400px-Sky_KeepThe dungeons of a Zelda game– the series of challenges set out for Link in either a linear or non-linear fashion– are really what makes the game. Whether it’s collecting fused shadows, medallions, or spiritual stones, there is always some objective and motivation for Link to trudge through these labyrinths and a lot of things come into account when creating the ideal dungeon. There’s the music to set the atmosphere, the theme, the enemies, the puzzles, and the difficulty (which usually scales with game progress). There in also one more important factor that falls into place here, and that is creativity. Nobody wants to play through basically the exact same thing over and over again. Each dungeon needs new, innovative puzzles, exciting new enemies and a unique and fun to use dungeon item. So what do you guys think? Out of all the dungeons in the series, which dungeon is the most creative and innovative?

In this week’s edition of Zelda Dungeon Talks, various staff members have shared with us their opinions on this topic. Feel free to also share your opinion in the comments below!

Jon Lett – View Profile

After the initial irritation of getting embarrassingly stuck at an early stage of the dungeon, I could tell just how awesome Sky Keep’s concept was. We have always been graced with cool new puzzles, in every new dungeon, from every new game, but this is basically the first dungeon to every be a giant puzzle in and of itself. Seeing the different environments, similar to those of past dungeons, gave a level of familiarity, but the occasional junctions where you have to shift the dungeon around gave your spacial awareness a run for its money, when you walked into a door that brings you somewhere different than before. I loved this place, as it gave me a cool new challenge, and really showed a new level of innovation with the age-old dungeon concept.

Thomas Jacobs – View Profile

When playing Twilight Princess I’m always looking forward to the City in the Sky. It’s a dungeon unlike anything we’ve seen in the series so far. Sure, it’s not the first time a dungeon’s up in the sky (Palace of Winds comes to mind), but it is the first 3D Zelda game that allows a dungeon of this kind. It is a very open and expansive dungeon, allowing you to move around in massive spaces with your twin hookshots and messing around with the huge fans that allow you to proceed throughout the dungeon. Plus, the final encounter with Argorok looks amazing, even when the boss itself isn’t all that challenging.

Alexis Anderson – View Profile

I’m really not one to trust when it comes to gameplay or dungeon layout analysis, but for this, Stone Tower Temple came into my mind. While I supposed it may not be considered innovative now, it might’ve been at the time it was released? Either way, it’s unique because the entire temple gets to be flipped and gone through a second time that way. Accessing the temple itself makes use of the Elegy of Emptiness, to traverse through the temple all four of Link’s forms are necessary, and the Mirror Shield comes into play as well. If I was thinking of design thematically, I don’t think Stone Tower was the best. However, it was a rather beautiful and uplifting contrast to the darkness of Majora’s Mask being that it was more focused around light (the Light Arrows are also used in this temple!), which was encouraging toward the end of the game.

Kevin O’Rourke – View Profile

Considering the limitations at the time, the most creative dungeon in my opinion would have to be Stone Tower Temple. Having to flip the dungeon around to complete it was something that I took for granted on my first play through of the game. After flipping the dungeon you get to work with the same space as you did before but essentially you’re getting double your worth out of the dungeon by having to backtrack through locations, but they are completely different since now you’re on the floor, which was the ceiling before. On paper it sounds a lot more confusing than it is, but that’s the novelty of the dungeon. Stone Tower is jam packed with interesting rooms due to having to flip the rooms and seeing what the reverse of the dungeon looks like, as well as having the optional task of tracking down all of the stray fairies. Being the last dungeon in the game, it also ramps up it’s difficulty and does what many of the other games in the Zelda series do not manage to accomplish; using all of the tools available to you in the last dungeon. Stone Tower brings the challenge to a higher level and makes use of the Deku Mask, Goron Mask, and Zora mask in several rooms while making you make use of the Elegy of Emptiness for block puzzles and the Light Arrows for other puzzles solving. Coupling that with the Hookshot, the Mirror Shield and other items like bombs, arrows etc. you’re using a huge arsenal to complete the dungeon. Having a giant tower that you flip upside down in order to complete? Sounds creative to me.

Brandon Schmitz – View Profile

Twilight Princess boasts some of Zelda’s best dungeons; the Arbiter’s Grounds, Temple of Time and City in the Sky are all top contenders. However, in terms of pure inventiveness, Snowpeak Ruins reigns supreme. Tucked away in Hyrule’s frosty mountains, this decrepit mansion definitely plays with fans’ expectations. Rather than treat each dungeon like a generic temple, Twilight Princess generally provides its locales with greater context. Nowhere is that better represented than in Snowpeak; this time around, Link is a guest in this yeti couple’s home. The forgetful wife, Yeta, repeatedly leads Link and Midna in the wrong direction. I just love the running joke of Link opening a chest, expecting to find the bedroom key, and being sorely disappointed. Seriously, who stores Ordon goat cheese in a chest? For a place that’s filled with some of the game’s toughest enemies, Snowpeak is awfully cozy. When things get too rough, Link can always head back to the kitchen for some of Yeto’s Soup. This option may make the dungeon less challenging, but it sure is entertaining.

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