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February 28, 2014

Top 12 Tools In The Legend Of Zelda Series

Link. Zelda. Ganondorf. (Navi. Okay, kidding!) Midna. Ghirahim. Just a few examples of characters ingrained into the geek community's mind. The Legend of Zelda is... well, legendary. Right up there among the most beloved video game franchises. And this feat was accomplished despite keeping pretty much the same basic structure all the way through. Link ventures through a relatively large world, completes dungeons, defeats bosses, faces the main villain at the end, and saves Hyrule after an epic final fight.

Yeah, the formula has stayed the same for the most part. However, the teams behind the games has found enough innovative ways to change the gameplay in every recent game as to make it interesting again, put a new spin to the regular stuff so that it feels new. Majora's Mask had the eponymous masks and the “three days” ultimatum. Twilight Princess has Link turning into a wolf. Wind Waker has sailing around a flooded world. And that's only three examples!

One feature present in every Zelda game since the Super NES era is the “tools”. A “tool” in this series corresponds to many criterias:
-It has been found in a dungeon;
-It must be used through the dungeon in order to find the boss;
-The dungeon's boss cannot be defeated without it;
-And finally, it can still be used in other places of the game, so Link can access secrets he couldn't reach otherwise.
-Also, this does not include the main weapon (the swords), nor the tunics, the shield, the bombs or the arrows (because the latter two are in almost all the games and used against many bosses, in a way or another).
-EXCEPTIONS: Items that aren't found in dungeons but prove to be exceptionally useful against some bosses, to the point that they can reasonably called “Tools”, even if they're jokes.

Those tools are always a ton of fun to try, especially when you can use them at different points of the game. Most of those tools are weapons, but others are items that reveal themselves to be vital in Link's quest to defeat his enemy. A few of those are less used, and as a result aren't as enjoyed by fans. Still, regardless of how much a tool is used and how much of an impact it has left on the player, there's many of those tools that have become classics of the Zelda series. And today, I'm listing twelve examples of such tools that have become symbols of LoZ. You hear these names and say “Yep, I totally remember this from the Zelda series!” Let's not waste any time, I'm counting down!

12. Boomerang
Starting off is one of Link's ever-useful items, the Boomerang. Appearing in the majority of the games, this tool was usually found in the early dungeons, such as the “tutorial” dungeon of A Link To The Past. It has so many functions: stunning or killing enemies, retrieve items in the distance... Starting in Wind Waker, Link can even select a number of targets before tossing it. Just in case it wasn't already made clear that this is one of the Hero of Time's tools of predilection, he also uses one in the Super Smash Bros. series, both as regular Link, as Young Link AND as Toon Link. While the boomerang has a few uses, it's usually relegated to minor weapon or tool as soon as true challenges show up. A new version was introduced in Twilight Princess, the Gale Boomerang, but... Yeah, you don't change the classics. By the way, boomerangs are an Australian creation, right? How can they have them in Hyrule???

11. Fire Rod / Ice Rod
Those two items are polar opposites on the elements, yet pretty much the same when it comes to being used. They're sort of elemental wands, the first shoots fire, the other shoots ice. Simple, huh? The Fire Rod could be found in A Link To The Past's Skull Woods, while the Ice Rod was (ironically) not even found in a dungeon... but I added it with the Fire Rod, because those two items are vital in defeating Turtle Rock's Trinexx, the last Dark World boss (before Ganon, of course). Those rods are powerful weapons that take up a lot of mana, but in the end, it's pretty fun to use those two rods, not only against enemies, but also in other situations through the game. And yes, I suppose those rods can also find their own use outside of fighting monsters. Still, they're a good idea in a series that had already a lot of good ideas.

10. Ball and Chain
Let's face it; Link isn't a Goron. That doesn't stop him from sumo-fighting against Gorons from time to time, but still, Link's physical strength is, indeed, limited. Which is why it's great to see him walk ultra slowly as he carries around the giant ball and chain. He gets that item in Snowpeak Ruins, in Twilight Princess, after defeating the dungeon's mid-boss. Yes, you can chuckle at Link carrying this around, but you'll stop laughing as soon as you see the item in battle. It's freaking AMAZING. It destroys ice monsters, it causes watchtowers to collapse, it's the best weapon against many other kinds of enemies... The Twilight Princess game was very creative with its tools, and this is shown with this one, which a lot of gamers love to use. This is an epic weapon, a must-have for an epic hero in an epic adventure. Just... just make sure your Bishônen hero can travel with it freely. (Seems like Link can't. Oops.)

