The Adventure of Link dungeons were actually much easier to rank than I thought. They’re a bit more distinct than the original’s, with different features like hidden walls, floors you can fall through, and various obstacles to get around. They also have a lot going on between dungeons, many of them require the previous dungeon’s item, making for a much more linear experience. On my second playthrough of the game, I knew exactly where I was ranking each dungeon as I went along. So let’s get into it!
7) Parapa Palace
This rather simple dungeon isn’t the best first dungeon in the Zelda series. There really isn’t much to it. It feels almost like a skeleton of a dungeon with not much puzzling – just run through, defeat enemies, gather keys and an item, defeat boss. Nothing about it makes me feel like it’s going above and beyond the previous game. It starts a trend of rooms with a constant stream of enemies coming at you. In this dungeon, the tinsuits that run at you aren’t really a challenge, they just slow down the pace of the dungeon a bit. There are a few high experience-giving bubble enemies in this dungeon, which does make this a nice, easy place to gain some exp. points early in the game. The candle, this dungeon’s item, automatically lights up dark rooms, which doesn’t help us in Parapa Palace, but it’s useful in dark caves all across Hyrule. I’m glad we got the most boring color out of the way in the first dungeon, although it does look nice with those curtains, which truly serve to set the stage for boss fights. I do really like horsehead as a boss. He looks cool and he’s a pretty simple boss, perfect for a first dungeon.
6) Midoro Palace
Midoro Palace adds more complexity with new and stronger enemies, and more room variety. And you need to do a little preparation before you reach the dungeon. This includes finding a trophy and getting the Jump Spell so you can reach Midoro Swamp. There are a few other things you’ll likely do here, but it’s not required until after this palace. There’s some more platforming in this dungeon that Parapa Palace, which makes for more fun exploration. You need the dungeon item, the handy glove, to progress in the palace and you continue to use it throughout the game, which in my opinion is a sign of a great dungeon item. I don’t think Helmethead is as cool looking as Horsehead and I think the battles are slightly too similar, but he is a bit more complex, with his helmets coming off to shoot beams at you. Midoro Palace is where I feel like we’re starting to feel improvements over the original Legend of Zelda dungeons.
5) Island Palace
Remember in my Legend of Zelda dungeon rankings when I said I wanted a red dungeon? Here we go! You probably went through Death Mountain before Midoro Palace, but you definitely need to before this one. You need the Hammer from Spectacle Rock to get here and to the Town of Mido, which is where you get the Fairy Spell also needed to get to this dungeon. I really like having these more complex quests in between dungeons. In some ways, Island Palace feels like the Zelda 2 remake of Level 3: The Manji from The Legend of Zelda. It’s got the same dungeon item, the raft, which is used to get to the next dungeon (an item I think should be brought back to 2D Zeldas. And it feels like the iron knuckle (darknut) dungeon. It introduces blue iron knuckles, which have slightly different behavior than the red and orange variants – they throw swords at you. But this dungeon is plenty original enough not too feel like a rehash of Level 3, more like a callback. It’s also a much smoother step up in difficulty from the previous dungeon. I love the boss Rebonack too, who sticking with the theme, is a more powerful, horseback-riding blue iron knuckle.
4) Maze Palace
Right after the red dungeon I said I wanted – the purple dungeon I said I wanted (the colors aren’t really affecting my rankings, I just think they’re fun to talk about). Maze Palace is placed at the end of a (you guessed it) maze. Also hiding in this maze? A kidnapped child you need to rescue to get the Reflect Spell. The most exciting feature of this dungeon is the gap in the floor you can fall down to get to a different level. It’s a cool way of playing with multilevel dungeons in a sidescroller, and it’s the first of many dungeon floors in the series you need to fall through.
As fun as I thought the platforming and navigation in this dungeon was, I was less impressed by its item and boss. The boots are one of my least favorite items. You do need them to get to the next dungeon and it makes navigation around Maze Island a little easier, but overall, it’s not super helpful or exciting. Why couldn’t I just use the raft? Carock is cool-looking and fits well with the wizard-y theme of the dungeon – it’s like The Legend of Zelda‘s Level 6: The Dragon 2.0 (another callback) – but I think he’s a step back from the previous bosses. I like that you need to use the reflect spell, but it would be nice if the fight was a bit more complex than that – more than just using the spell and then standing around with your shield for the rest of the battle.
