Ocarina of Time Dungeons: Inside the Deku Tree

Axle the BeastJuly 31st, 2012 by Axle the Beast

In this series of editorials, I’ll be reviewing the dungeons of Ocarina of Time and examining them, in the same vein as I did with my Skyward Sword Dungeons series. And of course, the first dungeon in Ocarina of Time is Inside the Deku Tree, which is the last major destination of the game’s tutorial portion. In fact, this dungeon is arguably the first example of a super easy “introductory dungeon” the series has seen; other first dungeons that came before didn’t do as much hand-holding and didn’t spend as much time — if any — explaining how the game works. Inside the Deku Tree was the first.

Because it was the first 3D game in the Zelda series, there would inevitably have been players who needed introduction to the new game mechanics, like targeting, auto-jumping, and scaling climbable walls and ladders. So, while I’ve complained about other Zelda games having hand-holding introductory dungeons like it, Inside the Deku Tree was justified for doing it because of its early placement in the series overall. The dungeon is very easy — only beginners (like myself when I first played) should struggle with it — but it’s easy for a good reason.

Beyond its difficulty, there isn’t tons to be said about Inside the Deku Tree; it’s one of the simpler dungeons in the game thematically. It’s supposed to be inside a tree and it’s basically… inside a tree. It’s a simple theme, and it’s executed properly. It’s a fitting dungeon for the surrounding region of Kokiri Forest, with simple alterations from what you’d expect inside a tree, like torches and other constructions, to allow for the basic tutorial dungeon that it’s supposed to be. Most of its design is built with its role in mind, but as I said, it accomplishes its intended themes very well.

It has enough originality in its idea since it is basically the only dungeon in the series that takes place in the interior of a tree, and because of its secondary theme of infestation. The dungeon, with its bestiary of Skulltulas, Gohma Larva, its eventual boss in Gohma herself, and prevalent webbing, sells the theme of corruption while mixing it well with the interior of the tree, combining for a believable but unusual concept: A spider-infested tree. Thankfully, this speaks for most of the dungeons in Ocarina of Time, which do a decent job at preventing any dungeon from being an overly simplistic one-trick pony (as I will no doubt get into with future entries in this series).

And speaking of Gohma, the dungeon boss of Inside the Deku Tree has one of the best introductions of any foe in the game, showing herself only when the player looks at her, setting up one of the creepier boss intros in the series that well befits the young Link in his first confrontation against evil. Another important thing to note about this is that when this game first came out, it was essentially a prequel in the same way Skyward Sword is now, so whether or not players were acutely aware of it or not, this was the first time on the timeline that a Link had to face off against evil. And while easy, Gohma was an intimidating boss that befit this role.

Was Inside the Deku Tree easy? Yes. Was it simple? Definitely. But these facts were proper not only for the first 3D dungeon of the series, but for the first ordeal that Zelda fans had faced in the five years since Link’s Awakening. It established the concept of a tutorial dungeon in a time when it was still needed, and while its themes were simple, they were handled with love and care and really sold the dungeon to new players of Ocarina of Time. A worthy dungeon for the series and an excellent introduction to one of its greatest entries.

But what are your thoughts about the first dungeon of Ocarina of Time? Do you look back on it fondly? Was it challenging to you as a new gamer, or did you tackle it with enough experience that it was a breeze? Did it bore you or interest you? Tell me in the comments, and look forward to the next post where I will tackle my favorite Child Link dungeon, Dodongo’s Cavern!

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  • You-Know-Who

    Hey Axle, what happened to the mailbag?

    • http://axlethebeast.com/ Axle the Beast

      Trouble uploading it. It’ll be up this week. ;)

      • H37I

        hey, often are the mailbags? i’m kinda new to them. i’ve watched some before and i want to keep watching them but i don’t know how frequent they usually are.

        • http://axlethebeast.com/ Axle the Beast

          Mailbags are every Thursday unless there’s some circumstance to delay them.

          • H37I

            thank you, axle. i have been wanting to know for a while.

  • DanielAwesome52

    I remember when OoT3D was being shown off, some idiot from IGN or something was running around Gohma’s lair for like 5-7 minutes, and neither him, his cameraman, nor the reporter had any idea what they were doing

    • Andyjoe522

      And people wonder why Nintendo throws in so much “hand-holding” into newer Zelda games.

