The Stone Tower Temple is one of the only points in the game during which the three-day cycle feels less like a series of checkpoints and more like an actual time limit.
I played this dungeon three times over the past two (real-word) days. I didn’t make it all the way through to the boss during the first three-day cycle, so I had to try it a second time without collecting any of the fairies. I got all of the fairies on the third try. The Stone Tower Temple is no Water Temple, but it’s a pain in the butt nonetheless.
The guiding mechanic of the dungeon is that it can be flipped upside down. It’s unclear whether gravity is being flipped for just Link (as in the case of the tunnel dwellers in Patema Inverted) or for the entire temple, but either way it’s freaky to see the sky underneath the ceiling framework of the dungeon’s entryway.
Dungeon flipping sounds interesting in theory, but it’s actually rather tedious in practice. There’s no one clear route through the map, and backtracking is built into the process of exploration. The final dungeon of any Zelda game is supposed to be tricky, but this dungeon especially has no sense of flow. The player feels endlessly kicked back and forth from one state to another, which is how I imagine Link himself is feeling by this point.
As an interesting aside, the temple theme music is (somewhat) palindromic, with key musical phrases in the right-side-up map being played in reverse in the upside down map. This is really cool, right?
The boss fight with Twinmold takes place in a desert otherworld that can only be accessed when the temple is upside down. There’s nothing but sand and sky in the arena, and the battle is long and painful. When Link defeats one of the giant centipedes, he receives the Giant Mask, which turns him into – you guessed it – a giant. Although he’s now large enough to fight the remaining Twinmold, his magic meter drains constantly, and he loses the use of his tools, including this sword and shield. He’s slow and sluggish, and all he can do is roll and punch. There is no grace or art required for this battle, just a whole lot of patience.
After the boss is defeated and the dungeon is cleared, the Ikana Valley area is “purified,” which means very little in the grand scheme of things. The land is still barren, and the dead are still dead. The Garo tribe is still lost to time, and none of the mysteries of the Stone Tower are any clearer.
If the player manages to find all of the dungeon fairies, Link can take them to the Great Fairy of Kindness, who rewards him with the Great Fairy’s Sword. This two-handed weapon is powerful but too unwieldy to be of much use, and in any case it comes too late in the game to be fully enjoyed by the player. The blade is engraved with twin black roses, which reminds me of Revolutionary Girl Utena, so much so that I can’t help but wonder if the reference is deliberate.
Now that he is in possession of the masks of all four giants, Link is ready to take on the Skull Kid. When you reset the three-day cycle after beating the dungeon, the fairy Tatl urges you to do just that, saying that she’s gotten tired of adventuring.
I, however, am excited about all the sidequests I can finally complete!
( Header image from Txikimorin on deviantART )