Posted on August 24 2018 by Andy Spiteri
It goes without saying the Legend of Zelda series is very near and dear to the hearts of all of our writers. Many of us grew up alongside the Zelda series. Many of our writers’ first exposure to video games as a whole was through The Legend of Zelda. The series helped us all in some regards; be it through an emotional time, helping decide what career paths to take, or just as an escape when we need one, Zelda has always been there. And of course, you never forget your first.
Ocarina of Time is my favorite game of all time. It showed me that video games could be art, that they could be narrative experiences on par with a great film while at the same time offering a level or interactivity that allowed me to immerse myself into the experience even more. The cast of writers we have has similar feelings towards their favorite Zelda games. For some, Twilight Princess is their definitive Zelda experience, while for others, A Link to the Past can never be beaten. Every writer has a favorite Zelda for a different reason or another.
So what did we ask them to do? Flip their favorite games on their head and dump all over them!
Yes sir, we thought it would be fun to go ahead and talk about our least favorite parts about our favorite Zelda games. Now, this is not as easy as it sounds. When you grow up alongside a video game series and lay an entry that was integral to your childhood, you start to look at those games with a certain sort of reverence. There were many instances where our writers simply couldn’t think of anything that they would change — myself included!
‘Ocarina of Time is a masterpiece,‘ I thought to myself. ‘Who am I to tell Nintendo what they should have done better?‘
But that’s exactly what we’re here today to do! Below, you’ll find testimonies from all of our writers explaining what they just couldn’t stand in their most cherished entry in the series. Without further ado, here is Zelda Dungeon’s Least Favorite Parts in Our Favorite Zelda Games!
Kat Vadam – Getting Obliterated in the Rohta Chigah Shrine
I absolutely loved Breath of the Wild. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has spoken to me for more than two minutes about the Zelda series. It very quickly became one of my favorite games the moment I got my hands on it. Yet, despite the praise I have given it and all the love for it I hold, there is one Shrine in the game that almost caused me to break my Switch and quit in a ball of fiery rage. One Shrine that still haunts my nightmares.
Where do I even begin? As if it isn’t bad enough that the Obliterator from The Champions’ Ballad reduces you to a single hit point, you then find yourself descending into this Shrine covered in nothing but instant death, and you’re forced to very carefully barrel your way through if you want to progress at all in the DLC. And, yes, “very carefully barrel through” is an oxymoron, but anyone who has been through Rohta Chigah knows that you can’t waste time, and you can’t step off course, lest you start over. After about a thousand instances of doing just that, this is something I am intimately familiar with. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I managed to make it to the last room with the monk in my sights, only to find myself running headfirst into a spike thrust at me from the wall or ceiling. If I were to summarize my feelings about this Shrine in a single phrase, it would probably be something along the lines of “@#%&!!!!!”
Alexis Anderson – Monkeying Around in the Faron Woods
I genuinely feel that Twilight Princess is a near perfect Zelda game. However, I do have to admit it contains some less-than-perfect moments. The biggest offender was the sequence in which you are being led through the purple fog in North Faron Woods by the monkey who’s “borrowed” your lantern. The monkeys generally annoyed me in this game, as they were causing trouble from the start by stealing that baby cradle, so I was miffed when the same thieving monkey stole my lantern and forced me to slowly navigate through this fog, all the while having to protect it from monsters!
Link already has to save this monkey on more than one occasion towards the start of this game, so having to save him — and a bunch of other monkeys — in the Forest Temple seems like insult to injury! Okay, sure, it’s Ganon and Zant’s influence putting these monkeys in peril, and Link is the Hero of Legend, but still — why is this his problem!? For a game with loads of compelling characters and engaging puzzles, this whole section (and the purple fog bit in particular) felt unimportant and slow. I’ve played this game quite a few times, so the lackluster moments now really stick out. Luckily, Twilight Princess has more remarkable aspects than unremarkable and it remains a fantastic title.