      • http://axlethebeast.com/ Axle the Beast

        Oh I know why, I just don’t think Nintendo often chooses the most intuitive ways of doing it.

        • DanielAwesome52

          I was literally screaming at my computer screen “CAN”T YOU SEE THE DEBRIS FALLING? LOOK UP!” and Axle have you seen Egoraptor’s Megaman X sequelitis? He points out how it teaches the player without ever using a screentip or tutorial

          • Pizzaman

            Not only were you screaming. You were LITERALLY screaming.
            *sigh* why do people do that?

          • DanielAwesome52

            Because I was physically screaming, no joke, out loud, in the middle of my friend’s living room, getting weird looks from everyone

          • Gorrilaz

            YES. I remember watching that video. I was cracking up at the guys sheer misunderstanding. Also, he claimed that he played through the N64 version as a kid, yet he could remember nothing whatsoever about how to fight the boss. sigh….

          • JFC

            iv been a huge zelda fan all my life. and while i agree with alot of the comments i can see y alot of people don’t like zelda fan boys. But pretty much all of u are pretentious dipshits and take the story way to literally.
            just because you play and involve zelda in your life in everyway doesn’t mean every one else does. please try to think before next time you post something cause thats half the reason y people make fun of zelda fans.

          • Nicholas Jabbour

            That was such an awesome video!

    • http://axlethebeast.com/ Axle the Beast

      LOL. There’s a reason I chose the word “should” when I said no one should have trouble with it. xP

      • HerosShade

        Sad to say, in the portion of this dungeon where you first fall into the basement, I had trouble realizing that there was a path under the water for me to carry my lit deku stick over to the webbing blocking the door. I tried all kinds of rolling jumps and z-targeting tricks to jump the water, when all I had to do was walk. But this was my first Zelda game and I was pretty young.

        • http://axlethebeast.com/ Axle the Beast

          That’s easily the trickiest part of the dungeon and it took me a while too. This was also my first Zelda game, and I played it young. I definitely had trouble at parts, but that was because of inexperience. =)

    • Tehlul

      It’s funny cause doesn’t Navi prompt you to look at the ceiling?

      • http://www.facebook.com/chris.joiner.1426 Chris Joiner

        “shiver” Navi

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Best/100003863840372 James Best

      That guy was from Gamespot, just so you know.

    • Guest

      That was both sad and hilarious. I admit, I got stuck in the Deku Tree the first time around, because this was an entirely new gaming experience for me and I wasn’t yet aware of the versatility of my items, but I knew enough to be able to press Up-C and observe my surroundings! Especially when I saw debris falling from the ceiling, that should be an obvious enough clue that, hey, maybe you should check that out!

    • Metsfan201

      Cant you see ghoma on the ceiling when you first walk in? If that isn’t a big enough clue to look up then I don’t know what is.

  • D bag


    • H37I

      that username is fitting…

  • tallglass44

    I do look back fondly at the Deku Tree dungeon :) Why? Cause i love Zelda <3

  • Regent909

    Loved Inside the Deku Tree. Played it first on the 3DS and when the camera paned through the tree when you entered it, I just thought…wow.
    The dungeon was really really easy but Dodongo’s Cavern too, Jabu-Jabu’s Belly was the first dungeon giving me trouble…

  • JuicieJ

    I think the Deku Tree is one of the best tutorials Zelda has to offer. While I prefer the tutorials to be at the beginning (and optional) so that the first dungeon can be an *actual* dungeon, there’s no denying that the Deku Tree was a great way to introduce players to the basics of the game and prepare them for what was yet to come.

  • JcLee

    Yay, Axle’s Dungeon series! I think it would be cool in the future to give links to the dungeon editorials in the same place somewhere on the site, where they all could be accessed.

    • WillDaBeast

      yeah that would be awesome

  • BlackRaven6695

    Inside The Deku Tree does it’s job (easing the player into the first 3D Zelda) very well. It’s just a shame that, unlike other dungeons in the series, it loses it’s appeal once you’ve played through the game a few times.
    Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the Water and Spirit Temples, Axle!

  • Jam9t3

    Ah this is one of my favourite dungeons because it brings back memories, i remember when i didnt know how to burn the webs with the stick, i didnt know how to make the fire touch the web lol! i was stuck on that part for a long time!

