- 2.1 Reach Tail Cave
- 2.2 Obtain the map and compass
- 2.3 Leap with Roc’s Feather
- 2.4 Find the Nightmare Key
- 2.5 Obtain the Stone Beak
- 2.6 Defeat the Rolling Bones
- 2.7 Fight Moldorm
Reach Tail Cave
Upon obtaining the Tail Key, you’ll receive one more visit from the Owl, and he’ll beckon you to head back south towards Tail Cave, where the first of the eight Nightmares await. Naturally, this will be your first destination.
To get out of the forest, head south as far as you can. You’ll pass by a handful of Moblins, but the spaces they reside in are generally fairly open. Once you find the chest blocked by a heavy rock, head west one screen before continuing southward. Eventually, you’ll have returned to Mabe Village. While you’re in town, if you haven’t yet bought a set of Bombs, head to the Mabe Village general store towards the northeast of the village to buy some for 10 Rupees.
Tail Cave is just south of the village, so you’ll continue southward along the well-trodden trail past the well and the library. Once you pass the two boys playing catch together, you’ll officially be out of the village border. Instead of jumping down the cliff through the gap in the railing, head east. You’ll come across the familiar Octoroks as you travel; watch out for the stones that they spit as you pass.
Continue east until you can go east no further. There, in the grove at the end, you’ll find a U-turn in the path that leads back westward. Go around the tree and continue following the path. It will eventually bend southward and then back to the east. Eventually you’ll find a barred cavern that’s been dug into the ground. Out in front are three statues of creatures with long, elaborate tails.
The center such statue will have a keyhole, and the Tail Key is a perfect fit for it. Walk up to the keyhole and the key will be inserted automatically. The doors will open wide, and you will have gained entry to Level One.
Obtain the Map and Compass
The opening room of Tail Cave allows you to travel either up or to the left. To start, head to the left. You’ll discover two Hardhat Beetles; nothing you have in your possession will kill these monsters, but you can use your sword to knock them back into the pits at the north and south edges of the room. If you managed to push both Beetles into the gaps, a Small Key will fall from the ceiling. Once you have it, head west again.
Once you fully step out of the entrance square to this room, the door will seal itself behind you. However, all you see is a treasure chest, so there’s got to be another trick to the room. That trick is that there are four green Zol hidden in the floor surrounding the chest; Zol, when approached, will ooze out of the ground and then start hopping very slowly toward you. They aren’t that threatening by themselves; however, so long as there are Zol above the ground, the lanterns in the top corners of the room will hurl fireballs at you. Quickly dispatch them whenever they appear, and once you’ve killed all four, the door will reopen.
However, before you go, you should grab the Compass. The Compass is a very utilitarian tool that has three purposes. First, it tells you which of the rooms of the dungeon the boss guarding one of the Instruments is hiding in. Second, it will also show all of the rooms on the map that contain treasure chests. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, a chime will sound any time you enter any room that has a key in it, whether it’s a Small Key or the Nightmare Key.
Head east, and then you should quickly dart past the Hardhat Beetles in the room to arrive once again at the dungeon entrance. This time, you’ll want to head north, the direction you haven’t yet explored.
You’ll hear your first Small Key chime in this room, and there’s a rather inviting switch just on the other side of that hole in the floor. Preventing you from getting to it easily is one Hardhat Beetle and two Gels. Defeat the two Gels and then make your way to the top of the room; be on your guard as the Hardhat Beetle will quickly come your way as you come into view. Use your sword and shield to push it back into the hole in the floor, and then you’ll have easy access to the switch. Step on the switch, and a treasure chest will appear. Open it up to get your second Small Key.
From there, head east. Two Keese will be in this room aplenty, but there’s also a new type of enemy: the Stalfos. Stalfos are skeletons, and these particular Stalfos will, whenever you swing your sword at them, leap away to avoid your slashes. However, you can easily trap them in the corners of the room and continually swing at them so they hit your sword when they land. Once you’ve defeated all four enemies, a treasure chest will appear, and in it is the dungeon Map, showing you the layout of the Tail Cavern. In just a moment, you will notice that this one looks like the shame of a Mini-moldorm.
Leap with Roc’s Feather
With the Map in your pocket, head north. You’ll meet another Stalfos and two more Keese, but generally there’s room to maneuver around them without too much effort. Head west, leaving the locked door to the east alone for now.
