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The Water Temple is an area from the 1998 Nintendo 64 video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was created by Ocarina of Time director Eiji Aonuma, who was inspired to create the dungeon by his love for diving. It has the player raising and lowering water levels to access different areas while equipping a pair of Iron Boots to sink to the bottom. The difficulty of navigation combined with the cumbersome nature of using the Iron Boots led to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D including several changes to the dungeon to assist players. It also caused Aonuma to apologize for the issues, while noting that the dungeon was not difficult so much as it was frustrating.

Water Temple
'The Legend of Zelda' location
Water Temple map.jpg
A map of the Water Temple
First appearanceThe Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Created byEiji Aonuma


Concept and designEdit

In-game screenshot of the Water Temple in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. The 3DS release adds glowing indicators to tell players where to go.

The Water Temple originally appeared in the 1998 Nintendo 64 video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was one of the levels that the protagonist Link explores as an adult.[1] The temple was constructed to worship water spirits and was guarded by Zoras.[2] It is found in Lake Hylia, which is at the time negatively affected by Ganondorf and an entity in the Water Temple.[2][1] The dungeon is located underneath Lake Hylia and is a large, multi-leveled dungeon. Players raise and lower the water level in various wings of the dungeon to access new areas.[2] It can be accessed through a combination of equipment, including the Iron Boots which allows Link to sink in water; the Zora's Tunic, which allows Link to breathe underwater; and the Hookshot, which allows Link to hook onto objects far away and pull him closer.[2][3] While in the dungeon, Link encounters Princess Ruto, a character from Link's past, who aids Link.[citation needed] Link battles his alter-ego Dark Link in the Room of Illusion, which features shallow water and a lone tree on a patch of land.[1] At the end, Link faces the dungeon's master, Morpha, a large water amoeba creature. Upon its defeat, Lake Hylia returns to normal.[2][citation needed] Ruto is awoken as one of the seven sages, who corresponds to the Water Temple.[citation needed] Another version of Ocarina of Time was released called The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest, which features harder versions of each dungeon, including the Water Temple.[3]

Game director Eiji Aonuma cited the inspiration for the Water Temple to be from deep-sea diving. He stated that he "love[s] diving in the sea" and added diving-based puzzles to the Water Temple to reflect this.[4] He said that it was the one aspect of the design of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that he found most regretful.[5] Shigeru Miyamoto felt that needing to pause to equip and unequip the Iron Boots in the Water Temple was cumbersome, leading them to fix this for the 3DS release by allowing players to do so without pausing.[6] During an interview about The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D between Aonuma and IGN, Aonuma felt that water levels like the Water Temple were a difficult thing for The Legend of Zelda designers to overcome.[7]

In Ocarina of Time 3DEdit

In response to the criticism of the level in Ocarina of Time, the designers of the 2011 Nintendo 3DS video game remake The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D sought to fix the level's issues. The level design remained the same, but was modified to feature red and green lights that direct players on the path to areas where they can raise or lower the water in the temple.[8] The dualscreens featured on the Nintendo 3DS also allows players to navigate their inventory and manage their items more quickly and easily.[8] Aonuma cited the Water Temple as one reason he wanted to create Ocarina of Time 3D, so that he could fix it.[9]


Eiji Aonuma, the game's director, recognized the flaws he made in designing the level in later interviews

Since its appearance in Ocarina of Time, the Water Temple received mixed reception for its level of difficulty. Aonuma issued an apology over the issues found in the Water Temple.[10] Aonuma disagreed with the sentiment that it was a difficult dungeon, arguing instead that having to take on and off the Iron Boots made it inconvenient.[11] Aonuma still considers it one of his favorite The Legend of Zelda levels.[12] Miyamoto teased Aonuma when an interviewer asked if players could skip "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's Water Temple," which he responded to by saying "He didn't make the dungeons, so we're fine".[13]

GamesRadar's Joe McNeilly considered it one of the worst levels in any video game and claimed that it prevented Ocarina of Time from being the best video game ever.[14] Inverse's Nicholas Bashore included the Water Temple in his article about the lack of great water levels. He called it the "perfect example" of a failed attempt to make a water level while calling it a bad representation of being underwater due to how slow Link moves underwater. He also criticized "dark and indistinguishable" design as being part of why the dungeon was difficult to navigate.[15] Edge staff felt that its challenge derived from players' lack of direction rather than its enemies or obstacles and called it one of the most "mind-bending" stages in the franchise.[4] Game Informer writer Dan Ryckert felt that the thing most The Legend of Zelda fans would say is the worst part of Ocarina of Time would be the Water Temple, which he found annoying to control water levels and use the Iron Boots.[16] Outlets such as BBC and Slate made reference to the challenge of the Water Temple. The former compared the "meltdown" some players experienced in the Water Temple to the one some people had in response to the Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog films, while the latter compared finding "community among other gay men" as a "Water Temple-level task".[17][18] Authors Ennio De Nucci and Adam Kramarzewski included the Water Temple in their discussion of level design in video games due to its controversy among The Legend of Zelda dungeons for its design. They question whether the designers understood how "tedious and confusing" the Water Temple was while designing it.[2]

