Tag Archives: Zelda series

100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Level-Grinders; Dungeon-Crawlers; Role-Playing Games – whatever you want to call them – they are my (and many other people’s) favourite type of video game.

They allow you to build up your characters via the process of levelling. That is: by gaining experience, which in turn increases your character’s power levels.

Level-Grinders also allow you to hoard virtual items that don’t exist in the real world; accumulate unimaginable wealth in an imaginary world, and solve mysteries while you’re doing it.

Over and over again. For the love of the grind…

So here we go… The 100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Note: I did think long and hard about whether to include Zelda games or not, and decided to include them, because they are dungeon-crawlers at a fundamental level.

To see the individual games in more detail, click the links.

Enjoy, The King of Grabs

01. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, PC
02. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, PC
03. Dungeon Master, Atari ST
04. Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo
05. Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City, Nintendo DS
06. The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, XBox
07. Fallout: New Vegas, PC
08. Fallout 4, PC
09. Deus Ex, PC
10. Final Fantasy VII, PlayStation

11. System Shock 2, PC
12. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Nintendo 64
13. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo 64
14. The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Super Nintendo
15. The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, PC
16. Fallout 3, PC
17. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, PlayStation 2
18. Shadowrun, Super Nintendo
19. Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard, Nintendo DS
20. Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition, PC

21. Earthbound, Super Nintendo
22. Legend of Grimrock, PC
23. Paper Mario: The Thousand year Door, GameCube
24. Dungeon Master II: The Legend of Skullkeep, PC
25. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, GameCube
26. Legend of Grimrock II, PC
27. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium, Megadrive/Genesis
28. Lufia: The Ruins of Lore, Game Boy Advance
29. Anachronox, PC
30. Shining the Holy Ark, Sega Saturn

31. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, GameCube
32. Neverwinter Nights, PC
33. Final Fantasy Legend, Game Boy
34. Mother 3, Game Boy Advance
35. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Game Boy Advance
36. Fallout 2, PC
37. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, Super Nintendo
38. Final Fantasy VIII, PlayStation
39. Shining In The Darkness, Megadrive/Genesis
40. Skies of Arcadia: Legends, GameCube

41. Chaos Strikes Back, Atari ST
42. Super Mario RPG, Super Nintendo
43. Phantasy Star II, Megadrive/Genesis
44. Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds, PC
45. Wasteland, Commodore 64
46. Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon, PC
47. Vagrant Story, PlayStation
48. Paper Mario, Nintendo 64
49. Fallout, PC
50. Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption, PC

51. Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos, PC
52. Baten Kaitos Origins, GameCube
53. Breath of Fire II, Super Nintendo
54. Breath of Fire, Super Nintendo
55. Golden Sun, Game Boy Advance
56. Golden Sun: The Lost Age, Game Boy Advance
57. Earthbound Zero, NES
58. Final Fantasy Legend II, Game Boy
59. Eye of the Beholder, PC
60. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, PlayStation

61. Lufia and the Fortress of Doom, Super Nintendo
62. Phantasy Star, Sega Master System
63. Shadowrun: Dragonfall, PC
64. Icewind Dale II, PC
65. Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, PC
66. Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, PC
67. Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, PC
68. Grandia II, Dreamcast
69. The Legend of Dragoon, PlayStation
70. Nox, PC

71. Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, PC
72. Etrian Odyssey, Nintendo DS
73. Parasite Eve, PlayStation
74. Grandia, PlayStation
75. Dungeon Master: Theron’s Quest, PC Engine CD
76. Eye of the Beholder III: Assault On Myth Drannor, PC
77. Dragon Quest VI, Super Nintendo
78. E.V.O.: Search for Eden, Super Nintendo
79. Amberstar, PC
80. Albion, PC

81. Final Fantasy VI Advance, Game Boy Advance
82. Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls, Game Boy Advance
83. Final Fantasy V Advance, Game Boy Advance
84. SD Snatcher, MSX2
85. Grandia: Parallel Trippers, Game Boy Color
86. Chrono Trigger, Super Nintendo
87. Dungeon Hack, PC
88. Tales of Phantasia, Super Nintendo
89. Dragon Quest V, Super Nintendo
90. Final Fantasy Legend III, Game Boy

91. Arx Fatalis, PC
92. AD&D: Treasure of Tarmin, Intellivision
93. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, PC
94. Secret of Mana, Super Nintendo
95. Dragon Warrior, NES
96. Final Fantasy, NES
97. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Game Boy Color
98. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Game Boy Color
99. Swords and Sorcery, Amstrad CPC
100. Out Of The Shadows, ZX Spectrum

  • This list is subject to change at any time, of course. Why, even the mighty Witcher 3 is sure to be usurped at some point… Maybe with Cyberpunk 2077? Or the next Elder Scrolls game? Who knows? Who cares?! If you do care, please leave a comment below. 🙂
100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time
100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

For The Frog The Bell Tolls, Game Boy

Known in Japan as Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru, this intriguing monochrome adventure game was developed by Nintendo and Intelligent Systems and released on the original Game Boy in 1992.

While it never got a release outside of Japan, a fan translation into English was released in 2011, finally making the game playable for non-Japanese-speaking gamers.

For The Frog The Bell Tolls is a Zelda-style adventure that pre-dates The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy (that came out a year later, in 1993), which – in some ways – makes it something of a ‘prototype’ of Link’s Awakening.

