VR Zelda Month: Top 10 Consumable Items

Post number 150 on Vagrant Rant!

VR_Zelda_Month

For all the “Top Ten Zelda Items” lists that are floating around the internet these days, the ten inventory fillers you’re about to see tend to get rather ignored (with one possible exception). They literally come and go, getting used up and forgotten without so much as a second thought. Yet I have a soft spot for all of them and believe that each has something memorable to offer the Zelda experience. So here we go: My top ten consumable items in Zelda games.

A quick note: This list does not contain any so-called “power-up” items, because they tend not to show up in your inventory. To qualify for this list, an item needs to both show up on an inventory screen somewhere and have a number in the corner of its icon. Also, ammunition items like slingshot pellets and arrows do not count, because each is forever linked to a non-consumable item.

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VR ZELDA MONTH DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. Respectful disagreement is welcome.
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10. Bombchus – OoT, MM

Mechanised exploding mice – what’s not to like? Bomchus are what happen when you put a motor on a bomb and set it free. It isn’t guaranteed to hit anything – heck, it isn’t even guaranteed to go in a straight line – but it sure is fun to put down and see what happens. Judging the timing for a successful run that ends in an explosion at just the right time is plenty satisfying, particularly when engaging in the Bomchu Bowling minigame of Ocarina of Time. Bomchus don’t play a large role in the main gameplay thread of either of the N64 games by any means, but they get a chance to shine in the special edition Ocarina of Time: Master Quest dungeons.
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9. Deku Sticks – OoT, MM

Before getting a sword in Ocarina of Time, the humble Deku Stick is really quite a useful tool. Just as easy to find as they are to break, Deku Sticks still go to work when used as weapons against early-game enemies. They also have an extremely long range, giving them some use as a combat alternative to the Kokiri Sword in certain situations even after it is obtained. Then, of course, there’s their importance as a method of transferring fire to light torches and burn spiderwebs inside the Great Deku Tree, perhaps the most famous opening dungeon in Zelda history. Their role in Majora’s Mask is nowhere near as iconic, but they’re still fun to mess around with in the early stages of the game and are quite an integral part of the first temple.
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8. Hyoi Pears – WW

If you ask me, it’s the little things that make The Wind Waker the amazing and much-beloved game that it is. For every gigantic moment that really makes you feel like the Hero of Winds, there’s a small island to discover, a charming NPC or a nook hiding a secret somewhere just out of reach. For the latter, sometimes you just need to entice a seagull to eat a piece of fruit that replaces its mind with a blank void, allowing you to completely control its movements and somehow telepathically send whatever the bird picks up straight into Link’s inventory. All weirdness aside, the moment I discovered that I could pull off that completely unadvertised trick was just one of the small moments that made the first cel-shaded Zelda game such a great experience.
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7. Ember Seeds – OoA, OoS

Setting things alight in the early stages of a Zelda game is a time-honoured tradition – see Deku Sticks above, or the Lantern/Lamp in Twilight Princess and a few of the 2D Zelda games. However, my favourite way of burning stuff in the series comes from a game I haven’t even finished – Oracle of Seasons. Lighting torches with combustible seeds is one thing, but the ability to set an enemy ablaze extremely quickly with one button press just takes these unassuming items to another level. The enforced limitations of having to find the seeds lying around means spamming them into bored disuse is very difficult, so they stay balanced and memorable.
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6. Bugs – SS

Bugs have made some kind of appearance in quite a few Zelda games, occasionally in capturable form as in Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess. But my favourite place to interact with bugs in the Zelda series is in Skyward Sword, where they appear in their most widely varied form ever and actually have a dynamic use: potion upgrades. Nintendo took some quite ingenious inspiration from some of its other franchises, most prominently the Metroid games, in its design of the game, but it’s the unexpected Animal Crossing influence in the way bugs are caught that resonated the most with me on my first playthrough, for better or worse. I needed them to upgrade all my drinks, but those damn cicadas just wouldn’t sit still!
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5. Powder Keg – MM

Few resources in Majora’s Mask are more precious and more devastating than the powder keg. You can only ever hold one at a time, only Link’s Goron form can hold it and as soon as you bring it out, a timer starts until the inevitable gigantic explosion is unleashed. It is necessary for a number of tasks in the game that normal bombs just can’t handle. The sheer pressure of needing to get it to a certain location before it explodes, avoiding enemies and constantly second-guessing whether you are taking the absolute straightest path possible, makes it memorable enough to rank highly on this list.
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4. Magic Powder – LttP, LA

