Link learns about his goals in the Mysterious Forest

In part two of our guide to Zelda: Link’s Awakening, we journey into the Mysterious Forest to locate the key to Tail Cave and explore the game’s first dungeon.

The Mysterious Forest Walkthrough

The Mysterious Forest: Retrieving The Key To The First Dungeon (Tail Cave)

Having retrieved your Sword and Shield, it’s time for Link’s adventure to begin in earnest. You should head north out of Mabe village, past the ledge above a well (jump inside for a Heart Piece) to enter the Mysterious Forest.

Before you go:

  • Consider starting those steps of the game’s compulsory trading sequence you can already complete
  • Visit the Mabe Village shop (house to the east with a shield sign above it) to buy some bombs (not essential at this stage, but can be used in the upcoming dungeon)
Link reads a sign saying he has arrived at the Mysterious Forest

Inside the Mysterious Forest you will be stopped again by the Owl with some words of wisdom:

Hoot! Ho, brave lad, on your quest to wake the dreamer! Welcome to the Mysterious Forest!

…By the by, have you ever visited the Tail Cave, which is south of the village?

Go there with the key you find in this forest…

The Wind Fish is watching… Hoot!

Link is taunted by an obstructive Raccoon

Take the path north and then right, fighting the moblins you encounter (put your shield up to deflect their spear throws, then strike them with your sword). Turn north to a little clearing and speak to the Raccoon: Remember his words – you’ll need to know his weakness later.

“As a raccoon, my nose is verrry sensitive ta stuff like dust and powder…”

Explore around the forest and you’ll be unable to find the elusive key – when heading north from the Raccoon he will taunt you and you will find only a fairy fountain – an opportunity to heal up and work on getting your own back on the Raccoon

Getting Rid of the Raccoon with a Sleepy Toadstool

Link reads a sign about crumbling floors

From the Raccoon’s words you’ll understand that the solution here is something to do with “dust and powder” – as it happens, a witch in Koholint Prairie (accessible to the northeast) can make you some Magic Powder from a type of mushroom in the forest. The mushroom – the Sleepy Toadstool – can be picked up from an area in the woods accessed through a hollow log.

To get to the log from the fairy fountain, turn east and then south (Alternatively, head south from the Raccoon’s clearing and take a turn east on a narrow path between the line of trees.

Link smashes purple rocks to access a chest

Enter the log and you emerge into a cave. Dispatch the Keese (bats), smash the purple rocks and push the grey rock to access the chest for 50 rupees. Exit north (taking care not to stay too long on the cracks on the floor – otherwise you’ll fall through!) and follow the passage round to emerge into a room with lots of round rocks.

Link contemplates a block puzzle

Unfortunately the Heart Piece in this room is inaccessible for the time being (the skulls must be lifted and thrown – consider dropping a pin on the game’s map to remember this for later). For now, push two round rocks down to make a path to the south exit.

Link poised to pick up a toadstool

Emerge from the log and deal with the sword and shield moblins by readying your shield – when they attack they will bounce off and leave you an opening to get a sword hit in. The ingredient you need for the Magic Powder (the Sleepy Toadstool) can be seen to the left – pick it up.

Visiting the Witch on Koholint Prairie for Magic Powder

Link wonders how he's going to get back through a block puzzle

Now it’s time to turn your Sleepy Toadstool into the Magic Powder you need to get rid of that pesky Raccoon. Run with us back through the cave you came through (push the lower right rock up one space, and then the rightmost rock up two spaces).

Link finds the route to Koholint Prairie

Head to the northeast of the Mysterious Forest – there is an exit here to Koholint Prairie. If you’re having trouble finding the route, head north from the log/cave network entrance and then east once you find the log behind the three stones (pictured above).

Link enters Koholint Prairie

Emerge onto Koholint Prairie and follow the path south. Sidestep the monsters here for now.

Link finds the Witch's house

At the end of the trail you find a witch’s home within some suitably spooky trees – step inside.

