Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past #2 - Eastern Palace, Desert Palace

Link is now a wanted man! I think he could solve most of his problems by taking off the hat.

This guy in a house gives our hero some backstory on a much-later dungeon. Blind the Thief was a nefarious villain in the Light World until he eventually ended up in the Dark World as one of Ganon's lieutenants. He hates bright light, because he's from the Mirror Universe.

The first of many, many pieces of heart. I'll be getting ALL of them. No exceptions. It's going to be a haul.

This trove of rupees is very important in the early game, and allows you to buy...

...the second Bottle. Now that I've got half of them, I just need to find a fairy spring and put the Bug-Catching Net to use on the little buggers. That tool has another, particularly cool use...more on that later.

Protip: Yank on this painting and rupees fly out of the wall. That was someone's life savings! No wonder this guy is a fugitive!

Another of the game's more poignant characters, the Flute Boy plays for an audience of enthralled woodland creatures. Unfortunately, he's a ghost, a remnant of what once was. At least until he's suddenly alive again in the ending, rendering this touching story moot. Disney's Doug!

Meanwhile, the guards are getting really aggressive. Some of them are chasing down our hero with bows, which is a portent of the item I'll be getting very soon...

The next dungeon is the Eastern Palace, but first we make a pit stop at this stone building nearby. This is the study hall of Sahasrahla, the wisest man in Hyrule.

...YES! I spelled it right!

What's the deal with the Eastern Palace though? Hyrule already has a main palace. Is this place just a barracks for the soldiers? A summer home for the queen, since she and the king only maintain their loveless marriage for show? How does this version of Hyrule WORK, dammit?

This is the first "real" dungeon, as the palace sewers were more of an "intro level" to acclimate the player to the controls. The most memorable thing about this place is the room where you have to dodge cannonballs.

Also memorable: The first Big Chest. You can see it well before you can reach it, and it's tantalizing. What's in it?

When you finally reach can't open it yet because you don't have the right key. This game is a damn tease.

Acquiring the big key is always one of the high points of any given dungeon. It's a rush of accomplishment.

The big treasure of the first dungeon is this fearsome weapon. It's a game-changer to say the least. No longer will I be menaced by soldiers with bows, or forced to engage in close combat with everything.

Another cannonball room. Since this is the most generic dungeon in the game, the cannonballs are the closest it gets to having a unique theme. These challenges aren't as difficult as they look, though, and actually do a lot to improve the player's dodging ability.

The first boss is one of the more memorable fights on the Super NES. There are six of them, but they all move in concert with each other making them easy to avoid. If they all attacked independently this fight would be pretty damn difficult.

Winning is a matter of pummeling them with arrows from a safe distance. The sword works too if you run out of arrows, but it's definitely not preferable. Luckily it's difficult to run out.

Once only one remains, it turns red and goes berserk. At this point the sword is more convenient, and victory is a matter of lots of spin attacks.

They also protected the virginity of the seven sages...the same virginity that is now imperiled by the reign of Agahnim. Don't look at me like that, I didn't vote for the guy!

These boots are useful for getting around faster, plus you can break through weaker bomb-blocks.

It's a good thing Link can run fast now because this girl just called the cops on him for Walking While Link. Get outta there, Link!

The boots are necessary to get the Book of Mudora, a book that translates Hylian to English. This is probably the blandest item in the game, and I think you use it all of like two times.

Next stop: The Lost Woods. Though it's really just a detour to get...

...the red mushroom, prized throughout Hyrule for its hallucinogenic properties.

Bring the 'shroom to the witch and she'll make you some Magic Powder (Tijuana street value 800 pesos). Unfortunately, the witch decides to make you wait...and wait. Link tries flirting by hiking up his skirt and showing some leg, to no avail.

This mega-rock always intrigued me. As a kid I returned here with the Titan's Mitt later on to see if I could pick it up...turns out it's about as liftable as Thor's Hammer.

These are incredibly valuable in the early game because they revive you upon death. The heart restoration is a mere six hearts, though, and later in the game you rely more on potions.

The unfortunately short ice cavern concludes with the Ice Rod, another item with limited application. I wish this place were a bit more involved, since ice caverns tend to be pretty rad in 16-bit games.

Another detour has me going to the Light World's version of the Swamp Palace, which is more like a Swamp Shack. Here, you can literally drain the swamp to get...

...another Piece of Heart! Just two more of these and I'll actually see results, like being consistent with a workout regimen.

Our next stop is the desert. I've always wondered what the deal was with this octopus-shape thing. Is there a creature under the sand? Did ancient peoples draw this to flag down UFOs, ala the Nazca Lines?

But first! Another Piece of Heart is found in a cave near the dungeon entrance.

The Book of Mudora finally gets some use, as you need it to read the glyph outside the Desert Palace and actually get into the place.

This requires Link to make a wish that none of us are privy to. I think the idea is that the player makes a wish at this point.

Little-known fact: In the original Japanese version, Link wished for a passionate BJ and a mountain of coke. They had to change this to something ambiguous to be politically correct for the U.S. version because, you know, Nintendo.

After all of those odds and ends, it's finally time for the Desert Palace. I'm getting a lot of odds and ends out of the way early in this playthrough. The Desert Palace is very different in look and feel from the Eastern Palace.

Most notably, it debuts these extremely aggressive laser-firing eye-totems that quickly become the bane of your existence.

It's a really short dungeon overall, though. Within five minutes of getting there I've already got the Big Key and the Power Glove. Aside from being so bad, this glove lets Link pick up rocks and boulders. Only the brighter-green ones, though. The dark green ones require the Titan's Mitt, acquired much later.

On a cliff outside the western exit of the Palace one can find the fourth heart piece, which finally completes a heart. This will give me 20% more HP against the next boss. Speaking of the next boss, this part's a little confusing. The Desert Palace is actually two different dungeons with two different entrances, and until the player realizes that they can end up wandering around the first floor for a while.

The second floor entrance is actually over here, something I totally forgot about (so yes, I went back in and wandered around the first floor for a bit, totally negating the Desert Palace Speed Run I had going up to that point).

The next boss is the Lanmola...or rather, three of them. Interesting how there are six of the first boss and three of the second boss. To keep up the pattern, the third boss should have been one and a half bosses.

This is one of the very, very few places where the Ice Rod is useful, as it totally annihilates these guys if you can line up your shots.

That's two out of three. Unfortunately WE'RE OUTTA TIME FOR TODAY super-fans!

Well, not quite out of time yet. The next part involves traversing another dark cave. At first I thought this old guy was leading me into a trap, but he turned out to be a steadfast ally.

More importantly than all of that a GOOMBA on the left there?

He gives our hero the Magic Mirror, which lets you warp from the Dark World to the Light World (but not vice-versa for some reason).

That'll do it for today. Next stop: The Tower of Hera, a particularly majestic locale.


  1. The painting tells us that Mario is Money.

    I guess the wish is "I want to get into this dungeon."

    The biggest tease are those fake master swords in the Lost Woods.

  2. I never realized the painting was of Mario until Brayn mentioned it. Thanks, Brayn!

    Flute Boy was brought back by Link, because Link found out who he was and remembered him and wanted to bring him back. Which is ALSO touching: His musical spirit made him remembered, and memory led to his return.

    Congrats on getting Sahasrahla's name right. I would have guessed it was Sarashala.

    If I had to make up a story, the Eastern Palace is there because it's on the other side of the river and is an outpost to defend the east. However, it's not as nice, because obviously you'd put the good castle between the natural defenses (the mountain, forest, and river) and on the river.

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