VR Zelda Month: Top 10 Non-Consumable Items

VR_Zelda_Month

Here’s a more conventional Zelda item countdown.

There is no doubting that one of the pillars of a successful Zelda game is a useful slate of items. The tried and true Zelda formula relies quite heavily on the regular appearance of items, which serve as handy progress markers, new ways of solving puzzles and, in the best cases, new approaches to combat. Though Zelda games are sometimes criticised for reusing much of the same set of items from game to game, the fact is that new uses for old items come up all the time, perpetuating the Zelda inventory tradition in a completely justifiable way. And, of course, there are always new items that each Zelda game brings to the fore – though some are hits and others misses.

This is probably self-explanatory, but nothing that was eligible for my last item list is eligible for this one. These ten items all stay in your inventory forever (well, except for that one bit in Skyward Sword) once you obtain them.

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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. Spoilers may follow.
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10. Mirror Shield – LttP, LA, OoT, MM, OoA, OoS, WW, MC

It has been almost a decade since the Mirror Shield, once a staple of Link’s arsenal, has appeared in a new Zelda game. That’s too long, because the usually final shield upgrade is an awesome item. It differs widely in appearance from game to game but never fails to look the part of a seriously pretty piece of back bling that almost always has the same property: the ability to reflect energy-based enemy attacks back at the user. In the later 3D games, the item’s capability increased to allow the reflection of light into new areas, giving birth to some very memorable puzzles in the likes of Ocarina of Time‘s Spirit Temple and The Wind Waker‘s Earth Temple.
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9. Sand Wand – ST

Spirit Tracks has the smallest collection of items in the entire Zelda franchise, but it sure offers up some unique ideas, the most memorable of which is the Sand Wand. This item appears in the final main dungeon, the Desert Temple/Sand Temple (depending on what regional version of the game you are playing), and forces you to think about your sandy surroundings in an entirely new way. It allows Link to temporarily raise up columns of sand dense enough to walk on, which makes for some clever (although occasionally frustrating) puzzles both inside and outside of the dungeon, some tricky enemy encounters and an amazing boss fight.
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8. Cane of Somaria – LttP, OoA

The Magic Meter is a proud, if irregular, feature of the Zelda series, and there are few items that make cooler use of it than the Cane of Somaria. Looking for a block to weigh down a switch but can’t find one anywhere? Well, for a small magic cost, you can just whip out the Cane and create one. What’s more, you can push and pull the new block like any other to solve puzzles, and if you get tired of it you’re able to detonate the block like a bomb with a much wider blast radius, putting a massive dent in most enemies if not outright dispatching them. Though not technically called the Cane of Somaria, the item makes a surprising and very welcome return as an upgrade to the Fire Rod in Four Swords Adventures, where it is without a doubt the most fun to use.
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7. Iron Boots – OoT, WW, TP

This might seem like an odd choice for this list, given the notoriously irritating debut of the Iron Boots in Ocarina of Time (specifically, having to pause the game to put them on and take them off a hundred times in that game’s Water Temple). However, the Iron Boots have only gotten better since then in my opinion (fixing their biggest problem in the Ocarina of Time 3D remake along the way). No other item more effectively illustrates the creativity of Nintendo’s Zelda team when it comes to designing items. Just look at some of the uses for the potentially boring footwear: Sink to the bottom of a body of water, walk against strong wind currents, drag heavy things down towards you, activate rusted switches, successfully wrestle with much stronger opponents, walk upside down on a magnetically charged ceiling… I mean, wow.
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6. Bow – Almost every game

It has gone by many names over the history of the Legend of Zelda series, but whether it appears as the Fairy Bow, the Hero’s Bow, the Bow & Arrows or otherwise, this string-powered weapon is a classic in every sense of the word. Used to hit eye switches and out-of-place enemy weak spots in dungeons and beyond for decades, the bow took on a new dimension in Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker when the awesome ability to fit the instrument with Fire, Ice and Light Arrows was introduced. Things got even better in Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword with intuitive motion controlled aiming and long-distance capabilities added. I can’t wait to see where the series takes it next.
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5. Double Clawshots – TP, SS

