A Link to the Past – Favourite Dungeons

As the clock ticks and we get closer to the launch of Breath of the Wild, I’ve been replaying A Link to the Past. The other day I recounted my favourite bosses from the Zelda series as a whole – this time, it’s all about my favourite Zelda game, and the dungeons.

There are thirteen dungeons in A Link to the Past, and they are all pretty unique. Some can be tackled in any order you choose – others can’t be faced until you complete a specific dungeon, but they are all quite good fun. Some though, are more fun than others.

In no particular order, my personal faves:

Hyrule Castle Tower

The second time you come to this tower it’s for the same reason as the first – you’re racing to rescue Princess Zelda. This is a very directed dungeon – you have to follow the path laid out for you – but there’s a certain thrill in having finally acquired the Master Sword and breaking Agahnim’s spell that previously blocked you. Here you will face enemies that are unique to this tower – ball and chain guards, and a unique variation on the blue knights, can be found here and only here.

Racing up the tower, you get a sense of urgency. When you finally reach Agahnim it’s too late – he’s zapped Zelda to the Dark World, but you can still fight him, and this feels like a major milestone in the game – you’ve faced off against this big boss, the architect of the misfortunes gripping Hyrule, and there’s a certain sense of satisfaction that comes with beating him.

Skull Woods

What makes this dungeon (that hides crystal no.3 from you) so interesting is the switching from underground labyrinth to the murky forest above. To solve this mystery, particular if you haven’t faced it before, involves finding several entrances to the dungeon itself, which are scattered around the forest. Once you’ve mastered it, this is actually a very easy level, as you can bypass several areas completely if you want. Still, it has to get a mention for the imaginative use of multiple ways in and out.

The final boss here is actually, in my opinion, one of the hardest in the game (or it can be if you’re not prepared). A giant moth flaps around in a room surrounded by spikes, and to make it worse, the moth shoots giant rings of death at you. Getting worse from there, the floor actually moves, and some of the spikes will move as well, in all directions. You therefore have to keep moving, and hope that you kill the boss quickly.

Gargyole’s Domain

Crystal number four awaits in the catacombs that hide underneath the ruined village in the Dark World. Another good dungeon, it starts out with a series of linked chambers which are huge, and then narrows down to a more confined, almost claustrophobic series of rooms that go deeper underground. Interestingly, the mechanism here is that you are led to a young woman, who is a prisoner, who wants to be taken outside – only she won’t go outside, but instead, you have to take her to a specific room. The kicker is that if you haven’t blown a hole in the ceiling of this room earlier, you’ll have to go back into the bowels of the dungeon and do that before facing the boss. Speaking of which…

Blind is a good boss, that gets pretty chaotic. After a short while, two disembodied heads are twirling around the room, spitting fireballs at you, whilst Blind herself – complete with a new head that’s doing Exorcism-style twists – is shooting lasers at you. This was definitely one of the more dramatic boss fights I had when I first played the game.

Palace of Darkness

This feels like the biggest dungeon in the game, even though I’m pretty sure it isn’t. The very first crystal awaits you here, in your first test of the Dark World. It’s quite easy to tie yourself in knots, re-visiting various rooms and trying to set certain switches in the right way to let you progress. After a few run-throughs, this isn’t an issue for me anymore, but I can remember this being a tricky dungeon to navigate the first time around.

The boss is one of the toughest, perhaps the toughest in the game. You face off against what looks like a giant scorpion, with an armoured face. You can either use bombs or the newly-acquired hammer to break the armour, but this thing doesn’t stay still and spits fireballs at you, that divide into more fireballs. Oh yeah, and its tail will lash out at you too.

Turtle Rock

This is where you will find the final crystal, thus rescuing Princess Zelda. I can vividly remember this dungeon being enormously frustrating when I was younger (to the point where I got quite angry at one particular section that involved lighting torches to open a door), but nowadays it’s pretty straightforward, and the dungeon itself features mechanics not found elsewhere – such as the transport tubes that send you all over the place.

This dungeon (like all of them to a certain extent) requires memorising certain routes, but this involves working around moving platforms, and it’s easy to fall off, so tread carefully!

The final boss here is the monstrous tri-headed turtle Trinexx, and if you haven’t grabbed the ice rod you’re not going to beat this guy. This is quite an enjoyable fight, but not all that difficult, despite Trinexx’ appearance.

Ganon’s Tower

This is a huge level. It is a multi-floored dungeon that is not completely linear, giving you a few choices in how you handle the lower levels. On my last play-through I grabbed some keys from here and didn’t use them, moving on to the upper levels and using them later.

Here you get four boss fights for the price of one, fighting all the bosses that guarded the pendants, and squaring off against Agahnim for the final time. The dungeon gets increasingly challenging as you move up it, fighting various enemies and overcoming various traps as you go.

It’s good fun to face old bosses again. It gives you the impression that this is it. The final showdown is coming, and this is for the fate of the world.

So, there you have my personal favourite choices for the best dungeons in A Link to the Past. Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear from you!

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