Almog Rimmer – A Costly Triforce Hunt
My one true love in the Zelda franchise is The Wind Waker. For young Almog, sailing the seas on a grand adventure was breathtaking, while the amazing music playing throughout the adventure only made me fall in love even more. However, there were some parts where my love affair… faltered
So, Tetra has been transformed into Zelda, both Medli and Makar are where they need to be in their respective temples, and your sister is safe. All is well and good. Now we can confront Ganondorf with the fully charged Master Sword, right? WRONG. We still have one more quest to do before we can even think of going to Ganondorf’s tower: Collect the eight Triforce Shards, which are conveniently hidden at the bottom of the ocean. To find these Shards, we need eight treasure charts. Easy as cake; we’ll be done in no time. Except we’re not. The Triforce charts are hidden themselves at eight different locations in the Great Sea (one of them is on the Ghost Ship, which we need a completely different chart to even board, while another is being held by a War Ship to the west). And if that’s not enough, the charts themselves are impossible to interpret, so we need to take them to Tingle, who will happily interpret them for you — for 398 rupees a pop! This has you spending a grand total of 3,184 rupees. Add to that the 201 you spent on the chart that leads to the others, and you get a total amount of 3,385 rupees spent on this one quest!
This game is my entire childhood and my favorite in the series. It was just a shame I had to drag my childhood all over the Great Sea on a quest to spend over 3,000 rupees at the fairy-man’s island. But hey, at least I can face Ganon now! Who needs rupees anyway?
Michaela El-Ters – An Annoying Game of Hide-and-Seek
Majora’s Mask does a lot of things right. The creepy atmosphere, compelling writing, and character development all contribute to an incredibly unique Zelda experience. I still get chills down my spine every time I start the opening sequence. Riding through a dark, foggy forest, falling victim to Skull Kid, being transformed into a Deku in a truly horrific scene, and then pursuing Skull Kid into the deepest part of the forest really set the tone for the rest of the game. Everything about this sequence was amazingly fun and exciting — all up until the point when Link arrives in Clock Town and has to chase down the Bombers Gang.
I actually almost experienced a Game Over during this part of the game, because finding these kids is a colossal waste of time for very little payoff. It’s also so tonally jarring! After witnessing the horrific, unrestricted powers of the Skull Kid, it’s now time to chase tiny children around the town! Plus, not having the ocarina to slow down or turn back time made the sequence even more stressful to complete than it maybe needed to be. The rest of the game maintains its dark tone and meaningful character moments while giving the player flexibility to gain control of the situation. But this beginning sequence is a large part of why I’ve lost incentive to restart Majora’s Mask anytime soon, despite it being among one of my favorite installments in the series.
Bobby Chistester – The Worm… That Damn Worm
If you were anything like me as a child, the boss of the Tower of Hera was nightmare inducing. The dungeon itself isn’t particularly challenging, but the boss, Moldorm, is one of the most aggravating aspects of A Link to the Past. That dang worm was the bane of my childhood. Not only can he only be damaged at the tail, but the platform on which you fight him is comparatively small, and he has such high knock-back on contact that you may very well go flying off the platform.
Granted, Moldorm has quite low health, but him speeding up each time you land a strike doesn’t help. Some people consider it a great fight for its fast pace and intensity, and I could certainly make a case for it now, but the hatred stemming from my seven-year-old self will never forgive this wiggly punk.
Sean Gadus – Frolicking in the Forsaken Fortress
For me, sailing the Great Sea is like seeing the sunset; there’s something magical about it that leaves me constantly and utterly awestruck. I didn’t own a GameCube growing up, so I played The Wind Waker on my friend’s own tiny, purple lunch box. And it was a huge deal for me, a long-time Zelda fan, to finally make the jump into one of the series’ best adventures. My friend had talked endlessly about how awesome the game was, and during its early minutes, I totally agreed with him. It was an amazing new adventure with a beautiful art style, tight controls, and a compelling story. Nothing could derail the joy I felt playing The Wind Waker… if not for the Forsaken Fortress.
