So much has been said about Ocarina of Time at this point that to continue heaping praise on the game seems almost redundant, but it truly is one of the most important titles to ever be release. Taking the action-adventure foundation of the first games in the series and successfully transitioning it into the third dimension, Ocarina represents a massive paradigm shift within the industry, proving once and for all that it is possible to create compelling and immersive worlds in 3D. Nearly all dungeons in Ocarina of Time help to illustrate this, showcasing the brilliance of the classic Zelda formula when transposed into new, fully explorable 3D environments.
Part of what helped make Ocarina of Time the template for the Zelda series moving forward following its release was the fact that all the classic Zelda elements are present in its dungeons. Each of these labyrinthine structures is a multi-floor space with interconnecting rooms and hub areas, with plenty of combat challenges and puzzle-solving to make the act of clearing them the highlight of the game. And, of course, each of these dungeons caps off with an incredible boss battle that mixes the best parts of Zelda’s gameplay halves.
Inside the Deku Tree
After learning of his destiny from the Great Deku Tree, Link enters its interior to cleanse it of corruption and complete the game’s first dungeon, the aptly named Inside the Great Deku Tree. This first dungeon is a crash course in how Ocarina of Time adapts the classic Zelda formula into 3D and includes some excellent setpiece moments, such as diving from the top floor to break through the spider-web blocking the basement level. This dungeon may be short but it essentially contains just enough of a primer to prepare Link and the player for what comes later.
- Fairy Slingshot (Dungeon Key Item)
- Kokiri’s Emerald (Spiritual Stone)
- Heart Container
- Queen Gohma
|Though she may appear intimidating at first, Queen Gohma is actually a total pushover when it comes to the actual encounter. Players can learn the strategy for success from a Deku Scrub just prior to the fight, which is to shoot her eye with the Fairy Slingshot when the opportunity arises. With her eye injured, Queen Gohma will fall to the ground and be open for several sword slashes. Repeat this process until she falls to earn the first Spiritual Stone and a Heart Container before leaving through the exit portal.
Just getting to Dodongo’s Cavern is a lengthy process, requiring Link to gain entry to the Death Mountain Trail and then earn the Gorons’ trust before he can even start the second dungeon. With the Goron’s Bracelet in tow, Link can pick up and throw Bomb Flowers, which are essential to both traversing this dungeon and defeating several of the enemies within. Thankfully, Link gets a permanent upgrade in the dungeon in the form of the Bomb Bag, which comes in handy for the boss fight against King Dodongo.
- Bomb Bag & Bombs (Dungeon Key Item)
- Goron’s Ruby (Spiritual Stone)
- Heart Container
- King Dodongo
|Like most bosses in The Legend of Zelda series, King Dodongo sees Link needing to make use of the new equipment he receives in the dungeon. Even though this giant lizard will regularly breathe fire at Link, the blasts are easily avoidable and leave a great window of opportunity to attack afterward. Following his breathing fire, King Dodongo will need to inhale air to charge the attack once more. During this animation, Link can toss a Bomb into its open mouth to damage the massive reptile. After the Bomb explodes, King Dodongo collapses and becomes vulnerable to sword slashes. Repeat this process to earn the second Spiritual Stone and a Heart Container.
Inside Jabu-Jabu’s Belly
Just like the journey to get to Dodongo’s Cavern, simply getting to Inside Jabu-Jabu’s Belly requires players to complete a significant amount of adventuring in Hyrule. After obtaining the Silver Scale, Link can dive into Lake Hylia and retrieve the letter from the Zora princess Ruto. With Ruto’s Letter handy, Link can visit Zora’s Domain and gain access to their guardian spirit Jabu Jabu from King Zora. The dungeon itself is one of the more unique in the history of the Zelda series, taking place entirely within the body of a whale.