Though Magic Powder first appeared in A Link to the Past, it used a magic meter to power its use in that game, so only its Link’s Awakening incarnation technically qualifies for this list. However, both instances of Magic Powder are extremely useful in a tight spot. Turning an otherwise invincible enemy into a fairy that restores your health is the most obvious example of this, but really the, erm, magic of Magic Powder is that if it’s your first time using it, you just don’t know what it will do when applied to different situations. Sprinkle it on a bush, an enemy, an item, anything really, and watch in amazement (or, alternatively, disappointment) at what happens next.
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3. Deku Nuts – OoT, MM

So optional, so underrated, so useful – the humble Deku Nut always made me feel like a ninja when I used one at just the right time to stun an enemy before making a strategic escape or attack, back in the days when I was first experiencing the N64 Zelda games. For me, no other item in the series better exemplifies the surprising freedom of combat options that the best Zelda games embrace. Deku Nuts are extremely handy for reaching Dodongo weak spots, immobilising irritatingly quick enemies, getting an extra hit in against certain bosses and damaging Ganon when your sword isn’t with you. That’s right, damaging him. If that isn’t cool enough for you, how about the ability to use them to go on a bombing run while flying around as Deku Link in Majora’s Mask, or the fact that the already badass Shiek uses them to paralyze you long enough to make repeated getaways in Ocarina of Time? Yeah, don’t mess with these things.
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2. Treasures/Spoils – WW, PH, ST, SS

One of the Zelda series’ most enduring challenges is finding ways to reward players for sidequests that differ from the standard heart piece/bomb bag/quiver upgrade scenario. Though some games have gotten this woefully wrong in my opinion, the introduction of spoils in The Wind Waker and the evolution of the idea into treasures in the likes of Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword present a clever solution. Each acquisition of a shiny new collectible artifact works towards a greater, more desirable goal in these games, whether it be a secret mask, a useful item upgrade or an amazing-looking train car. This may seem inconsequential to some, but as someone who values rewarding sidequests above almost everything else in a Zelda game, it’s a big deal to me.
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1. Bombs – Almost every game

There was never really any chance of another item ending up at the top of this list. Bombs are up there with the boomerang and the master sword in terms of the most recognisable items in the entire Zelda series. They are almost always a welcome addition to Link’s arsenal because they are synonymous with secrets – there is very often a cracked wall nearby in a Zelda game just waiting to be vandalised in the most destructive way possible just so Link can enter once, grab some treasure and leave, never to return again. Yet what really gets these peaceful items to the top of my list is their sheer versatility. They are a handy (if risky) shortcut to dispatching a pesky enemy, and in latter games they can be lifted on whirlwinds, rolled like a bowling ball, harvested from plants, carried by portable aircraft and even stuck to the end of a bow and fired into distant obstacles. Guaranteed fun.

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Honorable Mentions
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Magic Beans – OoT, MM
Magic Beans are really handy in Ocarina of Time because they allow you access to a handful of heart pieces as an adult if you take the time to plant them as a child. However, most of these can be reached as a child anyway through cuccoos/Z-targeting backflips/other neat tricks, so my favourite use of the strange legumes has to be the fun platforming sections in the Deku Palace and beyond from Majora’s Mask.

All-Purpose Bait – WW
I really, really enjoyed the cartography elements in The Wind Waker, as the map was so nicely segmented that completing it always felt like a pleasant extra-mile kind of experience. I know it annoyed some people, but I was definitely a fan. So the bait necessary to lure out the map-loving fish of the Great Sea is rather close to my heart. As long as I had a good amount stocked up at all times, I felt like I could take on the world.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Zack on December 15, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I feel that you have neglected to mention the most important of consumable items in your post.

    The fish from Zelda: Ocarina of Time, hereby referred to as Zoot from this moment of time.

    Rendered by what can only be referred to as a gorgeous 21bit colour output, the fish is nothing short of pure eye candy. The coding wizards at Nintendo have successfully imagined how a fish should fit into the Zoot universe in both it’s bottled and unbottled state.

    Upon capturing the fish in its polygonal beauty and assigning it to a C Button you realise that Nintendo has captured its beauty twice. Contrasting beautifully to the yellow in the C Button, the fish is now in an illustrated form.

    Ha, listen to me waffle about the beauty of the fish, you would think that the fish served no purpose other than to remind humans that they are capable of love. You would be wrong for thinking this. Shame on you.

    The fish stops Link from staying young. But fish contain essential Omega-3 oils that scientists have proven help rejuvenate skin cells and promoting a youthful look, I hear you say. Shame on you again. Wait until I am finished before you make assumptions.

    Upon placing said fish in front of Lord Jabu-Jabu (whose image many believe was inspired by this very fish) he opens his mouth, inhales you and allows you to progress through the game. If it wasn’t for this fish, link would only have two spiritual stones and would probably aimlessly wander through the lost woods for the rest of the game.

    Anyone who does not consider this the most amazing of consumables should be kicked in the deku nuts.

    Reply

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