Playing this early section of the game for the first time was frustrating to no end. I got massively lost a number of times going through what I thought were identical passages and rooms. Those pesky Miniblins harassed and attacked me without mercy. The constant frustration of being caught by Moblins and searchlights made the area feel like my own personal and recurring hell. And throughout it all, I had no way to defend myself because the game took my sword away, only minutes after I had felt the rush of excitement in using the newly developed parry moves for the first time.
After a few hours of frustration, I turned off my friend’s GameCube and said out loud, “I can’t do this anymore.” I was ready to quit the game forever. Luckily, I gave the game another chance, pushing through the frustration to beat the Forsaken Fortress. From there, it was smooth sailing through and through. And when i came back to the Forsaken Fortress three dungeon’s later, I took massive satisfaction in laying waste to every Miniblin, Moblin, and Helmaroc King that dared to stand in my way. I exacted some revenge on the Forsaken Fortress, but I’ll never forget the pain I felt when I first set foot within its walls.
Simon Rayner – An Escort Mission Debacle
Any time I dip back to replay Twilight Princess, the escort mission in which Link must protect Telma’s caravan from Hyrule Castle to Kakariko Village is hands down my most dreaded moment. Sometimes I wake up in cold sweats remembering the endless loop I had initially found myself in during prior playthroughs, as I circled Hyrule Field over and over and over again, in some kind of hellish samsara.
Starting with a jousting match, one in which Link is continuously hurtled off the side of a bridge before I realized Link owns a bow, the sequence quickly becomes a mess of flaming arrows and mutant buzzards, intent on ruining my day. The raucous music that plays throughout only serves to stoke my stress and exasperate what is to this day my most traumatic mission in gaming.
Whilst this segment is never as bad as I remember when I actually play through it, I can’t help but remember the initial anguish upon my first playthrough, somehow letting Telma and the gang burn to cinders again and again. Sorry, guys.
Siothrun – Controls Fit For A Goron
The more I play through Majora’s Mask, the deeper meanings of its themes and story portray themselves to me. There always seems to be some nuance I missed somewhere along the way that speaks to me right when I need to hear it. In any case, no game, no matter how layered or nuanced, is perfect. When I was a kid, I wanted to throw my Nintendo 64 controller at the TV when it came to some of Majora’s controls. Namely, the Goron rolling, which I found too sensitive, especially when it came to the hair-pulling Moon section.
The Zora swimming section seemed to suffer from being too stiff at times too. Some of this got better as I got older, and, some of it was improved upon in the 3D remake, where the Goron rolling is at least a little more bearable, while the Zora swimming was actually downgraded to be a lot more frustrating.
Katie Zezulka – Meet Meek, Mild, Princess Zelda
There they are, our heroes, standing in old Hyrule Castle. The Triforce reacts and, in a whirl of magic, Princess Zelda is standing before Link, where Tetra had stood moments earlier. And it all goes wrong in that instant. In what is supposed to be a powerful character moment for Tetra, who has fully awakened to her destiny as Princess Zelda, we instead feel something hollow and senseless. In that moment, it feels like Tetra as a character was completely erased and the the drastically different Zelda was put in her place. Up to that point in the adventure, Tetra had been a pirate captain who led a whole ship of men, and they obeyed her with no hesitation. She was confident and sure of herself. I mean really, a bird the size of a house kidnapped her and dropped her on the top of Outset. Her response? She glares, says how rude that bird is, and goes after it for revenge.
I can not, and will not, believe that poofing her into a dress would make Tetra meek and mild, apologizing to Link for the trouble she caused by simply being Zelda. And the Tetra we’ve gotten to know throughout the game wouldn’t sit at the bottom of the castle, alone, and wait for Link to fix everything. No. Not only does her personality make that proposition a joke, but it also makes little sense considering that she is a child. Kids are stubborn. Especially pirate-commanding kids. Tetra, as young as she is, can’t be expected to adjust so rapidly, even if it is the right thing to do. Her true personality would still shine through, and we’d still see the same old Tetra confronting her new role.