Other critics felt more fondly of the level. Official Nintendo Magazine's Colette Barr called it one of her favorite The Legend of Zelda dungeons, though also saying that she had a "love/hate relationship" with it and was "dreading" it in the 3DS version.[19] GameZone's David Sanchez said that it has a "challenging" and "deep" level design and was possibly the best dungeon in the series. He suggested that players who had trouble with the dungeon were not paying attention to the environment.[20] Eurogamer's Oli Welsh wrote an article in celebration of Ocarina of Time's 20th anniversary stating that the Water Temple was an easier dungeon than people seemed to think. He said that it was infamous among The Legend of Zelda fans, and noted that people who found it to have "torturous difficulty" felt this way not because of a relative lack of threatening aspects but rather because it was "inscrutable". He felt that the Iron Boots, while annoying to equip, were not enough to make the dungeon a "gaming nightmare". He also argued that stages such as the Stone Tower Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask were more difficult than the Water Temple, and that the reason the Water Temple stands out is because players were not yet used to 3D The Legend of Zelda games.[21] Fellow Eurogamer writer Tom Massey felt that the Water Temple was the best dungeon in Ocarina of Time and "one that represents the ambition, success, and peak of Japan's mastery in the medium".[22] Destructoid's Chad Concelmo listed it ninth on his list of the hardest The Legend of Zelda dungeons. He explained that while it is difficult, it is not as difficult as people remember. The worst part for Concelmo was a specific key that he forgets about every time he plays the dungeon.[23] An IGN writer noted that they were not sold on the touchscreen use in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time until they got to the Water Temple.[24] Author Anthony Bean, Phd discussed the Water Temple's literal water cleansing following its completion as an analogue to Link's spiritual growth through his adult years.[1] Bean also touched upon the Room of Illusion, discussing the lone tree in its center as potentially relating to both the Great Deku Tree and the Kokiri Forest, both of which Link has lost. He also notes that Dark Link was reflective of Link challenging and accepting an undesirable aspect of himself as well as further representing Link's feelings of "loss and resentment".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Bean, Anthony (2019). The Psychology of Zelda: Linking Our World to the Legend of Zelda Series. BenBella Books. ISBN 1946885738.
  2. ^ a b c d e f De Nucci, Ennio; Kramarzewski, Adam (2018). Practical Game Design: Learn the art of game design through applicable skills and cutting-edge insights. Packt Publishing. pp. 204, 205. ISBN 1787122166.
  3. ^ a b Macale, Sherilynn (May 11, 2011). "Hands-on: Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3Ds's Master Quest mode". Destructoid. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Time Extend: The Legend Of Zelda – Ocarina Of Time". Edge. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  5. ^ Funk, John (June 17, 2010). "Ocarina of Time's Water Temple Won't Suck in 3DS Remake". Escapist Magazine. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  6. ^ Boxer, Steve (May 25, 2011). "Nintendo's guru: talking game design with Shigeru Miyamoto". The Guardian. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  7. ^ Otero, Jose (February 18, 2015). "9 Things You Didn't Know About Zelda: Majora's Mask 3DS". IGN. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Elston, Brett (2011-05-12). "Ocarina of Time 3D: Hands-on with boss rush and... ugh, the Water Temple". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  9. ^ Iwata, Satoru. ""I've Got to Fix the Water Temple!"". Nintendo. p. 3. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  10. ^ Woolf, Nicky (2009-11-25). "Eiji Aonuma and the spirit of adventure". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  11. ^ Serrells, Mark (July 9, 2013). "Ocarina of Time's dungeon design explored". Kotaku. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  12. ^ "Zelda Director Aonuma Apologizes for Water Temple, Talks MotionPlus, and More". GameZone. May 4, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  13. ^ Gerardi, Matt (February 9, 2017). "Ultimate troll Shigeru Miyamoto says Link's full name is "Link Link"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  14. ^ McNeilly, Joe (2010-03-25). "5 reasons to hate Zelda". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  15. ^ Bashore, Nicholas (December 23, 2015). "There Is No Great Underwater Video Game, but There Will Be". Inverse. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  16. ^ Ryckert, Dan (November 29, 2009). "Zelda Director Apologizes For Ocarina Water Temple, Hints At Link Taking Flight". Game Informer. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  17. ^ Smith, Chris (May 1, 2019). "Sonic the Hedgehog's teeth and why video game movies struggle". BBC. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  18. ^ Ford, Zack (April 17, 2019). "A Jock With Glasses Is Not a Geek". Slate. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  19. ^ Barr, Colette (2012-02-19). "Best Zelda Dungeons". Official Nintendo Magazine. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  20. ^ Sanchez, David (2011-11-17). "Looking Back at the Water Temple: Best Zelda Dungeon Ever?". GameZone. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  21. ^ Welsh, Oli (November 23, 2018). "The Water Temple isn't as difficult as we remember". Eurogamer. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  22. ^ Massey, Tom (October 27, 2013). "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time retrospective". Eurogamer. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  23. ^ Concelmo, Chad (November 17, 2011). "The ten most difficult Zelda dungeons EVER!". Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  24. ^ "Was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Worth Revisiting?". IGN. June 30, 2011. Retrieved May 2, 2019.