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!
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
9. Mirror Shield
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...|
6. Fierce Deity's Mask
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?
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!
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.