Twilight Princess Dungeons: Forest Temple

Axle the BeastJanuary 1st, 2013 by Axle the Beast

I’m finally kicking off this series with, of course, the first dungeon of Twilight Princess: The Forest Temple. Like the Woodfall Temple from Majora’s Mask, this dungeon is very basic in theme and has some challenging puzzle design instead of being a tutorial session. It’s not overly difficult, of course, but it definitely doesn’t waste time teaching you the game. And, unlike most first dungeons of the series, it manages to establish its own identity and style, forming its own unique experience within the whole of Twilight Princess.

This dungeon, like a lot throughout the recent Zelda games, has an iconic appearance from a distance. It’s basically the hollow of a giant tree. Bringing to mind the Great Deku Tree to some (though there isn’t any concrete connection between the two), the dungeon’s interior definitely brings to mind that of Inside the Deku Tree from Ocarina of Time: Inside it is woody, with walls made of wood, floors made of wood, and just generally a lot of wood. Walls covered in vines and other growths, plant enemies, and additional, artificial structures built within are other similarities. Arguably the structures make more sense in the Forest Temple, because this place is no longer a living tree.

It’s an interesting concept for a dungeon, a sacred building built out of a dead tree and the forest around and within it. It really does feel like a building that wasn’t really lost to nature, but rather designed with nature in mind. The music echoes this theme, feeling mysterious but wild, even feral. It’s a great deviation from the calm but melancholy tune of Faron Woods; the woods were calm and mysterious, and while the Forest Temple is also mysterious, it is dangerous and wild. Thematically, the dungeon excels. The rooms are virtually all visually distinct, with their own unique ideas on the core theme; different structures built out of the nature around them in different ways, with lots of differing lighting and great visuals. I won’t say it makes perfect sense, and I often wonder how the structures even got there or how they could work, but it’s a fantastic setting that was executed very well.

Any and all problems I have with the Forest Temple’s thematic design are based more on my general dislike of the game’s dull artstyle and color scheme; I think the dungeon could have been a bit more colorful and flashy considering that it was supposed to be in the middle of the wild, but this is a broader issue I have with Twilight Princess as a whole, and the Forest Temple is one of the best areas in the game, visually.

Gameplay-wise, as I’ve said, the dungeon manages to be challenging, not wasting your time with tutorials and instead throwing you right into the game. This is still the easiest dungeon of the game, mind you, but it doesn’t shy away from challenging new players. There are plenty of enemies — several of which are brand-new by this point — plentiful if easy battles, and some clever puzzles, most of which make use of the Gale Boomerang, the main item of the dungeon and a unique spin on the classic Boomerang. I love seeing fresh spins on old items like this, and while the Gale Boomerang is still pretty close to the old Boomerang and probably wasn’t used interestingly or often enough to reach its maximum potential, it was a fresh and cool dungeon item with some unique uses throughout the dungeon. Some of these uses include blowing debris off the ground to reveal clues and enemies, and grabbing objects to transport them somewhere else in the room with its wind. Again, there’s not enough creative use of this item — especially after the Forest Temple is completed — but it’s still a good item and I’m glad it was in the game.

More unique about the Forest Temple than its dungeon item are the partners you spend the entire dungeon navigating with: The monkeys. These little critters must be rescued throughout the dungeon so that they may help you navigate through it. The storyline with the monkeys is extremely simplistic, but it’s charming, and these characters add a unique element to the dungeon and a distinct gimmick that no other in Twilight Princess or even the series has exactly mimicked. It’s refreshing and smart to implement something this unique into the first dungeon of the game, and it helps it to excel and stand out.

Each room of the dungeon is as distinct design-wise as it is visually; every room has its own flavor for both its navigation and its challenges (whether they’re battles or puzzles). No two rooms feel alike to traverse or conquer, and the experience rarely grows stale. The dungeon is sizable but also short; you will spend a decent amount of time here but leave at just the right time, before it gets too old. Like all dungeons in Twilight Princess, there’s an abundance of well-hidden chests containing rupees and other goodies, making treasure-hunting in the Forest Temple very enjoyable and rewarding.

The single — though sizable — real problem with the Forest Temple is in part a bigger problem with the game itself; certain actions, which you will be forced to perform quite frequently (in this dungeon in particular), are unintuitive and frustrating due to their frequency; they slow down the experience with no benefit. Stopping to toss out your Boomerang just to rotate platforms along pathways you need to traverse multiple times is one such issue, as is being forced to wait through short cutscenes every time a monkey jumps up above to help you swing across gaps. But the single biggest and most frequent of these annoyances is simply climbing; it takes far too long to simply climb up and down vines or other climbable surfaces, and it seems far too easy to register moving in the wrong direction. There are many vines that must be climbed in the Forest Temple — particularly towards the end — and having their controls be so unintuitive and slow while having so many is a design problem. It is, however, only an annoyance, not a major pitfall, so annoying or not, the dungeon is still great overall.

