Twilight Princess Dungeons: Goron Mines

Axle the BeastJanuary 8th, 2013 by Axle the Beast

Ah, time to review the Goron Mines. I might recall incorrectly since I wasn’t really keeping track of Zelda news at the time, but I remember that during the pre-release buzz for Twilight Princess, Nintendo seemed to show this dungeon more than the others. Certainly, particular chambers of this dungeon, like the open room with the Bulblin Archers, and the dungeon boss were familiar sights for many before the game released. So in a way, that put more pressure on the Goron Mines than really any other dungeon of the game. We’d seen it already, so the dungeon had the challenge of impressing us further when we actually played it.

The dungeon is solid, but it has a number of shortcomings that I’d like to get into, and I don’t believe that’s because I had too high of expectations from it being hyped; I think it falls slightly under the quality we tend to expect from good Zelda dungeons (though it’s by no means the only dungeon in the series to disappoint, nor does it disappoint too severely). As usual, I will start with the dungeon’s thematic design before I get into gameplay.

The theme of the Goron Mines is that of an industrial… well, mine. This is where the Gorons mine ore. The dungeon concept is essentially a good one: The Goron Mines have areas and challenges reminiscent of the basic, common lava dungeons we’ve seen throughout the series, making it a very familiar Goron dungeon. At the same time, it introduces the industrial aspects, giving it a flavor that no other Goron dungeon has and, along with the Death Mountain area in which it is located, helps to give the Goron society a very distinct new style in Twilight Princess.

The dungeon’s music carries this theme very well, with primarily metallic clanks and droning hums for sounds, making it a very atmospheric theme like most dungeon themes in Twilight Princess. I don’t think it’s good listening on its own, and I think they could have done way better than a simplistic, repeating pattern of clanks for dungeon music. Something more complex, interesting, or even just longer and with more variation would have been very welcome. As it stands, though, the music works for what the dungeon is.

My problem with the Goron Mines is that, while it connects its themes very well, I think it fails to use them well, and moreover I’m not sure they’re that interesting to begin with. The dungeon is overly gritty to me, with little to offer in terms of visual appeal; the dungeon is realistic and manages to feel exactly like an area of this type should, but at the same time I don’t think it does anything creative or interesting with it, so the Goron Mines look and feel like a dull mining site or industrial area like we see in other stories without anything to make it fresh or appealing in Twilight Princess specifically. To some degree this might be personal preference — I enjoyed the themes of the Forest Temple after all, and they’re also recycled from other stories without any invention on the concepts — but I think there is merit in saying there are more interesting and fitting ways they could have implemented industrial themes into Zelda.

Besides, there is another issue with their implementation that the Forest Temple did not have, which is that there’s little variation. While the Forest Temple did have a recurring theme throughout the dungeon that it never deviated from, every room felt unique within that theme. You had different rooms claimed by or built around nature in different ways, and very few if any of them looked or played the same way. That’s not true of the Goron Mines. Many of the rooms in this dungeon feel exactly like the others. There is variation, but only to a limited degree; the dungeon has a set number of room archetypes — so few you could count them on one hand — and virtually every room follows one of them. As a result, the dungeon grows stale quicker than most. Repetition sets in as you pass by a lot of the same scenery over and over again. The Goron Mines fail to present the player with enough visual variety.

The dungeon is much the same gameplay-wise as it is theme-wise. There are some neat gameplay concepts here, many of which go well with the industrial mine. You spend a lot of this dungeon standing on pressure switches, activating cranes, and navigating caverns with the new Iron Boots mechanic; the metal boots cling to magnetized ore in the mines, allowing you to walk on the walls.

