To start off, I know many people dislike the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time. Some people even hate it. Not I! I believe it’s actually an amazing dungeon and I’m going to try to convince you I’m right. Here’s a quick run down of the temple itself. The Water Temple is the third dungeon Link must conquer as an adult. It lies at the bottom of Lake Hylia in southwest Hyrule. The main chamber is made up of several branching pathways and a central three story building. All the dungeons in Ocarina of Time sport a specific mechanic essential to solving the puzzles within. The Water Temple’s mechanic is the ability to change the water level at three separate locations to empty, half-full, and full. Raising or lowering the water level grants access to different paths and treasures. Those are the basics of the dungeon. Please note I will be taking all aspects of the temple and game itself into my reasoning. Now onto the cons of the temple.
It wouldn’t be a fair argument if I didn’t list the potential cons of the temple. The “serpent river” room can be a tad difficult to navigate with all its vortexes and rapid flowing water. Some enemy placements can lead to minor jump scares or unavoidable damage. Having to lower the water level just to raise it all the way to the top can be slightly annoying. Finally, repeatedly having to open the menu to put on or remove the Iron Boots can get very tedious (although this issue is resolved in the 3D remake). Now stick with me here because the pros far outweigh the cons.
First up for the pros, the music. It’s eerie and beautiful all at once. From the moment you entire the temple, you get a clear sense that this place is magical, ancient, and dangerous. The music is a mixture of chimes, flute, lute, choir, and some kind of light mechanical sound. It’s hard to describe so here’s a link to the music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qAvtuEtfQU
The color palette is cool and relaxing, a mixture of various shades of blue and tan with red and yellows scattered throughout. Taking into consideration how tense the dungeon can be, the cool colors really help to level out ones mood during exploration. The design of the dungeon itself is also very unique and fun. It all revolves around the central hub room and changing water levels. Some of the rooms are connected between the different floors and one puzzle involves moving a block early in the temple then returning after the Longshot is acquired to finish the puzzle. Keys are hidden away in previously visited areas. The enemies are deadly but are easy to dispose of. Last but not least, Dark Link.
Dark Link deserves his own article. Yes, he’s that good. Morpha, the Water Temple’s main boss, is child’s play compared to this epic duel. Next time you play the game take the time to look at Link’s reflection in the water as you cross the room. As soon as Link passes the island in the middle, his reflection vanishes and Dark Link spawns. He is LITERALLY Link’s shadow. The evil buried deep inside our Hero brought to life. The battle is intense, difficult and long. He copies all of Link’s moves, has a near perfect block, and even has as much health as Link. Not to mention he can jump onto Link’s sword at will and deliver devastating blows. To this day (keep in mind I’ve played this game many many many times and completed the 3-Heart Challenge and 100% completion runs on both normal quest and master quest) I have yet to defeat Dark Link in a pure sword on sword duel. The Din’s Fire technique has never failed me. 10/10 Best boss ever.
There are the pros and cons of the Water Temple. But those alone don’t prove it’s actually a great dungeon. I’m sure there are still some of you out there that hate the temple to it’s core. So let’s take a moment to look at the other temples in the game. The Forest Temple is neat but being as its the first temple it is surprisingly easy. Not to mention the music is super annoying. Although Phantom Ganon is a pretty boss… uh… boss. The Fire Temple is very fun. One of my favorites, actually. But if you look at it as a whole, it’s not very creative. The puzzles are simple or non-existent, the color palette is an over saturation of reds and oranges, the music is dull, and the puzzle to get the Megaton Hammer is too punishing should you fail. To the temples benefit, Volvagia is very fun. The Shadow Temple is just to darn scary. I get it’s the House of the Dead but by golly it’s unsettling. I’ve never enjoyed the Shadow Temple and skip most of it just to get it over with. Bongo-Bongo is also just your rinse and repeat shoot the hands then the eye boss you see in almost all of Nintendo’s games. Finally, The Spirit Temple is long. Longer than any other temple actually. The puzzles are good and the child and adult halves of the temple are put together well. It just takes too long to complete. It would take too long to analyze each temple piece by piece. Maybe future articles will cover those. For now let’s return to my main point.
I want to be clear that i do not hate any of the temples. I enjoy them all. I do believe they all have their strengths and individually are very good. But taking into account the over all game, the Water Temple remains the strongest in terms design and gameplay mechanics. It has complex puzzles, the most amazing mid-boss fight, and above all it makes you think.
But what do you think? Feel free to comment below with your own thoughts on the matter. I also want to take this time to mention this is my first article for The Hidden Triforce. So i’m sure I was a bit rambly and maybe I didn’t get my point across as good as i could have. I just hope you enjoyed my views and I look forward to writing many more articles for you to enjoy. Thank you.