It was really hard to narrow this countdown to just ten entries. It could have easily been a Top 25, but seriously who amongst you would have actually read that? Some of my choices may surprise some of you, but I think that's partly the fun of it, an...
It was really hard to narrow this countdown to just ten entries. It could have easily been a Top 25, but seriously who amongst you would have actually read that? Some of my choices may surprise some of you, but I think that’s partly the fun of it, and I had a lot of fun writing this list! My choices were based on a few key factors – how memorable the dungeon is, level design, and overall fun factor.
Honourable mentions go out to Desert Palace (Link Between Worlds), Lanayru Mining Facility (Skyward Sword), Dark Palace (Link to the Past), and Goron Mines (Twilight Princess). Right then, let’s crack on with 10!
10) Ice Palace (A Link to the Past)
All the dungeons in A Link to the Past are pretty cool really, but this one has stuck in my mind ever since the first time I played it. I recall that first play was pretty tough, dying multiple times and taking ages to stroll back through to the dungeon to where I was before. But that just meant when I finally finished it I was left with a sense of accomplishment I don’t always gets with dungeons. The Ice Palace is huge, looks really pretty, and is one I often look forward to playing again.
9) Eagle’s Tower (Link’s Awakening)
Eagle’s Tower sets itself apart from a lot of other 2D Zelda dungeons by setting you a specific objective. There are four pillars in different places of the dungeon that you need to knock down using a huge heavy ball, which you carry around the dungeon with you. Once the pillars are destroyed a higher level of the dungeon falls down, changing the layout of the tower and allowing you to be able to reach the boss room.
It’s a wonderful little dungeon with a great idea behind it that makes the experience a lot of fun. The fact that is quite challenging as well is much appreciated. I couldn’t have forgiven myself if I left the Eagle’s Tower off of this Top 10.
8) City in the Sky (Twilight Princess
So many elements of this dungeon make it stand out from the crowd. The outside sequence at the beginning make you feel like you’re entering an alien-like world – something rare for a Zelda game. The music helps build that atmosphere tremendously.
The puzzles in the City in the Sky offer lots of new kinds of obstacles as well thanks to the amazing Double Clawshot – an item so amazingly cool that we all had to take a moment to wonder how it hadn’t been thought of before. To top it off, this dungeon treats you for your efforts with an unforgettable boss in Argorok, thanks in part to the Double Clawshots, which see you flinging yourself through the air during a thunderstorm so you can take down this bad-ass dragon.
7) Ancient Cistern (Skyward Sword)
The prettiest dungeon in an already stunning game, my first impressive of this dungeon was thusly; “Wow! It’s like the Spirit Temple and Water Temple combined!”, and effectively it’s what you end up with. Not just that though, towards the end there is a wonderful section that sends you beneath the dungeon into something that would have easily been at home in the Shadow Temple.
There are a good variety of different puzzles here coupled with the gorgeous scenery, and possibly the most difficult mini-boss of all time. The Stalmaster really pushes your MotionPlus sword-wieldy to its limits and it took a great deal of time for me to best him. The true boss of the dungeon despite not being as challenging was a long fight against a memorable enemy. The Koloktos, a huge multi-armed robotic guardian was a tough cookie, and just as I thought I’d bested him he grew legs and came back for round 2! Full of surprises, Ancient Cistern is definitely my favourite Skyward Sword dungeon.
6) Forest Temple (Ocarina of Time)
The reason I love the Forest Temple, like so many others do, is for its atmosphere. This dungeon is seriously creepy, more so than the Shadow Temple in fact. There is beautifully eerie music, twisting hallways, and those freakin’ Wallmasters! The quest to defeat the Poes by taking them by surprise in their own paintings was a lot of fun – we all remember quietly sneaking up those staircases to snipe them with the Bow and Arrow. To conclude things, the dungeon throws at you a fantastic boss in the shape of Phantom Ganon. The Forest Temple is not only the first dungeon to test the skills of newer older Link, but also feels like it is challenging us as players in new ways too. Arguably better dungeons will always come along, but the Forest Temple is perhaps one that no player will ever truly forget.
