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Do you think Ocarina of Time’s Water Temple is a hard dungeon, a bad dungeon, both, or neither?

Any discussion about how well OoT has aged will inevitably gravitate toward the issue of the Water Temple. This dungeon is often regarded like Halo 1's The Library, Dragon Age 1's The Fade, Max Payne 1's second blood trail maze, the escort mission from Goldeneye 64, the remote controlled vehicle missions in GTA Vice City, etc, in that it is the fly in an otherwise great soup.

I had a bit of trouble with the dungeon myself, but the issue was one very well-hidden key. I wasn't angry that the key was hidden the way it was, in fact I thought it was very clever and that whoever hid that key there was a sly dog. I didn't think the dungeon was badly designed (its actually a favorite) or particularly difficult (there hasn't been a difficult Zelda dungeon since Zelda 2 for me, and if you want to play a hard Zelda, it is called Alundra), and I found having to equip the boots repeatedly was just a minor nuisance, but I think the dungeon is a bit jarring because it seems less linear than the other dungeons in the game, and it seems to hold your hand less. This is the dungeon where the training wheels finally come off, only to get screwed back on immediately afterwards for the very easy Shadow and Spirit Temples.

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The real issue, I think, is that this is the one dungeon in the entire game where the puzzle solutions aren't immediately obvious and the dungeon design isn't clear-cut and hand-holdy (the only dungeon that doesn't say "Psst, hey, look at this, go here, this is the way to the exit/key/treasure/boss! Am I being obvious enough?" in every room). I think the Water Temple is a good dungeon, but its one that doesn't fit in with the rest of the game's design. I think the Water Temple might've found a better home in a different game with a different design philosophy. By the time you get to the Water Dungeon, you've already done the Deku Tree, Dodongo's Cavern, Jabu-Jabu, Forest Temple, and Fire Temple, you're probably at least 10 hours into the game and you've been weened on those styles of mostly linear, mostly easy dungeons where the path forward is usually almost obvious. The Water Temple is an abrupt 180 from that. It actually expects the player to THINK three-dimensionally, think outside the box, to consider every possibility that comes from controlling the water on each floor. Then the the game jumps back in line with its former easy design when you reach the Shadow Temple and sticks with it for the rest of the game. The Water Temple sticks out like a sore thumb because it is so different than all the dungeons surrounding it. It belonged in a different game.

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Its like if Taylor Swift released an album where the first 8 tracks are her usual accessible radio-friendly pop songs, then on track 9 she hires the band Tool as guests and together they make a 15-minute epic prog song filled with deep philosophical meanings, complex time signature changes, and a 3-minute guitar solo. That song wouldn't necessarily be bad, but Swift's teenage girl audience would mostly be like "wtf is THIS!?" and hate it. Then from track 10 onward, the rest of the album is her usual radio pop fare. Track 9 will stick out like a sore thumb and her teen fans will remember it as "that one goddamn song I wish wasn't on the album".

Of course, this is all my perspective and opinion, and I've been wrong before, so I'd like to hear your take on the Water Temple. Is it hard? Is it bad? Does its design fit in snugly with the rest of the game's? Maybe you're actually a fan of it? Maybe you hate the N64 version, but the 3DS version's changes redeemed it for you?


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