Hyrule continues to be an awesome place. In fact, it's only getting more amazing as the game progresses. I only wish I had more time to play it, as reviewing games such as Rayman Raving Rabbids means I've had to put Twilight Princess aside for a few days here and there. As I've moved past the second dungeon more of the land has opened up to me, so today I'll be discussing events up through the end of the third dungeon and the cut scene that follows. Once again I ask that if you comment, do not discuss any events from the game beyond that point.
After I defeated the evil power controlling Darbus in the Goron Mines I was all set to chug along to the third dungeon. That's how most Zelda games work, right? Finish one dungeon, move on to the next. Twilight Princess has some extra meat to it though, as before I could even try to get to the next dungeon I had to complete a series of story-advancing side quests. As usual I had to clear out the twilight from another place, this time the Lake Hylia and Zora's Domain regions. Once again I set out as the wolf to kill the dozen or so bugs that contained dark energy, all of which appeared as little glowing specks on the in-game map. I spent far too long trying to leap to a ledge that was just out of reach because I thought there was a bug there, but as it turns out it was just a little glare on my TV faking a glowing map speck that wasn't really there. Eventually I killed all of the bugs on the map, only for the game to announce that I'd missed one.
I've been playing games for a long time, so I know well enough by now that when a game suddenly pops a final item to collect or enemy to defeat on the map, something major is going to happen when I approach it. The game needs me to be at that certain place when I kill the last bug. Sure enough, the final insect was a massive beast, and defeating it meant knocking it upside down and mauling all of its insecty feelers with one attack. Twilight was banished once again and Link turned back into a human, so I figured it was finally time to go to the third dungeon.
But wait! The river-dwelling Zoras have a problem. Zant the Twilight King executed their queen and the young prince was sent to Hyrule Castle in search of help. Unfortunately, the prince never returned. Ever the hero, I found myself bound for the castle in search of the prince's fate. As it turns out, Link's amnesiac would-be girlfriend had found the young Zora gravely injured, and along with the castle's barkeep was preparing to travel via covered wagon to Kakariko Village to see a doctor familiar with Zora physiology. The road between the castle and village was filled with deadly monsters loyal to Zant, however, so the group would need a protector to escort them across Hyrule. Once again, that's where I came in.
Protecting the wagon meant riding alongside it on horseback. Along the way various monsters rode up on wild boars and shot flaming arrows at both Link and the wagon. The monsters could be slain easily enough by knocking them from their mounts with a sword or arrows and then trampling them with Epona the horse, but if a stray fiery arrow connects with the wagon, it bursts into flame. A small meter at the top of the screen begins to burn away, and if that meter reaches the end of the line then the wagon burns completely and all is lost. Fortunately the burning wagon can be extinguished with the gale boomerang, an otherwise familiar weapon that generates strong winds in its wake. The escort mission became fairly straightforward once I figured out the timing of it all, and before long the wagon arrived at the village mostly intact.
While I was back in the village I visited the shops and stocked up on some new items. Of special interest were water bombs, explosive devices that can detonate underwater. I bought as many as I could carry and visited the fresh grave of the Zora queen in the nearby graveyard where I was awarded the Zora's armor, a special tunic that allows Link to swim and breathe underwater. I returned to Lake Hylia at the suggestion of the queen's ghost, slipped on the iron boots & Zora armor, and sank to the bottom of the lake where the third dungeon awaited. And yes, it was a water temple.
Ocarina of Time is a great game, but I absolutely hated the Water Temple. As you'll recall, Ocarina's Water Temple required players to raise and lower the water level inside the temple multiple times in order to solve the puzzles and reveal items, and one mistaken change in the water line meant starting the whole damn thing over from the beginning. I felt a sense of dread when I walked into Twilight Princess's Lakebed Temple. Sure enough, I'd be changing the water level again, plus I'd also have to deal with a rotating staircase that turned with the pull of a switch. In fact, I spent more time with the staircase than I did pulling switches to move water, and in the end I have to say that this dungeon didn't frustrate me nearly as much as I first thought it would. I picked up the temple's treasure, the clawshot (née hookshot), and worked my way down into the boss's room.
The Morpheel boss seemed familiar at first. Eyestalks slithered up from underneath the stone floor, and the trick seemed to be to use the clawshot to snag an eye, draw it close, and slash the heck out of it. It's been done that way in A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, and many other Zelda adventures on similar bosses, so why not try it now? That only served to anger the beast, causing it to smash the floor out from under me, dropping me down into deep water with the monster itself. The giant eel was a quick swimmer, and even with the Zora armor's swimming abilities I found myself struggling to get close enough to attack. Then I noticed a small eye on the creature's back, so when it swam close I grabbed the eye with the clawshot, sat on its back, and stabbed it repeatedly. A few rounds of this and Morpheel was dead. I collected the third and final Fused Shadow piece that Midna insisted I collect from the dungeons and went outside to see where the game would take me next. I was expecting a plot twist (many other Zelda games jump the tracks at similar points in the game), but I had no idea that Zant himself was waiting for me on the shore.
Check back next time for Part 3 when I discuss collecting a legendary item, the challenges of the fourth dungeon, and the first appearance of a familiar evil.