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The Legend Of Zelda
- Level 4-1 teems with Vires, and since you'll be wielding the White Sword at the time, you can't kill them and keep them dead. Most of the level is blacked out, forcing you to constantly use the candle. And the boss is Gleeok, whom you meet for the first time.
- Level 5-1 is your first encounter with the Blue Darknuts and you have to fight through two rooms worth of them to get the dungeon item. Especially difficult if you don't have the Magic Sword yet.
- Level 6-1 marks the first appearance of the Wizzrobe enemy, and it's swarming with shield-eating Like Likes and paralyzing Bubbles. It's quite common among Zelda players to complete the much easier Level 7 and slightly easier Level 8 before going back for Level 6.
- Levels 4-2 introduces a new mechanic: Non Player Characters that mug you for either 50 rupees, or permanent loss of one Heart Container. It also introduces red and blue bubbles: red bubbles cause you to be unable to draw your sword until you hit a blue bubble, and often a room will have four or five red bubbles and only one blue bubble. It also has a remarkable Guide Dang It! moment: there's a walk-through wall in the room with the Triforce piece where you'd never, ever think to look for it — and that's where they put the Raft.
- Level 5-2 forces you to face Wizzrobes with your White Sword, unless you brave your way to the stepladder in Level 6 beforehand and grab the far east heart container early. One room in particular is in a spiral staircase packed with blue Wizzrobes, with basically nowhere to dodge, forcing you to just power your way through and eat as many hits as possible.
- Level 8-2 isn't known for its monsters so much as for being the most complicated maze in the game. It's full of one-way doors and secret passages. And it has lots of dodongos, too, meaning running out of bombs is a constant issue.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
- Death Mountain is an extremely confusing maze filled with obnoxiously hard enemies (even by this game's standards).
- The Great Palace is plagued with completely unconventional mechanics compared to the rest of the game, including horrid dead ends, endless loops, and monsters with increased Hit Points relative to what they have when encountered elsewhere. If you made it here without all of your experience levels maxed out at 8, good luck!
A Link To The Past
- The Ice Palace can become seizure-inducing due to the tougher bestiary, obstacles, and maze-like layout. In particular, there is a switch in B6 which requires hitting a red/blue switch, then doubling back several floors in order to push a block down from B5 onto the switch. Luckily, having the Cane of Somaria makes it much easier.note Worse, the map is rendered useless due to most rooms being made up of discrete sections. There's nothing worse than finally getting halfway down correctly, then remembering that warping to the beginning of the level flips the red/blue switches.
- Turtle Rock has several confusing floating platform track sections. The first one in particular forces you to ride through four lamps, shoot each one of them with the Fire Rod to light them all and open the door, and then run back and get through the door before one of the lamps goes out and the door closes. "Don't go any further without a green potion" indeed.
- Catfish's Maw contains a miniboss who steals the dungeon item, and you have to chase it all over the damned dungeon to its hidey-holes. The last one is extremely difficult to find, as it's right next to the entrance in an area the player has likely long since visited and won't think to go back to.
- Face Shrine has a confusing layout, with some rooms not appearing on the map. It also introduces Teleport Spam-abusing Wizzrobes. But the miniboss is fun and the end boss is easy, so that evens it out a bit.
- Turtle Rock, the last main story dungeon, is an absurdly complicated and massive maze. Every previous miniboss from the game appears as respawning enemies; the dungeon's unique miniboss can knock Link back to the dungeon entrance; one puzzle requires Link to shoot an arrow into the eye of a random statue (while this is normally a Zelda staple, this is the only time you need to do it in this game, in the final dungeon no less)note ; and completing the dungeon requires the player to visit a hidden room whose entrances are not even on the Dungeon Map.
Ocarina of Time
- The Water Temple is, by far, the most infamous dungeon of the game, if not the entire series. Its main gimmick is that it's a multi-level dungeon where by changing the water level, you can access different areas. But this was notoriously difficult to keep track of, and it has a bunch of extra quirks that frustrated players. Notably, the game's director officially apologized for the Water Temple, Master Quest made the entire game harder except the Water Temple, and the 3DS remake made the most frustrating mechanics easier in general. But it was still tough:
- Link needs the Iron Boots to explore the temple, as they allow him to sink to the floor underwater. But he has to take them off to float again if he wants to go back up. In the original game, using the Iron Boots was a tedious task, as equipping and dequipping them requires you to pause the game and open the equipment menu. The 3DS version fixed this by allowing you to map the Iron Boots to one of the shortcut buttons.