The Hookshot has long been a staple of the Zelda franchise, and a very unique one at that. What’s not to love about the freedom of latching onto a distant object and being pulled towards it? However, it was pushed off many a Zelda top ten in 2006 by the incredibly cool Double Clawshots. When Twilight Princess awarded players the Clawshot in a dungeon treasure chest, it seemed like little more than a heavy-handed way of refreshing a classic item. When another Clawshot appeared in another temple later on in the game, the initial reaction of many players was a bemused “Huh?” That is, until it became obvious what this meant. That’s right, you can jump from wall to wall now, son. You are Spider-Man, except with a sword. Metal.
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4. Zora Mask – MM

Justice dictates that I needed to include one of the twenty-something masks from Majora’s Mask on this list, so I of course picked my favourite: the Zora Mask. As one of the game’s four transformation items, the Zora Mask not only completely changes the appearance of our hero but gives him some completely new abilities. Majora’s Mask is in my opinion one of the greatest examples in all of videogames of re-purposing a previous game’s assets to achieve completely new things, and the Zora Mask is a shining example of this. It uses the basic Adult Link, shield and boomerang animations from Ocarina of Time to make you feel like a super-capable marine warrior and then adds in the ability to swim very acrobatically and very fast. Magic.
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3. Bottle – LttP, OoT, MM, WW, MC, TP, SS

It’s quite difficult to explain to a non-Zelda player just what is so damn exciting about finding a shiny new empty bottle within one of the games, but I will try anyway. Each bottle represent a world of possibilities – you can fill one with any number of useful contents and the more you have the more flexibility you are afforded in your playstyle. The classic ideal situation? A magic/stamina recovery potion for a tight spot, a health recovery potion for, um, health recovery, a fairy in case of sudden death, and an empty vessel for any story-crucial items that need transporting. Their usually prominent position on the inventory screen makes bottles even more valuable, because there are many Zelda players out there who can’t stand to finish a game with an empty spot on said screen (myself included).
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2. Boomerang – Almost every game

Few Zelda items are as recognisable and as widely represented throughout the series as the Boomerang. It has been a near-constant presence in Link’s inventory since day one, usually packing the ability to stun enemies and retrieve far-off collectible items. But it wasn’t until later Zelda games that the creative possibilities of an item that always comes back when thrown really started to be explored. My favourite incarnations of the classic item include The Wind Waker‘s multi-target capable version, the completely freeform temperature-changer of Spirit Tracks and the all-powerful secret final boss slayer from Link’s Awakening. Note: The Gale Boomerang from Twilight Princess doesn’t count. That thing was so underwhelming.
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1. Beetle – SS

The Beetle is one of the newest items in the Zelda franchise, having debuted in Skyward Sword, but I for one never want to play another Zelda game without it. I mean, for one, just look at it. Quite apart from the sheer cool factor inherent in a remote controlled (literally) flying machine that cuts stuff, the Beetle is just incredibly useful and keeps relevance throughout the game like few other recent Zelda items have. Its upgraded capacity to carry and drop bombs makes it even more fun to use, both for combat and puzzle solving, and on top of that it can be fitted with a faster motor and stronger armour. No other item ever had a chance, really.

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Honorable Mentions
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Hurricane/Whirlwind – ST
Recent Zelda games often choose to show off one of their brand new items in the first dungeon of the game (see the Beetle above) and Spirit Tracks follows this trend with the Hurricane. Resembling a more straightforward and less pretentious version of the Gale Boomerang, the Hurricane (the Whirlwind in the US version) can be used to dislodge items, stun enemies and overturn leafy piles holding precious treasures beneath them. It’s controlled by blowing into the microphone, but it works every time, so that arguably makes it more immersive than annoying.

Deku Leaf – WW
Another item that blows a gust of wind when used, achieving similar effects as well, the Deku Leaf has a secondary function that essentially allows Link to glide over long distances in the direction of the wind while slowly using up his magic meter. The game constantly presents situations where it can be used long after it is first obtained, making it a piece of kit that is synonymous with The Wind Waker in general.

Spinner – TP
Despite the sheer next-to-uselessness of the item outside of the dungeon in which it is found, the Spinner from Twilight Princess still stands out among Zelda items for its uniqueness and how much fun it is to use within said dungeon. Zipping around indented tracks at high speed before launching off into an unsuspecting enemy, shredding it in an instant, never gets old. Until the game arbitrarily declares that it’s old, of course.

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