The forests of Hyrule are not to be trifled with, and the Lost Woods are the ultimate example of why. Mystical, magical, and nearly incomprehensible, no one, not even the natural residents of the forests, are able to take them lightly.

While the Lost Woods are at least forgiving to certain trespassers, being returned to the entrance again and again after repeatedly getting lost gets old. It could be worse, however. Children who find themselves lost in the forest are rumored to become Skull Kids, and adults supposedly become Stalfos. Maybe Link’s status as the main character earns him the by-comparison wrist slapping.

Ocarina of Time was first released in Japan on November 21, 1998. This month, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the most beloved games of all time. Two decades on, Ocarina of Time is still widely regarded as not only the pinnacle of The Legend of Zelda series but as one of the greatest achievements in video game history.
Throughout Ocarina Month, we’re going to be looking back on the game that shaped childhoods, defined the action-adventure genre, and introduced a generation to how magical exploring a 3D world could be.

Tingle’s Maps is a series in which we explore the endless lands of Hyrule in search of our favorite places in The Legend of Zelda. We’ll explore everywhere: the beautiful landscapes that make us put down the controller in awe; the deadly terrain that threatens Link with the harshest of elements; the bustling towns that bring the game to life; and the abandoned grounds that evoke peace and sadness. As well as the grand locales, we’ll also discover all the secret caves and hidden crevices that lie between. Let’s adventure!

At least he is accompanied during this journey into madness by the most pleasant and cheerful song in the game. It doesn’t make sense when one thinks about it too hard, but it’s “Saria’s Song,” and Saria is awesome. So really, who cares?

Worth noting are all the secret entry points into the woods, despite all the measures taken to keep people out. Aside from the main entrance, Link can enter the forest through a cave that leads to Goron City, or via an underwater passage that takes him to Zora’s Domain. It’s meant to be a quick-access method for traversing the game world, but it’s still funny to think that there are various ways to simply come and go through what is supposed to be a hard-to-traverse area.

There is a surprising amount of activity in the Lost Woods. Jam sessions unexpectedly happen with Skull Kids, the occasional merchant can be found selling stuff Link doesn’t need, and there is a secret, underground collection of Deku Scrubs that take it upon themselves to critique Link’s appearance. All this bustle is found along the way to the forest’s Inception moment: the Sacred Forest Meadow.

It’s a maze within the maze, though before Link can even enter the thing, he must first defeat a Wolfos. Once inside, he must then cut a path through a collection of aggressive Deku Scrubs. The Lost Woods was fine with only messing with Link up until know, but now it sees fit to throw vicious canines and ornery plant monsters Link’s way. The maze isn’t even much of a maze. It’s like the thing is only there to serve as very unenthusiastic intimidation.

It makes sense that there are all these obstacles however, considering what’s on the other side: an obviously sacred clearing that Link will in time learn is the entrance to the Forest Temple.

Here Link reunites with his oldest and dearest friend, Saria. However, the question of how she herself got there arises. How did she get past all the monsters? Maybe they actually work for her? Perhaps she has been testing Link this whole time. This is moving into conspiracy theory territory here, but it’s something to ponder. Whatever the case may be, it’s safe to say that it’s probably best to not mess with Saria.

She’s as kind as ever and proceeds to teach Link the game’s second mandatory song. The song, of course, is her signature melody, “Saria’s Song.” It’s mandatory once, useful maybe one more time, but is still worth having if only for the sake of being able to play it at any point.

The Lost Woods does its best to test the player, and that’s honestly half the fun. Could Ocarina of Time really be considered a Zelda game if it didn’t have places like this to puzzle its fans?

Credit for the artwork in the header image goes to MPdigitalART.