- Boomerang (Dungeon Key Item)
- Zora’s Sapphire (Spiritual Stone)
- Heart Container
|The boss of Jabu-Jabu’s belly is the aquatic Barinade, seeing Link make good use of the dungeon’s key item the Boomerang. The first phase of the fight simply requires players to target the tentacles attaching it to the ceiling using the Boomerang, then again stunning the creature with the Boomerang when the smaller Bari surrounding it dissipates. Afterward, Link can rush in during its stun window to flurry Barinade with sword strikes. Occasionally defeating the smaller Bari mobs in the arena makes the fight easier, and a few rounds of attacking Barinade’s body will see it fall rather quickly.
As the first dungeon Link enters as an adult, the Forest Temple makes quite an impression. Indeed, the dungeon still continues to rank high up on the “best of” lists chronicling all of the series’ dungeons, and the massive location is absolutely bursting with atmosphere and ingenious puzzle-solving. In addition to having some of the most clever puzzles and an incredible haunted castle vibe, the key item of the Forest Temple is one of the most important items in Link’s arsenal and an essential tool for the game’s final boss, something that the dungeon gives players a preview of in its own final encounter.
- Fairy Bow (Dungeon Key Item)
- Forest Medallion (Quest Item)
- Heart Container
- Phantom Ganon
|Phantom Ganon is arguably the first “true” boss of Ocarina of Time since it requires much more skill and timing than the previous three encounters. The arena has 6 paintings surrounding it, 2 of which will begin to change before Phantom Ganon appears on his horse. The goal is to determine which of these apparitions is an illusion and then use the Fairy Bow to strike the true Phantom Ganon. If successful, the player will get some damage in before he hits Link in the center of the arena.
The second phase of the battle sees players deflecting Phantom Ganon’s magic back at him similar to the fight against Agahnim in A Link to the Past. After successfully hitting Phantom Ganon with his own magic, he falls to the ground and is vulnerable to slashes from the Master Sword.
- Megaton Hammer (Dungeon Key Item)
- Fire Medallion (Quest Item)
- Heart Container
|The fight against Volvagia is comparatively much easier after successfully defeating Phantom Ganon. Link will find himself on a platform with lava surrounding it, making positioning and evasion the name of the game. Volvagia will occasionally pop up out of the lava to breathe fire or slam the ceiling of the arena to cause rocks to fall. Thankfully, both of these attacks are easily avoidable. What players need to watch for are the times when Volvagia leans his head over the edge of the arena and rests it. During these windows of opportunity, Link can smash Volvagia with the Megaton Hammer and then follow up with several sword slashes. Repeat this process to easily defeat the lava dragon.
Although it’s not an official dungeon in Ocarina of Time, the Ice Cavern is essential before entering the Water Temple. It is here that players will obtain the Iron Boots necessary to walk underwater and solve the devious puzzles of the Water Temple. There’s no actual “boss” to the Ice Cavern, though there are several enemies and a mini-boss within. Accordingly, the challenging White Wolfos acts as the final barrier to completing the Ice Cavern. This location is the only place in the game where Link will face one.
- Iron Boots (Key Item)
The Water Temple is one of the more confusing and challenging dungeons in Ocarina of Time thanks to its central mechanic. To clear the dungeon, Link must routinely raise and lower the water level within the dungeon to make new areas accessible. That the interiors of the dungeon begin to look similar makes this even more challenging, leading to the tendency for players to get lost within its corridors. Still, this dungeon is the location where Link acquires the Longshot, a necessary tool to acquire several of the secret Pieces of Heart around Hyrule.
- Longshot (Dungeon Key Item)
- Water Medallion (Quest Item)
- Heart Container
|Morpha isn’t so much a creature as much as it’s an amorphous blob resembling a tentacle. Residing within the protective gel that makes up most of Morpha’s body is its single weak point, a nucleus resembling an eyeball. Similar to the fights against Kholdstare and Arrghus in A Link to the Past, Link must use his new Longshot to grab Morpha from within its blob-like body. Following this, it’s possible to get in a few sword slashes before it retreats into the water and reabsorbs back into its body.
Bottom of the Well
Before Link can enter both the Shadow and Spirit Temples it’s necessary to obtain the Lens of Truth. This requires a pit stop in the Bottom of the Well mini-dungeon, complete with plenty of ReDead enemies and a Dead Hand mini-boss to contend with. Players will need to learn the Song of Storms before they can enter the Bottom of the Well and will only be able to access it as child Link. As a result, several of the enemies within the mini-dungeon pose quite a challenge.
