Hyrule Castle is one of the most iconic locations in the Zelda universe. Whether it’s under the Great Sea or left in ruins, Hyrule Castle is always interesting. In A Link to the Past, Hyrule Castle is akin to a dungeon. It has a map, compass, Heart Container, special item (Boomerang), and an end boss. The main difference between Hyrule Castle and a typical dungeon is that the player has to visit the castle two times during the adventure: once in the beginning and once after finding the three Pendants of Virtue and the Master Sword.
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!
Hyrule Castle is the first area the player explores in A Link to the Past. On a dark, rainy night, Link hears a plea sent telepathically by Zelda. His uncle goes out to try and rescue Princess Zelda. Link ends up following him and eventually finds him dying in the castle. His uncle entrusts his sword and shield to Link and asks him to rescue Zelda. This scene marks the first of many dark moments in A Link to the Past.
With the regal theme playing in the background, the mood of the castle is serious. Soldiers relentlessly attack Link as he forces his way through the depths of the dungeon in his attempt to find Zelda, who he discovers is locked in a cage. Holding the key to her cell is a soldier armed with a ball and chain weapon. This soldier is difficult to defeat, but throwing nearby vases at him makes the fight less risky, as the player does not have to enter his attack range to deal damage.
After rescuing Zelda, the player enters a complex sewer area swarming with snakes and rats. The end of this area leads to the sanctuary where Link leaves Zelda and picks up a Heart Container. After Link obtains the Master Sword, Zelda is kidnapped from the Sanctuary and brought back to Hyrule Castle. The player has to return to the castle once more to retrieve the princess.
Unlike the first visit, the player must navigate the upper floors of Hyrule Castle. This part of the game is very linear and features multiple rooms filled with soldiers, and the player needs to defeat these enemies to advance. Thanks to the power of the Master Sword, the player can dispatch these enemies with ease, which provides a sensation of strength. However, this feeling is taken away after facing Agahnim and being tossed into the Dark World to contend with its extremely durable overworld enemies. Without any Master Sword upgrades, the Hinoxes found in the Dark World take a long time to defeat.
The highlight of Hyrule Castle is the moment the player meets Agahnim. The scene sticks out for the dramatic reveal of the dark wizard and secondary antagonist of A Link to the Past. When first encountered, he is sending Zelda into the Dark World. The player only sees her disappear into nothing. Afterward, Agahnim goads the player into fighting him. The battle that ensues is the classic fight which features the enemy (Agahnim) trading energy balls with Link. After a long and grueling fight, Agahnim casts Link to the Dark World. Specifically, he sends Link to the top of the Pyramid of Power overlooking a red and purple sky.
Hyrule Castle is one of the most important locations in A Link to the Past and is memorable for being home to some of the most emotional moments in the game, such as the encounter with Agahnim and the death of Link’s uncle. Watching Link’s uncle die has always been a disturbing and tense scene, one that I believe goes underappreciated in the long history of Zelda games.