The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Legend of Zelda series is one that encompasses many different genres, from RPG to action / adventure to fantasy to FPS.  Each individual game within the series possesses its own unique feel and mood, and this can largely affect how you as a player will react to the game.  Majora’s Mask is frequently heralded as the darkest of the Zelda franchise with a special emphasis on death and dying, a time mechanic that requires you to reverse any positive effects you have on the myriad of townspeople you help, and the constant doom and terror of having a huge evil moon grinning down at you the entire game as he silently heads towards a collision with the earth.

There are many aspects of Majora’s Mask that still give me chills to this day, but it isn’t the only Zelda game to do so.  Scary moments in the Zelda franchise have been around since the very first game, and they still persist today even in Skyward Sword.  I am a huge (HUGE) fan of horror, whether it be in book, movie, video game, or real life form.  If I am playing a video game and it manages to make me jump, or freak out, or give me goosebumps, I consider it a huge plus for both the game and the game designer.  One of my favorite aspects of the Legend of Zelda franchise is the fact that in the middle of this amazingly epic game, you never know when something is going to pop out and catch you off guard and give you nightmares for the next week.  Since there is no way I could possibly encompass all of the terrifying aspects of The Legend of Zelda series in just one post, this will most likely be an ongoing series where I continue to examine the most scary parts of the Zelda franchise, and just why they are so friggen scary.  So here they are, the first things that pop into my mind when I hear “scary Zelda.”

The wallmasters have been around since the very first Legend of Zeldagame, and have been scaring the crap out of me since I first played Ocarina of Time way back when.  These enemies are insanely frustrating even without the extra creepy factor of being disembodied hands hanging from the ceiling waiting to snatch you up.  Forcing you to go back to the beginning of the dungeon and start all over, these guys are one of my most hated Zelda enemies, but they didn’t really gain “horror-status” until their Ocarina of Time debut in the Forest Temple, where they are accompanied by a very sinister whooshing sound right before a dead and visibly rotted hand the size of adult Link descends on you faster than you can move.  Eesh.

Pretty much every aspect ofMajora’s Mask could be considered at least somewhat horror, if for no other reason than the backdrop of Termina is very rooted in death, suffering, and the futility of your heroism.  Ikana Canyon is one of the most fright-filled locales in the game, home to what I consider to be the creepiest quest in the game, helping the little girl and her father in the music box house.  I remember when the mutated mummy/father bursts out of the wardrobe for the first time and I jumped.  I had no idea what was coming and then THAT happened.

The Kafei / Anju side quest, though undeniably romantic and worth the time and effort it takes to complete, is one of the best examples of horror from Majora’s Mask.  The quest takes the entire three day cycle to complete, and you spend most of your time running around delivering messages and helping to reunite this couple.  My first time doing this quest I made it to where you have to go to Sakon’s hideout to help Kafei steal the Sun Mask and I could not for the life of me find Sakon’s hideout.  When I finally did and went inside, the back and forth of Link and Kafei to reach the Sun Mask was intense and rushed, and I knew the entire time we were fighting the clock. Finally, after I helped him, I went back to Clock Town to wait with Anju…  and freaked the hell out the entire time.  Did I forget to do something?  We only have a couple hours until the moon crashes into Termina, what if I was supposed to do something else and Kafei isn’t going to come and the world dies and I was just sitting here like an idiot waiting for him to show up?  Of course, in the end he came and they reunited and I played the song of time to stop the moon, but for several intense moments I was scared.  This quest doesn’t bring out fear like the wallmasters, redeads, or even Zant in the first 70% of Twilight Princess.  Instead, it creates a realistic situation that you have put considerable effort into helping, pits you against a strict and unforgiving clock, and then forces you to wait patiently, hoping that what you did was enough…  This very scary moment (for me anyway) appeals to the humanity in us to make us fear for the worst, which is something not many video games can claim to have done.  There are countless other terrifying aspects of Majora’s Mask (the Happy Mask Salesman was definitely a top contender), but for the sake of this article let’s move on to other games.

Is it just me, or are the scariest versions of many of The Legend of Zelda‘s most popular enemies featured in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask?  The redeads stuck out to me as the scariest part of playing through Ocarina of Time.  From the moment I first stepped out of the Temple of Time as an adult and saw how the world had changed, my mind was forever blown.  The first time I approached one of the crouching figures in Castle Town, only to hear its soul piercing scream and be frozen in place while it slowly leaped onto my back and started biting me is eternally etched into my brain.  All the cheerful townspeople from before were replaced by ravenous zombies in the seven years I was asleep!?  That is some scary stuff right there, and it really helped to set the tone for the rest of the game as adult Link.  You’re not a kid anymore, so stop acting like one and save the day.

The last example of horror in Zelda I have for today comes from the most recent entry in the series, and also quite possibly the scariest gameplay element I’ve seen in any Zelda game ever.  In Skyward Sword, Link must enter the Silent Realm to collect Sacred Tears, but must evade detection by the guardians of the area.  You have only a 90 second period from the time you collect your first tear to when you have to collect your next one, otherwise the game goes into “oh crap what the hell just happened” mode.  Suddenly everything is bright and harshly colored and there are loud stomping noises as these huge metal guardians attempt to beat the crap out of Link and force him to restart his trial from the beginning.  I don’t think my heart has ever beat so hard as when I was running desperately trying to find the next Sacred Tear before these things came to life, and when they (inevitably) always did, my brain went into panic mode.  The worst is when you have no idea where the next tear is and you fall into some Waking Water before your 90 seconds is up, and you’re surrounded by guardians.  I mean… it really is like being in a horror movie with ax murderers chasing you around.

Those are just a few of the scariest moments I could think of from the Legend of Zelda Series, but I know that’s not even close to all of them.  What are some of you guys’ scariest memories from playing a Zelda game?  Can you think of any from the earlier titles?  The 2d Zeldas didn’t bring up anything horrific to my mind, but it has been a while since I’ve played some of them, and some of them I still have yet to play.  Let us know what scares you the most about The Legend of Zelda in the comments!

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Comments
  1. Nice coverage of the horror aspects in this series! The whole Ikana Canyon was creepy in a good way. (I like scares.) Having the eerie music and the dead walking around was just pretty fascinating.

    So, I rate Majora’s Mask as the scariest of them all and the Wind Waker as the least scariest. 😉

  2. Joel Palermo says:

    This is awesome! Love you blog!

  3. […] Zelda: The Legend of Horror (avatargames.wordpress.com) […]

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