  • Tehlul

    Ok kiddos time for your Nostalgia boner of the day

    • Guest


      Oh hey, you were right!

  • Pizzaman

    Played the first part of this game so much, I have the first 3 dungeons memorized.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hikari.no.vikki Victoria Courtemanche

    I had to turn down the music until it was fully muted just to FIGHT Gohma the first time I played Ocarina of Time for N64. I was six, give me a break. I was also terrified of spiders and still am to a lesser extent. Now I view them as helpful self-sustaining friends that mostly reside in my bathroom… but that’s a whole other story that probably doesn’t belong here… lol. ^.^;

    Aside from that, I think that the Great Deku Tree was a very nice first dungeon. OoT was the first console game apart from SNES MarioKart that I EVER played, and the game as a whole was thoroughly challenging in those days where game guides and tips only came from books full of other games you may or may not have had and/or liked. (I myself bought a guide for Wind Waker before discovering GameFaqs.com, which tells you how long THAT was…)

    Back to the Deku Tree, it wasn’t challenging as some of the other dungeons, but – sifting through my hazy six-year-old memories of playing it for the first time – it was a good start. Especially once I finally managed to beat Gohma (with the music on mute) and gained confidence in myself as a gamer and as a person (now who says games don’t help character?). I am eagerly awaiting the next post! (Dodongo’s Cavern was my favorite too. :D)

  • Person

    Heh, I remember this dungeon . . . I went in there twice before I finally beat it, the first time I don’t even remember, I just remember running around Kokiri Forest with the slingshot (that’s when I was somewhere between the ages of three and five, I don’t remember my age, I just remember that I thought Kokiri Forest and the Lost Wood were all there was to the game– I could run around the place blindfolded now and not get lost), so I must’ve gone in there at some point, the second time was somewhere around 7 years later when I got too freaked out by Gohma to finish it, and the last time was about a year after that when I finally did it. That was when I was 13 and it was the summer I beat the game!

    • Aerolfos

      Good to see I am not the only one that got freaked out by bosses when I was younger…
      But I have a brother that did them all for me :D
      Now I tackle all of them myself, especially dark nuts where my brother fails

  • LinksFanGirl231

    It’s a good thing it was easy, since some people were still getting the hang of switching from 2D to 3D. When my brother got this game for the first time he was baffled as to what to do, since he wasn’t used to how 3D worked.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Matt.Seevers Matt Seevers

    I never understood why there are FIRE puzzles inside of the mostly dry WOODEN tree.

  • Guest

    Happy to see you continuing your dungeon article series and covering other games! I enjoyed your analysis of SS’s dungeons, and I expect I will enjoy your perspective of OoT’s just as much.

    I appreciate how you note the Deku Tree’s relative ease is attributed to OoT being the first 3D Zelda. Both newcomers to the series and veterans alike needed some sort of introduction to the new abilities and mechanics of this vastly different world. In a sense, this was a tutorial dungeon. (I know in the past I’ve given slack to SS’s long tutorial, but it was necessary, as it was a new method of playing the game, somewhat similar to OoT.)

    What I particularly like about OoT’s tutorial, however, was how it meshed with the main quest and story. You immediately are informed of some sort of trouble cast upon the forest deity, which relates to your oncoming adventure, and obtain a pivotal plot ticket (the Kokiri Emerald) after completing the Deku Tree. But the dungeon itself is very much a series of interactive examples of what you will be doing throughout the rest of the game. Stepping on switches could make platforms raise to reveal a new path, instead of just making another dungeon key appear or opening a door as what common in previous Zeldas. You can light Deku Sticks on fire and set torches and webs ablaze. Jumping and rolling to absorb the shock of impact, shooting enemies with your slingshot in a 3D environment…the basics were covered in and around the Deku Tree.

    I need to make a confession. An embarrassing confession. OoT was not only my first Zelda title–it was also my first venture in this sort of game and this kind of 3D world. Before this, my experience was relegated to mostly sidescrolling platformers, and the closest thing to a more adventure-like gaming experience was Pokemon R&B. So…when I first played OoT…I got stuck in the Deku Tree. FEAR NOT, for I doth not suck at Zelda anymore! But I did at first. I remember talking about OoT with my teammates at softball practice after school, and one of my friends told me about being able to light Deku Sticks on fire. Blew my mind that you could do that! And that propelled me to really pay attention to the possibilities of my surroundings and my items.

