10. Dancing Dragon (Oracle of Seasons)
Many of the dungeons in the Oracles games feature color based puzzle solving, seeing as they took full advantage of the Game Boy Color. The Dancing Dragon Dungeon is no exception, and has some other tricks up its sleeve too.
The dungeon gets its name from the fact that if you lay each floor on top of one another, the image comes out to resemble a dancing dragon. Much of it is flooded with water, and some areas are only accessible by taking mine carts. There’s even one instance of a side scrolling area that has platforms fading and reappearing over time.
The dungeon shows off some of the best puzzles in Oracle of Seasons, and has players picking their way through the labyrinth of rooms.
9. Sky Keep (Skyward Sword)
Sky Keep is one of the few dungeons in the entire series that doesn’t feature a boss at the end. However, its overall design more than makes up for that, as Sky Keep is in fact one giant puzzle.
The dungeon is basically a grid of rooms that move and change. You have to work with this mechanic, making sure everything fits together just right. The ultimate goal is to collect three pieces of the Triforce and put them together. These three pieces are in three specific rooms, but you can get to them any way that you choose.
By putting rooms together, Link can move forward and each of those rooms contain a smaller puzzle to solve. Some rooms may only lead to dead ends, while others will open a path forward. Sky Keep has you solving multiple layers of a puzzle at once, and even with its lack of a boss, is an enjoyable trial and error experience.
8. Shadow Temple (Ocarina of Time)
Ocarina of Time may very well have some of the most memorable dungeons of the series, as the atmosphere each one sets is unique. The creepy and unsettling Shadow Temple is one of the best examples of how a dungeon can capitalize on creating this atmosphere.
As Link traverses the dark and dingy halls, the temple only keeps going farther and farther into the ground. Horrible monsters like ReDeads and Wallmasters are waiting in ambush around almost every corner.
Strange torture devices dot the rooms of the temple, and cryptic messages hint at the dark things that may have happened there. There’s never really any concrete information said about the Shadow Temple, leaving much up to player’s imaginations. Crossing a river on a small ferry and fighting the giant boss Bongo Bongo, are just some of the moments that anyone who played Ocarina will never forget. There’s no dungeon more ominous and atmospheric than this nightmare of a place.
7. Tower of the Gods (Wind Waker)
The third dungeon of Wind Waker is impressive from the moment the huge tower comes into view, looming high above Link’s small boat. The dungeon itself serves as a test for anyone seeking the power of the Master Sword.
When Link enters the tower he must do so while riding the King of Red Lions, as the entire first floor of the dungeon is completely filled with water. The overall objective is to find three different Servants of the Tower, and guide them back to the central room in order to activate a lift to the top.
Through a mix of puzzle solving and navigation Link can achieve this feat and continue ascending the tower. After doing so, there’s another section that has players scaling a staircase on the side of the tower with a gorgeous view of the great sea. The dungeon ends in an epic boss battle with Gohdan, a giant sentient statue that stands as the final test between Link and the Master Sword.
6. Catfish’s Maw (Link’s Awakening)
Many people might remember entering Jabu Jabu’s Belly in Ocarina of Time, but the inspiration for that dungeon may have come from the Catfish’s Maw. Link enters the giant stone catfish in Martha’s Bay, in search of one of the Instruments of the Sirens.
The sprawling Labyrinth has Link solving puzzles in traditional fashion. The unique aspect of this dungeon though, are the two mini-bosses it has. Link is forced to fight the giant Master Stalfos in three different locations in order to receive the hookshot, after which he’s faced by a pair of Gohma who guard the route to the boss. The hookshot becomes an integral piece of solving the dungeon and beating the boss called Slime Eel.
5. Ancient Cistern (Skyward Sword)
If there’s one dungeon to claim the title of most beautiful, it could be the Ancient Cistern. It’s split into two different parts, with the upper one consisting of large water pools and ornate statues resembling a Buddhist temple.
Link obtains the whip in this dungeon, which he uses to control the water levels on the upper level. By doing so, he can move the Great Statue at the center up and down to access different levels of the dungeon. The lower level builds a stark contrast to the calm above, as it’s dark and deathly with contaminated water and cursed Bokoblins that will attack you. The giant statue Koloktos waits for you in the boss room, a battle that has Link using the boss’ own giant swords to defeat it.
4. City in the Sky (Twilight Princess)
One of the largest dungeons of Twilight Princess, is the incredible floating city, City in the Sky. This gigantic matrix of rooms consists of five floor levels and three basement levels, with wind based puzzles mixed throughout.
The strange bird-like Ooca race have to be used similarly to Cucco’s in order to glide down ledges and across short distances. The dungeon has some really interesting puzzles once Link gets the ability to use dual clawshots. Some have him climbing up areas by alternating between the two different clawshots among other things. A flying dragon named Argorok awaits Link at the end, and the items prove just as useful a strategy against the monster.
3. Snowpeak Ruins (Twilight Princess)
The Snowpeak Ruins have a fascinating aesthetic and setup, as Link stumbles upon a couple of Yetis who are in dire need of his help. Yeto’s wife Yeta has come down with a strange affliction and Link must set out on the task of finding a key to the master bedroom, where the Shard of Twilight he seeks is kept.
The abandoned mansion easily sparks fans imagination with its atmosphere and decorations. The enemies and puzzles within can also be quite tricky. After defeating a miniboss named Darkhammer, Link obtains the ball and chain item which makes solving ice based puzzles easier.
After returning to Yeto, the truth is finally revealed that Yeta has been possessed by an evil spirit named Blizzeta that Link must fight. Snowpeak Ruins really is a culmination of just about everything you could ask for in a Zelda game; puzzle solving, atmosphere, combat and story.
2. Stone Tower Temple (Majora’s Mask)
Majora’s Mask has decidedly fewer dungeons than your average Zelda game, but each one feels incredibly distinct. The fourth and final temple, called the Stone Tower Temple, is the most unique of all.
The dungeon is Link’s ultimate test as it requires him at various points to use almost every tool in his arsenal including the Deku, Goron and Zora masks. After receiving the Light Arrows and Giants Mask, the entire dungeon even gets flipped upside-down and inverted. The boss battle with Twinmold can be completed in two different ways.
Link can take on the gargantuan pair of worms on foot as his regular self, or don the Giants Mask and battle the creatures at their own size. The Stone Tower Temple is truly a test of player’s puzzle solving skills in every way possible, and the perfect example of how a Zelda dungeon can combine mechanics from across the entire game.
1. Forest Temple (Ocarina of Time)
The Forest Temple shows just how engaging and fun a Zelda dungeon really can be, and reminds us of why we love the series so much. Like the other dungeons on this list, the Forest Temple sets the mood perfectly. The dark corridors, the creepy ethereal music, the laugh of Poes and other things to mess with your head like a twisting upside down hallway. Couple this with an inventive boss battle at the end, and you have a truly great dungeon.
The Forest Temple is a winding maze of tunnels and rooms that Link traverses with one goal, to return the flames that the Poe sisters have stolen to the main room in order to access the boss’s lair. Players have to track down each Poe after solving a series of puzzles or beating enemies, and duel them with the Hero’s bow in order to return the flame. A multitude of small keys populate the dungeon, making it important for Link to explore and find his path forward.
The boss is a Phantom version of the infamous Ganon, and has a unique gimmick that makes players spot the phantom inside of identical paintings before batting his own energy blasts back at him with their sword. The Forest Temple is a fantastic introduction to the series of dungeons that fill up the second half of Ocarina of Time, and remains one of the most memorable dungeons in the series.
What are your favorite dungeons from The Legend of Zelda series? Let us know down in the comments.