Finally, that brings us to the battles. The Forest Temple establishes the trends that the rest of the game generally follows: Twilight Princess is, generally speaking, a combat-focused game, so you’ll be spending a fair amount of time fighting monsters, though doing so is not typically hard. The challenge is light here, but that’s fitting in the Forest Temple’s case, as it is the game’s first dungeon.

Also like the other dungeons in the game, the miniboss is a prominent and distinct creature with its own buildup and song. Ook is the leader of the monkeys who has been corrupted by an evil bug. Initially seen early in the dungeon, hindering your progress with the Gale Boomerang (which is later your reward for beating him), he’s fought midway through. His battle theme is funky and one of my favorites in the game; it’s an energetic, odd battle theme that fits the wild area and the unusual monkey you’re up against. It fits the battle perfectly. My only disappointment with this fight is not that it’s easy — which it ought to be — but that it’s too short. The song is too great and the battle too fun for it to be easily finished in seconds like it is.

The same applies to the dungeon’s main boss, Diababa. This disturbing and fearsome giant plant has some cool buildup, as its main body is initially submerged in poisonous water while you fight its secondary heads, and the fight only gets cooler as Ook joins in to help Link during its second phase. But unfortunately, the fight is ridiculously easy and short. Having an easy fight is one thing, but on my first run through, I got hit by every single attack and I still was able to beat Diababa; dodging is optional if you just collect the extra hearts found at the edges of the battle room. The fight is over so quick that the boss truly poses no threat whatsoever. Diababa’s two fight songs are not as cool as Ook’s, but it’s still unfortunate not getting to hear them for very long.

I can forgive this, since it is the first boss, but it could have been harder without being too challenging. This deadly plant and this feral dungeon deserved better, but it wasn’t terrible. Overall the Forest Temple’s fights are very good.

All in all? The Forest Temple is a very well-designed dungeon in terms of both gameplay and themes. It plays great, and it looks great. It suffers in both areas from a handful of Twilight Princess’ broader problems, but more so than any other dungeon in the game, the Forest Temple takes those problems in stride and makes the best of them. Running through this dungeon and conquering its foes is one of the best experiences in Twilight Princess. It’s pretty thoroughly enjoyable, and it’s a great start for the game. More first dungeons need to be like this. I might even like it better than Majora’s Mask’s Woodfall Temple.

What do you think of the Forest Temple? Does it have what you like to see in a game’s opening dungeon? How do you feel about its visual design, its music, and its gameplay? How about the battles with Ook and Diababa? Tell me in the comments, and look forward to next week when I review the Goron Mines!

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  • Rambo

    Cool! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanael.verdonck Nathanaël Sapin Verdonck

    i actually love Diababa’s music where they mixed in ook theme. I like the normal ook theme but i prefer the short part of ook’s theme in Diababa’s theme.

    I personally had some problems when i wanted to roll into the poles in ook’s fight, sometimes you really have to hit it in the center or link would roll next to it, which i found quite annoying.

    I never experienced link’s slowness when climbing (but the unresponsiveness i did, boy oh boy!) but i guess that’s because TP was my first game. Thus i did not think he was slow but when i played SS or MM and OOT on the virtual console, I thought those links were fast!!!

    All in all, you’re right Axle, it is a very cool dungeon and one of my favorite in tp.
    Oh yes, I don’t know if you read these comments but if you do, where do i have to send my questions for the mailbag? or if you could answer my question directly: is axle your real name? if not, where does it come from and what is your real name? and what about the beast?

    • Mister

      “I never experienced link’s slowness when climbing (but the
      unresponsiveness i did, boy oh boy!) but i guess that’s because TP was
      my first game.”

      That would make sense, yep. I’ve played Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker before Twilight Princess so I was used to those climbing speeds. Got to Twilight Princess and was struck by how slowly he climbed. What was the point Nintendo? :p

      Still a good game, though.