    Today, yes, the dungeon is an absolute breeze. But putting it in context of it’s time I think allows us to see it was actually a more well-constructed tutorial dungeon than people may give it credit for.

  • K2L

    I like the dungeon. Certainly better than Woodfall Temple, ST Forest Temple and Temple of Fire.
    EDIT: I’ve noticed that my former e-mail is blocked, presumably due to “troll” comments. But I’ve done my best to improve my attitude ever since. If I compromise to get better, would you allow me to post here again?

    • H37I

      i never considered your comments as trolling…hey, everyone has opinions.

    • Guest

      Though I, as many others, have grown weary of seeing you constantly say you just want the series to die, I never considered you a troll. Many of your other comments are actually well thought-out and insightful. It’s fine to think the series has fallen from grace recently; that is
      your opinion and you are entitled to it. I just think people may have
      gotten annoyed by seeing you post “I just want the series to die” over
      and over. If I may, I’d recommend perhaps not saying that you want the Zelda franchise to die, but instead giving personal perspective on what issues you would like to see resolved or what aspects you think could be better developed in future installments. I do appreciate your efforts to be less abrasive to the fan community.

  • WillDaBeast

    Hey @AxletheBeast:disqus
    ur series about these dungeons are awesome
    you should do them fro all of the good zelda games
    and it would be nice if there is a way to access them besides scrolling through old posts
    can you do MM after u finish with oot?
    a admirer to all beasts esp. u

  • DekuMask

    When i first played it was a very fun challenge for me! :P
    Good job! very nice to read. ^_^

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004081308031 Laura Johnson

    Ah, Inside the Deku Tree…. I remember this dungeon fondly…. I love going through this dungeon every time I do it. It never gets old for me. When I went through it for the first time, I was mesmerised by everything. I experimented a lot; throwing Deku Nuts at various things, beating enemies and objects with Deku Sticks (don’t ask why, I just did, lol *shrug*), playing songs randomly to see what would happen… it was great fun, and that was the point.

    Inside the Deku Tree was a great dungeon to introduce players to the new 3D experience. It taught you what you need to know, without feeling like a dragged-out tutorial. You learned the basics, and they stuck with you. It was a simple dungeon that let you learn on your own and see the results.

    Can’t wait to read your next article, Axle!!

  • baileygirl99

    I enjoyed this dungeon. It was hard the first time I played it because it was the first dungeon I had ever played in the series,but the master quest great deku tree was surprisingly easy. I enjoyed this dungeon very much. I think it is a very good starting dungeon and has a very easy boss

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  • Broseph09

    The Deku Tree was definately a fun dungeon. Yea it was easy and simple to figure out but it was the frirst dungeon of the game with just enough puzzles, strategy and foes to prepare you for the upcoming ones.

  • Skull Kid 57

    I remember doing this in master quest. So many years of Zelda and I died 5 times.

  • http://www.zeldadungeon.net/ bob

    The first time i played OoT I was stuck at the part with the spiderweb because i would keep trying to light it with the deku stick and couldnt do it. I had to have my friend do it and i felt really imbaressed that all i had to was light it on fire… im not the best at zelda….

  • LinkFan101

    I thought it wasa great dungeon to introduce a player to the game. I was pretty young when i got OOT for the gamecube and i remember getting stuck in the room where you can jump into a floating pad that breaks once you jump on it, and i jumped on it to early and didnt know what to do haha. But other than that, it pretty much was simple, and a basis of ideas for the other temples.

  • LoZgrrl

    OoT has always been and always will be my favorite Zelda installment of all time. The Deku Tree was amazing. I’ve since played and beaten the game probably a thousand times. I know everything about the game, so of course it takes me about ten minutes to beat this dungeon, without leaving anything behind, but it never gets old. I still live this dungeon like I did the first time I had the satisfaction of beating Queen Gohma. The best Zelda game EVER.

    • LoZgrrl

      I still love* this dungeon.

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  • Link_Since_92

    I remember playing this for the first time and being so jazzed at the idea of entering a tree for the first dungeon. Not only because it was an immense tree, but primarily because it was a nod to that very first dungeon is zelda ever, level 1. In both 2d and 3d forms, the very first dungeon offered you had to enter the gapping maw of a dying (or dead) tree.

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