The items Link finds throughout his adventures are no doubt an integral part of the Zelda experience. Who knows what the fate of Hyrule would be, if Link had not obtained the Hammer in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES) or the Gust Jar from The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)? This list will bring into focus the most useful, unique and appealing items that the series has seen to date.

Before getting into the thick of things, I’d like to mention that swords will not be included in this list. Swords are a defining element of the series, and act as Link’s primary means of attack in every game. If they were to be included, surely they would take up the entire list, as not only are they his weapon of choice, but there is also a rich variety among them, each with their own unique traits. Any other items at Link’s disposal, be it weapons, equipment, or accessories, are fair game.

Let’s start off with an item every Zelda fan should be familiar with- the bow. The bow has been a staple item since the beginning of the series, and has featured in nearly every installment. It is Link’s key method for fighting enemies at a distance, which proves invaluable when you’re running low on hearts. Throughout the series, the bow has undergone many incarnations, each bringing their own unique spin on the classic item. Link’s Awakening gave us the bomb arrows. Ocarina of Time gave us the Fire, Ice, and Light arrows. But the version seen in Skyward Sword is undoubtedly the most innovative and entertaining of the bunch. This is due to the motion controls, which truly add to the experience of using the bow- you pull the string back with the Nunchuk, aim with the Wii Remote, then fire. You can also charge up your shots and zoom in on your target by holding down the A or C buttons, making your attacks much more powerful and precise. The controls work very smoothly, and they allow you to aim at your foes much more rapidly than in previous installments. This is an invaluable asset, as you will definitely be using the bow a lot after you obtain it.

Din’s Fire, eat your heart out. The Bombos Medallion is without a doubt one of Link’s most impressive weapons. Drawing power from this mysterious relic, Link summons a spiral of flames around him. Then, the entire area becomes engulfed in a flurry of explosions, killing nearly everything that is unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity of the attack. Unlike the other two Medallions you obtain in A Link to the Past, the Bombos Medallion isn’t needed to complete the game. However, this is without a doubt the most lethal and visually impressive of the three, and is certainly a weapon you don’t want to miss out on.

Interestingly, the Bombos Medallion is strikingly similar in appearance to Ocarina of Time’s Forest Medallion. Given the Bombos Medallion’s fiery nature however, it’s most likely just a coincidence.

The Hookshot is another classic item that has appeared frequently throughout Zelda’s history. Although it originated in A Link to the Past, it shines in Ocarina of Time. It’s one of the best items in terms of utility: it helps you scale walls effortlessly, it allows you to cross otherwise impassible gaps, and it can even be used in combat. In fact, it serves as Link’s only means of attack when underwater. The Longshot is an upgrade of the Hookshot, doubling the length it extends and through that improving on every aspect of its utility. This item sees so much use that it’ll probably find a permanent home in whatever C button you assign it to.

While the Longshot is invaluable to Link’s quest in Ocarina of Time, the Beetle plays an even wider array of roles in Skyward Sword. It can defeat certain enemies, activate switches, and can grab distant objects. In this regards, it’s comparable to the boomerang. However, while it can do all this, it can do so much more. Perhaps its greatest use is its ability to scout the area. Is there a cave just out of your reach that you can’t seem to get to? Using the Beetle to get a closer look will oftentimes reveal to you the way to get there. Are you low on hearts, and feeling uneasy about what lies around the corner? Scouting with the Beetle will help you prepare for any situation you might come across. Further into the game, the Beetle will get an upgrade that will allow it to carry bombs, a feature that both expands the Beetle’s combat capabilities and utility. It can be upgraded beyond this as well, increasing both its speed and distance covered. Will the Beetle continue to replace the Boomerang in future Zelda titles? Maybe not, but it certainly is a unique item that will leave a strong impression throughout your journey through Skyward Sword.

