Everyone's got their favorite #Zelda game. Heck, everyone probably has their own Zelda list. You've got people who pine over Ocarina of Time's grounded setting and pacing, people who laud the oppressive and alien atmosphere of Majora's Mask, people who adore the adventurous and whimsical setting of Wind Waker, and so on. But has anyone ever really stopped to think which Zelda game has the best chickens (or, as they are called in Hyrule and its surrounding lands, Cuccos?)
I know what you're thinking. "Why would I do that?"
Because Cuccos are an essential part of the Zelda experience, that's why.
16. 'The Legend of Zelda'
No Cuccos. Terrible game. Next.
15. 'Adventure of Link'
Still no Cuccos. Yawn.
14. 'Wind Waker'
I guess they died along with Hyrule. R.I.P.
13. 'Skyward Sword'
Still no chickens! What gives? That's four Cucco-less games too many. However, Skyward Sword might have an excuse - it takes place so far back in the timeline that it's possible that they didn't exist yet, and it does have Loftwings.
12. 'Phantom Hourglass'
Finally, a game with chickens. However, unlike normal Cuccos, these inferior incarnations only attack Link for a few seconds before stopping their assault. Phantom Hourglass has the laziest, least capable chickens in a Zelda game, not counting the games that don't have them at all. They are also more easily irritated than most - it only takes three hits to begin their rampage, as opposed to five. So they're irate and lazy. Worst. Chickens. Ever.
11. 'Spirit Tracks'
The same lazy Cuccoos from Phantom Hourglass return, only this time they serve a purpose besides simply being there. Link can buy them in Aboda Village in order to help with the Force Gem quest, and they are needed to float through the air in order to reach certain areas, such as a Stamp Station at the Sand Sanctuary. While a bit more useful than their Phantom Hourglass counterparts, they're actually even weaker. If they do decide to attack Link, Link can stun them with his whirlwind. They're not even invincible like they're supposed to be!
10. 'Tri-force Heroes'
You can use them in the Sky Realm to fly over chasms. Link can also acquire a Cucco Feather, a material item used to make clothing. They're here, and they serve a purpose, but their presence is limited, and they're mostly relegated to being used as tools. Overall, these are pretty pathetic chickens.
9. 'Link's Awakening'
While these incarnations of Cuccos are appropriately dangerous if provoked, there's nothing else all that special about them. Link's Awakening introduces a long-extinct variation of Cucco by the name of the Flying Rooster, but other than that, they're pretty par for the course. These Cuccos can actually be killed with magic powder, or burned to death with the Magic Rod. They're the only Cuccos that can die. Not a good look, Koholint Cuccos. Not a good look.
8. 'Oracle of Ages/Seasons'
These aren't that different from the chickens found in Link's Awakening, although they are invincible, like they're supposed to be. However, in Oracle of Seasons, Link can find two special Cuccos that can be used to help him fly across Goron Mountain, so there's a few bonus points for utility.
7. 'Minish Cap'
Cuccos are even more dangerous than they normally are in this game, thanks to the fact that Link can shrink himself to a fraction of their size. Cucco Chicks will attack mini-Link on sight, revealing a more aggressive side to the normally docile Cucco. However, aside from this, the Cuccos in Minish Cap are fairly average.
6. 'Majora's Mask'
Now we start to get to the special chickens. Grog, the keeper of the Cucco Shack in Romani Ranch, raises them like regular chickens. However, Link can use the Bremen Mask to lead Cucco chicks behind him in a baby Cucco parade, rapidly aging them into adult Cuccos. This is notably adorable, and a unique way to implement chickens into a Zelda game.
The 3DS remake also added Cuccofish, which are bizarre... chicken... fish... things. This is definitely unique, but also sort of creepy. Why do these exist? I know Termina is a messed up place, but chickenfish? That's going too far.
5. 'Ocarina of Time'
Perhaps the most well known entry in the series, Ocarina of Time, has fairly standard Cuccos. However, a standard Cucco is a good Cucco, and Ocarina of Time doesn't skimp out on their usefulness (nor their aggressiveness). Unlike their cel-shaded cousins from Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, Ocarina of Time's chickens are invincible and relentless. However, they also take only three hits to summon a swarm of angry birds hellbent on Link's destruction - while this is what any respectable Cucco swarm should be, it does show a lack of tolerance when compared to other, more emotionally resilient chickens.
Link can use Cuccos to help him fly through the air to reach far off destinations, and they are the subject of several mini-games and sidequests scattered throughout Hyrule. Ocarina of Time has a special Cucco by the name of the Pocket Cucco, which is used to wake Talon in order to get a second special Cucco. This second Cucco is colored blue, and both are used in a trading quest to help Link get the most powerful sword in the game, The Biggoron Sword. Useful, malicious, and capable. These are respectable chickens.
4. 'A Link to the Past'
Like Ocarina of Time, these Cuccos are about what you'd expect out of the series. What sets them apart from their three dimensional brethren is their patience, their usefulness, and their uniqueness. It takes five hits to summon "the swarm" as opposed to three, showing a level of resilience that Ocarina's Cuccos do not. Link can summon a Cucco with his Ocarina to ferry him to destinations that he's already visited, which is one of the most useful fast travel mechanics in the series. And, in the corrupted Dark World, we see a dreadful, skeletal variant of our beloved white animals, which contribute quite a bit to the oppressive atmosphere of Ganon's kingdom.
3. 'A Link Between Worlds'
These are basically the same Cuccos from A Link to the Past, with all of the same pros. However, rather than the skeletal Cuccos of the Dark World, we're introduced to the Lorulian Cucco, a vulture-like variant of our well established friend. A Link Between Worlds adds to the relevance of the Cucco a bit by adding a mini-game dedicated to avoiding a swarm of violent chickens. In this dangerous game, we see several other variants of Cuccos - there are large and yellow versions along with the standard white Cuccos that we're used to. A Link Between Worlds gains points for showing us that Cuccos can come in all shapes and sizes.
2. 'Four Swords Adventures'
Cuccos can be used as weapons to steal force gems from other players. What else needs to be said? These creatures were born to be weaponized. Major bonus points for using them as nature intended.
1. Twilight Princess
The game that does Cuccos the most justice is, without a doubt, Twilight Princess. In this game, Cuccos come in various colors outside of the usual white, and the Golden Cucco allows Link to fly even farther than usual. The Golden Cucco is so important that its aid is required to return to The Sacred Grove later in the game, making it an essential part of Link's adventure.
Twilight Princess also allows Link to talk to Cuccos while in Wolf form, giving them a personality and a voice that no other game does. There's a Cucco in The Hidden Village that's the leader of a bunch of a cats, implying that the animal kingdom is well aware of these creature's blatant superiority. Some of the Cuccos even mention escaping Falbi's Flight-by-Fowl minigame in order to live a normal life, giving them an extra layer of sympathy that no other incarnation of Cuccos have. The Cuccos in Twilight Princess are also capable of swimming, something no other Hyrulean Chicken has been seen doing.
Twilight Princess also introduced us to the Ooccoo, an ancient race responsible for building cities high in the sky. If the Ooccoo are related to the Cucco, it's entirely possible that the Cuccos and their relatives have been far more important in Hyrulian history than we've been led to think.
So there you have it. Each Zelda, ranked by how well it treats its chickens.
How do you feel about Cuccos in Zelda games? Sound off in the comments below!