The Legend of Zelda series is mostly made up of dungeons. Princess Zelda can only ever be saved by a collection of MacGuffins, that are hidden behind deadly traps and an army of monsters. Most of the fun that is had within a Zelda game involves conquering these strongholds of evil. You will need to use all of your skill and cunnings to overcome the hardest of Ganon’s fortresses.
The thing is, not all dungeons are created equal. Some of the Legend of Zelda dungeons are downright terrible. There can be many reasons for this, such as unfair bosses, needlessly complex puzzles, or environments that punish you for exploring. We are here today to name and shame the worst dungeons to ever appear in a Legend of Zelda title. From the stealth dungeon that drags down one of the greatest modern video games to the temple that was so bad that it needed an entire remake to fix.
Here are the 15 Worst Legend Of Zelda Dungeons Ever!
15. Yiga Clan Hideout
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a game that gives you unparalleled freedom when it comes to completing tasks. Unlike the previous Zelda games of the past, you are allowed to complete dungeons and defeat bosses through a variety of different methods. You are encouraged to experiment and see what works for you.
The Yiga Clan Hideout is the one big exception to the freedom that the game normally provides. You are forced to sneak around the base, rather than being able to fight its denizens. While you certainly can try and take on the warriors of the Yiga clan, they will kill you in one hit. The game forces you to sneak around in order to complete your objectives and removes all of the interesting solutions that can normally be used with the rune spells. You have to sneak around in a predetermined path, and will most likely be killed if you screw up even once.
While the Yiga Clan Hideout is a loathsome dungeon, it can only be placed at the bottom of this list. Unlike every other dungeon on this list, the Yiga Clan Hideout is optional and does not need to be finished in order to complete the game.
14. Jabu-Jabu’s Belly
The lack of a true water dungeon in Breath of the Wild is a landmark moment in the Zelda series, as it means that the creators have finally learned their lesson. Link and water do not mix and they should be kept as far away from each other as possible.
In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, Link must travel underwater and complete a dungeon that is hidden with the belly of the great Jabu-Jabu. The dungeon is made of three levels, which can be filled or emptied with water. This requires you to travel to one room in the dungeon, which contains all of the switches that raise the water level. You will have to return to this room on numerous occasions, while you work out how to finish all of the puzzles. This involves numerous backtracking, which is hampered by the slow moving swimming mechanics. You need to constantly tap in the direction you want to move, which will soon wear out your thumb. If you want to complete this game, then you might want to look up a guide to help you finish it quickly, before you break your hand on the swimming controls.
13. Forsaken Fortress
Metal Gear Solid may not have been the first video game that focused on stealth, but it was definitely the one that popularized it as a genre. This means that we can blame Metal Gear Solid for all of the horrible mandatory stealth sections that have appeared in games over the years. The Legend of Zelda series is a major offender in this regard, as the developers still haven’t learned that sneaking around isn’t fun in an action game.
When Link arrives at the Forsaken Fortress in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, he immediately loses his sword. This means that you are forced to slowly move around in a barrel, in order to not be seen by the enemy. The game does give you wooden swords for brief moments of combat, but won’t let you carry them between areas. Link is forced to spend most of the dungeon moving around at a crawling speed, with any mistake forcing him to repeat the torture of passing through the area again.
12. Goron Mines
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has some tremendous dungeons. Most of the bad parts of the game happen outside of them. There was nothing in the CD-i Zelda games that was as horrendous as the fetch quests that you needed to do at the start of Twilight Princess before Link was transformed into a wolf and you could finally start the game.
When it comes to Twilight Princess‘ dungeons, the worst one is the Goron Mines. This is due to the segments that involve the Iron Boots, which is the key item you find in the dungeon that is required to solve its puzzles. There are sections of the Goron Mines that require you to walk on walls that are magnetized. This requires you to walk very slowly across predetermined paths, whilst an obnoxious stomping sound is played in the background.
11. Temple Of Droplets
The main gameplay mechanic in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap involves Link changing size. Link can turn into an insect-sized being, which allows him to enter tiny dungeons that are hidden within regular household objects. This meant that several dungeons involved switching size, to allow you to enter different areas.
