A dungeon entrance from The Legend of Zelda.
Dungeons appear in every single Zelda game in one form or another. Usually going through a dungeon follows a specific pattern: obtain a Map, Compass, and a Boss Key/Big Key in that order, obtaining small keys and a main dungeon item(s) along the way, then defeat a boss using said item, completing the said dungeon. Completing dungeons require puzzle solving and combat. The following is an outline of what dungeons are like in different games.
The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda had 9 dungeons in total. All of the dungeons had a lot of rectangle shaped rooms usually filled with enemies, and they all had a compass, a map, and one or more items. They each had a boss, although some of the bosses were recycled.
The Adventure of Link
In The Adventure of Link side-scrolling dungeons replace the overhead view in the original game. While keys can be used in dungeons other than which they are found, doing so could make completing certain levels impossible until late in the game after acquiring the Magic Key. Unlike other games in the series, no other dungeon items are present. In total, there are seven dungeons in The Adventure of Link.
A Link to the Past
At this time dungeons started to be more linear. In A Link to the Past each dungeon had a specific item which would be used to defeat the boss and get to the next dungeon. Each dungeon also had a Map, Compass, and a Big Key. All keys were specific to each dungeon. There were no side-scrolling segments at all. There were fourteen(?) dungeons in A Link to the Past.
Link's Awakening brought back some side-scrolling to get to different parts of a dungeon, but most gameplay was still played with an overhead view. The Map, Compass and Big Key were back (called a Nightmare's Key in Link's Awakening); the compass had an added feature of beeping whenever a key was in a room Link entered. All keys were specific to their dungeon. Mini-bosses were present, also the bosses (Nightmares) and the mini-bosses were given more personality in this game. In Link's Awakening, there were eight main dungeons
Ocarina of Time
As Zelda switched to a 3D perspective of course dungeons shifted to 3D perspective. Ocarina of Time's dungeons are varied and feature very unique puzzles. The Map, Compass, and Boss Key were included, and also an item that was usually required to defeat the boss. Again, keys were specific to each dungeon. There were nine main dungeons and 3 mini-dungeons in Ocarina of Time.
Here is a listing of all of the dungeons found within The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Dungeons in Majora's Mask were pretty much the same as Ocarina of Time's dungeon (see above). Except to enter the dungeons in Majora's Mask requires a large amount of exposition before each one. There are only four main dungeons in Majora's Mask.
Oracle of Seasons
Oracle of Ages
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords
Due to the multiplayer element of Four Swords, dungeons were very different from previous installments. No specific dungeon items, Big Keys, Compasses, or Maps were in the game. They included two segments and a boss battle. There were four dungeons in the original Four Swords plus a training area and ten plus a training area in the anniversary edition.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
- Main article: Deepwood Shrine
Cave of Flames
- Main article: Cave of Flames
Fortress of Winds
- Main article: Fortress of Winds
Temple of Droplets
- Main article: Temple of Droplets
- Main article: Royal Crypt
- Main article: Cloud Tops
Palace of Winds
- Main article: Palace of Winds
- Main article: Elemental Sanctuary
Dark Hyrule Castle
- Main article: Dark Hyrule Castle
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The dungeons in Twilight Princess were almost exactly the same as the ones in Ocarina of Time (see above). There were nine main dungeons in total.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Temple of Fire
- Main article: Temple of Fire
Temple of Wind
- Main article: Temple of Wind
Temple of Courage
- Main article: Temple of Courage
- Main article: Ghost Ship (Phantom Hourglass)
- Main article: Goron Temple
Temple of Ice
- Main article: Temple of Ice
- Main article: Mutoh's Temple
Temple of the Ocean King
- Main article: Temple of the Ocean King