      • http://www.facebook.com/nathanael.verdonck Nathanaël Sapin Verdonck

        I meant my first Zelda game, not game in a broader way. I guess most people got that but i’m just ‘Troll-proofing’ what i said. :-)

      • Hero of Time

        TP was my first Zelda game as well, so I never noticed how slow he was. :P

      • http://www.facebook.com/nathanael.verdonck Nathanaël Sapin Verdonck

        I Guess Nintendo made link slow in an attempt to make the game realistic (which was the whole purpose of the game)

    • Axle’s Stalker

      His real name is Owen

    • Linkfan99

      DID YOU KNOW THERE’S AN AXLE THE BEAST.COM????????

      http://axlethebeast.com/

      • http://www.facebook.com/nathanael.verdonck Nathanaël Sapin Verdonck

        Yes, yes, I knew that but thank you anyway, Good sir, and good day to you!!

        • Linkfan99

          Sorry I’m just excited ’cause I didn’t know about that until now. AND IT’S AWESOME!!!

  • Mr. Phats

    This was one of my least favorite dungeons in the game, second only to the City in the Sky. I just thought that it was kind of boring. As far as the boss fights go, they were WAY too easy, of course that was one of the problems the game had overall. A decent dungeon nevertheless.

  • Someone

    Since I don’t have the same problem with the art style, I liked this dungeon a lot. Minus the little annoyances of course. Even though I have to admit that if the style was even more realistic than this, I would also have dislikes for the game.
    I even saw Link’s death scene in here (which is so dramatic xD), but that’s just because of my terrible gaming skills the first time I played it. But the second time was a breeze with no real challenges except for the puzzles that came my way.
    I like the atmosphere and design here, but it wasn’t too memorable.
    Anyway great article, I look forward to read about what you think of the other dungeons. ^^

  • Jeff the Fridge

    I know this makes me sound stupid, but I was stuck on this dungeon for a couple of MONTHS. I’m being serious, I owned TP for five months before reaching the second dungeon, then finishing it in as weekend. The reason for this irritating block in progress was the fact that a chest was on top of a pillar. I couldn’t find this chest for ages, and it contained an essential key to get the boomerang. I’d thought that I needed the boomerang to get the chest, so I ignored it. I then forgot about the chest completely, thus leading to me stopping playing. I should have seen it earlier, but you’re meant to roll into the pillar to gain access to the chest. But this hadn’t been explained in the game before, so I didn’t know if I could do it (Note: the only 3D Zelda I’d played before TP was OoT, and I can’t remember any rolling puzzles) This hugely annoyed me, leading me to be unable to fully enjoy TP after finishing the dungeon

    • iKhan

      That is what I love about TP’s dungeons. Part of the concept of a dungeon is that it is a maze, meaning that at times there should be question on how to go on. The way the game hides things such as this is what I love about the game.

      • http://www.facebook.com/nathanael.verdonck Nathanaël Sapin Verdonck

        yes, me too. people sometimes complain about items being excessively used in their dungeon and when they’re needed somewhere else you don’t think about it because you did not use that item since a long time ago (e.g. my first couple of times trying to escort the horse cart trough Hyrule fields, when it took on fire, i did not know you could use the boomerang to extinguish it and this is but one of the many examples). but that is what i like about TP, it really makes you think about what you have to do. There is this especially when you are exploring Hyrule, looking for Poe souls or pieces of heart, or just finding a cave with a lot of rupees or monsters in.
        All in all I truly love this game and i also love the art. yes, it’s grey, of course, but that is part of the series which has always been very diverse

  • http://yomister.com/ NoahDavid Lein

    Axle – one of your best reviews. I appreciate your attention to specifics, namely the mechanics of this dungeon and how they differ from other dungeons and games.

    The Forest Temple is probably a better embodiment of the “forest” theme than even Ocarina’s (that temple was more about mystery, a “labyrinth” theme, perhaps). Everything that you encounter is wild and toxic, from the bomb creatures to the giant spiders to the strange bomb-eating fly-traps. Even though it’s easy, even painfully so, it is still well-designed and themed.

  • The Hylian Monolith

    I–wha– ?

    I finish TP for teh first time. It broke my heart. I nearly screamed, I nearly cried. I decided that Midna was the best Zelda companion to date.

    I quietly turned off my Wii and did the dishes.

    Then I come back, and you post this article.

    How the frex do all of the article writers for ZD have such flawless timing? :)

    • firecrb

      IDK they might be watching you :P

      • The Hylian Monolith

        Everybody’s watching me. Even I keep close track of my unpredictable actions.

    • Midna’s Sister

      The Light Sprits tell Lord Beast Axle everything, Mono. (And for the record, you’re right, my sister’s a serious hottie xD)

    • Cmaster

      If you notice, there are a good amount of Zelda games that have a second girl character that should be with Link but then in the End he always chooses Zelda.

      • http://twitter.com/mikejcsauer Mike Sauer

        I don’t think Link ever really has a choice..