The puzzles are fun enough, although like in most of Twilight Princess, they are on the scarcer side and there is more emphasis on fighting. The problem in the dungeon’s design lies not with the puzzles or fights but with the layout. The dungeon is too linear. Moreover it doesn’t feel like it should be. Some dungeons or areas in games are linear but are still well-designed because they’re made with the linearity in mind. This doesn’t feel like one of those to me. The Goron Mines is an almost entirely linear trek with no deviation or sense of finding the path yourself; the game strings you along from room to room and makes your path plain and obvious. There’s no discovery. The dungeon gets more exciting when you encounter the miniboss and acquire the Hero’s Bow, but this occurs over halfway through the dungeon, and while the bow sections are surprisingly exciting and entertaining, they happen so late in the dungeon that the excitement is short-lived, and either way, by this time the dungeon has already started to turn into a grind.

The biggest cause of that grind is the magnetic ore. I agree that the idea of walking on the walls with the Iron Boots was a cool idea, and I can see why a lot of people like it, but really what it comes down to is a meaningless gesture. It doesn’t add anything to the dungeon; there is nothing to figure out, nothing to spot or solve. No challenge. You simply get on the ore and follow it to the end. It’s a gimmick with no impact on gameplay, which would actually be fine if it didn’t take so long. Movement on the magnetic ore is painfully slow, and since it adds nothing whatsoever to the game, there’s no good reason for it to be so. All this mechanic manages to be is a pointless slowdown that drastically increases the time spent in the dungeon while forcing you to spend it simply inching your way along a linear path. In all probability, the dungeon wouldn’t feel like a grind without these portions, because it would progress much faster. The player would get through the similar rooms faster, making it feel less stale, and the player would be far less bored of the dungeon by the time they reached the Hero’s Bow. The dungeon would have just been much more satisfying overall. I know it might sound petty to essentially blame the Iron Boot portions for the entire dungeon’s problems, and really they aren’t the only design issue, but they are a big problem and they do end up making every other shortcoming a lot worse. These sections should have been sped up.

Finally, there’s the battles. The normal fights in the Goron Mines are fairly typical. Fiery foes that can burn a Wooden Shield, and who have breath attacks and the like. The most interesting enemies in the dungeon are actually the standard Bulblins, who are encountered throughout the game but fought often for the first time in this dungeon. They are cool enemies that fit the dungeon well, and while they’re generally very easy, they can be a tad tricky in groups. The squads of Bulblin Archers fought throughout the dungeon are particularly tough opponents.

The miniboss, Dangoro, is a fun fight that’s very similar to the Gorons that had to be overcome while climbing Death Mountain. This fight isn’t tricky and it follows the overly simple three-hit formula found throughout this game, but it’s still entertaining enough and I find it enjoyable. It’s especially neat to fight a Goron character who’s actually not a bad guy instead of some monster. This miniboss is fought to the first of two recurring miniboss themes in the game, so it doesn’t have a unique theme, but it’s still a good one that fits this battle and dungeon particularly well with its metallic clanking sounds. The fight could have been longer and more challenging, but at least it’s still fun.

The dungeon boss on the other hand is once more bogged down by similar problems as those of the rest of the dungeon. Fyrus’ design is decent enough and certainly improved from his beta design, and the fight has a good concept; stop a charging, rampaging monster by disorienting him with a shot to the head from your bow, and then trip him to attack his face head-on. But the execution is bad. Like Diababa, this fight locks your camera on the boss, but it’s a lot more annoying here, in a relatively tight room (when Fyrus is in it) with a very mobile boss. Fyrus moves around but presents no challenge; his weak point is obvious and easy to hit with the bow. There’s very little threat, and he’s quickly killed. It feels like there was supposed to be more to this fight, since Fyrus has a line of sight and will actually lose track of you if you hide behind the pillars. This fight should have been reworked to take advantage of this, making Fyrus next to impossible to stop when charging, forcing you to sneak up and shoot various points on his body to stun him. This fight could have been so much better, and should have been, so it could have fit his very intimidating battle music better. A good boss concept, but it needed better execution.

