Favorite Zelda Moments: Link and Sheik Fight Bongo Bongo

Axle the BeastMarch 26th, 2013 by Axle the Beast

One of my favorite moments in Ocarina of Time was this sequence. When you visit Kakariko Village after completing the Water Temple, you’ll find the village on fire and Sheik standing by the well. He warns Link to get back, before a creepy immaterial force comes out of the well and subdues both Link and Sheik. After which, Sheik explains that this “evil shadow spirit” has been released, and Impa has gone to seal it in the Shadow Temple but will be in danger without you. He then teaches you the Nocturne of Shadow so you can teleport to the temple behind Kakariko Graveyard.

That means that this entire sequence is just the Shadow Temple’s extended version of one of the Link/Sheik jam sessions for learning the warp songs… but man, is it ever extended! Perhaps it’s partially because of bias that I say this, but this is my favorite of all the Sheik scenes by far (I’m a beast; of course I gotta love a good old fashioned Phantom Shadow Beast). But it’s not just because of Bongo Bongo that I like it. Look, I’m not knocking any of the jam session scenes when I say this — because they’re all wonderful and Sheik is a cool character through and through — but I love this sequence for how much more it piles onto the interactions between these two characters.

Think about it, though. What’s happened in the Sheik sequences up until this point?

  • Sheik appears mysteriously.
  • Sheik says something extremely pretty and poetic-sounding.
  • Sheik jams with you and teaches you how to teleport… again and again.
  • Sheik stylishly bails on you.

That’s all he does. Over and over again. It’s his legacy. (Barring his sequence after defeating Morpha, but that only cuts out #3.) But in the sequence where he teaches you the Nocturne of Shadow, these interactions depart from their structured and very video game-esque nature, and come alive into a sequence that better feels like it’s happening to two real people in an actual world. It’s in this scene that I stopped thinking of Sheik like a construct of the game’s design, meant to facilitate player progression, and started thinking of him as an actual character who would do things in the world when you weren’t there, and who would fight alongside the protagonist if it came to that. Even beyond that, I love this sequence for how epic it is. It’s two heroes fighting against an eldritch shadow entity in a burning village, and after it runs off, the village is drenched by an endless rain. I mean seriously… how much cooler could this sequence get? I used to think that Bongo Bongo’s actual appearance was anti-climactic in comparison to how much buildup he had here…


Grr, I’m an ancient sealed evil. Get on mah drum!

…but I’ve since come to realize how terrifying he actually still is, and appreciate the stylish combination of that horror with his odder elements (the freaking drum). But he still wouldn’t be nearly as cool as he is if he hadn’t been built up by this scene. This monster broke out of an ancient seal and challenged two heroes at the same time before eventually getting hunted down and killed in an evil, dangerous place that seemed like it was made for him. And that entire journey was spent wondering what it would be like to fight it after what happened in this scene. It’s so great and one of the best moments in gaming, let alone the Zelda series, for creating a sense of anticipation. I love it to death.

So what about you guys? What do you think about this sequence on its own, as well as how it stacks up to the other Sheik “jam sessions” and how it contributes to Bongo Bongo’s buildup? Tell me your thoughts on this moment in the comments!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1569469368 Mitchell van der Werff

    Sheik isn’t a he.
    Just saying.

    Also, yeah. I loved this moment aswell, and I think I couldn’t have said it any better.

    • Zachary Morris

      I agree, Sheik is a she.

      • Tehlul

        Shiek, the persona, the alter ego, the character, is a guy.

    • Blackbaldrik

      In the game Sheik is referred to as a “him” and “young man”.

      Think of it this way: It’s like a female actor portraying a male role. Just because the actor is female, it does not change the gender of the character portrayed.
      The character known as Sheik is male, the person disguised as Sheik is female.
      It’s all rather confusing, but technically, the character of Sheik is male.