      • Clem

        I found it a little odd that Link’s relationship with Ilia was all but ignored in the late game, considering how thickly they laid it on at the beginning. Also, I wouldn’t really say that he ends up with Zelda in the end… there was certainly never any implied romance between them in Twilight Princess.

    • http://twitter.com/mikejcsauer Mike Sauer

      That’s how I felt about the Majora’s Mask stuff

  • Helium

    Sorry to sound snooty, but I just want to correct you on one thing that, as a musician, is just a little irksome.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song

    “In music, a song is a composition for voice or voices, performed by singing.”

    Just wanted to point that out just so you know that the pieces of music played in Zelda games are not technically songs. Just a heads up. ;)

    Great review otherwise!

    • Linkfan99

      I think he means “music”, instead of “song”.

      • lan lan cow

        ♫ Mooooo mooooo mooooo ♫

    • baileygirl99

      Wikipedia can go suck pies. A song can be made using whatever instrument you want, from voices to a triangle. (this coming from an experienced musician)

  • iKhan

    I think you were thinking this but didn’t mention it, but I loved how the monkeys added further to the dungeon’s atmosphere

  • firecrb

    My favorite fights of the game would have to be between Morpheel or Argorok

  • IMFWeirdo

    Interesting, I thought this dungeon was the most tutorial-heavy first dungeon in the series, the way your monkey companions pointed to which rooms you were supposed to go in.

    I thought the dungeon’s boss was quite stupid, as it was restricted to its side of the room (in fact, if you walked far enough to the other side, it couldn’t reach you at all). The miniboss was entertaining.

    I’m sure the dungeon could work well with a brighter, more upbeat artstyle, but I think TP’s realistic style gave it a more immersive feeling. Same thing goes for the entire game; that’s one reason I loved TP so much. To each their own.

    Anyways, I’m awfully glad you’re doing this series for TP. TP’s dungeons were my favorite, and I know you’re not the biggest fan, so I’m wondering what critiques you have.

  • Dungeon Crawler

    Great article, I was waiting for this. Good job, Axle, as always.

  • bluchu

    Did anyone else wonder why the monkey with the rose had a tattoo?

  • Zelda4Life

    Anyone else have a problem with slashing a monkey’s butt? The thing controling it was on it’s head anyway…

  • matthew

    It’s a good dungeon and Ook first battle on the Pillar is fun and I love his battle music!

  • erikingvoldsen

    The only thing I cannot fathom is how you beat Ook in seconds…

    • Dudeman

      If you only use jump attacks when you knock him down the first time, you win. His health is extremely low.

  • LinkyKins

    I hated the forest temple in TP! I couldn’t find all of the stinking monkeys, gave up and put the game on the shelf, decided to play it about 5 months later, and then finished the game about 3 weeks after that. I will say that I loved the boss in the temple, but those darn monkeys…

  • Mseevers95

    First off I like the fact that an entire mini boss basically consists of spanking a monkey with your sword, for me Zelda doesn’t get better than that.

    Now then on to my beef with this dungeon.
    I have said this before but I will say it again. What the hell is with Bosses and their eyes in this game? I know that anatomically something’s eyes are probably one of the best things to attack when you want to make killing it easier if it can’t see you it can’t hit you. But Twilight Princess threw anatomy out the freaking window. A plant does not need an eyeball, especially one that is attached to its ‘tongue’.

    • BlackRaven6695

      It’s an aesthetic theme that’s been in the series since the very first game.

      • Mseevers95

        I don’t mind the eyes being the weakness on one or two bosses in a game but Twilight Princess managed to take the concept and beat it death.

  • Ganon

    Not to be rude, but why do you bitch constantly about the zelda series be happy we have it. Christ man, it’s a good game get past the things that irritate you and actually play it instead of note taking and then bitching online about it.

    • Turtles!

      He’s just giving his opinion and on how it could be better. I love the Zelda series, but no video game is perfect.

      • baileygirl99

        ‘Tis true.

    • http://www.facebook.com/SpiritReika Scott Reika Ripberger

      Turtles! said it well, but I just have to say: if you’re going to insult people and their opinions, there really is no way not to be rude. If you’d like to be rid of Axle’s quite astute and intuitive opinions, there’s a great wide internet out there for you to go play. Not to mention better things to complain about.

      • baileygirl99

        well said.

  • guitarman9560

    YOU SHOULD DO THE WIND WAKER NEXT!!!!

    • baileygirl99

      I TOTALLY AGREE!!