Exchanging the Toadstool for the Magic Powder

The witch quickly notices that you’ve picked up the Sleepy Toadstool in the woods (if you haven’t, see the section above). She’ll give you some magic powder for your troubles. As prompted, equip the powder to your X or Y button in your inventory (+).

Using the Magic Powder on the Raccoon

Return to the clearing and throw some Magic Powder on the Raccoon – that’ll teach him for blabbing about his weakness! Suddenly he twirls out of control and turns into Marin’s father Tarin.

Link obtains the Tail Key

Head north from Tarin and instead of the fairy fountain, you will finally find the treasure chest containing the Tail Key – you can now use it to open up the Tail Cave gate.

Tail Cave Walkthrough

Getting to Tail Cave

Route to Tail Cave - turning below the treeline

Return to Mabe Village – consider stopping off for some items in the village shop or have a few tries at the Trendy Game if you’ve got Rupees to spend.

Take the southern exit from the village - instead of following the path down the cliffs to the beach, head east (right) immediately after the tree-line.

Route to Tail Cave - turning south

Continue following the path directly below Mabe Village until you are forced to turn south.

Tail Cave entrance

Follow the route to its end and you’ll arrive at Tail Cave - walk up to the middle statue and press A to insert the Tail Key. Head inside once you’re ready to tackle the game’s first dungeon…

Tail Cave: Locating the Compass

Tail Cave first room

The first room of the Tail Cave gives you the option of heading left or directly forwards – left is a deadend with a couple of critical items, so head there first.

Tail cave small key puzzle room

The Hardhat Beetle in the next room cannot be directly damaged with your sword – however, it can be pushed around with either your sword or shield – push it off the edges of the walkway and a Small Key will drop on the paved tile on the left – pick it up. Now continue to head left.

Link obtains the Tail Cave compass

The door slams shut as you enter the next room – defeat the Buzz Blobs (green blob enemies) to unlock the door. Open the chest and pick up the compass – within its dungeon the compass:

  • Adds the location of all chests to the map
  • Adds the location of the Nightmare (the dungeon’s main boss) to the map
  • Plays a tone when you are ‘near’ a key – it will usually be found in a nearby chest or (as in the previous room) will drop from the ceiling when certain conditions are met

Your business concluded down this little cul-de-sac, return to the Tail Cave’s entrance.

Tail Cave: Retrieving the Dungeon Map

Link obtains another small key in Tail Cave

Head north – clear the room of enemies and step on the button to reveal a chest – inside is another Small Key. Exit using the passage on the right.

Link defeats enemies to claim Tail Cave dungeon map

In this room you’ll find two Keese (bats) and two Stalfos (skeletons). The latter will jump out of the way of your sword attacks – either back them against a wall or charge your sword attack (hold B) to do damage. Clear the room and a chest will appear – containing the Dungeon Map.

Though you can go through a one-way door the north, in the interests of visiting every room, return back the way you came and take the left exit this time. Dispatch the four Keese and exit to the north (smash the purple rocks as you enter).

Tail Cave: Acquiring the Stone Beak

Main hub room lower right corner

The room to the north is a large hub of sorts for the dungeon, with several exits and other things to accomplish.

  • The chest in the middle of the room contains a small key for your collection
  • Kill both of the Mini-Moldorms in the room (the yellow worm-like enemy) and a hidden chest with 20 rupees will appear
  • Use a bomb on the cracked wall in the bottom left to locate a Secret Seashell

For now, head to the lower right corner of the room and open the locked door with one of your small keys. In the next room use the north exit to enter a room with a green-tiled floor.