      • rjhewgyrfu (aka ruifgyqforug)

        Yeah. Ruto refers to him as a “he”. It’s always confusing when people call him a “she”…

      • MoethePoe

        Also, Zelda can use magic. she transformed herself into a sheika boy to hide from Ganondorf. In the manga she flashes back to a conversation with Impa about becoming a boy. Very affective too.

        • Guest

          No. 1) The manga are not canon. 2) I had already posted this in response to another recent article, but if Zelda could just magically change herself from female to male, there would be no reason for her to wrap her face up or muffle her voice.

          You know how some girls will cosplay as Link at conventions and whatnot? Well, the character they are portraying is male, but the person wearing the costume is still female. It’s the same concept when applied to Zelda/Sheik. The reason Sheik it called “he” so often is because that it the persona Zelda is attempting to hide behind.

          • Blackbaldrik

            It confuses me why people reference the manga so much.
            From my (admittedly, extremely limited) knowledge of the manga, they tend to ignore very well established canonical events.

            (I don’t read the manga, mainly due to their non-canon nature)

      • Danyelle<3

        I always called Sheik a “she” so I wouldn’t confuse myself. But from what I’ve read, Zelda changed her eye and skin color with magic (as read from Super Smash Bros. Melee, anyway). I know in Brawl, they gave Shiek a feminine voice and a little more “curve” so they may be showing the fact that it’s just Zelda in disguise. IDK. Just a guess

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

      The entire point of Sheik’s character was for Zelda to pass herself off as a male. He’s meant to look male, and he is explicitly referred to as a male by Ruto.

      SHEIK is male. He isn’t a real person however. He’s a part played by Zelda, who is female.

      • It ;s me !

        THANK YOU Why does nobody understand this?

        • Tatl

          HE is a SHE because zelda made herself LOOK like she was a male by transforming herself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!DUUHHH! It’s only zelda logic!

          • oozy the wolf

            if its zelda logic sheik is a guy

          • Tatl

            ok it is transformation logic! there, i am right!!!!!!!!!!!!! I SHALL ALWAYS BE RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • oozy the wolf

            no your not sheik is a guy

          • Tatl

            no, ok, think of it like this, say there is a girl who dresses up as a guy character for cosplay, so sheik IS a girl

          • oozy the wolf

            cosplay and magicly transforming are two different things. while i see your point i still have to argue

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

            It would be grammatically correct to say “she” if I was referring to
            Zelda. Zelda is the real person who is female. Sheik isn’t real, but
            since I am identifying the persona called Sheik and not Zelda — since she is
            indeed pretending to be Sheik in that scene — I use male pronouns.

        • Kieroni

          Even though I think of Sheik MOSTLY as a ‘she’, I refer to her as a him,
          for simplicity and for not revealing his true identity to someone who
          hasn’t beat the game. (I’ve spoiled it before and felt terrible)

      • shadowecho02

        The way I see it, It’s just a girl(Zelda) dressed as a guy… Total cosplay going on. Otherwise they wouldn’t cover her face. The comment by Ruto was meant to keep players away from guessing who sheik was. Such a comment just shows how well the costume hid who she was as it confused Ruto. Heck in the original game, Sheik even has a tiny bit of a chest similar to Zelda’s XD. It’s just a girl wearing closing telling people she’s a guy while hiding her presence (and her eyes and hair) with magic.

        • shadowecho02

          Correction:
          guy clothes*

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

          I’m aware. That’s exactly what I said in different words.

          It would be grammatically correct to say “she” if I was referring to
          Zelda. Zelda is the real person who is female. Sheik isn’t real, but
          since I am identifying the persona called Sheik and not Zelda — since she is
          indeed pretending to be Sheik in that scene — I use male pronouns.

          • shadowecho02

            ah ok lol I thought you meant sheik has the body of a guy under his/her clothes. Which is obviously not the case if you ask me XD

        • Tatl

          hey, i tottally agree!

