Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The ten most difficult Zelda dungeons EVER!

4:00 PM on 11.17.2011 // Chad Concelmo

All this week, Destructoid will be posting Zelda-themed features to celebrate this weekend's release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. It's Zelda week!

I love the dungeons in Zelda games. Love them. They are one of my favorite parts of the series and perfect examples of stellar, intricate game design. But as glorious and classic as these dungeons are, most of them are not known for being truly difficult.

Well ... not all of them, at least.

There are some dungeons in the 25 year history of the Zelda series that stand out as being much more challenging than the others. Dungeons that will make you pull out your hair. Dungeons that will force you to scream out expletives. Dungeons that will drive you mad.

This is a list of those dungeons. The ten most difficult Zelda dungeons ... EVER!


The Palace of Winds in the underrated Minish Cap is one of those Zelda dungeons that is just as challenging as it is unbelievably long.

One of the later dungeons in the game, the Palace of Winds is home to the Roc’s Cape, an item that allows Link to jump and glide. With the addition of this item, not only does the player have to deal with tricky platforming, they have to contend with tough enemies, annoying fans that make navigating very tricky, an odd cloning mechanic, and a series of complicated switch and block puzzles.

F*ck this sh*t moment!: Your long, tedious battle with the (admittedly cool) end boss is almost finished. You only have one heart left. You are about to deal the final blow ... when you accidentally fall over the edge and die, having to start the battle over again. Dag.



No, you are not reading this list backwards. As much as everyone complains about the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time, it actually isn’t that challenging of a dungeon. Annoying? Oh yeah. Switching your boots and constantly adjusting the water level is unbelievably annoying. But difficult? Not as bad as you may remember.

F*ck that sh*t moment!: Every time I play the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time there is one key that I always miss. You would think that I would learn after all these playthroughs, but, no. Somehow I miss the same key every single time and have to go back and find it. That key is the bane of my existence.



Although it is not part of the actual dungeon, the journey to get to the Eagle’s Tower in Game Boy classic Link’s Awakening is worth mentioning. To find the tower, Link must travel through the confusing caves of Tal Tal Mountain Range to locate a tough-to-find key. It is a such a long and winding journey, that by the time you find the key and reach the tower, you are already exhausted and not at all ready for the maniacal traps and puzzles that wait for you inside.

And when I say “maniacal” I am not exaggerating. Moving tiles. Numerous pits. A giant puzzle that involves knocking down four stone pillars and collapsing an entire floor! They all exist inside this tricky, easy-to-get-lost-in dungeon. And I hate them all.

F*ck that sh*t moment!: Losing the heavy iron ball used to destroy the four pillars over and over again. It seriously will drive you insane.



This is a baffling one.

The initial Spirit Temple in Ocarina of Time is one of the most masterfully designed dungeons in the game, requiring the player to alternate between young and old Link in a perfectly constructed dance. It is a stellar dungeon and one of the highlights of one of the best Zelda games ever made!

The Spirit Temple in the Master Quest -- Ocarina’s bonus quest unlocked after beating the game for the first time in the 3DS remake -- is confounding. Random switch placement; awkward, almost illogical level design. The whole dungeon feels hard just because the designer’s wanted it to be hard. Which is not the Zelda way!

F*ck that sh*t moment!: Honestly, the whole dungeon is one giant WTF?!



The final dungeon in the original Legend of Zelda is hard enough, but playing through it during the game’s infamous second quest is just torturous.

Not only is the map very confusing, each room is full of the hardest, most infuriating enemies in the game! We are talking an overload of Wizzrobes (ugh!), Darknuts (UGH!), and fireball-spewing statues (ARGH!).

F*ck this sh*t moment: There are two: Using all your bombs and not finding any secret passages is bad. But getting all the way to Ganon and wasting all your Silver Arrows in a panic is the worst!



I was one of the few people that didn’t mind the Temple of the Ocean King in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. People were angry that you had to keep revisiting the same temple over and over again -- replaying the same parts to get to new, unlocked areas -- but, for some strange reason, it didn’t bother me.

This same concept was again applied to Spirit Tracks in the form of the Tower of Spirits. But this time, things were supposedly made easier by not having to repeat old sections and granting the player easier access to new areas. But guess what? While navigating may have been much better, no one mentioned how much more challenging the entire tower would actually be.

In the Spirit Tower, Link must possess the body of multiple Phantom Knights, each with different skills. This is usually fine -- fun and innovative, even! -- but on the final floors of the Spirit Tower, everything is so complicated, vast, and confusing that it doesn’t become entertaining anymore. At all. It just becomes hard as balls.

F*ck that sh*t moment!: Realizing you directed one of the slow moving Phantom Knights to the wrong location and having to backtrack all the way back to the start ... only to find out that you have absolutely no idea where to go or what to do. Yay! Fun!