The Rod of Seasons is one of the most powerful items Link has ever been given. Throughout the series, Link has travelled through time, journeyed to parallel worlds, and he has even found himself in a different reality. Never before, however, has he been able to manipulate his environment on a global scale. That is, until the Rod of Seasons was entrusted to him. The Rod of Seasons can change the very course of nature in an instant. This ability is crucial through Link’s journey in Oracle of Seasons, as each season brings about different effects that can either be an advantage or a hindrance. It’s not its importance that puts this incredible item on this list, however. Nor did it make the list through sheer power alone. What makes this item so great is the visual effect of the changing seasons. The Oracle games are some of the best looking Game Boy Color games out there, and Oracle of Seasons takes this a step further. With each season comes a distinct, vibrant take on the land of Holodrum, and your eyes will never get tired of the constantly changing environments.

Shields have always played a key supporting role in Link’s quests. Originally serving as passive protection against ranged attacks, it has evolved into both a strategic defensive option for any opponent and a tool for lowering the enemy’s own defenses. This evolution is exemplified in Skyward Sword, where the shields play their most important role yet. Unlike some of the other titles in the series, the shields here are completely optional. However, they enhance combat to a degree higher than any shields preceding them. In Skyward Sword, most shields can’t just block attacks- without the proper timing, they will break. You have to make use of the shield bash, a technique where you thrust your shield forward, to properly defend against your opponent. Shield bashing isn’t just useful for defense though, it also breaks the opponent’s guard and gives you an opening to strike back. This applies to most of the enemies you encounter in the game, including the final boss. It embodies the saying, “a good defense makes a good offense”. There are a number of shields in Skyward Sword, each with their own unique traits. Among them is the Hylian Shield. Unlike the other shields, the Hylian Shield is impregnable. Even if you don’t time your shield bashes properly, you won’t have to worry about it breaking. This doesn’t make combat any less exciting however, since you will still be timing your shield bashes in order to lower your opponent’s defense. Although not vital, shields add an extra dimension to combat, and the Hylian Shield is unquestionably the most reliable to take advantage of this.

The Pegasus Boots only needs to be used a few times to complete A Link to the Past. But odds are it will be the item you use the most, and by far. That is because the Pegasus Boots provide a convenience that is applicable in almost every situation- faster running speed. It makes both exploring and well, pretty much everything else in the game just a lot more fun. In addition to being a faster method of travel, it also functions as an attack- the dash attack. Weaker enemies who are unfortunate enough to get in the way of your dash attack will be obliterated by the sheer power of your momentum, and even stronger enemies will be pushed back as you safely make your way past them. What’s more, the Pegasus Boots are automatically assigned a button, so you don’t have to constantly switch it out from your inventory to use it. Don’t you wish every Zelda game had the Pegasus Boots?

The Roc’s Feather bestows Link with the ability to do a front flip. This allows him to jump over small holes. There are holes all over Koholint Island, so it will be seeing a fair bit of use. Like the Pegasus Boots however, this is just the bare minimum of what this incredible item can do for you. You will quickly discover that there is something much greater that this item has to offer, and you’ll probably end up using it even more than the Pegasus Boots, which, by the way, makes a return in Link’s Awakening (although this time around, it competes with other items for one of the two equipped item slots). What makes the Roc’s Feather so special? It completely changes the way Link fights. Normally, Link stops moving to swing his sword. But when using the sword in conjunction with the Roc’s Feather, you can move and swing at the same time. This small change in fighting style has impressive effects. Link will be dancing on the battlefield, doing flips over his enemies as he strikes them down from the air. And what’s more, almost every item at Link’s disposal can be used with the Roc’s Feather. It is the ultimate partner for whatever item you have set to the other item slot.

The Ocarina of Time is a rather interesting item, as it plays vastly different roles depending on the song you play. It can be used to warp instantly to temples; it can summon rain, and change night into day… and much more. The Ocarina of Time can also be used as a regular instrument, just for fun. Using the control stick, the Z and the R buttons in conjunction with the A and C buttons that normally control the Ocarina, you can get a decent range of notes to experiment with. All the different uses the Ocarina of Time has are enough to give it a spot on the Top 10. Yet there is something more about the Ocarina that puts it in a caliber of its own. What makes this item truly stand out is its ability to captivate those who have experienced it firsthand. The melodies of the Ocarina of Time are classics. There’s something magical about them; they are simple, and yet they are so strong and beautiful. Because these songs are such a major part of the game, you are not likely to forget them, even long after you’re done playing.

