?When Nintendo’s resident creative demigod Shigeru Miyamoto sat down and got to work on Legend of Zelda back in the ’80s, it was his ambition to emulate the thrill of exploration and discovery he experienced exploring the natural splendor of his childhood home in Sonobe, Japan. Needless to say that Miyamoto succeeded in that regard and — since 1986 — the Legend of Zelda series has set the highest possible standard in the fantasy action-adventure genre with its expansive Hyrulian landscapes, an eclectic cast of characters both heroic and sinister, and the urge to search every nook and cranny for special items and tools solely for the sake of completion (and the opportunity to tote one’s Zelda mastery).
But it goes without saying that adventure games — especially those of the fantasy persuasion — are hardly lollipops and sunshine. It wouldn’t be much of a game if you weren’t subjected to monsters and situations that are purely the stuff of nightmare, and Legend of Zelda is no exception. While definitely not on, say, a Resident Evil level, there are plenty of scares that make you jump from your seat a bit, or simply leave you disconcerted as you try to wrap your head around what’s in front of you.
Make sure to stock up on some red potions before you enter the dungeon, because we’re staring down 10 terrifying moments from Legend of Zelda series (cue the discovery sound)!
10) Swarmed by Miniblins in The Wind Waker
Aesthetic-wise, Miniblins aren’t very intimidating: they’re small, for one thing; their buck-toothed faces totally destroy all evil credibility; and they come in all the colors of the rainbow. However, their innocuous appearance belies their true malicious nature, and when adding in their penchant for swarming Link in vast numbers, this makes for an enemy you do not want to be up against when you’re down to half of a heart. Miniblins appear a few times throughout The Wind Waker, typically in dungeons with minimal lighting and cramped conditions, but the one place players did not want to be at the sharp end of their pitchforks was Link’s first raid of the Forsaken Fortress — sans sword! With only three hearts and weaponless, you can bet you had to make a beeline to the exit when a fusillade of Miniblins start popping out of the woodwork, with their trademark “deh dank!” sound getting louder as they drew closer.
9) The Insane Fairy of the Fountain in Ocarina of Time
What do you think of when the fairies from Legend of Zelda — or fairytales in general — come to mind? Cute, non-threatening, and fragile, among other things. But in Ocarina of Time, the character designers thought to instead break tradition and create the kind of fairy that gives kids nightmares. So instead of seeing a traditional Zelda fairy on par with Tinker Bell, we were all unpleasantly surprised with one that bore an uncanny resemblance to a drag queen dressed as Madonna wearing a red wig. Even scarier, she arrives screaming and laughing maniacally like a demon from the depths of hell whenever Link approaches her fountain, so she acts like a particularly insane serial killer. I remember a few years back when my friend made me guess what the fairy was going to look like. Naturally, I was leaning towards the more pedestrian concept of a fairy, but when I saw for the first time… flabbergasted is the appropriate word to use.
8) Yeta’s Transformation in Twilight Princess
Snow-themed stages in mostvideo games share a lot of traits with those with an underwater theme: they’re long-winded, and uninspired in terms of design, but the latter does throw in the unwelcome addition of icy conditions that make tasks requiring pinpoint accuracy and patience nigh impossible due to slippery floors, so you can imagine that the Snowpeak Ruins weren’t any different in Twilight Princess. Also imagine that, by the time you actually made it to the boss’ chamber, you’re overtired; meaning that your senses and attention span are pretty much shot.
In this stage, Link must help a yeti named Yeto gather ingredients scattered throughout the dungeon for a special soup to cure his ailing wife Yeta of her strange affliction. Once our Hylian hero finishes the supermarket trip from hell, the medicinal stew heals Yeta and she agrees to give Link the Twilight Mirror shard in return for his culinary heroism — but not before letting the shard’s dark influences take her over, causing Yeta to totally go Pazuzu on Link — complete with an Exorcist-style head spin! It’s safe to say that this moment snapped plenty of weary-eyed players back into reality (and caused their heart to stop ever so briefly). Even though the whole cinematic was practically setting you up for this, it was hard not to jump just a tad during your first play-through.
7) Meeting the Hand in the Toilet in Majora’s Mask
?Many fans of Legend of Zelda franchise agree that Majora’s Mask is one of the more bizarre — if not creepier — entries in the series. The main hub of the game, Clock Town, is home to a wide variety of weird residents, none more so than the one living in the Stock Pot Inn’s bathroom. No, he (or she…or it) quite literally lives in the bathroom; the toilet to be precise. Only referred to as “???,” players can get up close and personal with this denizen of the crapper only at midnight (spooky, no?), in which ???’s pale arm comes flailing out of the toilet wailing for paper. If Link presents ??? with the object of its desire, you’ll be given a Piece of Heart. See? Just because one lives in crap doesn’t mean that they are. Still, the one thing on my mind is how did ??? get there in the first place, and why doesn’t anyone do anything to help it (let alone complain to the front desk that a clammy hand caresses their ass cheeks)?