Green tiled room puzzle

The enemies in this room (Three-of-a-Kind) display a succession of playing card symbols – the goal is to get them to stop on the symbol. Swing your sword to make them stop. Once all symbols match, a chest will spawn containing a stone beak which can be placed in the various owl statues around the dungeon. Try it on the one in this room and it’ll say:

“Turn aside the spined ones with a shield…”

Tail Cave: Retrieving Roc’s Feather

Dodging moving blade trap in main hub of Tail Cave

Return to the main hub room and head to the top left corner. Approach the moving blade trap and stop before you trigger it – as it slowly returns to place, move towards the locked door and use a small key.

Moving block puzzle Tail Cave

You enter a long room – take an anti-clockwise route to the upper left corner and place the Stone Beak in the Owl Statue for a message:

“If there is a door that you can’t open move a square block”

The message is useful to remember at several points in Link’s Awakening, but here it’s asking you to consider your immediate surroundings – isn’t that leftmost block just screaming to be pushed into a zig-zag pattern with its neighbours? Give it a push to the right and the door in the left wall will open. Go on through.

Pushing the spiny ones aside in Tail Cave

In the next room you will find a couple of Spiked Beetle enemies – hit them with your sword and you’ll do no damage. However, you may remember (and the nearby Owl Statue will remind you) that you can “Turn aside the spined ones with a shield…” – put your shield up with R and push those enemies into a pit!

Once the room is clear of enemies, a set of stairs appears in the upper right of the room. Head down and you’ll find yourself in a side-scrolling section with some enemies that will be familiar to any Mario players in the audience (that’ll be everyone then) - Goombas. Traverse this room and climb the ladder to the next area.

Roc's Feather chest Tail Cave

Head north and dodge the blade traps – open the chest for the Tail Cave’s main treasure – Roc’s Feather. Open your inventory (+) and equip the feather to the X or Y buttons – this handy item will allow you to jump over gaps – hugely useful throughout the game.

Tail Cave: Finding The Nightmare Key

Lock Block in Tail Cave before Nightmare Key

Return to the large hub room and head to the northeast corner. With Roc’s Feather equipped you can now hop over the gap – use a small key on the lock block, climb the stairs and open the chest – inside you’ll find the Nightmare Key, necessary for accessing Moldorm’s battle arena.

Tail Cave: Fighting The Rolling Bones Miniboss

Jumping the gap to access miniboss

Before you fight Moldorm, you must first deal with a miniboss – Rolling Bones. Exit the large hub room using the southeastern door (the one you took on the way to the room with the green-tiled floor). Jump the gap in the first room with Roc’s Feather and head through the door.

Tail cave miniboss battle

Rolling Bones is a simple boss to help get you comfortable with using Roc’s Feather. He rolls a spiked beam across the length of the room – jump it and get as many Sword swipes (or charges) in as you can before he jumps back on the other side. Repeat until he is defeated. A blue portal will open linking to the entrance – handy if you’re worried about health or want to pick up some supplies. Once you’re ready, head out of the top exit.

Tail Cave: Defeating the Nightmare/Dungeon Boss Moldorm

Tail Cave Moldorm antechamber

Head towards the boss door taking care to avoid the blade traps in the next room. The stairs here lead to the dungeon you can fall into when fighting the boss – there’s not really a reason to head there for the time being.

Tail Cave dungeon boss Moldorm

Muldorm’s weakness should be immediately apparent – the glowing orb on his tail invites a good whack with a sword. Nonetheless, his relatively high speed, erratic movements, and generous knock-back can cause problems, and with few hearts this early in the game don’t be too dismayed if he gets the best of you. Just try your best to keep your distance when the weak spot isn’t exposed and anticipate the semi-circular shapes he typically moves in when approaching to strike.

Link obtains the Full Moon Cello

Four hits will end him: you will be rewarded with a Heart Container and the first of the instruments needed to wake the Wind Fish (The Full Moon Cello).

The screen will fade to white with some cryptic words hinting at your next steps, before depositing you back outside the Tail Cave

A path opens… in the blooms…

Our Link's Awakening Walkthrough continues in part three, as we head to Goponga Swamp and the Bottle Grotto...