How to Play The Legend of Zelda on PC

Zelda Feature

Even if you don’t identify yourself as a gamer, there is a good chance you have heard of “The Legend of Zelda/” This is one of the most critically and commercially successful video game franchises in history, spawning nineteen entries and various spin-offs. In addition, The Legend of Zelda has appeared in other media like comic books, television and more. Ever since the original game was released in 1986, It has been a prominent and influential series, with many of the titles in the franchise considered to be some of the greatest video games ever made.

What Is The Legend of Zelda?

If you’ve never played an entry in The Legend of Zelda series, you might be asking yourself what all the fuss is about. The franchise is classified as an action-adventure game with RPG elements. In the game, players take control of a protagonist named Link who is often tasked with saving the world from a variety of powerful antagonists.

Zelda Ganon

Over the years there have been many additions and refinements to the series, but there are chief gameplay elements that remain in each entry. The games are often heavy on exploration, with puzzle solving and action sequences thrown into the mix. Furthermore, the games reward players for engaging in side quests, often in the form of useful items like weapons or keys to access new areas.

Is The Legend of Zelda Available on PC?

The Legend of Zelda has been primarily developed and published by Nintendo, and the core series of games has been developed exclusively for Nintendo hardware, including both the company’s home and portable consoles.

Zelda Nes

Unfortunately, Nintendo has never developed an original Zelda game for PC. Additionally, Nintendo has declined to port any of the existing games in the Zelda franchise to PC. This means that PC gamers who would like to try a Zelda game have to get their hands on a Nintendo console first.

How to Play The Legend of Zelda on a PC

Rpi Fan General

Fortunately, just because Nintendo hasn’t officially released any Zelda games on the PC doesn’t mean you can’t play them on a PC. For a series that spans nineteen titles over thirty-three years, each Zelda game will have its own system requirements. Due to this, which Zelda games you are able to play will largely depend on the specifications of your PC. Therefore, a more powerful PC is more likely to run newer games in the series.

NES Streaming Sites

There are a number of websites that host old retro games that you can play right in your browser. Many of these sites have classic Nintendo games available, including many titles in the Zelda series. Of course, the legality of these sites is up in the air. Nintendo has a reputation for being quite strict when it comes to their older titles. This is mainly due to the fact that many of these titles are available to purchase digitally. Nintendo is aggressive at targeting these sites and forcing them to remove games they believe infringe on copyright.

Zelda Nescontroller

In addition, there are other major drawbacks to these streaming sites. Many of them are “free to play.” Of course, this often means you’ll have to deal with a significant number of ads and pop-ups. Furthermore, you will be limited to which Zelda titles you are able to play. Because you’ll be playing within your browser, do not expect to play any titles beyond the 16-bit era. Finally, many of these sites utilize Flash Player to run the games. Sadly, Flash has quite a few security issues, from data collection to backdoor malware installation.


Emulating Zelda titles is the best way to play them on a PC. In order to do this, you will need two things: an emulator and a ROM file. An emulator is software that mimics the original video game console hardware. Therefore, if you wanted to play the original Legend of Zelda game, you will need an NES emulator. In addition to the emulator, you will also need the game’s ROM. With these two things, you can play virtually any title.

Zelda Nescart

Emulators are developed and maintained by a robust community of enthusiasts. A vast majority of the emulators available are open source, meaning they are free to download and use. However, ROMs are a different story. ROMs occupy a sort of legal grey area. That being said, the general consensus is that it is illegal to download a ROM if you don’t actually own the game. Think of it like pirating a movie. So if you’re thinking of playing a Zelda title on your PC, pick up a copy of the game before you download the ROM.

Which Emulators Do I Need?

The Legend of Zelda series has been around for a long time. As a result, titles in the series have appeared on virtually every single console Nintendo has developed. Below, we will list every Zelda game, along with the emulator we recommend using to play it.

Note: there are multiple emulators available for each console. The emulators we mention below were chosen due to their straightforward setup and ease of use.

Nintendo Entertainment System

Emulator: Nestopia

The Legend Of Zelda Nes

Games available:

  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Emulator: SNES9x

Zelda Link Past

Games available:

  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Gameboy/Gameboy Color/Gameboy Advance

Emulator: VBA-M

Zelda Minish

Games available:

  • Link’s Awakening
  • Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages
  • Four Swords
  • The Minish Cap

Nintendo 64

Emulator: Project64

Zelda Ocarina

Games available:

  • Ocarina of Time
  • Majora’s Mask


Emulator: Dolphin

Zelda Windwaker

Games available:

  • The Wind Waker
  • The Twilight Princess
  • Skyward Sword

Nintendo DS

Emulator: DeSmuME

Zelda Phantom

Games available:

  • Phantom Hourglass

Nintendo 3DS

Emulator: Citra

Zelda Linkbetween

Games available:

  • A Link Between Worlds

Wii U

Emulator: Cemu

Zelda Breath

Games available:

  • The Breath of the Wild

What do you think of The Legend of Zelda series? Have you played any of the titles on your PC? Which emulators do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!


  1. Helpful article, but I’m looking for additional advice. Do I have good odds of being able to run Breath of the Wild on my HP envy x360? Ive heard its a pretty powerful laptop but more recent games have to be turned town graphically for it to run smooth. Not sure if I have much flexibility with botw’s settings in that department

    1. Hi Isaac, BOTW is one of the more demanding Wii U games. I would suggest that you take a look at the minimum system requirements of CEMU (which can be found here: and compare them with your system. Furthermore, because every game is a bit different, I would Google “BOTW CEMU recommended specs” or something similar. Chances are someone, somewhere has had the exact same question as you and has put it out to the emulation community. Good luck.

  2. Very helpful! Was looking to play all the Zelda games chronologically, so this was perfect for me! Just wanted to point out though Spirit Tracks is missing from the DS list, but I may be one of the three people that remembered that game!

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