6) Grabbed by Wallmasters in Legend of Zelda and Ocarina of Time
If there’s one thing a gamer fears, it’s that their game files get erased; hours and hours of hard work down the drain. Below that is the fear of having to start a difficult stage all over again from the very beginning. And if there’s one enemy in all of video games that embodies such a notion it’s the Wallmaster. Nothing more than a zombified and disembodied hand, Wallmasters are the one enemy you do not want to be pinned in the corner by. In the original Legend of Zelda for the NES, Wallmasters would materialize out of the walls and send Link all the way to the beginning of the dungeon. What made matters worse was that all the enemies would respawn, leaving you with an inventory of items that had been exhausted the first time around. And as if they already didn’t make your palms sweaty while playing, the Wallmasters from Ocarina of Time one up their 8-bit brethren by dropping down from the ceiling (with eerie musical accompaniment) in a surprise grope attack. Great, they’re not only creepy, they’re perverts, too!
5) The (Angry) Happy Mask Salesman in Majora’s Mask
Who would’ve thought that a humble purveyor of masks would be one of the creepiest characters in the entire Zelda series? Not many, until they realized for themselves that the moniker “Happy Mask Salesman” is entirely in name only; man’s a bipolar psychopath that isn’t above violently shaking small children in fits of sudden rage! Typically in an unsettling cheerful mood, the Happy Mask Salesman’s face twists into a devilish visage when Link fails to turn up with Majora’s Mask, a mask that in the wrong hands can bring about the termination of all life and which was embarrassingly stolen by Skull Kid and his fairy accomplices Tatl and Tael. But what also adds to the Happy Mask Salesman’s overall level of horror is the fact that he sneaks up on Link within the dank and dark interior of Clock Town’s clock tower and chooses to stay there for the rest of the game acting as Link’s guiding hand. A little kid entering a secluded clock tower to speak with an emotionally unstable gentleman asking him to save the world, and out of screaming distance. Yeah, sounds pretty safe, right?
4) Night of the Living Stalchildren in Ocarina of Time
I think one of the greatest moments in Ocarina of Time for me — and many other gamers — was the very first time you stepped out of Kokiri Forest and into the nearly endless expanse of Hyrule Field. Even though you were tasked with seeking an audience with Princess Zelda, it was hard not to deviate from your path and really take the time to stop and smell the proverbial roses. But while you were traipsing about, you began to notice that the sun was setting and night was beginning to fall. You think to yourself, “A day and night system? It just keeps getting better and better!” Then the music starts turning ominous, and little skeletons begin digging their way to the surface and attack — here come the Stalchildren! What made this situation even worse was the fact that, for first time players, they most likely lost their way and ran around frantically looking for the entrance to Hyrule Castle Town or Lon Lon Ranch in hopes of being rid of their skeletal attackers. Being chased by hordes of the juvenile undead is one thing, but to be chased by hordes of the juvenile undead with no idea where to go for safety is quite another.
3) Entering the House of Skulltula in Ocarina of Time
?In Ocarina of Time, the villagers of Kakariko village tell the story of a family and their vast fortune. So overcome with avarice, the entire family was cursed and doomed to forever take the form of Skulltulas (giant spiders with skull-shaped abdomens). At first you think how bad could it possibly be since the Skulltulas you’ve been facing up until this point weren’t exactly horrifying. But you’ll leave that thought at the door once you enter the House of Skulltula and see the full extent of the curse: it turned the entire family into nightmarish Skulltula/human hybrids that swing down from the darkness of the rafters the moment you’re in their vicinity. Even more unsettling, despite the fact they’re NPCs, all of them are targeted as enemies and can even be struck, resulting in them eliciting an anguished scream! You can help lift the curse in the game, and receive a hefty monetary reward for your efforts, but why bother going back to have that sight branded in your mind again?
2) Frisky ReDeads in Ocarina of Time
ReDeads. Probably one of the most frightening enemies to ever appear in the Legend of Zelda series. If its not their gaunt, pale bodies that are creepy, its their bloodcurdling scream that leaves Link frozen with fear. And if its not their bloodcurdling scream, its their unnerving (and completely unnecessary) nudity. As if all these qualities weren’t bad enough, the ReDeads’ method of attack is certainly enough to give overzealous anti-video game legislators ulcers, and make gamers wonder what exactly was Nintendo thinking at the time of Ocarina of Time’s development. Assaulting Link from behind, the ReDead proceeds to…well…dry hump him to death. Does this give credence to the the long held belief that ReDeads are nothing more than the vengeful zombies of Hyrulian sex offenders? Perhaps, but the last thing Link would want on his epitaph is that he found the “Master Sword” sooner than he would’ve liked.
1) Tingle in Majora’s Mask
Tingle’s 35 years old. He thinks he’s a fairy. His own father has practically disowned him because of his questionable lifestyle. He wears ill-fitting green spandex. And he’s 35 years old. Do I really need to beat a dead horse here?