And what really seals this fumbled character moment for me is that, when the game’s conflict is resolved and she magics back into her old clothes, Tetra completely returns to the swashbuckling, sassy girl we fell in love with at the start of the game, as if nothing happened. Had it really been her in that Zelda body, Tetra would have been changed by what had happened. After such an uncharacteristic response to the trouble she had seen, perhaps she would adopt new character traits representing her transformation. But instead, Tetra carries on as she was before, with no indication that her awakening as Zelda affected her in any way. The Wind Waker is a great game, but its story would have paid off better to me if this scene had been done differently.
Kristen Rosario – Korok Seeds and Golden Poop
I do enjoy taking care of side quests. They give you time to explore the land, get to know the people that live there, and learn more about the world around you. My rule is simple when it comes to side quests: get all of them completed before I actually finish the game. However, I wish I wouldn’t have followed that rule when it came to Breath of the Wild‘s Korok Seeds side quest.
It starts off simple enough: collect a certain amount of Korok seeds to increase the capacities of your bow, shield, and sword inventories. That requires approximately 441 seeds to accomplish. After a while, it becomes very obvious where to go and what to do to grab these seeds. You get it done, Hestu does a jig each time, that’s it, end of quest, right? Wrong.
Turns out there’s actually 900 Korok seeds. Remember that rule I had? It’s at this very moment, knowing full well my “prize” for getting them all, that I pushed forward to complete the quest.
Post-441 seeds is when I realized how annoying this quest truly is in its entirety. The Koroks’ locations all start to blend together, and for about 95% of the time they’re under a rock, you have to solve a block/rock puzzle, throw a rock in a hole, etc. There’s only a handful of them that are kind of unique. All in all, the effort to get 900 Korok seeds is not worth getting a golden pile of poop.
Taylor Wells – Not Enough Young Link
Ocarina of Time has been regarded as one of the best Zelda titles since its release, and for good reason. With the release of the 3DS remake, even minor issues such as how the pause menu works were remedied. However, the brevity of the Child Timeline is something that I cannot dismiss. I remember when I first found the game as a demo in a Good Guys, I spent hours just exploring Kokiri Forest, interacting with everyone and learning their stories. Despite only being about a quarter of the game, the Child portion also contains some of the most memorable parts.
While the game does try to extend your playtime here with several side quests, the disparity between the Child and Adult sections leaves me wanting. For such an important part of the game, you spend far too little time there, which can lead to some really awkward moments when piecing everything together.
So with that, I wish the two “halves” of Ocarina of Time were split a little more equally. That’s right folks, Ocarina of Time’s worst flaw for me is that it just isn’t long enough!
Savannah Gault – Master Kohga Is A Lazy Goober
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is easily one of my favorite Zelda games. Maybe it’s the whole open world theme and getting to explore, as well as all the different shrines, but I found that it was pretty much everything I wanted in a Zelda game, to the point where it’s hard to find something in particular that I really wasn’t a fan of.
After a little bit of thought, it finally came down to the battle with Master Kohga of the Yiga Clan. I felt that they had built Master Kohga up quite a bit and made him seem like quite the formidable opponent early on in the game. Even sneaking through the Yiga Clan Hideout was rather challenging, leaving myself thinking, “Wow, if this is challenging for me, I bet the final battle with him will be really tough.”
Much to my chagrin upon arriving to Master Kohga, I felt rather… let down. I mean, I had imagined this tall buff guy like the Blademasters, not this short, fat, goof. While the battle itself was decent, I still felt that his appearance and boisterous personality took away from my experience. Coming to the realization upon seeing him that he was simply this lazy goober that made his underlings do all his work felt like a bad joke.