3) Ocean Palace (or Palace on the Sea)
Green is a much nicer dungeon color when it’s not repeated three times like it is in The Legend of Zelda. This one’s also a slightly nicer shade. There’s no fun quest to complete before heading here, you just have to walk over an ocean using your boots from the last dungeon. But this dungeon has one little thing that gives it a huge boost in the rankings. Ocean Palace has a funky hidden wall – if this were Ocarina of Time, you’d be picking up the lens of truth for this dungeon. And you need to head through this hidden wall to explore the rest of the dungeon and pick up the Flute. I always dig musical instruments in the Zelda series, so I love this dungeon’s item. I think this is the dungeon where I missed a key both times I played through it, so I ended up using Fairy Spell to get through the last locked door (I really liked using this spell). Gooma’s not my favorite boss, but I appreciate the added challenge of his ranged weapon, the mace. He really keeps you on your toes, and really feels like a step up in difficulty.
2) Hidden Palace
There are no keys in The Hidden Palace, so you have to grab the Magical Key in New Kasuto, located by using one of my favorite spells in the game, Spell Spell. But to get to New Kasuto, you need to make your way through Dangerous Hyrule, currently blocked by the River Devil, who in my opinion, is this game’s hungry goriya. You just gotta play him a song on your flute and then you’ll be able to pass (it’s really because he doesn’t like the music, so he’s more like this game’s digdogger, but I like thinking of it this way). After that you gotta get through lizalfos throwing objects from you from the cover of the mountains (which cracks me up – it looks like they’re peaking over a fence). You’ll eventually reach a forest where you need to use your hammer to find the hidden town of New Kasuto. After you’ve acquired the Spell Spell and the Magical Key, you can head over to the Hidden Palace, which appears after you play your flute.
Now we’re finally in Hidden Palace. Rebonack returns as a mini boss twice, in one instance guarding this dungeon’s item, the Cross. This sets a huge precedent for the rest of the series, where dungeon items are often guarded by a mini boss. The Cross makes getting the Thunder Spell necessary for the last dungeon much easier. There’s a neat portion of this dungeon that involves falling through the floor and using the Fairy Spell to get to the boss room (coolest boss room entrance in the game, I think). I actually didn’t have enough magic for this – it’s the second time you have to use Fairy – so I ended up killing myself to get back to full magic. This isn’t great, but I liked being able to use that little exploit. I’m a big fan of Barba as a boss; I think it’s a fun battle, and it’s one of the most unique in the game. It’s the only boss room with lava pits, and it’s not humanoid, as most of the other bosses are. And who doesn’t love fighting a dragon? There was one room in this dungeon I hated, which involves trying to get past a bunch of lava pits while difficult-to-avoid enemies are constantly coming at you. If an enemy hits you, you’re probably falling straight into that lava, which is an instant death. Though this room is immensely frustrating, I don’t think it detracts too much from an otherwise great dungeon.
1) The Great Palace
Before heading to the Great Palace, there’s one last spell you have to collect. With the Cross from Hidden Palace, you can now see and navigate past enemy Moas in Old Kasuto town to get to the Wise Man who teaches you the Thunder Spell. Then you need to head throw the Valley of Death, which sounds like the inverse of Death Mountain, and has plenty of strong enemy-filled areas. Once you get through to the Great Palace, a force field is lifted (assuming you’ve completed all prior dungeons) and you can enter.
The Great Palace is one tough dungeon. Filled with powerful fokkas and some particularly difficult rooms with dragon heads flying at you, it can be a bit frustrating at times. Dying here thankfully puts you back at the entrance of the dungeon. This dungeon has the most unique feel in the game, and it’s got a strong theme going on. Other than the fokkas, there are couple of new enemies. The king bubble and giant bot are bigger, badder versions of the bubbles and bots that frequent earlier dungeons. There are also several hidden passages in elevator walls, which often contain much needed potions. Great Palace’s yellow hue evokes the triforce, which you collect the courage portion of at the end of the dungeon. And it’s filled with bird enemies, and although the royal crest with the triforce and bird design hadn’t appeared yet, it seems clear that they are linked, as the last protectors of the triforce. Speaking of bird enemies, Thunderbird is easily my favorite boss of the game. It requires the use of the Thunder Spell, and I also like to use the shield, reflect, and jump spells. And then of course, there’s one final challenge in Dark Link. The Great Palace is also the second dungeon in the series to have a unique music theme, along with The Legend of Zelda‘s final dungeon. Although I was incredibly intimidated by this dungeon, I really came around to loving it.
Maybe not the most exciting ranking to have them all in order, but I think that’s a sign of great dungeon progression. They feel very well thought out in the way that each dungeon becomes a little more challenging and complex than the last. Next week, I’m on to many fans’ favorite game in the series, A Link to the Past!