- Even getting to the dungeon can be incredibly obtuse and confusing. A few gamers accidentally missed the Blue Tunic, an item which gives Link Super Not-Drowning Skills. Without it, it's still possible to beat the Water Temple, but it's obscenely difficult. Nowadays, it's a Self-Imposed Challenge to be able to beat the temple without the Blue Tunic.
- The dungeon's keys are super complicated, as sometimes the right door to open is not the next locked door you encounter. While it's not totally impossible to beat the temple if you use a key on the wrong door (persistent rumors notwithstanding), you do have to guess the right course of action and access the next area the long way around, and it's very frustrating to always be one key short. The most infamous key was one in a room filled with spikes, which you escape from by raising the water level and floating above the spikes to safety. But one of the spiked platforms also floated up, revealing a key in the nest of spikes below. Most gamers missed the key and never thought to swim back down for it. The 3DS version tried to make this easier by making the key more obvious in the cutscene when you raise the water level.
- The miniboss, Dark Link, is one of the hardest in the game, particularly because his health will always be the same as yours, so the tougher you are, the tougher he is to beat. (But this also means that he's much easier to beat on a three-heart run.)
- Jabu Jabu's Belly has an electric theme — almost all enemies will electrocute you if you attack them, making them very difficult (if not outright invincible) until you get the boomerang. It's also part of an annoying Escort Mission, where Princess Ruto will berate you for leaving her alone (and sometimes even vanish if you do so). But you can solve one problem with another by tossing Ruto at the enemies, which will work as she's impervious to electrocution (and oddly seems to enjoy the experience).
- The Bottom of the Well is characterized by false walls that look like any other wall, except if you see them through the Lens of Truth — which you only get inside the dungeon. You have to walk through a false wall just to get into the place, and the only hint is Navi's cryptic suggestion to "see the truth." The dungeon itself also has fake floors, which drop you into a cavern filled with redeads. It's the epitome of Trial-and-Error Gameplay. And the boss is hidden right at the start of the level. Master Quest kept him there but moved the item you're trying to retrieve instead.
- Similarly to the Water Temple, but not nearly as bad, the Forest Temple can become a real pain if you missed a key.
- Although Master Quest made all the dungeons harder (except the aforementioned Water Temple), its version of the Fire Temple is particularly hard. The very first room has a stairwell blocked by a wall of fire, which veterans would assume you turn off with a switch — but instead, you have to climb a wall and bypass it. The rest of the dungeon is filled with confusing mazes and irritating fire puzzles, particularly involving lighting torches by shooting arrows through other torches, to the point that many gamers beat the Water Temple first so they can get the Fire Arrows. The most frustrating puzzle is a switch that deactivates a wall of fire with an improbably short fuse, and you have to run to a hookshot target and use it to make it through (although the Scarecrow's Song provides a shortcut).
Majora's Mask is notable for its time limit, which means you don't have time to hang around in That One Level and try to figure it out. The best you can do is play the Song of Time backwards, which slows down time threefold but won't stop it outright.
- Snowhead Temple isn't terribly difficult, but it is a huge pain in the ass and a huge drain on time, in a game where time is always of the essence. It has a very confusing design, involving a lot of Goron curling and trying to find the right staircase and the right room. Its switch puzzles seem simple but really aren't. Its minibosses are very disorienting, flying around in random directions and filling the area with speeding images of themselves. And its massive pillar will screw with you just when you think you have the place figured out, especially given the game's nightmare camera and movement controls:
Nintendo Caprisun: I love how the camera pans up to show you just how much shit you have to do.
- Keep in mind that Snowhead Temple is mostly a giant vertical shaft, meaning that you could easily fall down to a much, much lower level.
- The Great Bay Temple features a complicated series of switches, currents, and waterfalls that must be frozen and thawed. It's based almost entirely around hitting switches that are blocking barely visible water flow through multi-colored pipes. You have to follow the pipes to the next switch, despite their aggravating habit of exiting through doors that can't be opened from the side you're on. Its worst room has three switches — if you press the wrong one, it reverses the current in the entire level, making it impossible for you to proceed until you turn to hit them again. And again, the game's time limit means you don't have time to sit there figuring it out.
