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The Numbers of Zelda

The Numbers of Zelda

I played every main game in The Legend of Zelda series last year, and recorded those playthroughs for YouTube content. This is old news. But in the highly unlikely scenario where this is someone’s very first TE post, that sentence provides important context.

What’s news to everyone, though, is that I’ve kept all of those videos on my hard drive all this time because I wanted to look at some of the technical stats of that whole situation, and just haven’t gotten around to it. But I need to reclaim some of that hard drive space, so now is the time! Firstly, I want to look at how long each game took to play:

The Legend of Zelda3:48:31
The Adventure of Link5:53:09
A Link to the Past6:44:26
Link’s Awakening8:15:57
Oracle of Seasons9:08:20
The Minish Cap10:12:09
Four Swords Adventures10:32:22
Oracle of Ages10:34:34
Phantom Hourglass11:46:28
A Link Between Worlds12:42:18
Spirit Tracks13:16:06
Ocarina of Time13:33:15
Majora’s Mask14:03:44
The Wind Waker14:32:19
Twilight Princess19:32:00
Breath of the Wild24:10:32
Skyward Sword26:58:39
  • The first four games are in release order. Makes sense, as a game series will typically get bigger and longer with each sequel.
  • The games are cleanly grouped in order of graphical complexity: 2D, top-down 3D, and fully 3D. Or at least it seems that way at first! I played the Switch remake of Link’s Awakening, so it’s technically not in the correct group.
  • It’s interesting to me that Oracle of Seasons took less time to beat than Oracle of Ages. This was my first playthrough ever of Seasons and it was the linked game, so it actually had additional content tacked onto the end. Conclusion: either Ages is a somewhat tougher game, or I cut a lot more footage of me wandering around lost from the Seasons series.
  • Speaking of cut footage, only the first three games came out completely unedited.
  • Ocarina of Time was a randomizer run, and I cut a buttload of footage from that one. I can’t help but wonder what the time would have been for a vanilla run? My wild guess is somewhere under 10 hours.
  • Breath of the Wild should be significantly longer. More than half of that run was played off-camera: I opted to record only the core story beats and a few specific side-quests. I’d have to go back to verify this, but I’d wager that fewer than half of the 120 shrines made it into the video series. I didn’t want to have the series drag on into the 60-70 hour range!
  • Total runtime is 215:44:49. Just shy of 9 entire days of content!

Next, let’s rank the games based on the cumulative file size (in GBs, obvi):

The Legend of Zelda0.64
A Link to the Past3.07
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link3.24
Oracle of Seasons4.71
Oracle of Ages4.8
The Minish Cap5.85
Link’s Awakening6.35
Majora’s Mask6.85
Four Swords Adventures8.9
A Link Between Worlds8.95
Ocarina of Time10
Wind Waker11.2
Phantom Hourglass13.7
Spirit Tracks20.4
Skyward Sword29.1
Twilight Princess35.8
Breath of the Wild41.7
  • All of these videos were captured and rendered at 720p except Breath of the Wild, which I switched over to 1080p a few videos in.
  • All footage was recorded at 60FPS, then produced at 30FPS. So I don’t think that FPS will have much impact on the difference in file size between games?
  • There’s actually not too much to say about this. Generally, the games are sorted by some sort of product of runtime and graphics, but there are some weird outliers!
  • Interesting that the Adventure of Link series is bigger than A Link to the Past, as Zelda II has both a shorter runtime (by almost an hour) and simpler graphics.
  • Link’s Awakening moves a few places down thanks to being the Switch port. I bet you it’d be teeny-tiny if I had played the original Game Boy version.
  • I cannot fathom how Majora’s Mask moved up so many spots. I thought it would stay in about the same place, but I maybe having a generally darker colour palette makes it smaller?
  • I have absolutely no idea how Spirit Tracks got so bloated.
  • Twilight Princess is roughly 6 hours shorter than Skyward Sword, but also about 6 GB bigger than Skyward Sword. I guess those more detailed graphics make a big difference!
  • Breath of the Wild takes its rightful place as top dog, but I wonder how many places it would move if I hadn’t changed the resolution?
  • Total size is 215 GB. Literally half of my hard drive!

That’s all I have! Nothing meaningful, really, but some mildly interesting facts! And data! Tasty, tasty data.

Here’s one final fun fact: The only game that I played on its original hardware was Breath of the Wild. Every other game was either a re-release played on a more current console or emulated because 3DS capture cards are not readily available to common folk like myself.

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