Judy Calder – Chasing Down Skull Kid… TWICE
One of my favorite Zelda games is Twilight Princess. It has a great story, with wonderful characters and some really cool quests. BUT… the Skull Kid in the Sacred Grove drove me insane! Chasing that pesky imp through the woods and fending off his freaky Puppets was a dire experience for me. Not only did I have to go through the most stressful game of Hide-and-Seek ever with this guy, I was then expected to repeat the whole horrendous thing a second time!
My advice to Nintendo: if we have been made to do it once, don’t make us do it again!
Adam Barham – A Tutorial From Hell
Skyward Sword is a fantastic game. And, contrary to popular opinion, I actually enjoyed the motion controls once I became used to them. Honestly, prior to Skyward Sword, I barely had any experience with 3D Zelda games, so with that in mind, I wasn’t as used to the more complex combat system yet. I managed to work my way through the beginning of the game, and even through almost all of the first dungeon, before I had to face the bane of my existence.
I knew that motion controls played a major role in Skyward Sword, and I had heard previously from others that the first battle with Ghirahim served as a sort of tutorial for the controls. Well this tutorial destroyed me. Multiple. Times. Over. I remember getting the Game Over screen more times in that dungeon than I did for the entire rest of the game. Honestly, I don’t mind having a tutorial for the combat mechanics of a game, but simply landing a single hit on him in the first place seemed to be a battle all of its own to me. I’d greatly prefer a tutorial that doesn’t involve losing health, Game Overs, and taunting when you have your weapon stolen!
Jarrod Raine – Those Wascally Wabbits
In my opinion, Spirit Tracks is one of the more underrated Zelda games. The dungeons were unique, the items were all used pretty well in their respective dungeons, and it was nice to have Zelda as an actual companion in a Zelda game. While many people complain that the train sections were the worst parts of the game, I enjoyed them, especially since I was traveling on a week-long trip when I played the game. However, the worst part of Spirit Tracks was something that every completionist has to face eventually. Ocarina of Time has Skulltulas. Twilight Princess has Poe Souls. Breath of the Wild has Korok Seeds. And Spirit Tracks has rabbits.
Scattered throughout each province in New Hyrule are different rabbits, hiding behind rocks. When you pass by them, you can use your train’s cannon to shoot the rocks. This, in turn, starts a minigame to catch the rabbit with a net. And the rabbits move randomly. And the more rabbits you catch in a region, the faster each one remaining in that region gets. And you only have 10 seconds to catch the rabbit. Otherwise, you have to drive the train away and reload that section of the map. And the rewards for catching all the rabbits just are not worth it.
The reward you get after nabbing all 50 rabbits is the Swordsman Scroll #1. This legendary scroll passes down the most powerful sword technique known to all Hylians: Your sword now shoots lasers when at full health. By the time you get this, it is completely useless as the next two areas of the game are the Tower of Spirits Floor 6, in which you stealth and puzzle solve almost exclusively, and the final boss arena, in which you don’t want to be sitting in a corner shooting lasers. The sheer frustration of catching the rabbits as well as the lackluster rewards make this my least favorite part of Spirit Tracks.
Kevin O’Rourke – A Speedrunners Nightmare
In Majora’s Mask, I am on the clock, which makes for some tense moments. Timing out how to approach every cycle of the game is critical. Where this causes some frustration for me is the optional, but very rewarding quest for getting the Gilded Sword. The Goron Race involves a lot of moving pieces that have many choke points that can cause some major setbacks. The start of the quest involves completing Snowhead Mountain which I definitely want to complete quickly. I always find myself trying to rush through so that I have enough time to complete the rest of the quest. The next objective is going to get the Powder Keg from Medigoron to blow up the rock that is blocking the Goron Racetrack. Thankfully, the 3DS version is nice enough to remind you to go back and get the permit from Medigoron after opening the racetrack as, previously, I’ve gone straight into the race and then forgotten to go back many times.