Here is where you’ll finally meet up with the Mini-moldorm. The Mini-moldorm is an insect that will continually travel in circular arcs as it roams aimlessly throughout the room. It will take two hits with your sword to kill, and it’s very erratic, so be careful. Also making this room difficult are the two Sparks that continually encircle the blocks or chests that they are attached to. Always go with the flow around those blocks, going counterclockwise when the Spark is traveling counterclockwise and clockwise when it’s going clockwise. You don’t need to defeat the Mini-moldorm here, but it will make your life a little more sane. Sneak into the domain of the Spark encircling the chest and open it up to get your third Small Key.
A second Mini-moldorm will greet you here amongst a handful of pits strewn about the room. You can kill the Mini-moldorm or not, but you’ll need to make your way north.
It’s there you’ll encounter your first locked door. A single Keese awaits, and there’s also a Trap as well. When you approach the Trap from any direction, it will shoot out across the room until it reaches an obstacle or the room’s center; it will then slowly retract to its starting position, and only then can it be triggered again. Spring the Trap, and then as it’s pulling back, cross its path to reach the locked door. Unlock it and proceed onward.
The next two rooms are a joined set. To start, you really can’t go anywhere but east, so head along the narrow corridor. You’ll see two Sparks encircling two sets of diagonally arrayed blocks. Follow behind the Sparks as they travel around the blocks in order to avoid running into them by going the other way, and follow the pathway around so that you head back west into the first room. Again, make your way under the blocks by following the Spark. You’ll notice that the door westward is sealed. Push the block at the far left to the right one square, and the door will open.
This room will be a dead end, but two new enemies will be here to greet you, and you’ll need to kill them both to open the path forward. Those enemies are Spiked Beetles, and they are not very nice at all. Spiked Beetles will very quickly rush toward you whenever they see you, so you’ll need to be prepared for them. They can’t be defeated as they are, what with their armored tops showing, so you’ll need to flip them over to see their soft underbellies. To do that, hold your shield high as they rush toward you; when they ram into your shield, they’ll bounce back and flip over. Take the brief opportunity to hack at them before they re-right themselves. Once you’ve defeated both Beetles, a staircase will open, allowing you to go downstairs.
Traveling via the stairwells in dungeons is typically done in the style of The Legend of Zelda, where you’ll travel in a side-scrolling fashion. You’ll descend down an ladder, and you can get off at some raised platforms, which you can walk along to take you to the left side of the room. You’ll also notice some Goombas down below in the pit; yes, you’ll encounter several enemies from Mario here. These can be defeated easily with a sword; however, you can also jump on top of them by falling off the staircase or through the pit; if you land on their head, they’ll drop a heart.
Head to the left; in the second screen, you can’t jump over the gap, so you’ll have to fall through it into the pit. However, you can then climb up the ladder on the left side up back to the dungeon.
From here, all you have to do is head north. In the second screen, you’ll see a flying heart, which you can’t yet get (but soon will be able to!). On the third screen, don’t move too quickly; two Traps exist not too far into the room; spring the Traps, and then walk between them when they’re retracting. You’ll arrive at the treasure chest, where you’ll find the Roc’s Feather.
With the Feather, you can jump through the air. This is super helpful for the side-scrolling areas, but it will also help you reach new areas and take shortcuts by jumping over pits!
Find the Nightmare Key
And now you have to head all the way back. Head past the Traps, which you can now just jump straight over if you wish. You can also snag the flying heart by jumping while you’re beneath it. And then you’ll need to head back downstairs.
You can jump over the first gap in the raised platforms to avoid having to deal with the first Goomba. However, you won’t have the same luck with the second one; it’s just a little too high. Defeat the two Goombas, optimally by using the Roc’s Feather to jump on their heads, and then head up the right ladder.
You’ll be back in the room with the Spiked Beetles, but you don’t need to go out of your way to defeating them again; just head through the door to the east. And then you can immediately head south by jumping over the one-square-wide pit to the south, taking the shortcut back into the heart of the dungeon.
Dodge the Trap and continue heading south, and then do the same for the Mini-moldorm, but now head to the east. You’ll then be back in the room with the Sparks and the treasure chests that contained a Small Key. Once again, you’ll want to head eastward; however, you’ll want to head east by taking the northerly route above the single block. The next room only has two Keese to worry about, and they’re easily avoidable. Continue north.
Killing this Hardhat Beetle is actually pretty tricky, though you can go to the effort if you really want. However, it’s totally not necessary. Hop over the gap to the left to reach the locked block. Locked blocks work just like locked doors; you’ll expend a single Small Key to pass them. So unlock the block using your second Small Key to make the block disappear, and then you can climb the staircase and move westward.
It’s there you’ll find a chest high up the dais. Open the chest to receive the Nightmare Key, the Key that will lead you to the boss of this dungeon.
