For veterans of The Legend of Zelda, the harder difficulty modes are the perfect way to add an extra challenge to new gameplay. In Zelda, hard modes often involve increasing monster damage and decreasing the amount of hearts available to heal Link.
On some occasions, dungeons or even the whole of Hyrule are changed to add a new level of difficulty. You can’t rely on your knowledge of the game and you’re pushed into a more difficult experience that won’t be the same as the first time you played. If you’re looking for a new Zelda challenge, why not try one of these?
7 Ocarina of time
Ocarina of Time’s Master Quest was originally available as a separate disc on the GameCube; however, when Ocarina of Time was remade for the 3DS, it was included in the cartridge and unlocked the first time you finished the game.
In the original Master Quest, the difficulty of each dungeon was improved and the maps were modified to test veterans. You would also face more challenging monsters sooner than in normal mode.
The Master Quest 3DS version flipped the whole of Hyrule and enemies hit twice as hard too.
6 Heavenly Sword
Unlike many other entries, Skyward Sword’s Hero Mode is available in both the original version and the HD remastered version. In both cases, the hero mode is unlocked after you finish the main story.
Changes several aspects of the game: Hearts do not appear (unless you equip the Heart Medal); stamina and oxygen meters deplete faster; and you can remove the time it takes to charge a sword master’s skyward strike.
Additionally, the Thunder Dragon boss rush is updated to include a few more battles, including the second fight with Ghirahim and the final confrontation with Demise. The HD version remained mostly the same, except for some features that were cut from the remaster anyway.
5 A link between worlds
Hero Link Between Worlds’ mode started with the base game, though you have to beat the main story first to unlock it. In this hero mode, enemies take a staggering amount of damage – four times the normal amount – but this is balanced by the fact that hearts still spawn.
To reward you for taking on the challenge, some aspects of the story not available in the main game are also shown. Ravi’s journal can be found in the Empty House, giving insight into his feelings about Princess Hilda, who was deceived by Yuga, and his difficult decision to leave without her.
There is also a new scene after Link returns the Master Sword to its base, showing the sages together.
4 The Wind Waker HD
Wind Waker had an HD remaster on the Wii U, which in addition to improved graphics included a harder difficulty known as Hero Mode. In hero mode, Link will take double damage from monster attacks, and hearts don’t appear when you smash pots or cut grass, making it much harder to heal.
You can switch between Hero and Normal modes at will, meaning you’re not limited to a specific difficulty. So if you find The Wind Waker too easy or too hard, you don’t need to restart your save file.
3 Twilight Princess HD
Similar to other HD re-releases, Twilight Princess HD comes with a hero mode that you can access as soon as you start the game. Hero mode increases the overall difficulty with more powerful monsters that can destroy twice as many hearts in one hit.
Hero Mode also flips the game’s map, similar to how the Wii version was flipped to accommodate predominantly right-handed players due to the use of motion controls. However, the map for the HD version has been tweaked to challenge people who are already familiar with its layout.
2 Link’s Awakening Remake
The Link’s Awakening remake for Nintendo Switch revamped the original sprite work for a vibrant, 3D look. Along with the visual upgrade, Hero Mode was also available from the start, allowing long-time fans of Link’s Awakening and those looking for a challenge to tackle it from the start.
If monsters hit Link in hero mode, he will lose twice as many hearts as normal, which is difficult to deal with considering the fact that hearts are not immediately available for healing. When you’re deep in a dungeon, you also can’t rely on fairies to drop from a mini-boss, as these helpful creatures don’t spawn either, meaning you’ll have to be on your toes at all times.
1 Breath of the Wild
As part of The Master Trials DLC, Master Mode was introduced in Breath of the Wild. While Breath of the Wild already had tough monsters and challenges like the Lynels and Eventide Island, Master Mode took the difficulty up a notch.
In main mode, monsters are stronger and can regenerate their health if you don’t attack. Bosses can also regenerate their health, meaning you need to deal with them quickly and efficiently.
The gold-level version of the monster is also present throughout Hyrule, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on these fearsome enemies as you adventure.
Next: The Legend of Zelda: Every Game Ranked by Difficulty