9. Mirror Shield
Even though the hero had one in A Link To The Past, and only adult Link could use it in Ocarina of Time, the Mirror Shield has left quite an impact on the fan community. It was also seen in Majora's Mask, in the Oracle duo of games, and Wind Waker. It is best remembered in Ocarina of Time, where Link could use it to reflect sunlight to solve puzzles or attacks at other enemies. It is vital to use the Mirror Shield against Twinrova, in a very memorable boss fight. Especially great is how it could store multiple attacks within itself (you gotta wonder how it did so, however), after which you can release all that energy at once to an enemy. Impressive. One thing I found quite funny about this item is how its motif was changed for the final N64 version, because it apparently had “religious” meaning. Religion, in a world of Gods, goddesses, priests, churches, temples and other similar stuff? Surely, you jest!

8. Giant's Mask
It kind of sucks that this item can be used only once in all of Majora's Mask. On the other hand, it would be one friggin' game breaker if you could use it to turn Link into a giant at any occasion. Found near the end of the Stone Tower Temple, this masks is necessary to defeat the giant insect Twinmold. It also drains magic and forces Link to use nothing else but his shield and sword. Arguably, this makes for one of the most epic moments in all Zelda history, which is why this mask deserved to make the list. It speaks volumes when a thing has a single use and yet is remembered so dearly. Come to think of it, if only there were more giant bosses in the Legend of Zelda series, we could find more uses for the Giant's Mask... Oh well, it's still pretty darn great as it is. Could it be seen again? Sure. Who doesn't want Link to squish Ganondorf under his foot, after all?

7. Light Arrows
Sigh... I never got to use them in Twilight Princess...
Kind of cheating for this one, but going by Twilight Princess it still kind of works... Light Arrows are some of the most powerful objects on the land of Hyrule, the ultimate proof that the deities are on Link's side in his quests. They started as items with kind of weak uses, first to take down special barriers in Ganon's castle in Ocarina of Time. By the time of Wind Waker, however... My God. They're extremely powerful weapons, especially against the stronger enemies such as Darknuts. Zelda also helps Link by using them on Ganondorf by the end of the game. Same in Twilight Princess, in which Zelda shoots them at Ganondorf while on Link's horse Epona. Always impressive to watch, deadly against the forces of evil, the sign that Link has help from the highest authorities on Hyrule... The Light Arrows are all that and even more. It's just kinda sad that only Zelda uses them in Twilight Princess... It's also Zelda's Final Smash. Badass.

6. Fierce Deity's Mask
At first I was thinking of putting the Goron and Zora masks, but after some research I realized this one deserved more to be on the list. In Majora's Mask, this is pretty much the last mask you'll get, since you'll only earn it by handing over the twenty non-transformation masks. Agreed, this mask can be used only against bosses (unless you hack; but you wouldn't dare do that, now, would you?). But I already described a tool as found in a dungeon and necessary to defeat a boss; Okay, it's not necessary for any boss, and not really found in a dungeon... But still! When Link puts on that mask, he grows to adult size and gains a ton of power. This mask is arguably one of the most enjoyable masks to use in the entire game, and it's not hard to see why. For once you don't have to control a kid Link, you control an even more badass version of adult Link, a reincarnation of a freaking DEITY! Its huge power makes it really liked among fans. And why wouldn't it be?

