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Nintendo’s Legend Of Zelda is one of gaming’s most revered and iconic franchises. The original Legend Of Zelda game introduced the save system to console games, while Ocarina Of Time yet again revolutionised gaming by perfecting movement in 3D space, and hence set the standard for future action-adventure games.

Not just that, they also cemented item-based progression, exploration and brilliant level design; needless to say this idea took off and many devs have since tried their own spin on the formula with varying degrees of success over the years.

So let’s have a look at the five best Zelda clones (in our opinion):

5. Darksiders:

Yup, this game does have several Zelda-esque elements; in fact developer Vigil Games has even confessed to taking a page from Nintendo’s books for some gameplay aspects: dungeon and item progression, horse gameplay, similar items, boss fights, etc. On its own, it’s a great hack n slash game with action adventure elements that lend well to the overall experience.

4. Beyond Good & Evil:

Ubisoft’s cult classic has acquired a vaunted reputation over time and is finally getting a long overdue sequel. The original though, still stands up as a forward-thinking title that never quite got the attention it deserved. It was a game that prided itself on its’ diverse mechanics, variety, eccentric tone and creative world building. It was one of the few Zelda inspired games that actually tried to add something to the  time-tested formula, instead of just trying to copy-paste it. Here’s hoping the recently announced long overdue sequel takes some big leaps forward.

3. Binding Of Isaac:

This rogue-like dungeon crawler is one of the more popular indie games this gen: although its premise is much darker than the Zelda games, it borrows several element from the 2D Zeldas and implements them fantastically: the heart system, the dungeon layout and progression (although randomly generated, it’s still bears striking resemblance to dungeon rooms from the OG Zelda or A Link To The Past), various abilities and tough as nails bosses – these are easily identifiable similarities.

The fast-paced twin stick gameplay is addictive and the gore and blood provides a very satisfying experience. It’s available for all current gen systems (including the Switch) and PC.

2. Ninja Gaiden (2004):

TECMO’s groundbreaking 2004 revival of Ninja Gaiden was rightfully hailed as the greatest action game ever made (a title that it has still managed to hold on to, despite all odds). What’s often neglected,is that it was a full on action-adventure game, with an overworld and various interconnected areas and strategic save points. The game took influence from other prominent Nintendo titles but Zelda was the most significant, signified by this games’ own version of the ‘Master Sword’ (aka the ‘True dragon sword’)

1. Okami:

This PS2 masterpiece is the perfect embodiment of Legend Of Zelda; Gorgeous artstyle, flexible and fun combat system. fantastic and intricately designed dungeons, memorable characters, interesting lore (based on Japanese mythology) tons of secrets striking good balance with exploration and abilities, well implemented item based progression (or in this case, ability based – including similarities to Zelda like being able to use bombs and wine-grip that acts like a hookshot). Hell, you even play as a wolf – akin to Twilight Princess where Link can turn into a wolf. The game nails almost all aspects of the Zelda formula to a tee and is an absolute joy to play.

Too bad it was a commercial failure on the PS2 and the future PS3 & Wii remasters didn’t help much either; this is a must play for an action-adventure fan and is the best Zelda game (that’s not actually Zelda). Hopefully the upcoming re-release on PS4 & XB1 will give it the popularity boost it deserves.

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