That’s very much the mantra of this dungeon: The Goron Mines has lots of good ideas, but its execution is really poor. There are many design problems and slowdowns that just don’t need to happen, turning the dungeon into an obnoxious grind and making the would-be epic boss in reality very underwhelming. The dungeon isn’t terrible, though. It’s solid and there’s fun to be had here. I do enjoy the Goron Mines, but it always has me grumbling at the Iron Boots portions and just generally leaves me wanting more from it.

So how about you? What are your thoughts on the Goron Mines? What were your expectations going into them, considering the pre-release buzz? How did you feel about the dungeon itself after playing it? Do you think it’s poorly designed like I do, or did you enjoy it a lot? Do you dig the industrial mine theme? Tell me in the comments, and look forward to next week when I review the Lakebed Temple!

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  • Awesome

    Very well done, just like all your others. While this may have been my favorite dungeon in the game (except for maybe the mansion) it did have a lot of faults. You did complain about how slow you move when on the ore, but you can move much faster if you glitch the game. It’s really the only glitch I ever really use in games because it’s so useful.

    But yeah fun dungeon, cool idea, terrible boss, and a little too linear at times.

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

      Thanks for the comment. :) I didn’t know about the glitch, but either way glitches of that sort are rarely going to enter into my reviews; while they can make things easier, they’re just not something I consider a proper part of the game, so if they’re the only thing available to make something more fun, then I still consider that thing flawed because they were never meant to be part of the game.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003298020387 Alan Da Cruz Nascimento

    everything related to Goron is perfect. ♥

    • your mom

      so is your penis

  • MaoShan

    I did find it slow, but think of it this way. If you were Link, would you say, “Nah, screw this. I’m not going to do this part of the quest–it’s too boring!” Not everything in life is designed to constantly excite you, and I don’t mind if a realistic-looking game does likewise. You don’t walk down a forest path on your way to school, see a tree, and say to yourself, “What a poorly designed tree! It looks almost like that one over there, where’s the variety? Why isn’t this tree exciting enough?

    • http://www.facebook.com/ben.west.908 Ben West

      Well u dont go to school with a sword and shield and have to fight countless enemies. The point im getting at is that this is a video game not real life. If every game was like real life it wouldnt b fun and all video games wouldnt b very unique.

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

      Maybe you don’t mind it, but I don’t think there’s any good reason for a game to do anything that isn’t actually fun, and I really can’t fathom the notion. It’s a video game. It should be designed to be enjoyable. If there’s any component that obstructs that, then I can’t regard it as anything but a bad component.

      I left plenty of room in my phrasing for them to have done other things with the dungeon (and in particular the wall-climbing) than for it to have been “wooo, exciting!!!!11!”, so I’m not sure where you drew that specific conclusion from. Things don’t have to be action-packed and thrilling to be good. If something forces you to take your time, then it should still be interesting in another way.

    • falconfetus8

      But isn’t the point of a game to be fun?

      • cheez

        i like chocolate milk

  • The Hylian Monolith

    Story-time!

    When I began TP, I sucked at it. Clearing the Forest Temple was quite a daunting task for me. When I finally reached this dungeon with some help from the handy ZD Guide, I wasn’t confounded by any puzzles or faced with any particularly difficult battles. I just couldn’t jump at all. The lava pits at the beginning killed me too many times too count. I liked this temple, I just couldn’t jump. For weeks I never really entered it. And then…

    I got the boss key. I got every chest aside from that one chest you can’t get yet. I am ready to crush Fyrus, and guess who happens. Not what. Who. Oocoo happens, and I’m stuck at the beginning.

    Merry Christmas Everyone! *flourish* Sorry, inside joke.

    • Emma Mix

      I agree. While I thought the Goron Mines were a nice fire dungeon for a change (personally I’ve been more of a water dungeon girl– hey I’m just freaky like that), I always hate getting to the end of a room and then plummeting to my death. Call me crazy.

      I think the main reason I liked this dungeon so much was because I finally got the Hero’s Bow, my fave item ever. It’s classic, yet it never loses it’s awesomeness.

  • Mseevers95

    First of Dangoro (Roggenrola in english )is my favorite pokemon ever.

    Second Fyrus reminds me too much of the Balrog from Lord of the Rings. I half expected to see a wizard named Ganondalf in the open cutscene of the fight screaming “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/burnsie322 Joshua Burns

    I agree with your point that the Dungeon was definitely linear, and that in terms of a standard Fire-themed Zelda Dungeon there really wasn’t a whole lot new. Having said that I think this type of Dungeon worked better with the realistic premise that Twilight Princess tried to achieve. I mean yes visually it was fairly dull but I think that lends itself to the fact that it wasn’t intended as a ‘Dungeon/temple’ like say the Lakebed Temple or alot of other Zelda temples were. Indeed its one of the three or four ‘temples/dungeons’ in this game that appear to have another usage than simply being a puzzle place with some items and a boss to beat. (The others including Snowpeak Mansion, Palace of Twilight etc) I liked the idea that this mine was taken over by the Bublin archers, and that was the reason for their presence, rather than just having random enemies in any given room. I also thought having the areas with the three elder Gorons being school-like areas fit in nicely with this realistic approach. I like how this realistic approach was adopted again in Skyward Sword for the Lanayru mines.
    I do agree however again that the dungeon was a bit too linear, and that for a place that the Goron race supposedly spends a fair chunk of their time at that it could have had a few more places to check out. I also definitely agree that the iron boots concept would have been alot cooler if they had been able to speed it up just that little bit more, without it being too unrealistic
    Great review as always, your reviews always give me something more to contemplate when I replay these games, keep em coming

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

      Thanks for your comment. =) Just wanted to add… while it makes no sense considering they are MINES, the Goron Mines are specifically stated to be rarely entered… even by Gorons. A Goron tells you this in the room just before you go inside. Doesn’t really change anything you said though.

      I hear what you’re saying, by the way. Definitely, the Goron Mines were intended to be a realistic area. But you compare it to the Lanayru Mining Facility and I thought that dungeon was a lot more visually interesting. Decoration was more prevalent, but more than that they were inventive with the layout and individual rooms felt fresh. Unlike the Goron Mines, there weren’t a lot of rooms that felt the same. So I guess I disagree there. Still, you raise a good point. :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/burnsie322 Joshua Burns

        Thanks, Yeah, I do agree too that they could have included a bit more of a visual kick, I mean it was a little on the bland side…and it is a zelda game so even in embracing realism we have come to expect a bit more atmosphere in these areas (I mean compare it to the Ocarina of Time dungeons and the completely seperate atmospheres they created). I agree with Noahs comments below that it was suitable for that particular game, given the emphasis that creators had for this game (as did no doubt a rabid bunch of dissapointed fanboys from Wind Waker lol) had on realism, but it definitely could have either been shorter (like have an additional equipment area infested with bublins before the mines proper etc) or have a few hidden mine ‘shafts’ that contained hidden extras.
        I still hope that Zelda games continue with this trend (although sparingly since I still love a good temple). I think it does expand a bit more on the lore of Hyrule, which has always kept me fascinated ever since the mystery of the many temples of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask(Forest Temple, Shadow Temple and Stone Tower Temple to this day illicit a 20 minute argument out of me)
        PS: Yeah even I had trouble believing that a mine could be regarded as ‘Sacred’ (even if it is their livelihood) when it was, for all basic purposes, just a mine, probably just trying to give it a bit more mystery or something lol

  • erikingvoldsen

    The only problem for me was the iron boot sections, but I’m not too bothered seeing how short they were. I actually found Fyrus very challenging for a 2nd dungeon boss. He was a moving target and while I didn’t have much trouble to him, my sister and cousin both died several times despite beating the previous 3 3D Zelda games.

  • http://Legendarysmith.deviantart.com/ ArabDiSASTER

    There was a video demo of this that i payed attention to very closely, the actual dungeon ended up being the same but with a different layout… This dungeon is actually what got me exited for this game many years ago…

  • momo

    Of course it would be slow walking on the ore with Iron Boots! Could you imagine trying to pick up your feet away from the force that is holding your body down against gravity?!? I thought that was well done!

    • http://Legendarysmith.deviantart.com/ ArabDiSASTER

      yep

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

      Just because it’s realistic doesn’t mean it’s good. A video game should never make itself less fun just for the sake if functioning more like reality does. Especially not a fantasy game. They could have sped it up without making it look or feel weird, or they could have given you a task to do that made the speed less irritating. Some kind of puzzle.

      • Mitchell Kember

        Agreed, if realism was so important then he would be weighed down all the time because they are still in his pocket :P.

  • TrumpetGamer

    I enjoyed this dungeon though I agree it was very linear. The biggest problem I had was the chest in the back corner of the open Bublin archer room. I realized that the claw shot (not yet acquired on the first visit) were needed to reach it. Once I got the claw shot I returned to the dungeon expecting to find a piece of heart but only found rupees, and not even high value ones. It was not worth it for me to backtrack for something that didn’t even contribute to my 100% completion.

  • FirePosition

    Well, I think that Fyrus wasn’t bad at all. The idea to stop a rampaging monster is a good idea to me. If you had to hit multiple parts of his body, it wouldn’t be so original in my eyes. The fact that it can lose track of you by not seeing you makes it more original, more realistic as well (in a way), and that the camera keeps looking at it means that you just HAVE to know where he is, like in a movie of some sort.
    Just my opinion :)

  • Someone

    Oh, I remember that I did this temple and skipped the last part of the key and the bow. I don’t know how actually, I just came further and found out that I was missing something. It really took me way too long to find it. That is actually the thing I hate about Twilight Princess the most, it happened to me in every dungeon! Everytime when I reached the boss door, I realized that I forgot the key again. -.-
    But I have to say that the magnetic parts didn’t exacly bother me too much, but I guess that’s just my opinion. I look forward to your next dungeonreview.

  • BlackRaven6695

    Thematically, I love this dungeon and it’s industrial mines setting. One of my favorite areas in the series.

  • PRDX4

    Although Axle is much more of an expert than me, I believe a lot of his problems with the game is just personal opinion. Story could’ve been implemented better but as for the rest, it was a GameCube title! It was limited in memory and graphics. And, honestly, the realistic approach isn’t too gritty, it’s realistic! How often do you walk into a lava filled cave or a dank, dark forest or even your house and say, “Wow! That has vibrant colors and is super visuallly appealling!” Plus, the whole game isn’t gray. At twilight and Lake Hylia both have bright colors

    • Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule

      I don’t think Axle is any more of an expert than you or I. He may write articles, but he’s still just another player. It’s true: a lot of it boils down to personal preference. For instance, I generally dislike lava or fire themed dungeons, so I didn’t enjoy the Gorram Mines. But I’m sure there are plenty of people who did. I could list all the things I like and dislike about each game, but no one is going to agree with me on what worked or didn’t work. Still, it’s interesting to read other people’s opinions, especially when they’re as fleshed out as Axle’s.

      • a

        what the fuck is a Gorram Mine?

      • ab

        it’s Goron, not Gorram.

    • Zelda is the Bomb!!!

      Don’t forget the Castle Town Malo Mart branch. The walls are bright blue!

  • Westar

    The worst part of the whole “temple” is: The bow: AT THE SECOND TEMPLE?! You’ll never use the slingshot again in the game, which really is a waste of using the cool wii motion (at least to wii…). They could have made the slingshot different than the bow so that they were two different kinds of weapon! Luckily they learned from their mistakes and fixed it in Skyward Sword.
    But as a newcommer to the Zelda series, I believe it’s a quite interesting and enjoyable dungeon!