The game actually plays a bit like the second Zelda game – Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – in places. In that: there are side-viewed platforming sections – as well as the usual overhead Zelda-style overhead exploration sections. These platforming sections are fun. The main character (you; The Prince of Sable) can look up and do a neat ‘high jump’ type move, plus other subtle actions (like ducking), which helps make him feel nimble and alive.

Combat is a bit weird: it’s initiated by touching an enemy, and then simply a case of watching the fight, rather than participating. And, while that might sound dull, it’s actually not too bad. Winning certain battles (usually the ones blocking your path) mostly becomes a search for the right weapon, and making sure you have enough health to beat your opponent. If you fail and ‘die’, you don’t really die, you just end up in the hospital from where you can continue your adventure.

Of course For The Frog The Bell Tolls is a relatively simple action/adventure game – handheld adventures like this generally are – but… it oozes the usual Nintendo quality, charm, and detail, and is absorbing to play because of that.

If you like cute Japanese adventures, and have never seen For The Frog The Bell Tolls, then I highly recommend that you find it and play it.

Note: this game is sometimes referred to as: The Frog For Whom The Bell Tolls, although I’m sticking with the title as decreed by the team who did the unofficial English translation. If Nintendo ever releases an official translation of this game (which they should), then I might change my mind.

More: For The Frog The Bells Tolls on Wikipedia

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Game Boy Advance

Released in Japan in 2004 and everywhere else in 2005, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was developed by Capcom and Flagship, with Nintendo overseeing the project. The result is: a fantastically fun handheld adventure game, with beautiful 2D graphics and captivating gameplay.

In The Minish Cap, Link makes friends with a talking, magical cap that guides him into a world of monsters and miniaturisation. A miniature race of people, no less, called The Minish. And – as Link explores and makes progress in the game – his powers increase, as does his arsenal of weapons and tools. Just like in every other Zelda game. And – just like every other Zelda game – The Minish Cap is packed with new ideas and game mechanics that make it a joy to play. The ‘Gust Jar’ is one such example: stand on a floating lilypad and shoot it in the opposite direction to which you want to travel.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the look of The Minish Cap. It has the visual appeal of something like A Link To The Past, but with a unique Capcom twist to it. The Minish Cap is a procession of beautifully-drawn (and incredibly colourful) pixel art, from start to finish, and really shows what the GBA is capable of.

Gameplay-wise: there’s little to fault. There are enough dungeons, puzzles, boss fights, and side quests to keep you going for days. Weeks even – depending on how much you like to take your time.

As Zelda games go, I would put The Minish Cap up there with the best of the 2D adventures. It’s a must-play if you like cute and colourful exploration games.

More: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap on Wikipedia

100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time on thekingofgrabs.com
100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, NES

Although this second Zelda game sold well (more than 4 million copies worldwide at the time), it is not particularly well-liked.

It is a ‘proper’ sequel to the first game, as such – at least in terms of story (and most other Zelda games aren’t), but it is also quite different in terms of gameplay. There are 2D, side-scrolling, platforming dungeon sections; the use of Experience Points to designate power; a magic meter; and a ‘Dark’ Link character who would become common in later episodes.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was first released in 1987. In the years following its release the game drew quite a bit of criticism from fans of the original, all of whom disliked the new style of play. So much criticism, in fact, that from episode three onward (A Link To The Past on the SNES), the Zelda series reverted back to the original template.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link has been re-released a number of times over the decades, although it still remains the lowest-rated Zelda game on the two main metacritic sites. It is definitely worth playing if you love Zelda games. And you may find the shock of the unusual gameplay quite refreshing. Who’s to say?

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelda_II:_The_Adventure_of_Link

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Nintendo 64

Released on the Nintendo 64 in 2000, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time.

It uses the same game engine; it even uses some of the same character models and a number of the graphical assets of its predecessor, although it is a very different game overall.

Both Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask are rightly regarded as classics. Majora’s Mask, though, is a nightmarish adventure through time and space that Nintendo themselves – in the intervening years – have admitted is so weird that it would probably never get made today. Indeed: you begin the game as Link – as ‘normal’ – but soon fall under a curse that robs you of your identity, and then the rest of the game is Link assuming the identities of any one of a number of different characters, all by wearing various masks found within the game.

And – as if that wasn’t weird enough – Majora’s Mask also employs a very strange time mechanic that sees Link re-playing the same three days in the game, but every time in a different way. Groundhog Day-style….

Oh, and the moon is hurtling towards the planet and will eventually collide with it and destroy everything… That is: unless you stop it.

A lot of people prefer Ocarina of Time to Majora’s Mask, but – for me – it is the other way around. I love how dark this game is – it’s a surprise from Nintendo, and a refreshingly different one.

More: Majora’s Mask on Wikipedia

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo 64

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is regarded as one of the best RPGs of all time.

It was first released in 1998, for the Nintendo 64, and is so well-loved that it has been re-made a number of times for other systems, including a fairly recent Nintendo 3DS remake.

Ocarina of Time is packed full of interesting places, characters, dialogue, enemies, bosses, attack moves, secrets, combat, puzzles, and virtually everything else that is essential to a good adventure game. It’s even full of interesting glitches too, some of which have become legendary… In fact: there’s nothing mundane about this game – playing it can change your life…

If Ocarina of Time does have any downsides: it’s the sometimes long-winded conversations; the sometimes problematic camera positioning (a perennial problem with third-person 3D action games); and the fact that it’s quite difficult in places. These are minor issues, though, when you look at the overall picture. And the overall picture is: one of a beautiful, cute, clever and colourful RPG that is sure to delight anyone who plays it (who is up to the challenge).

More: Ocarina of Time on Wikipedia