Get ready to see Link in a whole new light as we check out the best Zelda ROM hacks of 2021!
The retro gaming community never ceases to amaze me. Their mission to provide us with new adventures, long-awaited sequels for cancelled games, and titles where characters would never normally meet is worth of multiple awards.
More than that, however, the community’s love of gaming shines through in the new and exciting stories its members create, as these Zelda ROM hacks prove below.
From an impossible Sega/Nintendo mash up to a quest into hell itself, these exciting unofficial Zelda games take players on a whole new adventure in ways that they never thought possible.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s step into a world of genuine brilliance and madness as take a look at the first modded Zelda title on our list!
10. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild With Sonic The Hedgehog
We all love Zelda and Sonic, right. They’re two of the greatest video game characters ever.
So, what happens when you put them together in one of the most immersive open-world titles of all time.
Created by WillanZilv, the first entry in our list of the best Zelda ROM hacks is pretty simple yet seriously packs a punch. It doesn’t add Tails and Knuckles as Divine Beasts or swap Ganondorf for Robotnik…
… but it does turn the Master Cycle into Sonic.
Yes, folks; now you can ride around Hyrule on the back of the world’s fastest hedgehog!
There are rings for Sonic to collect along the way and some epic Mega Drive/Genesis sound effects, but they’re all just for show.
This is a collaboration that would never happen in a million years apart from on the Smash Bros stage, but man, it’s a match made in gaming heaven.
Thanks WillanZilv for giving us nerds the chance to see these two heroes teaming up for the first time!
9. South Park Zelda
If you thought Sonic and Link were an unlikely match, then the next entry on our list of the best Zelda Rom Hacks is sure to baffle your brainbox.
I’m not sure the kids from South Park have ever played a Zelda game, but in this hack of the original The Legend Of Zelda game, Cartman is the main protagonist!
Ok, so he looks a little more like Kyle, and the background is a little sparse. Still, it’s a great little mod if you’re a massive South Park fan, which I happen to be.
It’s very basic, though seeing Mr Hanky as a fairy and Kyle’s mum as Ganon makes me laugh every time.
This is a classic little game and worth a punt if you’ve played the original more times than you’ve had hot dinners.
8. The Legend Of Zelda: Godess Of Wisdom
Some ROM hacks keep a lot of the original features intact, and some end up feeling like an entirely new title. Goddess of Wisdom falls into that second category, and it’s a must have for any die hard Zelda fans out there.
If, like anyone with a brain should, you loved A Link To The Past, then this reimagined version will knock your socks off.
Hyrule is bigger thanks to areas brought over from previous games and there are new puzzles to tackle, making the gameplay more challenging as a result.
You know the classic Zelda puzzle that sees pressure points being pushed down? Well, there are tonnes of statue puzzles to solve in this ROM hack, which is essentially giving the fans more of what they want…
… an illness I like to call ‘extreme puzzle head’, and it hurts like crazy!
7. Zelda: Swear To P*ast
Sticking with A Link To The Past, this next entry on our list of the best Zelda ROM hacks brings an adult touch to to the story.
How many of you have ever wished that Zelda games had more swearing in them?
Ok, so we all swear at the TV sometimes when we can’t move that blasted block into the right place, but what if the characters got all potty mouthed on us too?
This mod from Meliz features a heavily altered narrative with every piece of text now boasting swear words and other obscene language.
The result – the same game with a hilarious twist that makes it impossible to put down.
Meliz has turned a fantastical story in to a dirty, seedy, vulgar title fit for Conker and his inebriated pals, and we couldn’t be happier about it.
If you love the game but want to imagine what the world would be like if Link were a functioning alcoholic with a serious grudge, then give it a try!
6. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (Ganondorf Hack)
We all know that bad guys are the best parts of games. For me, Ganondorf is up there with the greatest villains of all time, so having the chance to play as him blew my freakin’ mind!
This hack concentrates on two very important features, namely the two main versions of Link.
Instead of playing as Young Link and Adult Link, gamers play as a Stalchild, and then as the King of the Gerudo himself.
Seeing Ganondorf in the Temple of Time and going up against enemies such as Volvagia (even though he’s the one that caused all this mess in the first place) brings a whole new dynamic to the game.
