This year marks the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda series, and we could think of no better way to honor this fantastic series of games than by compiling a list of our top 35 favorite things about it! All month long, we’ll be counting down from thirty-five to one the people, places, items, and activities from The Legend of Zelda series that make the games special, memorable, and well-worth playing. Per our usual schedule, watch for new posts on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and share your own thoughts on the series in the comment sections. And so, happy 35th to The Legend of Zelda – let’s keep this party going!
18. Dead Hand, A Boss Like No Other
Jacob: A monster literally made of corpses and has sharp teeth, empty sockets where eyes should be and an underground, “main” body that we thankfully never get to see. Yeah, I’m glad this thing only shows up in OoT!
Duck: As far as I know, Dead Hand has only appeared in Ocarina of Time. Which is fortunate, because I don’t think the world is ready for more of this abomination. Dead Hand is easily one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen, from its dead eyes and jaw that can extend like that of a snake attempting to swallow its prey to its many arms just waiting to ensnare its next victim. The way it rises out of the ground leaves me wondering about the part of this monstrosity that we don’t see. On second thought, maybe I don’t want to know.
Cary: Speaking of “memorably awful,” Dead Hand hits that mark, too. He is just such an…unpleasant…character. It’s clear that his actual hands are unusable, so maybe it makes sense that he’d be able to summon an army of working hands to do his dirty work? Thinking about that certainly does not put one’s mind at ease. In fact, let’s stop thinking about Dead Hand altogether.
17. Exploring Hyrule in Ocarina of Time
Jacob: While not so interesting today, OoT was one of my very first opportunities to explore a 3D world, so discovering all the little secrets in Hyrule Field was quite fun at the time. Even so, I suppose nostalgia only goes so far. I don’t think I even bothered with it all that much in my most recent playthrough.
Duck: Ocarina of Time came during a period when open 3D games were a new and revolutionary concept. Around this time, many people had fallen in love with Super Mario 64. Me? Well, I had the sprawling Hyrule to satisfy my taste for adventure. Though Hyrule Field itself didn’t have that much going on, there was still so much to Hyrule to explore, from the mysteries of the Lost Woods to the sandswept Gerudo Desert to the realm of the Zora. There are a lot of things to love about the very first 3D entry into the Zelda series, and I’m certain that this amazing sense of adventure played a big role in cementing it as one of the most iconic games of the series.
Cary: Ocarina of Time marked my entry into the Zelda series, and I have to admit that it wasn’t “love at first play.” I knew the series had a storied past, and I was worried that I just wouldn’t “get it” by jumping into the middle of the series. All that silly worry dissipated once I was presented with the open world of Hyrule. It was the first time I was able to explore a world in a game almost at-will, without boundaries. There’s no overstating just how amazing the experience was, as well as just how much it shaped my own future with games.
16. The Spirit Temple in Ocarina of Time
Jacob: The keyword for this temple is “majestic.” It’s a quality that I don’t think any other dungeon in any other Zelda game has managed to capture. This place feels like a temple, like an actual place of worship. The music, the massive central chamber, the gigantic statues to some unknown god of the sand, it all comes together to inspire a real sense of awe. Easily my all-time favorite dungeon after MM’s Stone Tower Temple.
Duck: Ocarina of Time had so many amazing dungeons (frankly, the best part of the series, if you ask me). While I loved the creepiness of the Shadow Temple or the sense of mystery exuded by the Forest Temple, there was something…different about the Spirit Temple. Somehow it felt so much grander, almost…sacred. That massive statue of the woman and the snake certainly helped, too. To be honest, this place always kind of freaked me out as a duckling, like I was somewhere I really didn’t belong….
Cary: Besides its general ambiance, the one thing I really remember from the Spirit Temple was its reward of the Mirror Shield (obtained as adult Link). That thing was so cool! I’m pretty bad at aiming in games, but boy, did I ever try my darndest to reflect back to enemies just about any spell they’d throw at me. Ocarina of Time sure gave Link a veritable arsenal of cool toys!
Up next, #15-13!