Frozen_Boss_KeyHello readers! Brian here with the twentieth edition of “The Best and Worst of Zelda.” It’s truly amazing to think that I’ve written twenty of these editorials already, so thanks to all of you readers who keep the series going strong! Don’t forget to leave your comments and ideas for the future below!

Last week on Christmas Eve, we discussed some of the many ice dungeons in the series, and as there were far too many to cover in one article, today we’ll continue with the topic and try to analyze each and every dungeon I left out last week. Of course, the season of Winter is surely upon us, and today being New Years Eve, I believe the icy theme is rather fitting.

Let’s begin with Majora’s Mask, a game with a rather small amount of dungeons and a high emphasis on overworld, non-dungeon questing. Seeing as the dungeons were certainly not my favorite part of the game, I do often tend to forget the contents of many of them. Still, the words “Snowhead Temple” never fail to send a chill down my spine. I’ve mentioned before that Goron Link is my favorite form of Link, and I really enjoyed rolling around the enormous Snowhead Temple, but there were moments where I wished I could just… not be there. Snowhead is a decently large dungeon, with a massive center room that connects the many floors of the dungeon. I found it a bit difficult to navigate at first, seeing it’s maze-like structure and sheer size, but it was not until I began falling that I really got angry. Falling down one, two, three stories, landing on that first floor and having to trek all the way back to the highest point once more. And worst of all, once I actually made it to the top, I realized there was something towards the very bottom of the dungeon that I had forgotten to do. So I jumped. Yes, I know I’m terrible at Majora’s Mask, and yes, maybe it is just me, but I had some real difficulty with this dungeon, and not even in regards to puzzles. In terms of ice mechanics, there was nothing too special to speak of, but thematically I found that it was definitely quite good. It was not, by any means, a bad ice dungeon, just one that I am personally bad at and afraid of!


One dungeon that I had not remembered to be an ice dungeon is the Sword and Shield Maze from Oracle of Seasons. I’m a huge fan of the Oracle games, and I had never really thought of this particular dungeon as an ice dungeon in its entirety, because unlike the Ice Palace or the Ice Cavern, it isn’t completely made of ice. Nonetheless, much of it does rely on ice mechanics so I believe it deserves to be discussed. As I said earlier, I don’t think that it’s ice theme is really all that memorable, and this immediately strikes me as a negative aspect. I really dislike dungeons that have flimsy themes, and in fact, I prefer dungeons that have no theme at all. Where this dungeon does have ice, it’s your classic, slippery, basically frictionless ice surface that I always find a bit challenging to handle. Of course, this is made more difficult by obstacles like spikes, annoying enemies and ice block puzzles: the bane of my existence. The smartest thing this dungeon does with the ice theme is this interesting cart puzzle in which you have to put out several fires by throwing ice on them. This duality of fire and ice can also be seen in the dungeon’s mini-boss, Frypolar (I see what they did there). This is not a dungeon I very much care for as an ice dungeon mechanically or thematically, but some of the puzzles are actually somewhat challenging and interesting.

A surprisingly frequent request in the comments lat week was that I talk about Phantom Hourglass‘ Temple of Ice. Phantom Hourglass is a game I do not frequently talk about, but I do believe this dungeon is actually one of the game’s greatest parts. To begin, I think the theme of ice and snow is well established, even before entering the dungeon. Being introduced to the adorable Anouki people, as well as the extremely frightening Yooks, you are given a good feel of the area and what goes on in a frozen tundra like this one. In the actual dungeon itself, there is plenty of ice and snow to remind you that this is the Temple of Ice, but not in the the sense that each floor exhibits those frightening ice mechanics. Moving on ice is made difficult by the Nintendo DS’s touch screen controls, but seeing as the punishment for poor movement is rather minimal, I don’t mind the extra slipperiness. The dungeon item, a grappling hook, makes for some very interesting puzzles, the likes of which are rarely seen throughout Phantom Hourglass, and while I am not a huge fan of this game’s dungeons, this one in particular is quite excellent!

PH Gleeok

And last but not least, there is the Snowfall Sanctuary in Spirit Tracks, a game which I never found to be lacking in themes. The map is split up into realms, each having its own elemental theme, and having an entire snow realm that leads up to this dungeon helps to really set the theme in the player’s head. Once again, as in Phantom Hourglass, there is plenty of snow and ice to remind you of the dungeons theme, as well as Wolfos that seem particularly icy. Using the Boomerang with blue fire was a fun, but somewhat counter-intuitive mechanic (cold fire?), and the boss was quite an improvement on his counterpart from Phantom Hourglass. Fraaz well incorporated the themes of both ice and fire into the boss fight, and was both challenging and aesthetically interesting. My oly complaint is that I could do without the ice block puzzles.

I suppose for completion’s sake, I should really at least mention the Ice Cavern from Ocarina of Time. I am personally a fan of this rather short mini-dungeon, but as I don’t have very much to say about it, I leave you with this excellent video.

Well that’s all we have for this week. Don’t forget to leave your comments, criticisms and suggestions for next week. Have a happy New Year, and as always, thanks for reading!

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