You’ve been questing for days, weeks, maybe months. You are completely stocked on potions, fairies and magic. You are reasonably sure you have the most powerful shield in the game, and your sword is shimmering with the light of evil’s bane.
Now here you stand outside this uninviting entrance knowing that your mortal enemy, that jerk you’ve been chasing since you punched your name into the title screen, is somewhere inside. Evil is waiting for you, expecting you even. What has this monster filled his keep with? What sort of beasts lurk within this final dungeon?
It’s a feeling we’ve all had. That feeling of suspense knowing that this is it, the final showdown. This is where you have your final battle. Your heart is racing wondering what waits inside the lair of the final boss. Throughout the Zelda series, there have been some of the most epic “final levels” in video game history. Some have been slightly disappointing, but usually the adventurer is in for both a treat and a test of their Hylian abilities.
Which however, are the best? Which final levels did you journey through that after you defeated the final boss, gave you that heaviest sense of satisfaction; that feeling that you just experienced something both special and amazing? Well switch those heart-rates into high gear and stock up on potions, because we are about to discuss
#5: The Temple of the Ocean King (Phantom Hourglass)
This unforgiving temple is located on Mercay Island. If you talk to the villagers around the temple, you will learn that entering may cause your soul to extracted from your body. What could possibly be worse than having to visit a place that sucks your soul right out of your body? How about having to visit this dungeon multiple times in order to beat the game
By the time you finally get here (again) for the last time, you will already be kind of familiar with the first few floors of this place. It is a nightmare. I love a good challenge, and the Temple of the Ocean King definitely delivers. Of course difficulty alone isn’t enough to make it onto this list, but originality as well is factored in. The Temple of The Ocean King is different than any other final area of any Legend of Zelda game to date.
As I mentioned, you will have to visit this place multiple times, and you will become familiar with the life-draining effects the temple has. If you aren’t standing in one of the safe zones, your life will slowly be drained.
When you finally arrive to battle Bellum, you will have the Phantom Hourglass which temporarily halts the life-draining, but the place is crawling with Phantoms, guardians of the temple. These baddies take an entire heart when they strike you, take 30 seconds from your hourglass, and send you back to the entrance to the floor you are on! Gold Phantoms will teleport directly to your location! If that’s not enough, you have to make your way through 13 floors of this torment before facing Bellum himself.
#4: The Moon (Majora’s Mask)
Majora’s Mask has always been one of my favorite titles in the Zelda series.This game stands out to me because of its darker story and unique twists to the Zelda formula. Majora’s Mask takes place in the doomed land of Termina, and throughout your adventure if you look at the sky you will see it. You can’t miss it. Staring back at you. Angry. Menacing. The moon? Yes, that is the moon. The moon is angry and it is falling right down on top of you and all the citizens of Termina.
As we know, that crazy Skull Kid is causing this ruckus, and when you finally catch up with him and stop the Moon’s descent, he flees…into the moon. Of course you have to follow him. I mean how could you pass up the chance to be the first Hylian to walk on the moon? The Neil Armstrong of Hylians? Of course you can’t, and Link will pursue.
Now if you thought the moon was full of rocks and low gravity, you were hugely mistaken. If you thought that the moon was a psychological nightmare conjured by the mind of a psychotic creature who is being influenced by an ancient, fallen, evil god, then kudos. You are absolutely correct.The Moon is unlike any dungeon from the Zelda series.
Link is tasked with chasing down a series of children throughout a seemingly serene grassy field.
By giving the children Link’s masks, the source of your powers in this game, you will be transported into a variety of trials, mirroring the dungeons of the game.
The atmosphere of the Moon (insert space joke) is nothing short of disturbing. While bright and seemingly pleasant, the reality is that you are existing within a dark and twisted world dreamt by the troubled Skull Kid.
#3: Hyrule Castle (Twilight Princess)
I have always enjoyed a game that has a part where you “storm the castle”. Storming Hyrule Castle happens frequently in the Zelda series, starting of course with A Link to the Past. That might be the issue, however. The Castle storming in A Link to the Past, Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures, Minish Cap, and even A Link Between Worlds seems so similar, and very straight to the point.
Twilight Princess on the other hand offered a “storm the castle” finale that was much more triumphant and memorable.
Aside from the beautiful artwork seen throughout the game, the castle features the same familiar Hyrule Castle music, albeit somewhat darker. You still fight your way through the palace, tearing down the forces of evil, but on a much grander scale. The change from 2D to 3D is very apparent in this place, giving you this sense that the castle is much larger than you had ever thought. The Grand Hall is awe inspiring and magnificent to behold.
Of course appearance isn’t everything. This version of Hyrule’s royal castle has its fair share of challenges. An adventurous journey through both the courtyard and inner workings of the castle has Link facing off against a variety of Ganondorf’s minions, including but not limited to; King Bulblin and scores of Darknuts.
#2: Spectacle Rock (The Legend of Zelda)
Spectacle Rock is the original lair of our favorite villain, Ganon. Located in Death Mountain, far to the North, is Spectacle Rock. From the outside, this rock looks seemingly harmless, but on the inside it is a skull-shaped maze that will have you wandering around in circles for a long time.
Spectacle Rock is the most frustrating dungeon in the entire game, and may be one of the most irritating dungeons in the entire series. It is designed to make you wander forever, or at least until a mob of blue Darknuts or other difficult enemies slaughter you. You cannot turn to your map for help, as it provides no information on navigating the dungeon’s numerous underground secret passages.
This game already delivers one of the most challenging adventures in the series, and the treacherous Skull Labyrinth within Spectacle Rock is the perfect way to end Link’s first confrontation with Ganon.
#1: Ganon’s Castle (Ocarina of Time)
If you are like me, when you first exited the Temple of Time as Adult Link and saw the city in shambles, you had to go check out the castle. Upon arrival is a scene so horrifying that it makes one ponder what exactly happened during Link’s 7 year absence. The once beautiful Hyrule Castle has been absolutely demolished, and in its place is a wretched and devastating abomination that is Ganon’s Tower.
From start to finish, Ganon’s Tower feels like the perfect conclusion to one of gaming’s most legendary adventures. Upon entering the tower Link is faced with several paths breaking away from the central chamber. Each path leads to a room based on one of Ocarina of Time’s many dungeons. Upon completion of these chambers, Link is able to make the upward climb to the top of Ganon’s Tower. At its peak is the power hungry mastermind, Ganondorf. After one of the best battles in the series, Link is able to defeat Ganondorf, and his beastly form known as Ganon in the ruins of this once formidable tower.
The Legend of Zelda has some of gaming’s best level designs, and the game’s developers really know how to bring each title to an epic conclusion. These final dungeons are a true piece of excellence, and a fitting test of our hero’s abilities. While we were forced to choose our favorite 5, we are in no way discrediting the series’ other dungeons. Which dungeons do you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments.
Submitted by: Joe Poe