      • da1lampard

        Yes, I find that once people have finished the game they refer to sheik as a she when as Axle says, Sheik is a male.

      • Joe

        THANK YOU MY FRIEND noone seems to get it even though it was explained in the game quite clearly.

      • Tatl

        you said it yourself! Sheik is Zelda LOOKING like a male!!!!HAAAAHAAAAA!!! YOU AND YOUR DUMB MORTAL TRICKS WILL NEVER WORK AGIANST THE ALL-MIGHTY, FIRE DEMON, CALSIFER!!!!!!!!!!!

      • wachuwa

        If it was this way, every gay/transexual person has their life done.

    • EzioCRossfire

      First time I saw Sheik I was confused, I came decided “he” was a girl and Sheik is Zelda, sooooo

  • firecrb

    This moment was epic, nuf said.

  • Zachary Morris

    There’s no doubt in my mind, this is the best part of Ocarina of Time. I always look forward to this scene when playing the game.

  • Westar

    I actually laughed at Bongo Bongo the first time I saw him for looking so silly (but it soon stopped, because I had a grave difficultybeating him…) and I think this moment is the coolest moment in the hole Ocarina Of Time. Also, “E for everybody”, I think something went wrong there with the whole shadow temple (and bottom of the well)…

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

      Yeah I figure if the E10+ rating had existed when Ocarina of Time first came out, it would have gotten that instead. After all, Ocarina of Time 3D got it! But I do think that, for the rating system at the time, OoT was much closer to E than it was to T.

      • Westar

        Oh, E10+ didn’t exist then. Being an European, I’m not that very familiar with the US rating system…

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

          Yeah the E10+ rating was introduced in late 2004 (to which I reacted: “…Yeah this is a really good idea.”), so the only Zelda games that came out afterward have been The Minish Cap, Twilight Princess, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, and Skyward Sword. TMC and PH were both rated E, TP was T, and ST and SS were E10+, with Spirit Tracks being the first E10+ Zelda game. Ocarina of Time 3D also got the rating.

          • Westar

            Ah, I see… Thanks for the info!
            Actually, when I play Oot, I think the forest temple is more scarier than the shadow temple. (Don’t ask me why, I just feel so…)

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

            No I completely agree. I mean, nothing in Ocarina of Time scared me at all, but the fact is that the Shadow Temple is only scary in a vary cliched and stereotypical way that I stopped being scared of a long time ago, whereas the Forest Temple isn’t actually typically scary in any way, but is so surreal and weird that it manages to become pretty deeply unsettling.

          • Westar

            Excactly, I almost dare to say that the shadow temple is a bit like Twillight Princess compared to Majoras Mask (or the forest temple in this comparison), They tried too hard to make it look dark and sad in General and it ended up some kind of Goofier than it was planned. While Majoras Mask (and the Forest Temple) make its “scary” parts complete normal thanks to its origins.

          • da1lampard

            Wow well when i was a kid when the game first came out I was really scared of it, I even started a new game before i got back to the shadow temple. I always seem to do the spirit temple after the shadow ( don’t ask me why). Hope you enjoyed my rambling ( btw i didn’t have a problem with the forest temple)

          • Westar

            Hey, everyone’s different! One thing might not scare me but it can scare others and vice versa. But the order you’re completing the Spirit and Shadow temple doesn’t affect the game if I don’t remember it wrong. I however tend to beat the shadow temple first on pure reflex.

          • Tatl

            I agree. The music CREEPED me out, especially since i play at night!

  • JuicieJ

    “Get back, ZDungeon!” XD

  • Zervah

    I think that scene is epic too, but, Link acted really dumb.

    A big, intimidating shadow monster comes for you, and what do you do? You take out your handy shield. REALLY?

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

      Well what else should he have done? A sword would be just as ineffective and would leave him open, so since he didn’t know what to do he played it safe and did something defensive. Used Din’s Fire maybe? What if the player hadn’t collected that item yet? =P

      • Zervah

        He had enough time to evade Bongo Bongo, or warp using the Ocarina. But that’s not Link’s style, that’s for sure.

