Well, I was wrong. At least one dungeon in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has multiple floors. Indeed, the Ancient Cistern has both a 1F and a B1. Also, like the first two dungeons, it is a teeny-tiny little thing. Seriously, it’s like five rooms. Two of those rooms are massive, but that’s besides the point.
It’s also worth noting that the Ancient Cistern is aesthetically my absolute favourite dungeon in the entire series. It’s bright and vibrant, full of gold, blue, and green. It has a very pleasant Buddhist temple aesthetic that jives so perfectly well with the game’s painterly visual style. It’s just really nice.
At least, that’s the first floor. The basement is the exact opposite: a nightmarish cavern of black and purple, home to massive pits of bones and bubbling, otherworldly goo. It’s also packed to the gills with zombified bokoblins, who pose no threat at all but take about eleventy billion hits to kill (or a well-timed finishing strike). It is the polar opposite of the upper section of the temple, making the dungeon a complete rendering of Paradise and Hell.
And the treasure here is the whip. Not the hookshot, as I had guessed. The whip is kind of boring. All it does is pull switches from a distance. I guess you can also steal items from monsters? Whatever.
On the other hand, the boss, Koloktos is really cool. He’s a massive golden golem with six wind-up arms. Pull them apart with the whip and then stab him in the heart. It’s actually a very Zelda-ish boss for once! But then he grows legs, and you can grab one of his oversized swords once you pull off an arm and then use it to chop off all of his other limbs. On top of being really satisfying, it’s a fun reference to picking up and using enemy weapons in Wind Waker. And you know I approve of all things Wind Waker!
After the boss was defeated, my sword got longer and sharper, then I flew around for a while looking for some heart pieces. I like Skyward Sword on the whole, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t have the most awful mini-games in the entire series. The bamboo game is tedious and physically painful, and the cannon game is more about crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, more than anything. Just awful. I really hope those are the only two.
One odd note about Skyward Sword, is that motion-control swording makes is unusually difficult to chop down grass. Like, I’ll sit there swinging wildly at a tuft of grass from every angle for ten seconds, only for it to sway back and forth in the draft of the attacks. Then I’ll give up and just do a spin attack. It’s so weird.
Moving on, I was made to go back to the Temple of Songs or whatever (gah! more tedious flying!) and learn a new tune that will be used once and then forgotten. Like the last one, it opened the way to a Silent Realm, this one in Lanayru Desert.
The second Silent Realm trial is a little bit harder than the first, because you’re given a much bigger area to traverse, where the means of getting up to any elevated point isn’t always clear. Plus there’s this one part where you have to push a minecart out of a pool of “alert water” that wakes up all the robots, which is just lame. But overall, I think it was still a fun little challenge. Unexpectedly, I was given not one, but two clawshots for completing it! I’m starting to suspect that like Wind Waker, there may have been a dungeon or two cut from Skyward Sword in order to get it onto store shelves on time. I won’t be doing any research to prove or disprove that hypothesis, though.
Like I’d suggested previously, the clawshots allow you get damn near everywhere in the desert, including a few places that were just out of reach before. Of course, the most interesting place you can now go is Lanayru Sand Sea, which is an even more massive desert, which was apparently an ocean in ages past. A handy-dandy boat sits on the lone pier, and it just happens to be outfitted with a timeshift stone that will “revive” a circle of ocean around it, allowing you to drive around on the high seas. Sort of.
This is where I need to point out that the ocean is so gorgeous. It’s like Super Mario Sunshine on crack. The crystal-clear water, icy blue reefs, and rainbow-coloured coral below are absolutely breath-taking. I don’t remember if you ever manage to bring a bigger portion of it back from its sandy grave, but I sincerely hope so. Seeing the full, majestic ocean would certainly be much more enjoyable than peering at it through a looking glass of sorts.
Oh, and of course, we’re boating around on the ocean again: Hooray for Wind Waker!
I ended this week’s leg of the journey not at the doorstep of the next dungeon, but at the doorstep of the robot captain who owns the boat I’ve been boating around in. His house is inexplicably at the top of a very tall set of stone spires. Not the most convenient place to live, I’d think.