Click "Sleep" for a dark background.
Click "sleep" again if text isn't dark.



Locks, Keys, & Obstacles pt.2

Like the Mario platforming games, the The Legend of Zelda series is outstanding. One distinguishing feature of any Zelda game is the dungeons, which are essentially a series of locked rooms and keys.

For this article, I'll catalogue all of the locks & keys in the Temple of Time from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Using the walkthrough videos created by NextGenWalkthroughs, you can see every challenge and puzzle solved. I cover the entire Temple minus the mini boss and final boss.



  • 1:16 Organic Lock = pressure switch. Organic Key = Link's weight, Pot's weight, Small Statue's weight.
  • 2:05 And-lock = both torches must be lit. Powerup Key = Lantern
  • 2:20 Linear lock = chained door. Abstract Key = small key
  • 2:55 Organic lock = pressure switch. Organic Key = Pot's weight, Small Statue's weight
    • This pressure switch puzzle is multilayered. The one lock controls multiple gates and players must figure out how to destroy the weight on the switch from a distance to progress.
  • 4:05 Linear lock = hidden chest. Core Mechanics Key = kill all enemies.
  • 4:45 And-lock = 2 pressure switches. Organic key = Link's weight, Pot's weight, Small Statue's weight.



  • 1:28 Linear Lock = large gap. Organic Key = spinner.
  • 2:42 And-lock = 2 pressure switches. Organic Keys = small statues.
    • The 3rd and-lock in the game the 2nd of which using 2 pressure switches. This time the necessary weights are placed in different areas on different floors. In this puzzle, players learn that the elevator can transport more than just link.
  • 3:45 Linear lock = barred door & hidden chest. Core Mechanics Key = kill all enemies. 
  • 4:48 Linear Lock = chained door. Abstract Key = small key.
    • This is the first lock & key in the Temple that connects two separate rooms. This puzzle helps the player develop a strong sense of space for the central elevator room.


  • 0:23 Organic Lock = moving walls. Organic Key = crystal switch. Pins = Shooting arrows.
    • Because the crystal switch is positioned near the ground, players can hit the switch using a variety of weapons.
  • 1:28 Organic Lock = moving walls. Organic Key = crystal switch. Pins = Shooting arrows.
    • This variation on the crystal switch puzzle positions the switch high off the ground. Instead of simply using a "peek hole" to shoot arrows through, the player must maneuver through the 3D environment to get a clear view of the switch.
  • 4:20 Linear Lock = hidden chest. Core Mechanics Key = kill all enemies. 
    • Players have to fight more enemies than they had for previous "kill all enemies" challenges. The reward is just some Rupees.
  • 4:55 Organic Lock = golden scales. Organic Key = weighted objects (Link & small statues).
    • his puzzle may seem too simple, but it is revisited later.



  • 1:16 Organic Lock = pressure switch. Organic Key = weighted objects (Link, pot, small statue).
  • 1:50 Linear Lock = hidden chest. Core Mechanics Key = kill all enemies. 
    • More Rupees for killing spiders.
  • 2:25 Linear Lock = gate. Core Mechanics Key = kill all enemies. 


  • 0:45 Linear Lock = bell warp. Organic/Powerup Key = controlling the large statue. 
    • Large Statue Lesson 1: Moving. This puzzle gives the player a chance to get used to moving the statue and Link simultaneously. 
  • 1:15 Linear Lock = breakable gate. Organic/Powerup Key = controlling the large statue.
    • Large Statue Lesson 2: Smashing. There are some structures that only the large statue can destroy. 
  • 1:50 Organic Lock = pressure switch. Organic Key = weighted object (pots, Link, large statue).
    • Large Statue Lesson 3: Strategically Deactivating. Sometimes you have to stop controlling the large statue to get the job done. 
    • This puzzle is a variation on the pressure switch puzzle detailed above where players had to destroy a pot from a distance in order to be in the right place to progress. This time the player has 2 bodies; the large statue and Link. Two bodies allows for the player to be in 2 places at once and thus complete this puzzle in a new way. 
  • 3:00 Organic Lock = pressure switch. Organic Key = weighted object (Link, small statue).
    • Large Statue Lesson 4: Look around for small statues that can help.
    • This extension of the previous puzzle hides the switch and the organic key (the small statue).To access the switch, the enemy tower must be smashed (lesson 2). To get the small statue down from the pillar players can use the Dominion Rod (lesson 4).


  • 0:25 Organic Lock = golden scales. Organic Key = weighted object (Link, small statues, large statue). 
    • This puzzle is the best example of folded level design in the Temple. The previous rooms in the Temple feature an added dynamic because of the large statue, but they were also designed with two largely separate functions. 1) Link's progression upward. 2) The large statue's progression downward to the warp bells. On the downward progression with the large statue players must use switches and parts of the room that were previously unused. Conversly, the golden scales puzzle is the same puzzle going up as it is coming down. The new dynamic of getting the large statue across is the new challenge. 


  • 0:12 And-lock = 4 pressure switches. Organic Keys = weighted objects (small statues, Link, metal shells).
    • The challenge of this puzzle is created by the limited small statues available for weights. Also by separating the switch area from the battle areas where the metal shells are located the solution is less obvious. 
  • 3:05 Linear Lock = pressure switch. Organic Keys = weighted objects (small statues, pots, large statue, link).
    • Large Statue Lesson 5: Even if Link and the target is separated by walls, you can still control the large statue.
  • 5:36 Or-lock = moving walls. Organic Key = crystal switch/smashing through the walls. Pins = Shooting arrows.
    • Because you can smash through the walls with the large statue, there are two ways to progress.


  • 2:15 Linear Lock = force field. Core Mechanics Key = kill all enemies.
  • 3:15 Linear Lock = Destructible gate. Powerup Key = large statue attack.


  • 0:13 And-lock = pressure switches. Organic Key = weighted objects (small statues). 
    • Applying what was learned previously (Lesson 4 & 5), this clever puzzle requires players to control small statues along areas the player cannot access. Also, the player must manipulate nearby small statues by picking one up, throwing it, and using the Dominion Rod.
  • 3:35 Linear Lock = large statue switch. Organic Key = large statue.
  • 4:40 Linear Lock = pressure switch. Organic key = weighted objects (small statue).
    • This puzzle is a variation of one from early on in the Temple. Instead of putting a pot on the switch and breaking it with an arrow/hookshot, players can only put a small statue on the switch and then move it off with the Domion Rod.


In the end, this one Temple in just one Zelda game features every kind of lock and key that we've covered (the large statue can be considered a reusable and versatile key). Going over all of these puzzles should give you a clearer idea of how much work goes into a Zelda dungeon. Keep in mind that the player is guided to complete each dungeon without going through any inorganic tutorial sequences. By balancing the types and amounts of puzzles with just the right amount of clues and freedom, the player can very effectively learn by doing.

This is just one of the keys to Zelda's success. 

« Co-unter-op Design | Main | Locks, Keys, & Obstacles pt.1 »

Reader Comments (2)

Great article. The folding in this dungeon really impressed me the first time I played it. Like a lot of the best Zelda dungeons, the props which are later used in the folding of the dungeon design (in this case the large bells which transport the statue), at least from my point of view as an avid player, work as markers which foster interest and enhance the drive to progress. That is, when you see the bells, you know something isn't quite right, you know that they'll somehow be used later, and also you know the rooms you've just passed somehow aren't fully completed--there's gaps, so, in a sense you're motivated to find out the rest of the puzzle.

I've been doing a bit of similar analysis on Metroid Prime 3. Particularly with how folding is used to alleviate backtracking through the environment. The Elysia planet is probably the best example, the area unpacks itself about 4-5 for each bout of backtracking. Quite ingenious.

November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Primed

@ Daniel Primed

Good points. I was just talking about how the extra time you spend looking around the environment wondering about things when you're lost/stuck are important for motivating yourself to push on. As you said, it's the gaps that make you wonder.

I never finished Metroid Prime 3. Perhaps I'll get back into it before NSMBWii. If not, perhaps I'll watch some more walkthroughs. Keep me posted on any findings.

November 8, 2009 | Registered CommenterRichard Terrell (KirbyKid)

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>