The race itself leaves even more room for error as there are a few random factors that make it very difficult. I always seem to have Gorons knock me down or even off of the racetrack, which will ruin the entire race. Again, the 3DS version has made improvements as it gives the option to reset after falling off of the racetrack. Running out of magic is also a run killer that is devastating during the last leg of the race. And let’s not forget to mention the harsh rubberbanding with the other Gorons in the race as they can suddenly catch up from out of nowhere and steal a win, which can feel worse than a blue shell in any Mario Kart race. Having to do this race multiple times is frustrating enough to keep me from wanting to race again. The stress of getting all of the pieces of this quest to line up perfectly is very trying, but I also believe that it is well worth it. Once you get the Gilded Sword after a perfect run, without missing the Powder Keg permit, you’re on top of the world.
Rod Lloyd – A Villain Straight Out of a Marvel Movie
Despite several elements in A Link Between Worlds providing the player with reason enough to carry out one’s adventure, I found the game’s primary antagonist, which should be central to propelling the player forward through the main story, to be ultimately lacking.
Yuga, the art-collecting sorcerer obsessed with beauty and perfection, fails to be harsh or threatening in any meaningful way. His clownish demeanor and androgynous design paint him more as a failure-prone underling than as a villainous mastermind. Compared to Twilight Princess‘ Zant and Skyward Sword‘s Ghirahim — both characters that, despite displaying silly character moments, still carried an aura of dangerousness and cunning — Yuga seemed nonthreatening and laughably in over his head.
From his eccentric visual design, to the way he pouts when Link gets an upper hand, to his superficial plans and motivations, Yuga is not someone I’d identify as a strong antagonist. And without a strong primary antagonist, the stakes of Link’s quest are underdeveloped, our hero’s fight against evil has no substantial dramatic weight, and the overall thrust of A Link Between World‘s story is diminished. So, within the title’s main scenario, with little drama emphasizing Yuga’s role and the villain’s threat of evil proving pointless, the player feels comfortable to carry on with his or her business without worrying about what lies at the end of the game. There’s no rush and no danger.
Yuga is just too goofy to carry a game’s conflict on his own. And because he stands as the primary source of opposition right up until the climax of A Link Between Worlds, the game’s story suffers as a result. Aside from a few missteps and roadblocks, the resolution Link seeks never seems out of reach, especially as Yuga displays self-mockery, weakness, and stupidity in nearly every encounter the player has with him. And as a result, the tension and drama paramount to an effective narrative is tragically underserved.
The story of A Link Between Worlds deserved more than Yuga. We all deserved more than Yuga.
Andy Spiteri – Naboor-Who?
Ocarina of Time is, in my opinion, the definitive Zelda experience, so it’s tough to find a flaw in what I consider a flawless masterpiece. After sitting down and thinking about it, though, one thing does stick out that maybe could have been improved.
During your adventures as a child, you traverse across Hyrule and meet an eclectic cast of characters that would go on to have significant story ramifications later. Your “fiancee” and Zora princess, Ruto; your blood brother and leader of the Gorons, Darunia; Zelda’s keeper and last of the Sheikah, Impa; and of course, most prominently, your friend, Saria. All of these characters you build relationships with as a child that end up defining the future.
It feels super random that you run into her at the Spirit Temple and then wham, bam, she’s the Spirit sage. Granted, yes, you do meet her as a child, but it doesn’t carry the same weight as the others since you’re almost done with the game by the time you meet her. She feels like a throwaway character to me rather than someone who your destiny is entwined with, like the other sages.
If I were putting it together, I would have had Nabooru visible when you first look through the window to see Ganondorf, and had her again assisting Ganondorf when he’s chasing Zelda and Impa out of Hyrule Castle so that at least you could have a semblance of who she is and why she’s important to the story. It’s a minor thing, but hey.
Whew! And there it is! Our least favorite parts of our favorite Zelda games! We want to know what YOURS is now! Do you agree with any of our picks? Have some oddball selections yourself? Let us know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!
Andy Spiteri is the Editor-in-Chief of Zelda Dungeon. He had one of his tweets about Zelda go mini viral for the first time in his life and now thinks he’s a celebrity. Follow him and the rest of the Zelda Dungeon staff on Twitter here!