  • cinnamon

    I remember liking the Goron Mines, though I agree the Iron Boot Walking-on-ore sections could have been vastly improved. It would’ve been cool if instead of walking on ore, there would’ve been some kind of magnetic puzzle. The boss was really easy as well :( But overall, an okay dungeon.

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

      The speed wouldn’t have been an issue if the magnetics gave you a task that actually warranted a slow pace. A magnetic puzzle would have been AWESOME.

  • http://yomister.com/ NoahDavid Lein

    Joshua Burns said it well: like many of the Twilight Princess “temples”, the Goron Mines are an actual, practical location in the world of Hyrule. The design choice grounds the Zelda franchise, for a moment, in realism.

    I respect Axle’s comments about the mechanics of the boots, but what’s so terrible about a “gritty” aesthetic? Every temple, except the Temple of Time and the City-That-Must-Not-Be-Named, is equally gritty (sand, swamp, dust). Think about other “gritty” parts of the game. Link’s saddle squeaks. The wolf’s senses are murky and claustrophobic. While these “realistic” choices may not enhance all aspects of gameplay (climbing, swimming), they take Zelda out of the “cartoon” realm and give some visual weight. That’s something I would like more of.

    • Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule

      Agreed. And then they had to go back on that with Skyward Sword, which just felt too kiddy. It wasn’t cool and “gritty” like TP, and it didn’t manage to be charming like WW. It was just a dull uninteresting halfway point.

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

      A gritty aesthetic is not something I like particularly, and I enjoy Twilight Princess as a whole less for it. When I said that in the review, though, I didn’t actually mean to speak of the artstyle but rather the visual design and room layout of the dungeon. Really, to me, the dungeon is just rock and ugly girders.

      I can appreciate that from a standpoint of realism — and I really do like the dungeons that feel like practical locations — but at the same time, there are ways to approach realism while still making it very visually interesting. I brought up how the Goron Mines tends to look uniform, whereas the Forest Temple has very distinct rooms throughout most of the dungeon. Additionally, there are many things they could have done with the Goron Mines theme to make it look and feel interesting without interfering in any way with a sense of realism, and I can’t help but feel that they were a tad lazy for not doing so.

      I just feel that the dungeon as a whole had less effort put into its themes than it should have. Thanks for your comment, regardless. :)

  • linkypete

    I JUST FINALLY BEAT THAT DUNGEON SEVERAL DAYS AGO!!!!!! do not hate me, I have had a lot of schoolwork and I just got TP exactly 1 year ago tomorrow.

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

      You should play along with my reviews! 8D

      Mostly kidding… mostly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.barber.902 Katie Barber

    I have to admit, I don’t find the repetition of the room design and the liearity of the dungeon that bad. It’s a mine, mines are supposed to be easy to navigate for the miners and relatively repetitive to cut costs. This ‘it’s a mine’ justification made the design and liearity very easy for me to overlook.

  • Wes

    do a wind waker dungeon reflection series sometime

  • Sir Quaffler

    For the most part it was slightly forgettable. I don’t remember much of it off the top of my head, it sorta melds together into this one big mess. Not terrible, but not too great either. Regular dungeon music kinda got annoying after a while, though.

    The main boss? Too weak and easy to kill, a problem most bosses in TP have. I never really felt that much in danger fighting him, though the music is pretty cool.

    The miniboss, though? Best part of the dungeon. I mean yeah it was relatively simple once you got the pattern down, but it was just a blast to fight him. A fistfight on a piece of rock floating on lava? Awesome. And even to this day I think that his fight music (as well as the iterations later on) are the best miniboss fight music in Zelda.

  • Zelda is the Bomb!!!

    I think Fyrus was the first time I died in the game. Or at least against a boss. But that was mostly my fault, as I kept wasting arrows. I won the second time I fought him.

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  • Jeffers

    He may have found the Fyrus fight dull because he completely overlooked the part of it where you’re supposed to use the Iron Boots and pull his chains to trip him. I made the same mistake my first time through this game.

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