This mod doesn’t add anything new to the story, but I don’t mind. If anything, I’m glad that it hasn’t touched the plot…
… it’s hard to perfect perfection, after all.
If you know Ocarina like the back of your Triforce-covered hand, then this mod should spice things up a bit.
5. The Legend Of Zelda: Parallel Worlds
The Legend of Zelda: Parallel Worlds takes the 5th spot in this list of the best Zelda ROM hacks of all time!
Sometimes, the humble pot is mightier than the sword. Both can take down enemies in this widely known Zelda ROM hack, and you’ll need both if you’re to make your way through the epic new dungeons.
Parallel Worlds boasts a new plot and an overworld that’s got more than a few surprises up its sleeve. The game looks and feels completely different to A Link To The Past, but some of those dungeons left me wishing for the original while crying into my knees.
Honestly, this is one game that newbies should avoid at all costs. It’s tough!
Exploration is the key, and keeping a cool head is the only way to tackle this game. There’s an even tougher mode to tackle once the main game has been completed too…
… dare you take on the challenge?
4. The Legend of Zelda: Zelda’s Birthday
I guess I never really considered that Zelda might have a birthday. I suppose all video game characters do, now I come to think of it, but it’s not often that you need to contend with their presents being stolen by a mysterious presence.
The premise is simple – instead of saving the world from the evil Ganondorf, Link must hunt down Zelda’s birthday presents. It’s the same game with a different story, a new narrative, and new dungeons to explore.
Oh, and a trip into hell. I almost forgot about that bit.
Yes, Young Link must take a trip into the bowels of the underworld to make sure Zelda doesn’t have a grim birthday.
The lengths we go to to make people notice us… am I right?
3. Conker’s High Rule Tale
If you’re looking for the most bizarre Zelda game ever, this next entry in our list of the best Zelda ROM hacks takes the prize.
Remember I said that Zelda: Swear to the P*st above was fit for Conker?
Well, here he is in his own Zelda adventure, and it’s as far from a family friendly title as you could possibly get.
In true Conker style, Hyrule now has countless references to other famous films and games. Tingle, the annoying green fairy, is addicted to drugs, and Hyrule looks more like a slice of South Park suburbia than the usual medieval menagerie.
Still. Conker’s High Rule Tale is jam-packed with new and exciting features such as original items, fantastic dungeon levels, and tonnes of upgrades to collect.
It’s funny, it’s got all the elements that us puzzlers crave, and it plays like a dream.
Give it a try, but only if you’re one-hundred-percent not a small child.
2. The Legend Of Zelda: Outlands
The Legend of Zelda: Outlands spin-attacks into the Number 2 spot on this list of the best Zelda Rom hacks, and boy is it a tricky title.
Forget everything you know about the original Legend of Zelda game. Yes, it might be one of the best Zelda games of all time, but this epic remake has given it a brand new lease of life.
We’re talking a new map of Hyrule, new dungeons to explore, new enemies, and even extra secrets to uncover.
Yes, I am serious. Just take a moment to let all that sink in.
This isn’t a slap-dash mod either. The new map looks the real deal, and the new levels provide fast-paced gameplay even for fans that know the old story inside out.
And, as I said earlier, it’s a seriously hard game to play. You’ll regularly switch between tears of joy and frustration without even realising, so make sure you keep yourself hydrated while playing!
1. The Legend Of Zelda: Voyager of Time
And finally, the Legend of Zelda: Voyager of Time takes the top spot!
Yes, I guess it was always inevitable that an Ocarina port would come up trumps in this list of the best Zelda ROM hacks of 2021, and Voyager of Time adds more humour, excitement, and challenges to one of my all-time favourite Zelda games.
For starters, the signs are now much funnier. They inject humour into all of the instructions, and the newly designed dungeons offer seasoned Ocarina fans the chance to test their mettle all over again.
Taking place after Majora’s Mask, Voyager of Time is essentially a hard-as-nails version of the Ocarina Master Quest with new NPCs and much more action.
This is one of my all time favourite hacks and a pleasure to play through. If you’re as much of a Zelda fanatic as I am, then make sure you give this one a try!
Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.