- Beneath the Well isn't difficult, but rather tedious and entirely bizarre and pointless. Instead of having to navigate areas full of creepy monsters and fake walls, you have to go on a tedious Fetch Quest. You need to get a Magic Bean and Red Potion just to enter the place, which requires some backtracking. Then you're hunting for stuff to give to all the Gibdos.
- Stone Tower Temple is a nightmare to get to in the first place, and you constantly have to switch masks, play the Elegy of Emptiness, and watch endless cutscenes of blocks moving. The slightest slip-up could cost you a lot of progress, if not force you back to the beginning. There's a bizarre Light and Mirrors Puzzle where the mirrors absorb light, and you have to figure it out while Goddamned Bats attack you (it's slightly easier with a Guide Dang It! solution). It also contains That One Sidequest, where two of the stray fairies you have to collect require you to do something deep in the temple, go outside and flip it upside down, go back to the same room and do something else, and then go back outside and turn it right-side up again.
- The final area in the game, the Moon, has two difficult segments:
- The Goron Maze requires you to go at high speed on extremely narrow ledges and bounce off objects at the perfect angle to hop onto another platform, with little room for error. Then you realize that by not moving the control stick at all, Link will bounce perfectly off the treasure chests for the vast majority of the level.
- The 3DS remake of the Zora maze made several arbitrary changes to the level design, most of which only serve to make the section drag on longer than it needs to. Previously just an underwater maze, the revamped version adds several timed switch gate sections, branching underwater tubes, and ledges that can only be reached by dolphin-jumping out of the water with impeccable timing, something that the rest of the game almost never requires you to do. To make things worse, missing a jump warps you back to the beginning, and several pipes lead to dead ends, with the correct route vaguely hinted at by a small fish. And Zora Link's swimming controls were completely reworked so that he goes a dozen times slower without using his magic barrier, and you'll have to use this to get past the timed gate sections, which means veering into pots containing magic power while worrying about everything else. Lastly, just to throw completionists off, one of the dead ends contains a heart piece.
Oracle of Ages / Oracle of Seasons
- Jabu Jabu's Belly in Oracle of Ages puts all other water dungeons in all other Zelda games to shame. It's entirely possible to get stuck with no keys, no way to access the boss key, and no way to start the water levels over from the beginning to fix your mistake. In order to continue the game from this point, you must perform the Veran Warp, which can corrupt your save file — but also allows you to skip this level and everything else after the Tune of Ages.
- Skull Dungeon in Oracle of Ages contains a lot of ridiculous jumping. One room in particular requires you to jump across three moving platforms and requires second-perfect timing, otherwise you have to start the whole room over.
- The Ancient Ruins in Oracle of Seasons is a massive, five-level dungeon which introduces the Magic Boomerang, which could easily throw you into a pit if you hit something while using it and the controls shift from the boomerang back to Link. The boss key requires a mad dash as The Walls Are Closing In, and the boss itself requires quick timing and mad boomerang skills — in a quicksand pit (although it becomes easier if you have the Quicksand Ring).
- The Sword and Shield Dungeon in Oracle of Seasons has some brutal puzzles; the Ice side requires you to perform puzzles while sliding around, and the Lava side has some puzzles that take their cue from the aforementioned Skull Dungeon.
- The Hero's Cave in Oracle of Ages is full of hair-pullingly difficult puzzles. One particularly aggravating room is full of lava, and if you fall, it drops you back to the warp point and "conveniently" resets the puzzle, forcing you to start it again.
- Most of the dungeons in this game are relatively easy, but the Wind Temple serves as a huge difficulty spike! It's the second escort dungeon in the game, so you have to carry Makar around everywhere you go. However, the center of the dungeon is a long vertical shaft with a fan that turns on and off, with a ton of doors connecting it. Finding where you need to go next and bringing Makar there can be a ginormous pain.
- Sneaking around the Forsaken Fortress shouldn't be too hard, if it wasn't at the very beginning of the game and the Moblins were placed in the most irritating spots.
- Phantom Ganon's maze can count as That One Level mostly for being so tedious. Imagine the Lost Woods in Ocarina of Time, but you have to fight a miniboss in every room. This segment will take you forever!