Obtain the Stone Beak
Getting the Stone Beak (or the Stone Slab Fragment in the original Game Boy version) is always optional in every dungeon. You don’t technically have to do it ever. However, each dungeon has one of them, and this guide will cover getting it, even if, as in this dungeon’s case, we’re obtaining it well after it would actually be useful to you.
The only way off the dais is the way that you came, so head east, jump over the pit, and then proceed south and west to return to the room with the Sparks and the Small Key. You’ll want to take the southeastern exit this time, and you’ll have to deal with the additional Stalfos now. However, the locked door to the east beckoning for your last Small Key, so spend it there and continue.
Two Sparks and a Stalfos will harass you here, but these shouldn’t pose any real threat, especially now that you have Roc’s Feather. Once you’ve dealt with the Stalfos, you’ll want to continue north.
You’ll now see a trio of what will likely be the strangest enemies in the entire game. These are the Three of a Kind. These bloated monsters will display a sequence of card suits, going in order from spades to diamonds to clubs to hearts. Once you hit one of them with your sword, it will freeze that enemy, both in place and in suit. The only way to defeat this enemy is to freeze all three enemies so that they are displaying the same suit. If you misalign suits, you’ll hear a buzzer, and they’ll all start moving once again.
Be patient, and try to match the suits of the second and third enemy after freezing the first. As an extra incentive, if you manage to freeze all three on hearts, each enemy will drop a heart, completely filling your life gauge at this early point in the game.
Once you defeat all three, a treasure chest will appear, and you can get the Stone Beak. You’ll use the Stone Beak in order to get a major hint about how to defeat each dungeon. In order for it to work, you’ll need to place the Stone Beak into an Owl Statue (or a Stone Slab in the original game); doing so will cause it to give you the dungeon hint message. There’s one in this room, and there was also one just outside the room with the Spiked Beetles, which naturally is the hint this dungeon gives.
Defeat the Rolling Bones
Head south. From there, jump over the pit and head through the open door to the east. It’s here you’ll face the mini-boss of this dungeon. Each dungeon has at least one with the later dungeons having multiple ones.
The mini-boss for Tail Cave is the Rolling Bones. You’ll be facing a blob-like creature that has possession of a Spiked Roll. It will push the Spiked Roll towards you, and you should use the Roc’s Feather to leap over it. Rolling Bones will then progressively hope toward and past you to the other side of the room, where it will jump over the Spiked Roll and then push it back. Use your sword as it passes to deal damage. Dealing damage will also knock it back again, so it’s actually possible to beat the Rolling Bones in a single pass if you’re skilled enough.
Once it’s dead, the boss and the Spiked Roll will vanish, and two things will appear. First a fairy will appear, which will restore all your hearts. Make sure to get it if you’ve taken damage because you’ll need those hearts later. Secondly, a Teleporter Tile will appear. Stepping into this tile will quickly send you back to the beginning of the dungeon where the twin tile is. You can always use it to warp back to the mini-boss’ lair.
Continue north. This room has a Trap in each of the four corners, so walk carefully or jump over the Traps. You’ll see a staircase here, but you may not have to use it. Instead, go for the locked door to the north, which is only unlockable using the Nightmare Key, which you already have. This is the boss door, and beyond it you will fight for one of the eight Instruments. Once you’re ready, avoid the Traps, unlock the door, and head north.
You’ll now have to defeat a full-sized Moldorm to claim your first Instrument. Moldorm is a long-tailed insect; it’s completely invulnerable except in its flashing tail, which should have already piqued your interest given its flashing nature. Personally, I’d keep the Feather out, jumping over Moldorm if necessary to damage the beast.
“BUZZZZZ! BUZZZZ! OUTZZZIDER!”
Once you successfully hit Moldorm’s tail, it will start to speed up erratically for a few seconds until it settles down to a slower pace. During this phase, you should definitely be on the defensive until it slows down. Once it does strike it a second time and repeat once more for three. After the third hit, Moldorm simply won’t slow down; you’ll just need to dart in and whack its tail a fourth time.
Should Moldorm send you careening off into the pits at the left and right sides of the room, you’ll take one heart of damage and drop into a side-scrolling basement. Head right and then up the stairs; you’ll then be just outside Moldorm’s chamber. If you’re ever running low on hearts, head back to the room with the Three of a Kind and the Owl Statue; you can fill up on life by freezing them all on hearts.
Once you’ve managed to hit Moldorm four times, it will erupt in rage, and it will drop a Heart Container for you to pick up, extending your life. From there, simply head north to claim the Full Moon Cello, the first of the eight Instruments.