        • http://ZeldaDungeon.net/ Jordan D.

          Evading Bongo Bongo was feasible, but would have delayed the inevitable by just a few seconds. Warping using the Ocarina would have meant abandoning Shiek, which REALLY isn’t Link’s style, like you said.

  • Guest

    I love this part of the game as well. For one thing, it’s the closest we get to ever seeing Link and Sheik fighting together. But more importantly, it’s also a great example of the effective and subtle character development in OoT that people nowadays often overlook.

    Like we’ve already established, Sheik usually speaks very poetically and makes appearances suddenly and mysteriously. However, during this specific scene at Kakariko, Sheik acts very different. Gone are the symbolic, poetic speeches–instead, he speaks much more bluntly, flat out telling you that Impa is in danger. Impa, who just happens to be Zelda’s caretaker. Zelda is being direct instead of throwing pretty little quotes at Link because of the peril Impa is in, and she lets her concern for Impa break through her otherwise calm and elusive Sheik persona. It’s such a brilliant, subtle depth of character–really, OoT is full of quick yet powerful moments like this.

  • Roth

    And the comments get twisted up in a Sheik gender debate. *sigh*

    We’ve all taken our stances before, and there are logical arguments for both sides. Since it’s ultimately a matter of interpretation, I suggest saving them for posts actually concerning Zelda’s alter-ego status and not calling out every author’s choice of pronoun. We have other things to discuss here.

    The brilliant effect this scene has on Sheik is twofold. First you see her defeated by an unknown force, after warning you to stay back; this is startling, for her constant mystique coupled by a sense of knowing the current situation enough to confront it in your place colors her as a kick-ass character who you expect to start ninja-wrestling with whatever emerges from the well. Then, after Link is knocked out as well, you see him awaken to Sheik asking him if he’s all right; here you feel both an admiration and a closeness to her (who you think is a him) despite hardly knowing anything about who she is, because she remains calm and steadfast regarding the situation but also made a point of staying at Link’s side. By the time she begins her usual speech-and-song routine, you feel like comrades, in a very human way; you feel like brothers, together alone against the world, for you have seen both through weakness and care how human Sheik ultimately is, and you’re all the more trusting for it. This one scene breaks the flow of indomitable adventuring and exposes the reality of your situation, mere individuals in a large, fantastic world. It is perhaps the greatest moment of characterization in the entire game, in a subtle, existential sort of way, rather than directly attempting to flesh out a character’s identity.

    • Tatl

      see! roth says Sheik is a SHE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Roth

        Eh, I simply find it less confusing to identify Sheik by the person she really is. If you treat Sheik as his own character, as for the purpose of not knowing it’s Zelda, you could consider him male. Axle just takes this approach right off the bat. Either way is correct, as long as you note that Link / the player wouldn’t know the secret.

  • oozy the wolf

    truly my most difficult boss. died alot):

  • darryl best

    axle is a little girly boy

    • Tatl

      Axle is DUMB!

  • Midna’s Sister

    AGAGAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA TOO MUCH DEBATE

  • Blackbaldrik

    Bongo Bongo is by far my favourite boss in OoT. The build up was amazing, making you simultaneously look forward to, and dread facing him.
    I also never thought the drum was even the least bit odd for some reason. It just seemed fitting to me.

    • da1lampard

      Yeah so did I (something I just can’t explain) and i remember I was the first to finish ocarina of time in my year so I got to enjoy there fears of the shadow temple

      • Tatl

        their*

    • Tatl

      me too!

  • LostinLostWoods

    Good point. But one question: Is Sheik a boy or a girl?

    • Jonathan Vega

      Sheik’s a girl disguised as a boy ¬¬

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  • GavinGame

    Bongo Bongo’s fingers look like french fries :)

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