I had a difficult time ranking these dungeons. Each of them has their own unique thing going on and each has features I’d consider my favorite and least favorite of the dungeons. I think my rankings could easily change on each replay of the game, and the 3DS version could be different up that this ranking could change for them. Majora’s Mask‘s dungeons are more story-oriented, and each one strongly influences the area that surrounds them, so I’ll also talk a little bit about what’s going on pre- and post-dungeon. But my rankings are mostly influenced by which puzzles I liked best, and how much I enjoy their themes.
4) Woodfall Temple
To get to this dungeon, you first have to check on a monkey that the Deku are about to execute because they believe he kidnapped the Deku Princess. You’ll go through a stealth section similar to the castle gardens in Ocarina of Time. There you’ll find the Bean Salesman, who you can buy magic beans from that allow you to sneak into Deku Palace, where the monkey is imprisoned. The monkey teaches you the Sonata of Awakening, which gives you access to Woodfall Temple, where you can rescue the Deku Princess, the only one who can save the monkey.
This is really the first swamp dungeon in The Legend of Zelda. A Link to the Past had Swamp Palace, which was really a water dungeon, and Misery Mire, which was located in a swamp, but neither had a swampy theme going on. The swamp’s poisonous waters are integral to Woodfall Temple, both inside and out. Link can’t traverse these waters, while Deku Link can, and eventually you’ll have to cleanse the waters inside the temple. Deku Link’s controls were the smoothest and easiest for me to master. That being said, I think Deku Link offered the least unique experience, and was less fun to play as than the other transformation forms. Flying around can be fun (a precursor to gliders), and I love the spin attack, but these abilities don’t make for great puzzles. The Hero’s Bow is this dungeon’s item – child Link can finally wield it – and it’s much more fun than Deku Link’s spit bubble attack. The bow and arrows are more central in this game in any other, with each dungeon adding a new type of arrow to your arsenal. And it makes it so there’s less focus on using one dungeon item for one dungeon in particular – the dungeon’s are more about the transformation masks you’re using.
Woodfall Temple has two mini-bosses, if you count the Dinolfos, which make their return from Ocarina of Time. The cooler mini-boss is Gekko, who eventually summons a turtle to ride around on as he attacks you. Defeating him turns him back into a cute little frog. Odolwa is my favorite boss other than Majora. He is perhaps, the most difficult first boss in the series and he’s got a very unique design for a 3D non-main antagonist boss with his humanoid figure. I love that you can hear his chanting in this dungeon’s music. But I do think he’s a bit too difficult for a first dungeon boss. Defeating Odolwa cleanses the waters of Woodfall Swamp, and allows you to bring the Deku Princess back to the Deku Palace, where she will scold her father and demand he frees the monkey.
3) Stone Tower Temple
Before you can get to Stone Tower, you’ll have to head Beneath the Well to obtain the Mirror Shield, and then into Ikana Castle to learn the Elegy of Emptiness. Beneath the Well contains a bunch of Gibdos who ask for items, and you need to give them said items to progress. There are a few different passages, and only one will lead to the Mirror Shield. Once you’ve acquired the shield, you can exit the well directly to Ikana Castle. Ikana Castle is sort of a mini dungeon, which kind of reminds me of Link’s Awakening‘s Kanalet Castle. Besides the name, they’re both abandoned castle areas you have to fight your way through to find something you need to get into the next dungeon. At the end of Ikana Castle, you’ll find the King of Ikana, whose minions you have to defeat before taking on the king himself. Once defeated, he thanks you for breaking the curse on him, and teaches you the Elegy of Emptiness so you can access Stone Tower Temple and break the curse on the rest of Ikana.
If I had ranked these dungeons before my replay of this game, I probably would’ve ranked it at the top. I didn’t remember much of the dungeons themselves, but it was easier to remember the major dungeon mechanics. Stone Tower is well known for its unique dungeon mechanic, flipping the dungeon over halfway through. And while I love the concept, I didn’t find the dungeon itself to be all that great. It’s nice that you have to use each of the transformation masks, but it didn’t feel like the puzzles were an improvement on the previous dungeons. It can also be rather annoying to constantly play the Elegy of Emptiness to summon statues. Stone Tower also has my least favorite bow upgrade, the light arrows. They’re not really used for new puzzles, just to flip the dungeon over. They are helpful for bosses, and for collecting rupees, as certain enemies drop 50 rupees when defeated with the light arrows. I do like that the Light Arrows give you the ability to create your own light anywhere, after learning how to wield light with the Mirror Shield. Probably my favorite puzzle of this dungeon was using the Mirror Shield to redirect light multiple times to eventually shine light on a final location.