This is the water temple people should always talk (and stress) about.

I think there is a rule throughout all the Zelda games: If a dungeon is set in a water-themed environment IT IS AUTOMATICALLY AWFUL! The Great Bay Temple in Majora’s Mask is no exception. Swimming through the twisting, current-filled corridors and manipulating frustrating pipes are both time consuming and endlessly complicated.

Also, you have to do all this within the game’s “three day” time limit. Ugh.

F*ck that sh*t moment!: You finally figured out the tricky dungeon and are heading for the boss. Right before you reach your goal, the time runs out and you have to do everything all over again.



The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo is my favorite videogame of all time. I absolutely adore it in every way imaginable.

And even though I have played the game dozens and dozens of times, I still shudder when I have to make my way to the Ice Palace. As well-designed as I think it is, it doesn’t change the fact that it is one very tough dungeon. Slippery floors. Rooms full of enemies, some of which can only be killed with the magic-depleting Fire Rod. Conveyor belts. Pits everywhere. A multi-level map. All of these things add up to one gosh darned challenging Zelda dungeon!

F*ck that sh*t moment!: There is one particular sequence that involves you having to activate those annoying red/blue switches, while traveling back and forth between the dungeon’s different floors, trying to push a block through a pit to activate a switch. It takes forever to figure out and has the power to drive you mad. MAD, I SAY!



“I have a really good idea. Let’s make a huge dungeon, fill it with some of the toughest enemies in the game, force Link to constantly change and utilize all his collected mask powers, give the player a strict time limit, and -- oh, I know! -- MAKE THE ENTIRE TEMPLE A GIGANTIC, ROTATING PUZZLE THAT IS OVERLY COMPLICATED AND ABSOLUTELY MADDENING!”

In my world, I like to believe the designer who said that was fired the next day.

F*ck that sh*t moment!: The mirror room. THE MIRROR ROOM!



This is it. No dungeon in the entire Zelda series is more difficult than the Great Palace in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Nothing even comes close. To be honest, all of the dungeons in Zelda II could arguably have found a place on this list. The game is that hard.

But let’s count the reasons this specific dungeon is so damn difficult:

First off, it takes forever to even get to the Great Palace, the game’s final dungeon. Once you finally do reach the palace, you are in for one of the longest, most confusing dungeons in Zelda history. The layout is brutal.

And on top of all that, you have to deal with limited magic, no save points, and a ridiculously tough boss (Thunderbird) followed by a near-impossible one (Dark Link). Oh, and did I mention YOU HAVE LIMITED LIVES IN ZELDA II AND IF YOU LOSE THEM ALL YOU HAVE TO START ALL THE WAY AT THE BEGINNING?! Yeah, so there is that as well.

Eff the Great Palace. EFF IT SO HARD!

F*ck that sh*t moment!: While running across one of many collapsing bridges, you get hit by a floating dragon head and are knocked back into the lava, killing you instantly. Seriously, eff this dungeon.




What do you think? Do you agree with my picks for the ten most difficult Zelda dungeons of all time? Or do you think some of these aren't even that challenging? (If you say "Great Palace" you are either lying or my hero.)

The upcoming Skyward Sword (released this weekend!) is supposedly one of the most difficult Zelda games in years. Do you think any of its dungeons could make it on to this list?


Chad Concelmo,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
When I did my retail shift today, we were moving more Smash/Splat Wii U bundles and the Gears/Rare Replay/Ori XB1 bundles than Uncharted and Battlefront PS4s. I think Nintendo and MS have better value on their side this holiday. Sony got lazy.
Confuseddalek avatarConfuseddalek
I found this weird game called Samurai Heroes for 8 dollars today. Its not bad.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Got Deadpool, Arkham Asylum and BioShock 1 and 2 all for 30$. Not to bad for going Black Friday shopping late.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If you haven't played Tales from the Borderlands yet, GO BUY IT! By far the funniest game I have ever played, and the characters and narrative are incredibly well written. Very few memes unlike BL2 by the way.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Played all of Life is Strange today in one sitting. Bloody hell. You should all play it. Only game this year to make me cry. Bravo developers. Possibly the most valuable thing I've ever bought for £10.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night, got farther than ever in Wasteland 2. This is my third playthrough-once thru beta, once through the orig version, now on Directors cut. Worth the restart, and it speaks highly of the game that I like it enough to do this. DAMONTA HERE I COME!
KeithTheGeek avatarKeithTheGeek
GUYS HELP I KEEP BUYING MORE AMIIBO. Today it was Little Mac, since he went back up on Gamestop's website. I probably would have gotten Captain Falcon as well if I wasn't already running a little short on cash.
BigDoniel avatarBigDoniel
50 hours in and I can safely say that Xenoblade is the best JRPG I've played in years. Should hopefully be finished in time for X too!
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -