November 21 marks the 20th anniversary of one of gaming’s most beloved titles, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Ocarina of Time was the first 3D entry in the Zelda franchise, and practically wrote the book on the future of action-adventure games with its breathtaking world, thrilling battles, and complex dungeons. At this point, its successors have blown it away in terms of size and scope, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t hiding a few secrets that fans missed the first few dozen times through.
Most players are aware of more widespread secrets like the Sinking Lure, Malon’s Bowser brooch, and the Mario Portraits, so we recruited the help of 10-year Ocarina of Time speedrun veteran ZFG to help us construct a list of lesser-known secrets, mechanics, and interactions you can find in Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule.
Lavafall Secret in Dodongo’s Cavern
“Every waterfall in a video game must have a secret behind it” might as well be one of the Ten Commandments of video games, but does the same rule apply to lavafalls as well? The Legend of Zelda series has always adhered to this sacred rule, even going as far as to include an interesting (yet trivial) secret behind one cascade of lava in Dodongo’s Cavern.
Every waterfall in a video game must have a secret behind it… but does the same rule apply to lavafalls?
Located in the arena where you first do battle with the two Lizalfos, this secret is hidden behind a lavafall in the southeast corner of the room. Simply jump, toward the lava and you will pass through into a small room on the other side. Unfortunately the developers only left a single recovery heart in this, but it’s worth stopping by just to say you’ve explored all the water and lavafalls the game has to offer.
Fairies in Ganon’s Castle
Ganon’s Castle, the final obstacle between Link and his showdown with Ganondorf, is expected to be the most challenging and oppressive locale in all of Ocarina of Time. With this in mind, perhaps the developers felt a little bad for their courageous hero, and decided to throw him a bone in the form of a hidden room full of fairies and helpful Business Scrubs. Located on the ground floor of the Trials Hub, this hidden room can be found under the bridge that leads to Ganon’s Castle proper. It is concealed by a false wall, but you can use the Lens of Truth to find the opening and walk into a small room where you can bottle some fairies and buy some useful items.
The Dying Soldier
The Soldier in the Back Alley (also known as the Dying Soldier) is a fairly hidden, time sensitive NPC in Ocarina of Time’s Castle Town. The Dying Soldier can be encountered only one time per playthrough, in the back alley of Castle Town after obtaining the three Spiritual Stones but before taking them to the Temple of Time. You can speak to him one time before he passes away, and he will tell you that Ganondorf has betrayed the Royal Family and Princess Zelda has fled the castle. He instructs you to take the Ocarina of Time to the Temple of Time so you can continue your adventure. Be sure to give him a visit on your next playthrough so he can rest in peace.
Fire Temple Scarecrow
Most players are aware of the Scarecrow’s Song, but few actually used it to summon the wandering Pierre.
Most players are aware of the Scarecrow’s Song, but few actually used it to summon the wandering Pierre unless they were hunting all 100 Gold Skulltulas. Most of the time playing the song lets you reach a far off platform or find a Gold Skulltula, but the Fire Temple scarecrow is worth mentioning because it opens up a hidden section of the temple most players never saw. Pierre can be summoned in the large rolling boulder maze room on the third floor of the Fire Temple. Play the song near the door and he will appear on a platform above you. Hookshot him to reach that platform, then hookshot across to another small platform in the corner of the room. This platform will take you to a hidden part of the temple where you can climb some chains and find a Gold Skulltula. Continue upwards and you will find another room containing a timed puzzle similar to the one in the Megaton Hammer room. Reach the small chest within the time limit to get a Gold Rupee!
King Zora’s Kiss
Another frequently missed interaction is this special gift Link can receive from King Zora after freeing him from his icy prison in the future Zora’s Domain. Most players are aware that King Zora will reward them with a valuable Blue Tunic after they melt the red ice, which they need to use alongside the Iron Boots to complete the Water Temple. But what if you already purchased a Blue Tunic from the Shop in Zora’s Domain before freeing him? Worry not, the quick thinking King will instead offer you his heartfelt thanks and a big kiss! Unfortunately Link silently turns him down, but it’s still a scene worth checking out in your next playthrough.
Before setting out on a dangerous adventure, a good hero always fills their bottles up with a variety of healing items like fairies, potions, or milk. But did you know that Poes seem to have some healing capabilities as well? Most players never bothered to bottle the normal Poes since the reward for turning them into the Poe Collector was so small, but if you did bottle one then try to drink it you likely found it had some strange effects. A bottled Poe can drain Link’s health or restore it, occasionally even restoring many hearts at a time. Pretty unreliable as far as healing items go, but it does make one wonder what makes one Poe more beneficial than another.
Ice Arrow Applications
Ice Arrows have no obvious uses, but there is at least one interesting easter egg involving the special arrow.
The Fire and Ice Arrows are two powerful tools Link can add to his arsenal, if he can solve the obscure puzzles surrounding them. While both are technically optional, the Fire Arrows are an immediately useful tool when it comes to solving any puzzles requiring a fire source. During the battle with the Shadow Temple’s boss, Bongo Bongo, you can use the Ice Arrows to freeze one of his hands, causing his other hand to attempt to break the ice and leaving his eye open for an attack. It’s a neat tactic that some stumbled upon accidentally, while other missed completely.
“Critical Wiggle” is the unofficial name for a hidden mechanic in Ocarina of Time that affects movement when the player is low on health. Anytime Link’s health drops to critical levels (aka that annoying beeping noise) there is a small chance that the game will override your controls with random directional inputs, presumably to simulate running while injured. While most players would never notice such minor deviance, there are some great clips of the mechanic in action (credit and condolences to Twitch streamer dannyb21892).
Power Crouch Stab
Another unofficial mechanic (possibly an unintended one as well), “Power Crouch Stab” is the term coined for Link’s exploitable crouching stab attack. In the Nintendo 64 version of Ocarina of Time, Link’s crouch stab was not assigned a damage value, and instead uses the value of the last attack Link performed. This means players could, for example, use the Master Sword’s jump attack (attack value 4), then strike an enemy with the sword’s crouch stab which is both faster and stronger than the sword’s default swing (attack value 2). This trick can also abuse Link’s other equipment, such as the Deku Stick (jump slash attack value 4) or the Biggoron’s Sword (jump slash attack value 8!). Unfortunately this mechanic was removed in the 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time, but you can still enjoy it in the GameCube and Virtual Console ports.
Gerudo Captain Color Change
Late in the game, Link must infiltrate the Gerudo Fortress and free some carpenters so they can repair the broken bridge in Gerudo Valley. After sneaking your way past innumerable guards and freeing the last carpenter, a Gerudo Captain appears before Link to compliment his prowess and offer him a chance to be an honorary Gerudo. She’s so impressed in fact, she decided to wear the same color clothes as him! Okay, maybe that’s not quite right, but it is true that in the early versions of Ocarina of Time, there was a bug that caused the Guard Captain’s clothes to match whatever tunic or gauntlet Link was wearing when the cutscene started. Her outfit will change to match the green, red, and blue tunics. Even stranger, if the player uses glitches to obtain the silver or gold gauntlets early, her clothes will change to silver or gold to match those as well!
So how did we do? Hopefully you learned a new secret, or picked up a handy tip you can use on your next adventure to save Hyrule.
If you want to learn even more about the complexities of Ocarina of Time, check out ZFG’s streams and videos. ZFG has held the world record 100% completion category since May of 2013, and recently became the first ever player to achieve a sub 4-hour time in that category.
Sam Stewart is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.