5. Roc's Feather / Roc's Cape
Unlike fellow Nintendo star Mario (formerly Jumpman), Link's jumping talent is... lacking, to say the least. Very lacking, in fact. That makes it difficult for the Hylian... no wait, the Outset Islander... no wait, the Ordon villager... no wait, Skyloftian... Dammit, Link! Okay. That makes it difficult for the... “Hero of Time”, to go around if he cannot jump too well. Luckily, the “Roc's” items are there to help him! The feather, which started in Link's Awakening, and the cape, which started in Oracle of Seasons, both serve the same purpose; When he puts them on, Link can now jump a lot farther than he originally could. Then again, it's easy to be better at jumping than he normally is. Link can also use them to glide through the air, which makes these items very important ones when it comes to crossing large gaps. Again, because Link kind of sucks at jumping acrobatics.

4. Magic Hammer, Megaton Hammer and Skull Hammer
Putting those three together because... well, it's obvious; they're all blunt damage objects. And hammers. The Magic Hammer, despite the name, had nothing magic. Unless those annoying whack-a-moles around the dungeons couldn't be smashed except by magic items... The Magic Hammer is also important to destroy the Helmasaur King's mask to ensure the creature can be harmed. The Megaton Hammer was a heavy item that required Link to use both hands to hold, and was used against the fire dragon Volvagia. You can see this weapon was made for a Goron... Last but not least, the Skull Hammer from Wind Waker is a very powerful – but very heavy – weapon that could be used against anything, but it would take Link a bit of time to attack with it. Regardless of their uses, wielding a hammer to battle is always a lot of fun, as long as you know how to use it. And Link seems to like hammers, just as he likes boomerangs. At least it's lighter than the ball and chain...

3. Joke items against major bosses
Again, kind of cheating. Yeah, sorry about that. The Legend of Zelda has a tendency for comedy, even at its darkest. And by darkest, I mean the major boss fights, usually the last one. And by comedy, I mean items that shouldn't be used at that moment. The bug net in A Link To The Past can be used to deflect Agahnim's magical attacks, as an example. A bottle can be used to deflect the possessed Zelda's attack in the first part of the final battle of Twilight Princess. A freaking bottle! In the last part of same final battle, you can pull out the fishing rod and wave it at Ganondorf, who'll stare at your lure with a “WTF” face... and this distracts him long enough that you can hack and slash at him a few times. Okay, seriously? This is hilarious. And anyone who disagrees is wrong. A fishing rod against a lord of evil. How can you not laugh at that?

2. Spinner
Both a tool and a weapon, the Spinner is one of the favorites items from Twilight Princess, and it's pretty obvious why; it's just an awesome object. Link climbs on it and can attack with it, but can also use it to move parts of dungeons by planting it in the ground (almost like a key!) He can also attach it to long holes in the walls and go for a Spinner ride! After that, he can jump from a wall to the other on this machine of unknown origins. The battle against Stallord is also quite epic, using the Spinner in the first phase to break the giant skeleton monster's spine first... and then chasing Stallord's head with Link on the Spinner going after it, jumping from a wall to the other all while spinning! This is one of the most impressive fights in the entire series. No wonder this item is loved by so many people!

1. Hookshot/Clawshot AND Double Clawshot
When I asked around to people which Zelda item they liked most, many replied “the double clawshot”. Before that, there was the Hookshot, found in the Swamp Palace; Link had to point somewhere and shoot with the Hookshot, and it would transport the Hero of Time to other floors. In Twilight Princess, the item was renamed Clawshot, yet served about the same purpose. However! In the City in the Sky, the item gets upgraded to the Double Clawshot, which means Link can hang to a wall with one clawshot, and aim at another wall with the other. In fact, that's what Link does for that dungeon's boss, the Twilight Dragon Argorok. The battle is literally transported into the airs with Link going from pillar to pillar with the Double Clawshot and chasing Argorok. This is yet another favorite boss battle from the Legend of Zelda series, and this is the item that makes it possible. As a result, it is, according to many, the best tool in the series.

I'd like to thank all those who helped me make this list, other users of the Brawl in the Family forum, as well as my friend Laura. Thanks to all of you, it was great to get feedback on which items deserved to be on the list. If you've read this article and think I forgot one important tool, tell me in the comments! As for next week... Well, I have only two Game Boy Advance games left to be reviewed. Yu-Gi-Oh: The Sacred Cards... No, wait I'll keep that one for later. Which leaves us with... Rayman: Hoodlums' Revenge.