- 2-2 of Hero's Trials in the Anniversary Edition is quite frustrating (especially if you're playing solo and your DSi's/3DS's L and R buttons don't work). Door two, up until level 3, is a remake of the Talus Caves. While the original Talus Caves is mildly difficult, this game gets ridiculous in the second section, where the majority of the level is a Slippy-Slidey Ice World. Add on Moblins at the beginning that can snipe you. Add on Ice Wizzrobes. Add on Darknuts. Add on Ball-on-Chain Darknuts. Add on very narrow paths at critical portions. You will cry.
- Vaati's Castle section (the last section per level) in each of the three doors are not "boss fights" per se, but the course itself is a boss room. It contains fans that will annoyingly blow you off the narrow paths. Enemy ambushes can knock you into the bottomless pits and really drain your rupees. And these are some of the few levels with flying tiles, some of which respawn. A particular ambush in Hero's Trial level 2-3 comes in three waves of enemies and is notoriously difficult to survive.
The Minish Cap
- The Cloud Tops force you to walk in a circle collecting Kinstones and fuse them to random pieces of architecture, for seemingly no reason other than Padding. If you miss a Kinstone, you just have to go in another circle and hope you don't miss it twice. The music's nice though, and it leads up to the Palace of Winds, so it's not as bad as it could be.
- The Temple of Droplets is a long, difficult ice-themed dungeon full of annoying puzzles, especially after you get the dungeon item.
- The Palace of Winds is also incredibly difficult at times, forcing you to use the Roc's Cape perfectly to get across some tricky platforming. And if that's not enough, the dungeon is twice as long as most of the others in the game, the miniboss is a Darknut, and there are a ton of enemies to defeat.
- Snowpeak Ruins has knee-deep snow, icy floors, sliding Block Puzzles, and enemies who can freeze you. You do get the ball and chain, but it doesn't help much. And enemies don't drop hearts, so in order to heal, you have to backtrack to the room with the nice Yeti and ask for the healing soup.
- The City in the Sky is a Marathon Level that takes an average of four to five hours, and that's if you know where you're going. Just getting to it is annoying enough, since it requires a huge Fetch Quest just to start another Fetch Quest. It's far too easy to fall to your death, and the level requires precise clawshotting in order to survive. And it's huge and easy to get lost in. Fortunately, it's better once you get the second clawshot, if only because using two clawshots is a lot of fun.
- The defending of the caravan requires frequent use of the Gale Boomerang, putting out fires, fast-moving targets, pterosaurs dropping bombs on everything, and a horse who handles like she's drunk and makes it nearly impossible to beat.
- The game's version of the Lost Woods has an absurdly confusing layout with no map of any kind and infinitely respawning Goddamned Bats that go out of their way to hunt you down while you're navigating the place. You have to beat That One Puzzle to make it out. And to beat the game as a whole, you have to do it twice.
- The Tear of Light collection sidequests are tedious because you're stuck in your wolf form, which severely limits your tool and travel options. To make it out, you have to search the entire region looking for Shadow Insects you must kill to obtain each Tear. But they're invisible, so you have to switch to sense mode, which makes it difficult to see very far — and they're still not easy to find. You have to do this three times in all; the Lanayru Province can take an hour even at a good pace.
- Speaking of Lanayru Province, riding the Shadow Kargorok can be either incredibly difficult or incredibly tedious.
- Lakebed Temple hangs a Lampshade on the infamy of Ocarina of Time's Water Temple, as Midna will comment on how hard the dungeon appears to be, especially finding all the keys. It's not nearly as hard to find the keys as in the Water Temple — but you do have to pull multiple levers in the main room to change its layout, and many of them lead to dead ends.
- The Temple of the Ocean King is one of the franchise's most hated, thanks to the repeat visits through the same rooms, the timer, and the ability of the Phantoms to knock you back to a room's entrance while reducing the time you have left.
- The final floors of the Tower of Spirits are the most devious part of the game. They're packed with a vast array of puzzles, hazards, and passageways that can only be tackled by out-of-the-box methods that make use of all of the items in the inventory and clever cooperation with the various types of Phantoms Zelda can possess. At one point, Link and Zelda have to find three keys to access three different rooms whose puzzles can only be solved when all of those rooms are available for access. Near the end, there's also an invasion of several powerful enemies (including three high-tier Geozards) where Link must triumph while avoiding a pitfall.
- The Lanayru Mining Facility contains annoying enemies, tedious time-shifting puzzles, and rather freaky music. Even more frustratingly, it's longer than the next two dungeons, but has a relative joke of a boss. It says something when this game's water dungeon becomes its Breather Level thanks to this dungeon. Challenge gamers on a no-shield playthrough find it particularly difficult to carry the timeshift orbs past the Beamos and Sentrobes.