Consider this a four way tie. The Deku Mask, the Goron Mask, the Zora Mask, and of course, the Fierce Deity’s Mask, are all very much deserving of the number one spot in this list. These items, much like the Roc’s Feather, changes the very nature of Link’s combat. They don’t stop there though; they change everything, from his appearance to his abilities. Deku Link is light and can glide in the air with the help of a Deku Flower. Goron Link is powerful and can travel at high speeds. Zora Link swims effortlessly in the water and can use his fins as boomerangs. Barring Fierce Deity Link, you essentially have four totally different characters that can be switched at any time. These items make Majora’s Mask very fresh and exciting, and they truly turn the game into an experience highly distinct from other Zelda titles.

The Fierce Deity’s Mask doesn’t offer as much as the other transformation masks, admittedly. It can only be used against bosses, and the abilities it bestows are far more limited than in Link’s other forms. However, the raw power that Fierce Deity Link possesses makes up for those shortcomings; it’s incredibly entertaining to go back and completely overpower the bosses whom in the past might have been a major threat. Even the final boss is made laughably easy with the Fierce Deity’s Mask. Plus, Link’s Fierce Deity form is arguably the coolest he has ever looked.

What is perhaps most enthralling about these items are the stories behind each mask. The Goron Mask and Zora Mask are the remains of characters who are met during your journey, and the Deku Mask is implied to be of similar origins. By wearing these masks, you are living the legacy of those whose souls have moved on. The story behind the Fierce Deity’s Mask is of stark contrast from the other three transformation masks, and it’s much more mysterious. In fact, the only thing certain about the Fierce Deity’s Mask is that it is said to possess dark powers that quite possibly rival those of Majora’s Mask. While this information is minimal, the implications made from it are unsettling.

The transformation masks offer a variety of options to an extent never seen before in a Zelda item. Each mask is vital to the game, and you will be relying on the forms they bestow frequently throughout your quest. With all of their qualities, the transformation masks are truly the top items in the Zelda series.

Note: The Giant’s Mask can be considered a fifth transformation mask, but for the purposes of this list, “transformation masks” refers to those described above.

Before wrapping things up, there are two items that, while they didn’t make the list, they are still worthy of noting:

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS) - Whip

Not only did Spirit Tracks introduce a variety of new items, it also gave them purpose throughout the whole game. The whip in particular stands out, because it sees regular use as both a tool and a weapon. It was difficult not to add this in the list, but ultimately the whip had to be left out, as for the most part it serves the same role that the Hookshot does in other installments. It can snatch objects, it’s used to cross gaps, and it serves as an alternative weapon for certain enemies, all traits of the Hookshot. It wouldn’t be right to include two very similar items when there is such a rich variety to showcase.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GC) - Elixir Soup

Potions aren’t really at the forefront of Link’s arsenal, and so unfortunately this couldn’t make it on the list. Despite that, chances are you’ll have one or two at the ready no matter what the situation. For while they aren’t the most exciting of items, they provide a sense of security in a world full of dangerous monsters and dungeons. And what can make you feel safer than a big helping of Grandma’s homemade soup? Now, this isn’t any old soup- the Elixir Soup is arguably the best potion in the entire series. It restores Link’s health completely AND doubles his attack power as long as you’re at full health. The best part about this potion though, is that it has two servings! Grandma put so much love in her soup that you can’t possibly eat it all at once. This soup is a constant reminder that Link isn’t fighting alone- he has the support of his loved ones, cheering him on as he fights for everyone’s sake. It also tastes pretty good apparently, as it’s the only potion that Link will chug down with a smile.

There are a great number of unique items that have appeared in the Zelda series. The Cane of Somaria, the Magic Powder, the Magnetic Gloves… There have also been many that are simply fun to use, such as the Ball and Chain, and the Expert’s Ring. It’s difficult to select just ten to dub the best of the best, but I hope I did a good job choosing the most distinct, useful, memorable and entertaining of them all. I look forward to seeing what sorts of fantastic items Link will find in his future adventures. Given the impressive collection that the series has built up, I know I won’t be disappointed.

List by SirRobX (08/06/2012)

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