Bombs have a rich history in the Zelda world. They have been around ever since the series was created, and have only not appeared in one title to date (The Adventure of Link). There are 14 different types of bombs created over the years and there are surely more to come. They have been used to find hidden passage ways, solve puzzles, and to defeat enemies. The bomb has truly become a staple in Link’s arsenal, so it’s time to go through the history of this now legendary item.
The original bomb appeared all the way back in 1986 in The Legend of Zelda. You could buy them from the “shop”, or find them as the game progressed. They were used mostly to blast open secret passageways and could do some damage to certain bosses. The original bomb has gone on to be a staple in that of itself in almost every game since.
We first saw the evolution of the bomb as early as A Link to the Past, with a new style bomb called the Super Bomb. The bomb itself was more restricted in use, and could not be placed in your inventory. However, it was required if you wished to visit the “Fat Fairy”. It had many restrictions as it dragged behind you, but it also, when used, did not do damage to the player. The restrictive use and way of carrying this bomb most likely lead to it not be included in future Zelda titles. Still, it showed Nintendo was clearly searching for new ways to implement the bomb mechanic in Zelda.
In searching for a new way to use Bombs, Nintendo came up with a clever concept of combining the Bomb with another staple item, the Bow. This first appeared in Link’s first ever handheld adventure, Link’s Awakening, and a saw a comeback in Twilight Princess. In creating the coined term “Bomb Arrow”, a deadly combo was formed. Not only could you throw bombs now, but shoot them long distances to explode upon impact. Chances are we haven’t seen the last of this mechanic, and who knows what innovations Nintendo may add to this deadly combo as time moves on.
Nintendo later wanted a way for the user to use bombs without directly carrying them, at least early on in the game. When Ocarina of Time rolled around they solved this with the addition of the Bomb Flower. It’s essentially a plant that gives the user an unlimited amount of bombs, but is lit the moment you pick it up. You cannot put them in your inventory, but for all intensive purposes they act exactly like regular bombs. The idea of the Bomb Flower caught on like wildfire, as they have appeared in 6 Zelda titles to date, including the recently released Spirit Tracks.
Ocarina of Time wasn’t done, however, with innovating the almighty bomb. As the game progressed, you happened upon Bombchus, which were used mostly for a minigame, but had some fun uses in the overworld. Essentially, Bombchus are moving bombs that you set on the ground and go in a straight line. They can climb up walls and hang from the ceiling. They explode upon impact, which only makes them all the more fun to play with. As is customary with Ocarina of Time, this new addition has also become a staple in the series. They have appeared in 5 games to date.
Two years later, Majora’s Mask rolled out which presented some unique opportunities for the items like the Bomb. While the standard Bomb was present, as was the Bombchu and Bomb Flower, what Majora’s Mask is remembered for in terms of Bombs are the ones that are associated with wearing masks. First off, there is the Blast Mask. Once put on, the mask immediately explodes, doing the same amount of damage as a normal bomb would, but it also harms the player. Essentially what this did was give you infinite bombs, provided you had the health to take the hit. The other unique bomb to Majora’s Mask is the Power Keg. Once you put on the Goron Mask you have the ability to purchase this beast. It is by far the most deadly bomb to date, and is needed to gain access to the ranch area. While it has limited uses in game, by design, it is still a beastly weapon.
Of course, this is isn’t the end of the Bombs evolution. As time has shown, Nintendo likes to keep experimenting with core items. There are remote detonated bombs in The Minish Cap, Level 2 Bombs which are simply bigger more effective regular bombs in Four Swords Adventures, Big Bombs with 10 second fuses that leave massive impressions and can instantly kill the player… also in Four Swords Adventures, as well as many others. One of the more unique ones is the Tingle Bomb, which is used in The Wind Waker to find tingle stations. Then they added Water Bombs (can detonate under water) and Bomblings (bomb flower replacements that you need to hit once before you can pick up the bomb) with the release of Twilight Princess.
There are a lot of unique bombs in the Zelda world. While only a few have stuck over the years, it hasn’t stopped Nintendo from trying to innovate such a legendary item. Sometimes, it takes something as simple as a cannon, which shoots regular bombs, to take things the next step. Other times it’s mask related things, or maybe something someday related to music. One thing is certain: Many new types of bombs will be coming down the road. Nintendo is constantly trying to innovate an age old item, and I love them more for it. Bombs have a rich history in many gaming titles, none more than the legendary Zelda franchise.