I think someone on A Link Between World’s development team liked turtles a lot.
Turtle Rock was one of the various, bizarre (which is saying something for a Zelda game), and treacherous dungeons that I explored during the quest to save Hyrule and Lorule. It was located in Lorule’s Southeastern region and was built into an island that rested in the middle of a lake.
From the outside, the dungeon was subtle and offered minimal detail — aside from the massive and bubbling pool of lava lying in front of the entrance. It’s as if the game wanted to offer me a hint about what the dungeon’s theme would be. It also did everything short of shouting “Go get the Ice Rod.” I honestly enjoyed when A Link Between Worlds gave obvious clues to a dungeon’s required item. It knew better than to waste my time.
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!
To enter the dungeon, I first needed to find and rescue three juvenile turtles and return them to their mother. Granted, the turtles were all large enough to for me to stand and ride upon, but they were still her babies.
It’s not relevant to the dungeon, but this part with the turtles made me think: Link rescued Gulley, the Maiamai children, and these turtles throughout this adventure. The amount of parental negligence present in this game is alarming.
Moving on. Once the turtles were safe and sound, they stacked on top of each other to help me reach the entrance to the dungeon. I rode on the backs of the turtles (Jack Sparrow would have been proud) and landed on the platform. I saved the game at the bird statue, flew back to Link’s house to buy the Ice Rod from Ravio, and returned to the dungeon to freeze the lava and finally go inside.
Once inside, text appeared and declared that I was inside “Turtle Rock.” I looked at the map and approved of Nintendo’s effort to make a bad joke. The dungeon consisted of only two floors, but the entire layout was in the shape of a turtle. The main area was a large, circular room with a pit of lava in the center and rafters hanging over top in various spaces. Parts of the rafters were also on swivels and would tilt to the left or right as I walked on them. These moving platforms were made more interesting by their semi-molten centers, which could be frozen with the Ice Rod to prevent them from moving. This dungeon was minimal in terms of geography, but it was clear that every facet of the two floors were going to be explored and manipulated in some way.
Much of the dungeon required the use of the wall-merging ability. I would repeatedly circle around each floor, clearing puzzles, battling enemies (such as the ever-annoying Wizzrobes), and locating a decent number of keys. Despite only having two floors, there were many rooms and sections of the larger areas that needed to be unlocked and explored.
Moving through the dungeon in circles, using warp points, and backtracking made things confusing at times. This was especially true when I had to stop playing the game for about a week and then come back to it mid-dungeon. Doing so has always been a terrible idea no matter what Zelda game I might be playing. Still, I persevered, unlocked every door, and eventually found my way to the dungeon’s boss.
I don’t know who designed this dungeon, but I get it: You like turtles. It’s cool. Everyone has a thing they’re really into.
The boss, Grinexx (the name sounds like a prescription drug), was another example of the obsession in Zelda games to have reptilian bosses that bathe in lava. He was also an opportunity to get as much use out of the Ice Rod as possible.
He eventually surfaced after I dropped enough chunks of ice on him, and he went for a direct approach by charging and snapping at me. He would also randomly explode at times. He tried his best, but the combination of the Ice Rod, shield, and Master Sword was all I needed to make this hotheaded Gamera wannabe chill out.
Turtle Rock was a respectably clever and corny idea for a dungeon, as well as a perfect example of how much thought was put into the dungeon designs in A Link Between Worlds. And, again, there were so many turtles. I’m not saying it was a bad thing, but somebody clearly saw their chance and ran with the theme.