- The Eldin Volcano Escort Mission is a rare non-dungeon example in the series. You basically have to escort a robot up the entire volcano, which is now swarming with Bokoblin Archers that can hit the robot from long range — even after you're sure you killed all of them. And Scrapper has some serious Leeroy Jenkins tendencies to rush into trouble, and he annoyingly pesters you when he's under attack. It's hard enough fighting two Lizalfos at once without having to protect this guy.
- Lanayru Gorge has a single infamous room, filled with Goddamned Bats and Demonic Spiders, in which you must follow a Timeshift Stone in a moving mining cart to avoid falling in quicksand. If you fall, you're taken back to the start of the level, and all the enemies respawn. The enemies are pretty accurate with their ranged weapons, too. The most annoying bit is that the few rooms before are incredibly easy, but they're between this room and the checkpoint, so you have to run through them every time you try again.
- The Sandship dungeon is so hard that just reaching it is excruciating, requiring you to visit three mini-dungeons (one of which throws you into an unexpected rematch with the Mining Facility's final boss). Then you have to sail in a boat with wonky controls, search for an invisible ship, and blast it with a cannon several times before you can finally engage the real dungeon.
- The Silent Realms require you to collect 15 tears and get back to the entrance circle, then obtain your next Plot Coupon to get to the next dungeon. But once you leave the entrance circle, the realm's Guardians will chase you (to some freaky music), and getting hit will cause you to fail the test. The Eldin Silent Realm in particular is massive, meaning the tears are scattered across a large distance, and one set is in a one-way slide covered with Waking Water (which instantly alerts the Guardians if you step in it). And once you think you've beaten them all, there's one final, extra-hard realm in Skyloft, which is particularly tricky because of the constant risk of getting lost and falling off the place.
- The Tadtone collecting quest requires you to hunt underwater through the totally flooded Faron Woods to collect Tadtones, and it's necessary for Faron to teach you her part of the Song of the Hero. You'll spend more time trying to avoid drowning than actually looking for the Tadtones. A Guide Dang It! solution is to prolong your oxygen meter with an upgraded Air Potion and the Potion Medal equipped in your adventure pouch.
A Link Between Worlds
- The Ice Ruins is a treacherous Slippy-Slidey Ice World with very narrow pathways and tough enemies throughout the dungeon. The run-up alone requires you to find a portal in a place the game doesn't hint at, perform precise platforming in a massive cavern with Goddamned Bats, and face several Lynels, which are more powerful than many bosses. Then you have to do the same thing in Lorule's Death Mountain, with the same cavern covered in ice and the Lynels replaced with ice statues.
- The Palace of Darkness is, understandably, a Blackout Basement which requires frequent lamp usage. However, some rooms require you to put out the torches to see things that the light makes invisible — and there's very little indication that you need to do this. It's also huge and difficult to navigate.
Breath Of The Wild
- Akkala Tower requires you to go through a ruined citadel full of Black Bokoblins, Moblins, and Guardian Skywatchers. The only way to avoid them is to climb the walls of the place. The tower itself is flooded with malice, although if you have a Cursed Eye, you can clear a small patch of Malice protecting a metal plank, which you can move to use as a bridge to reach the tower.
- The road to Zora's Domain the first time you go there requires you to navigate a long, narrow, winding path full of enemies, some of whom have electric attacks. It's also raining, so you can't use your usual shortcut strategy and just climb around it.
- The road up Death Mountain to reach Goron City is difficult because the area is so hot that without proper protection, Link will burst into flames. The "correct" method is to find the nearby stable and buy some Fireproof Elixirs, but the game's Wide Open Sandbox nature means that many gamers will likely miss the stable. The only other way to make it through is to make your own elixirs (with creatures found only on Death Mountain) or to buy Fireproof Armor (from a shop in Goron City).
- The battle against Vah Rudania is a combined Stealth-Based Mission and Escort Mission. The escort, surprisingly, is not the problem, because he has a barrier to protect him and you can order him to stay where he is at any time. The sentries need to be knocked out with metal blocks, and not everyone figures out that they should do this (and the controls aren't the best either). And the Moblins you encounter on the way up are powerful and can easily knock you off the mountain.