Most Famous (Infamous?) DungeonsNovember 29th, 2005 at 10:28 pm by The Missing Link
Ocarina had it, Waker didn’t have enough of it, and fans can’t get enough of it. No, I’m not talking about being free of Tingle! I’m talking about dungeons! Not surprisingly, the dungeons are the life-blood of the Zelda games; they’re the parts that make us rack our heads about how to get onto the other side of that locked door… or how to climb up to that cliff. They’re the most challenging part of the Zelda game. Yet interestingly enough, they’re often the least talked about parts of the game. Everyone talks about timelines and shipping and blah blah blah blah blah. All of that is the speculation stuff. The most we ever talk about dungeons is the occasional Internet poll of “which dungeon do you like best?”
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at some of the most interesting, the most original, the best designed, and yes, the most evil dungeons out there.
- Deadliest Dungeon—Level Six, LoZ: Move over Shadow Temple. For those of you old-schoolers and for those of you who got to torture yourselves over the Collector’s Edition, you know precisely what I’m talking about. This dungeon had you restarting over and over and over again the first time you played it, and even after the first time, it’s no walk in the park. Wizzrobes (especially the blue variety) back in the day were tough as nails, nothing like today’s variety (they just don’t make enemies like they used to), and getting past them was a feat and a half, even with your obligatory 68-rupee red potion! The runner up, as I’m sure those who’ve played it will agree, is the Great Palace from AoL; those who’ve managed to see the end of AoL are quite possibly some of the most dedicated Zelda fans.
- Most Convoluted Dungeon—Ice Palace, LttP: This dungeon is the deepest dungeon in Zelda history at an impressive seven basements. What would seem like a straightforward plunge into the earth, however, gets complicated as you have to backtrack from B4 back up to B1 just to get the boss key, and then later from B6 back up to B4 back down to B6 just to get to the boss. (Of course, you could cheat and go to Misery Mire first to get the Cane of Somaria, and most players did, but they killed off that shortcut in the GBA version, forcing you to take the long way around.)
- Most Confusing Dungeon—Level Nine, LoZ: Very few dungeons in the history of Zelda have teleporters that warp you all over the map; fewer still strictly rely upon this for the difficulty of the dungeon! In Nine, you have no idea where you are, even if you’re lucky enough to have found the map of the dungeon. Tied for this is Level Nine of LoZ’s second quest which has so many one-way doors, invisible doors, and sometimes both that you’ll start testing each of the four walls the moment you enter a room.
- Most Unique Dungeon—Stone Tower Temple, MM: Just when you think the dungeons of Majora couldn’t get any more messed up, halfway into the final dungeon, the dungeon flips upside down, and you find yourself walking on the ceiling with the sky below your feet. The strange sights are enough to give you a sense of vertigo, especially when you have to flip the dungeon several times to make your way through, not to mention getting the illustrious 15th fairy.
- Most Beautiful Dungeon—Forest Temple, OoT: If you’re like me, the moment you stepped into the interior courtyards of the Forest Temple, your eyes went all aglow with the marvelous wonders you found there. It definitely was a magnificent sight, and the fresh green grass and ivy-covered stone walls allow the fiercest of heroes a chance to take a break, pull out his picnic basket, and take a well-deserved rest.
- Cruelest Dungeon—Spirit Temple, OoT:MQ: Master Quest had a good couple of tricks up its sleeve when you start traversing the dungeons through an entirely different path than you ever thought possible, but the worst part of all is when you’ve finished the child-half of the temple, gone through half of the adult-side, and then you step on a switch that causes a treasure chest to appear through a hole that only child Link can go through. If this were a high school reunion, this version of the Spirit Temple would easily win Dungeon that Made Link Travel the Furthest.
- Most Innovative Dungeon—Mermaid’s Cave, OoA: The dungeon was neat because it was broken into two major sections, but unlike other two-part dungeons like LttP’s Ganon’s Tower, this one spanned time. You had to have two keys to open up the two halves, and you couldn’t fully explore the present half of the dungeon until you activated some trigger in the past. Sounds like messing with the mind of the guy in Ocarina’s windmill, eh?
- Most Annoying Dungeon—Jabu Jabu’s Belly, OoA: Many people would claim that the Water Temple from Ocarina was worse, but make no mistake about it. (Don’t worry; we’re saving the Water Temple for later!) At least controlling the water level in that dungeon could be done by cycling through several areas of the dungeon. In this dungeon, not only was the water level NEVER at the right spot, but there was a single room that provided the master controls to playing with the water, meaning that you went through the five or six rooms just before the master control room thirty or forty times just to find what you were looking for. Talk about annoying! Just as annoying as that Evil Purple Dinosaur of Doom.
- Dungeon with the Biggest Puzzle—Earth Temple, WW: Despite being underground, light still managed to find its way into the deep crevasses of the Earth Temple. Of course, it quickly became a recurring theme, and light was needed just about anywhere Link could possibly shine it—that is, Link or Medli could shine it. The final mirror room forced Link and Medli to shine a beacon of light off of about 10 mirrors just so that a single door would open, and often Medli would need to stand in one place, shine light off of her lyre, and then have Link redirect it to where it was needed. That’s a puzzle!
- Most Hated Dungeon—Water Temple, OoT: I’ve never personally understood the hatred most players carry for this place, but I think a lot of it has to do that the dungeon design was fundamentally different from any other dungeon in the past; you had to think completely in 3D. Narrow vertical shafts carried Link between multiple floors, and the most likely way to find yourself in a random room was to tunnel from above or below to get to it. It is easily the dungeon that has extracted the most ire from all of the Zelda games combined.
Well? What do you think?
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