Given the variety of locations in Ocarina of Time, it would have actually been disappointing if an ice-themed area was not present in the game. Luckily, Nintendo seemed to feel the same way and saw fit to include the Ice Cavern mini-dungeon as the first stop in Link’s mission to save Zora’s Domain.
Reaching the entrance to the dungeon makes it clear that things are going to be a bit hazardous moving forward, as Link must summon his inner Super Mario to jump across the slippery ice formations floating in the now-abandoned home of Lord Jabu-Jabu. It serves as a frustrating trial run for all the traction issues that lie ahead in the cavern.
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!
Narrow tunnels filled with icicles, blades, and ice monsters greet Link after making it inside. The confined nature of the first section can feel almost fortified, while also making it clear that, despite it being a smaller dungeon compared to most others, it is still a challenging labyrinth that will not give up its secrets and treasures so easily.
Despite its hazards, there is still a beauty to it. The ice formations all over the floors, walls, and ceilings give great detail to the cavern, and really help express how this is a place seemingly frozen in time. There are not many fast-moving enemies or obstacles in this dungeon. Even the large, rotating ice blades in one of the larger rooms do not move at an intimidating pace. Most roadblocks are set up to be a hindrance to Link, to match the theme of the ice’s tendency to be an immovable hurdle. This is especially obvious with the case of the Red Ice, which can only be destroyed with the Blue Fire.
Every challenge, enemy, and puzzle is accompanied by a musical track befitting such a wintery area. The sound of harsh winter winds mix with what almost sounds like wind chimes. The track never increases in intensity, which keeps in line with the Ice Cavern’s main point of suppressed motion.
The Blue Fire is eventually acquired and used in order to progress, but only so much at a time, as Link can only carry the magic flames in limited quantities. No matter what, Link must move at the dungeon’s pace, which is seen best by the sliding ice block puzzle. There’s no way around. Link has no other option than to carefully figure out where to push the massive block of ice in order to grab the Silver Rupees. Rushed and sloppy brute force is not an option at any point in the dungeon.
Finally, after having the patience to endure this veritable ice fortress and reach the innermost chamber, Link must defeat the “boss” of the cavern, the White Wolfos. Again, this is a test of endurance and patience, as the Wolfos only leaves itself open at certain points in the fight.
The wolf eventually dies, Link claims his Iron Boots as a prize, and Sheik appears in order to teach him another amazing song, the “Serenade of Water”. Patience is rewarded.
The Ice Cavern, despite being relatively small and straightforward, adds a lot to the overall experience in Ocarina of Time. It’s a unique dungeon with a decidedly different feel and pace