Link must eventually conquer the Temple of Droplets, which is contained within a block of ice. It is here that we see the second worst thing to ever be involved with a Zelda dungeon. The first is water, the second is ice. In order to progress within the Temple of Droplets, Link has to navigate slippery floors (which are often near ledges) and complete the loathed “push blocks on ice in a straight line” puzzles. While it is logical that these kinds of puzzles should go together (as they both involve icy floors), they will still make you want to pull your hair out, as you try and slide Link into the correct position, before you even risk pushing the blocks,as you might get the wrong side and have to start over.
10. Hinox Mines
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is an unjustly overlooked game for the Nintendo 3DS. Like the Four Swords games that came before it, Tri Force Heroes requires several players in order to be fun, which isn’t always a viable option. While the game can be played in single player mode, it won’t be as enjoyable as it is when you have a couple of friends fighting by your side.
One of the biggest challenges in Tri Force Heroes involves coordinating the actions of the three players, in order to solve puzzles. This reaches new heights of frustration in the Hinox Mines, where the players are forced to use a minecart to continue. As in a lot of games, the player needs to hit levers whilst the minecart is moving, for it to switch paths. If you miss, then you usually get caught in a loop and are sent back to try again. The sheer frustration of trying to get three players in line is what makes this dungeon so bad, as you will constantly be going around in circles until you get it right.
9. Inside Jabu-Jabu’s Belly
What is it about Jabu-Jabu’s digestive system that invites terrible dungeons?
Escort missions should be scrubbed from video games forever, as they are the antithesis of fun. The only thing that could make them worse is if the person you are escorting is annoying and ungrateful. As Eiji Aonuma hates everyone and everything, he created the quest to save Princess Ruto in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Link needs to enter the belly of the great Jabu-Jabu, in order to find the third Spiritual Stone and save the Princess Ruto, who is trapped inside. In order to rescue the Princess, Link needs to carry her through the fleshy dungeon, while she complains at every step. If she takes too much damage or you lose her, then you need to return to the room where you first met and reclaim her. Princess Ruto is the annoying baby from Yoshi’s Island of the Zelda series.
8. Pirate’s Fortress
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask introduced the concept of Link being able to change forms, once he put on a magical mask. Link could transform into a Deku scrub (which made him light enough to float and glide), a Goron (which was strong enough to break through rocks), and a Zora, which allows Link to swim… sort of.
In Majora’s Mask, Link needs to rescue four Zora eggs, that have been stolen by Gerudo pirates. He needs to infiltrate the Pirate’s Fortress, in order to retrieve the eggs. The Pirate’s Fortress has annoying mandatory stealth sections, which involve you sneaking around the sentries. One mistake will get you kicked outside and you will have to start over. You also need to swim through parts of the Fortress, which involves wrestling with the abysmal Zora swimming controls within Majora’s Mask. The Pirate’s Fortress manages to mix some of the worst aspects of the series into one dungeon. It is only redeemed by some awesome battles against the Gerudo Guard minibosses.
7. Sword & Shield Maze
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons was the more action themed game of the two Oracle titles. It had more of an emphasis on combat and surviving the harsh environment than Oracle of Ages had. When you reached the Sword & Shield Maze in Subrosia, you would have both your skills and your patience tested.
In the Legend of Zelda series, we commonly see fire & ice themed weapons and enemies. The Sword & Shield Maze decided to segregate them into two halves of the same dungeon. You enter the dungeon into a level that that is shaped like a shield, which is covered in ice. The second level of the dungeon is shaped like a sword and has pits full of lava.
The Sword and Shield Maze mixes the jittery ice-walking/block pushing controls of the Temple of Droplets, with another level that is filled with lava chase sequences that will completely mess you up if you get them wrong.
6. Dark Palace
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is one of the best modern Zelda games. It abandoned the lengthy introductory sequences and endless cutscenes of other Zelda titles and exchanged them for sheer gameplay. You are given a sword within the first five minutes and are told to rescue Princess Zelda. The ability to choose which order you complete the dungeons in was likely an inspiration for the design of Breath of the Wild.
