Though Halloween has passed, our Zelda-ween celebration isn’t over, as I’m offering up the final post on our final topic: unintentionally spooky moments. If you’ve not already caught Hatm0nster’s and The Duck excellent posts this week, you should…because they are excellent! As we’ve already discussed, the Zelda series offers up much more than simple adventures involving a hero and a heroine. In fact, Link’s travels are fraught with peril. And as beautiful as the games are in story and design, they readily showcase the scary, the nightmarish, and the things that go bump in the night. But these spooky highlights are meant to be spooky. The ReDeads are meant to frighten. The Arbiter’s Grounds is meant to be a challenging and scary place. The unflinchingly unanswered question of “who or what is Majora?” is meant to leave us in the lurch. But what about those moments, those characters, those sections of the games that don’t seem like they’re supposed to be scary, but they become so because of what we infer from or impose upon them? Here are a few of my intentional picks for unintentional scares in the Zelda games.
#1: Traversing the Snowpeak Ruins in Twilight Princess
Much as I didn’t enjoy the City in the Sky because of my fear of heights, the partially abandoned maze that was Twilight Princess’s Snowpeak Ruins, made me uneasy from the start. First off, the place is somewhere on top of an isolated mountain, which, while it makes sense as an abode for two Yetis, is still a creepy place on top of an isolated mountain. Second, the game was great at making Yeta’s plight (the female yeti) seem rather hopeless even with the prospect of Yeto’s soup (the male yeti) saving her, so enter in that forlorn feeling. And third, nearly every section of the house was covered in snow and ice, leading me to feel like I had no control over Link. He always seemed to either be stuck in snowdrifts or sliding headlong into enemies (or off shattered floors/ledges/etc.). That made the whole things especially frustrating. Taking all that into account – feelings of isolation, sadness, and frustration – the whole level was quite unsettling. I never once felt at ease with Link or his goals. And forget the final boss fight with Blizzeta. I just knew Yeta was in over her head, poor thing!
#2: Fighting Gohdan in Wind Waker
For the uninitiated, Gohdan is the final boss of the Tower of the Gods in Wind Waker, and he consists of nothing but an over-sized, disembodied head and two hand, also over-sized and unconnected to anything. Gohdan isn’t intended to be a scary vision, and he’s not malevolent. In fact, he’s simply guarding the way to the master sword. So the battle is only about subduing Gohdan rather than defeating him. It’s not meant to be a stressful venture, just one that Link must pass to prove his worth. But the thing of it is, and why I mention it here, is that Gohdan really freaked me out! He was big (seemingly extra huge compared to tiny Link), a little erratic, and his face had these unfeeling yet piercing red eyes that totally distracted me from what I needed to be doing (i.e. focusing on his hands). Looking at Gohdan now, he doesn’t quite instill that same sense of eeriness, but back then, I was not a fan.
Skip to 29:34 for the Gohdan battle.
#3: The House of Skulltula in Ocarina of Time
It’s only fitting, really, that I end with talking about the Skulltulas in Ocarina of Time. Because once again, we have those dastardly spiders with the spindly legs and those skull-shaped abdomens causing me to have nightmares. Only this time, the Skulltulas aren’t only spiders…they are cursed people who have been turned into spiders! Only…they aren’t even just that! The inhabitants of the Skulltula House are cursed AND mutated people who appear as both HUMAN and SPIDER! And not in a “good” way, either. Think of it this way: in one hand you have a villager. In the other hand you have a Skulltula (ick). Now, start clapping. The end result of what’s left in your hand is member of the Skulltula House. These poor, unfortunate souls have legs and faces and arms right where they shouldn’t be, and they need help! Should you find the house and talk with them, you’ll find out that it’s up to Link to lift their curse by finding a gold skulltulas hidden throughout the game. Upon first playing Ocarina of Time, I inadvertently stumbled across the Skulltula House, and let me tell you that I couldn’t unsee the Skulltula people for days afterwards! I think they’re meant to draw more on pity than fright, but they sure scared me. (And I never did find all the gold skulltulas…)
Now it’s your turn! What moments or characters from the Zelda series gave you some unintentional chills?