- Lens of Truth (Key Item)
After obtaining the Lens of Truth, Link can visit Kakariko Village to initially encounter the Shadow Temple’s boss, Bongo Bongo. After this brief meeting, Sheik teaches Link the Nocturne of Shadow and he can use it to teleport to the Shadow Temple, entering it using the Lens of Truth. The interior of the dungeon is somewhat similar to the Bottom of the Well. In particular, the Shadow Temple contains many of the same undead foes that players encounter while trying to get the Lens of Truth. The Shadow Temple is an excellent and unique dungeon within Ocarina of Time, showcasing some of the game’s darker themes and horror-leaning tendencies.
- Hover Boots (Dungeon Key Item)
- Shadow Medallion (Quest Item)
- Heart Container
- Bongo Bongo
|The Shadow Temple is arguably the spookiest location in all of Hyrule. Accordingly, its guardian Bongo Bongo is one of the more frightening foes Link will brush up against in his quest to stop Ganon from obtaining the Triforce. What makes the fight with Bongo Bongo one of the more challenging in the game are its high damage output and extremely limited attack windows. Link will need to regularly dodge its attacks as it slams the arena (a giant drum) and avoid the poison-infested waters surrounding it. The main goal is to use ranged weapons to try and stun both of its hands. Afterward, equip the Lens of Truth to see the true form of Bongo Bongo and hit it using the Fairy Bow.
The Spirit Temple is one of the best dungeons in Ocarina of Time and the penultimate challenge for players to face before taking on Ganon. This temple has both child and adult Link sections, with Link needing to first complete a portion of the dungeon as a child before jumping forward in time to finish out the rest of it as an adult. This is made possible through acquiring the Silver Gauntlets in the child section, later using them as an adult to venture further into the depths of the Spirit Temple. Notably, Link must learn the Requiem of Spirt to be able to complete the temple as it’s the only way for child Link to access the Desert Colossus.
- Silver Gauntlets (Dungeon Key Item)
- Mirror Shield (Dungeon Key Item)
- Spirit Medallion (Quest Item)
- Heart Container
|Tellingly, the two halves of Twinrova are each vulnerable to the opposite elemental affinity they represent. Twinrova represents the merging of the two witches Koume and Kotake, with one utilizing ice magic and the other fire. Accordingly, Link will need to carefully target Twinrova using the opposite elemental magic as it flies around the boss arena. After a few successful hits, Twinrova will change forms and begin shooting magic at Link that he needs to deflect back to harm them. Repeating this process a few times will reward Link with his final Medallion and Heart Container.
Once Link has all of the Medallions and returns to the Temple of Time, a cutscene will play out in which Sheik reveals herself to be Princess Zelda. Following this, she gifts Link with the Light Arrows necessary to defeat Ganon but is then swiftly kidnapped and whisked away to Ganon’s Castle. Link follows in pursuit, using the Medallions to break the seal around the castle and enter its chambers. Within the castle Link will obtain the Golden Gauntlets, which are necessary to access the upper floors and Ganondorf’s boss arena. Following a climactic showdown against Ganondorf, the castle crumbles around Link and he must challenge Ganon’s true form head-on for the future of Hyrule.
- Light Arrows (Key Item)
- Golden Gauntlets (Dungeon Key Item
|Initially, Ganon is his Gerudo humanoid form Ganondorf. In this phase of the battle, players can use a similar strategy to the one utilized during Phantom Ganon in the Forest Temple. Afterward, Ganondorf will begin firing magic at Link, requiring players to use the Master Sword and deflect it back at him. Landing a few successful hits will see Ganondorf fall, after which the true battle begins. Ganondorf becomes the demon beast Ganon, resembling a massive boar-like creature. Using the Light Arrows and Master Sword, players can stun and then defeat Ganon, restoring peace to Hyrule and sealing the demon king away.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Gameplay screenshot.