5) Great Bay Temple (Majora’s Mask)
It’s a tough call, but I believe Great Bay Temple is definitely deserving of a spot in my Top 5. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I play through Majora’s Mask, I always end up getting confused by this dungeon or end up going the wrong way at some stage. You raise the water level in much the same way as Ocarina of Time’s Water Temple, but here you also alter the directionally flow of water, and complete puzzles using the Ice Arrows.
Speaking of which, I absolutely loved that this dungeon built a load of puzzles around the Ice Arrows, which were completely irrelevant in the previous game. Some of these puzzles could prove rather head-scratching too, but there was no frustration involved which the Water Temple was famous for. The difficulty level is just right. Oh, the boss of these dungeon still gives me the creeps every time I have to face him...
3) Deepwood Shrine (Minish Cap
The only “first dungeon” from a game to feature anywhere near the Top 10, the Deepwood Shrine for me is a huge triumph. This was the first opportunity the developers had to play around with the “shrinkable Link” gameplay elements in the Minish Cap, which result in puzzles involving impenetrable spider webs, barrels you roll around inside of, and riding on lillipads. These kind of ideas are wonderfully imagined, and make the dungeon all the more fun because of it.
And just when you think you’ve seen all the genius moments this dungeon has to offer, you face the boss; a normal-sized ChuChu that Link would usually be able to beat in 2 seconds in his usual form, becomes a gigantic force to be reckoned with once he’s been shrunk down! This forces you to completely look at things in a new way and make this boss fight pretty hard to forget, just because of how clever it is. I seriously love all the ideas and imagination this dungeon had to offer, and that’s why I have no reservations placing it as high as I have done.
3) Spirit Temple (Ocarina of Time)
The Spirit Temple, guys. Admit it – you must have reading down this list wondering where it was gonna show up. This beautiful temple in many ways sums up everything that makes a great dungeon truly magnificent. First off there is the fact that you must conquer different sections as either the younger or older Link, which was wonderfully realised. The appeal of the puzzles really make their mark as well once you get access to the Mirror Shield, and the Master Quest version of the dungeon is extremely challenging. I highly recommend folks check that out if they haven’t already.
The Spirit Temple is a really fun experience from start to finish, from the music, to the colossal statue in the main room, to the incredibly bad-ass Iron Knuckles, to THAT boss fight. The Spirit Temple has it all really.
2) Palace of Winds (Minish Cap)
It’s possible I may be somewhat biased towards this dungeon because it centres around my favourite Zelda item, the Roc’s Cape. Past that though there is so much to love about the Palace of Winds. First of it looks terrific thanks to Minish Cap’s beautiful sprite graphics, and the sky setting gives the dungeon an even more grand feel. There are many different types of challenges and puzzles around every corner, and there are a lot of them. Just when you think you are reaching the end of the dungeon it turns out to just be the half-way point, as you can access to a huge tower.
Even the music makes you feel you are playing a dungeon that is pretty special, and although the boss may not be the most difficult in Zelda history, it certainly isn’t a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination. If you’ve never played Minish Cap, then go download it from the Wii U Virtual Console immediately. You’ll thank me once you get to the glorious Palace of Winds.
1) Stone Tower Temple (Majora’s Mask)
And so we finally reach my favourite Zelda dungeon ever. It had some very tough competition from the last couple of entries, but in the end I had to give it to the Stone Tower Tempe. I’m always blown away by the level design of this dungeon. You play through it, receive the Light Arrows which activate a switch which turns it upside-down, and then you play through it again on the ceiling. Its pretty mindboggling when you think about how much work must have gone into pulling off something like that in a way that didn’t just seem contrived.
In actual fact, the Stone Tower Temple offers a wonderful level of intricacy and imagination that I hold it in incredibly high regard. There are even a couple of different elemental parts of the dungeon test your different mask forms. Past there we end up being pitted against not one but three mini-bosses (I guess Wizrobe counts) – one of which being an incredibly sinister looking grim reaper. And that’s before we even get to the true boss. Twinmold are two gigantic flying snakes so huge that they force Link to turn himself into a giant just to put himself on the same playing field. It’s an enormously epic final battle.
Then I also have to mention collecting all the thirty Fairies in this dungeon – a massive challenge in itself that rewards the player wonderfully with the awesome looking Great Fairy Sword. Overall then, the Stone Tower Temple is a superb achievement for the Zelda series and that’s why it is my favourite dungeon of all time.