We’ve all been there — a frustratingly hard dungeon you’ve spent hours in and still can’t seem to get anywhere. The repetition of the music, the feeling like you’re lost in the woods, walking in circles… it’s maddening. You’ve exhausted yourself, tried everything you can think of and then again for good measure, but you just can’t solve that puzzle, find that item. Finally you cave, and look up a guide. So much for completing that without aid, right?

And yet, when you replay the game, that dungeon seems so incredibly simple, or at least a great deal easier. Yes, we’ve all been there. For many, the first dungeon to come to mind may be the Water Temple. Even with the Iron Boots problem resolved in the 3DS remake, Ocarina of Time‘s most dreaded dungeon remains infamous for a reason, with tricky puzzles, changing water levels, and quite a deal of back tracking. At least for me, though, it came across much easier on my second playthrough. After understanding the mechanics of the puzzles and knowing what’s where, the dungeon became a breeze compared to my initial five-hour slog. Granted, it wasn’t without some difficulty, and being more familiar with the general workings of 3D Zelda games certainly helped.

Despite its infamy, which seems to be mutual across the fandom, I’m not sure it was my biggest turn around. That title, I believe, may have to go to Twilight Princess‘ Lakebed Temple — what is it with water dungeons and being so hard? Whereas I spent five hours beneath Lake Hyila in Ocarina of Time, I spent the better half of a day (and maybe two, if I’m remembering correctly), making it down to the depths of the lake in Twilight Princess. When I say I was lost, I mean I was lost. Suffice to say, I hated that dungeon, and you could be sure it was near the top of my Worst Dungeons list. However, upon returning to it in the game’s HD remaster, I found it much easier, and more enjoyable, so much so that it’s now one of my favorites. When I first played Twilight Princess, it was but my second 3D Zelda; but upon my return, I’d played all but one title in the series, and mastered all but three. I chalk that experience up to, well, experience.

Of course, this Daily Debate wouldn’t be complete without my mentioning of the City in the Sky. I must have spent, I don’t know, two days on it? At least, that’s what it felt like. You already know I was lost, but that’s not the worst of it. Oh, no. More than anything, more than being unable to figure out how to proceed onward, it was the devious combination of music and atmosphere that drove me to insanity. The city is old, ancient, and lonely. Pair that with the incredibly eerie chanting of the music, and you’re in for a a very bad time. Yet, as you may have come to expect by this point, my second venture through floating city was quite different. While it was still difficult, the experience didn’t hold a candle to how impossible and maddening my first foray through the Ooccoo city was.

All in all, I find that it’s often how experienced we are with the mechanics of Zelda that determine the scale of difficulty in dungeons when we play them. Even where series veterans may struggle with a dungeon, whether new or old, I believe being seasoned with the franchise proves an advantage, and really can make the difference in perspective when returning to dungeons.

What dungeons seemed easier on the second go for you? What made them easier? Let us know in the comments below!

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