  • BlackRaven6695

    Man alive, those bomb-bugs gave me grief. That aside, this was a really cool and fun dungeon. One of the best first dungeons in the series.

  • asmith

    This: “I won’t say it makes perfect sense, and I often wonder how the structures even got there or how they could work…”

    I have long wondered the history of how these things were built and by whom within all of the dungeons. Ganon certainly didn’t commission these places to be built, nor did Demise for that matter, but they utilize them. In LOTR the Two Towers you see Sauruman create orcs to then build things for him. I can’t exactly see any intelligent enemy life in Zelda building anything.

    • baileygirl99

      So far, I just go with the place was abandoned and flooded with enimes. And it still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  • Princess Niki

    Twilight Princess was the game that got me into the series, boy did I have trouble the first time I played through this dungeon though. I had a lot of trouble finding those monkeys. Now when I play I can breeze through it unless I am going for 100% completion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LuisDarkjedi Luis Alvarez

    awesome job, I like your reviews of the dungeons and for me this forest temple was better than woodfall temple (majora’s mask) and inside the deku tree (ocarina of time)

  • mk12

    Great timing with this series—I just started playing Twilight Princess again!

  • Mawk

    I personally did not like the Forest Temple that much. I will say it’s probably my second least favorite dungeon in the game not because of the visuals or boss fights, but because it was slow paced and boring. The puzzles weren’t all that creative and the enemies were mediocre. It just seemed like a dungeon that I just wanted to get through so I could move on. The beginning was also extremely slow paced, and when I finally got the hero’s clothes and weapons, I expected, not a magnificent, but fun and interesting first dungeon to make up for the slow and boring beginning, Unfortunately, I didn’t get a fun and refreshing dungeon. But, fortunately, the game does get much more fun and awesome once you finish the first dungeon.

  • baileygirl99

    well, yeah there’s gonna be wood; it’s a TREE. It’s SUPPOSED to be dark. The ENTIRE GAME is like that, but i can’t complain about you just plain not likeing it. Those. Stupid. Monkeys. That’s all I need to say about them. It takes Link FOREVER to climb the vines :’-( and when i want him to climb diagonally, he just sits there! I’m like CLIMB DUDE!! All in all, I think that the dungeon was long-for the first dungeon-and challenging, but mostly in a good way. not my favorit dungoen, though.

  • Link

    Really great article!

    How about The Wind Waker dungeons next?

  • BlackHawkSniper

    There is without a doubt in my mind that most will find Arbiter’s Grounds the most f***ing annoying dungeon in the entire game

  • KINSTONEMASTER

    To me, Diababa feels like it should have been a later boss, one with more complex strategy. It almost looks like something out of Metroid really.

  • Kravik

    First time I got stuck in this temple.. Due to some cryptic advice..
    But second time over, I can agree..

    Mind you I did not get stuck in any other dungeon that I can recall.. So first time over, this was the “hardest dungeon” of the game..

    This time over I could not even find the clue. I just recalled how to do it. ;p

    I played it when it came out on the GC .. And now playing it over on the Wii…

  • Jeshua

    One cuestion Axle, do you think that The Great Deku Tree & Forest Temple of TP is the same dungeon, and with the past of the years it looks like the Forest Temple that we see on TP?? sorry for my english I’m a little rusty :D

  • Zachary Morris

    Thank you for finally doing Twilight Princess Axle! I like this review, you really hit on the best and worst parts of the dungeon.

  • BunniHood

    Twilight Princess had all the epicest dungeons except stone tower, tower of the gods, and spirit temple.

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  • Ilias

    I think the forest temple was the only part of TP where the dim lighting really bothered me. There were some areas that I navigated by waving my sword to find the walls.

  • Zelda is the Bomb!!!

    I got stuck for awhile. It turns out there was a boulder I had to bust with a Bombling.(felt kinda dumb after realizing that the solution was simple.) But I did like the dungeon. You know how the monkeys get frightened when an enemy appears? This always made me want to protect them.

  • Zeldamaster3000

    I think that the Forest Temple was okay, but it didn’t really help that I died so often because of my 3 hearts. I don’t even die that quick in SS without a shield.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wade.langner Wade Langner

    This guy is so unbelievably nitpicky with his dungeon reviews. “Unfortunately, the fight is ridiculously easy and short.” It’s the first boss. It’s supposed to be easy. I swear, he nitpicks a lot of Zelda games, but he’s too forgiving of Majora’s Mask’s flaws.

  • Linkachu72

    the girl monkey’s name is Monkey, and the boy monkays are Monkey 2, Monkey 3, Monkey 4, Monkey 5, Monkey 6, Monkey 7, and Charlie.

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