As its name would suggest, the Dark Palace in A Link Between Worlds is themed around darkness. You are forced to use the paltry light of your torch to navigate the dungeon. This is at its most frustrating during the sequences where you need to use another item, which means you are denied even the smallest of light. You will have to make your way across narrow paths, which will drain your health if you step too far in any one direction. Some of the previous Zelda games have included dark rooms, though they have often been short and easy to complete. The Dark Palace forces you to crawl your way through a dungeon, in order to prevent a loss of health and being kicked back to the start of the room.
5. Temple Of The Ocean King
All of the dungeons on this list are terrible, but at least you only have to complete them once (unless you are really bad at Majora’s Mask). The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is host to one of the most frustrating dungeons in the series, as you need to repeatedly enter the Temple of the Ocean King in order to progress through the game.
The Temple of the Ocean King has a strict time limit, that is determined by the titular Phantom Hourglass, which allows Link to resist the Temple’s life draining aura for a brief period of time. Link needs to keep returning to the Temple, in order to find charts that will allow him to find the next island. Completing each island will increase the amount of time within the Phantom Hourglass.
Each time you return to the Temple of the Ocean King, you need to redo all of the floors that you had previously completed. Most of the puzzles involve an element of stealth, as being hit by one of the guards will remove time from the Phantom Hourglass. You will be forced to repeat the same few boring floors over the course of the game.
4. Ice Palace
The Ice Palace from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the most difficult dungeons in the series, for all of the wrong reasons.
As the name suggests, the Ice Palace is another dungeon with a frictionless floor. This means that you will be slipping and sliding all over the place. The game will then throw you into rooms full of enemies, which would be tricky enough to fight in a regular dungeon. As you cannot properly control your movement, you will be forced to rely on spin attacks and your special items, which will quickly drain your magic meter. You cannot rely on items too much, as you also need to use the Fire Rod to complete some of the puzzles, which requires preserving some magic.
Link will be forced to navigate rooms full of spikes and pits, whilst trying desperately not to get hurt. This is one of the most frustrating dungeons in the series and is a blemish on an otherwise amazing game.
3. Great Bay Temple
After the disaster that was the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time, the developers of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask decided to go for a double and would go on to create a second woeful water dungeon for the early 3D Zelda games.
The Great Bay Temple mainly requires the player to use the Zora form to swim around. As mentioned in the Pirate’s Fortress entry, the Zora swimming controls in Majora’s Mask are unresponsive, which is not helped by janky camera controls that struggle to keep up with the action. This is made even tougher by the fact that the dungeon is filled with water tunnels that will push you along with the current. It will seem like the whole game is against you, as you fight to grab onto a ledge, whilst the controls, camera and water current are pushing you in every direction. You also have to complete the dungeon within a strict time limit, before the Moon crashes into the world. If you don’t finish it in time, then you will have to start the dungeon over.
2. Death Mountain
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is kind of like Dark Souls. The whole game is brutally difficult throughout and will punish you for not playing by its rules. It takes the increase of the player’s stats and finding new equipment/items, to make the game easier. Dark Souls at least allows you to call in an online helper for the more difficult parts of the game. In Zelda II, you are all alone.
One of the earliest dungeons in Zelda II is Death Mountain.This is the point at which most players will most likely quit the game, as it is unfairly difficult. The player needs to fight a series of powerful monsters, and each battle requires knowledge of their patterns in order to defeat. At this point in the game, Link will have no spells or items to help him. The only way through this dungeon is by completing one of the most vicious iron man challenges in gaming history.
1. The Water Temple
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is widely regarded to be one of the greatest video games of all time. There is no such thing as a flawless game, however, and even the classics have their segments that people dread. In the case of Ocarina of Time, it is the Water Temple.
In order to progress through the Water Temple, you need to acquire the Iron Boots. This will allow you drop to the bottom of the water and walk on the floor of the Temple. When you unequip them, then you will float to the top. This process requires several seconds on the menu screen, which you will need to do numerous times in a single playthrough and it grinds the game to a screeching halt on each occasion. The Water Temple requires you to reach certain rooms, in order to raise or lower the water level. If you screw this up even once, then you have to spend ages undoing everything you just did. This is easily the slowest and most aggravating dungeon in the series.
For all of its issues, the Water Temple was responsible for at least one good thing. The remake of Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 3DS was partly made so that the developers could fix the Water Temple. We may not have been able to experience this awesome port, if it weren’t for the one horrible dungeon that still lingered in the minds of its creator.