Stone Tower stands out from the other dungeons with its mini-boss fights. Although there’s yet another Wizrobe in this dungeon, there’s also a couple Eyegores, one of which guards the Giant’s Mask. Gomess takes the cake though, as my favorite mini-boss in the game. He really feels like a Majora’s Mask mini-boss, and you actually get to use the light arrows here. And he’s super cool looking. Twinmold is an incredible easy boss with no real strategy involved – just use the giant’s mask and punch a bunch. Despite being so simple, especially for the last dungeon of the game, I really enjoy running around and fighting as giant Link. Defeating Twinmold breaks the curse on Ikana Canyon, which makes the sky a little clearer and gets rid of the Gibdos walking around. Are we sure this land isn’t still cursed?
2) Great Bay Temple
Before you can head to Great Bay Temple, you’ve gotta rescue some Zora eggs from the Gerudo pirates. It feels extremely reminiscent of Ocarina of Time, sneaking through a fortress and battling Gerudo guards, though this time you’re rescuing eggs instead of construction workers. To find the rest of the eggs, you follow a guide through some murky waters, almost like the low-visibility sandstorms before Ocarina‘s Spirit Temple, where you are guided by a poe. Then you’ll take all the eggs back to the Marine Research Lab, where they’ll hatch and teach you the New Wave Bossa Nova. Play it for Lulu, whose eggs you just rescued, and she’ll regain her voice, singing along and summoning a giant turtle that takes you to the Great Bay Temple.
Instead of changing water levels, you’re changing water currents in Majora’s Mask‘s water dungeon. A lot of 3D Zeldas don’t have great swimming mechanics, and I found myself struggling to get around as Zora Link. I think I would’ve enjoyed this dungeon a lot more if swimming around was easier. But I found Great Bay Temple a creative and unique water dungeon, and for some reason I’ve grown sort of fond of water dungeons. The Ice Arrows you receive in this dungeon are a vast improvement on those from Ocarina of Time, and you often use them in conjunction with the Fire Arrows. They’re used to freeze water, stopping the water flow, while the fire arrows melt the ice you’ve created, allowing the water flow to return to normal.
For a game with so few dungeons, it’s plagued by repeat mini-boss fights. Gekko was fine in Woodfall Temple, but I would’ve preferred something else here. Great Bay Temple does have its own unique mini-boss with Wart, but it’s also really similar to mini-bosses in other games, surrounded by bubbles you have to get rid of before you can do any damage. While I usually like when we get similar mini-boss/boss fights throughout the series, I would’ve like some that had a more distinct Majora’s Mask ‘feel’ to them. I wasn’t a fan of Gyorg, as I found the Zora swimming controls a little frustrating, and jumping off and on the platform was difficult for me. The Great Bay doesn’t seem dramatically different after you defeat Gyorg, but it is cool that you can go rehearse with the Indie-Go-Gos afterwards.
1) Snowhead Temple
Zora’s Domain got frozen in Ocarina of Time, and now it’s the Gorons’ turn for some frosty weather. Biggoron is blocking the way to Snowhead Temple by blowing strong gusts of wind, so to get there, you’ll need the Goron Lullaby, which puts Gorons to sleep. As it happens, there’s a crying baby Goron, lamenting that Darmani and the Goron Elder are gone, who can only appeased by that very song. Find the Goron Elder and he’ll teach you part of it, but his memory is a bit hazy, so you’ll have to learn the rest from the baby himself. After soothing the baby Goron, you can head on over to Snowhead Temple.
If you liked the Ice Cavern mini dungeon in Ocarina of Time and thought we needed a full-fledged ice dungeon, Snowhead is for you. This time around you’ll need the Goron roll, fire punch, and ground pound to progress through the dungeon. Despite struggling with the Goron roll when trying to get across gaps, I enjoyed how mechanically different Goron Link is from Link. I think the Goron mask is my favorite of the transformation masks. Snowhead’s dungeon item is the fire arrows, and I love how they’re introduced. I’ve realized that I love when there are puzzles preceding a dungeon item that mimic its use – there are a few puzzles where you can make your own fire arrows by shooting through torches. Snowhead’s verticality and central pillar remind me of the Fire Temple, which ties things in well thematically with Ocarina of Time. There’s even some lava in some parts of the dungeon.
Wizrobe is this dungeon’s mini-boss. He shows up not once, but twice in this dungeon. I’m not opposed the mini-bosses appearing more than once in a dungeon, especially when the battle is changed up a bit the second time (which this dungeon does), but I didn’t like the Wizrobe fight enough for it to appear again. I’m pretty sick of him by the time I see him in Stone Tower Temple. Everyone seems to love Goht, Snowhead Temple’s boss, but I find it kinda boring just rolling around for five minutes waiting until I’ve done enough damage. My thumb hurt by the end of the battle…After defeating Goht, the eternal winter in Goron Village ends, and it’s now spring. I think its the best post-dungeon transition. It’s the most drastically different visually, and with all the Gorons coming out, the village feels much livelier, like you’ve really saved them.
Thanks for checking out my dungeon ranking! This is definitely one I intend to re-evaluate once I play the 3D version. Next week I’m changing up the Year of Zelda pattern with another Majora’s Mask post – the Majora’s Mask Mask ranking.