot. Interesting enough, Okami might have been influenced by The Legend of Zelda series, but Twilight Princess seems to have returned the favor. Okami came out about six months prior to Twilight Princess, which could mean that Eiji Aonuma might have included wolf-form Link as a way of giving respect back to Hideki Kamiya.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas (2013)
As you can see by the two provided screenshots of Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas (the first is at the title of this article), it is very much a Zelda clone. Cutting bushes with a sword, breaking pots for money, hearts for health, sailboat method of travel, starting off with a wooden shield, visiting dungeons in-between and even having a spin attack, it seems like we have played Oceanhorn before. Though its inspirations are quite obvious, it is still one of the greatest games ever released on the iOS format. Even in our review, we gave it a 9.5/10. If The Legend of Zelda series was to come out for iOS, we sincerely hope that it would play like Oceanhorn.
Beyond Good & Evil (2003)
GameCube, PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Sitting atop our throne of 10 Best Zelda Clones is a title which seems to share very few commonalities with the Zelda franchise... at first. Jade, the heroine of Beyond Good & Evil, comes from an island populated with children, much like Kokiri forest. Jade's race is Hillyan (which seems like a simple mispelling of Hylian). Both Link and Jade are clad in green. Pey'j is a pig-like man acting as a father-type figure to Jade, but he was also the costar of the adventure (Ganon has resembled a demon pig throughout many Zelda titles). Also, Jade wields and carries her staff the same way Link does his sword. While these concepts might not seem very apparent, we find Beyond Good & Evil to be an excellent homage to the Zelda franchise.
Next: 10 Best Zelda Games