Upon replaying The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess via the Wii U’s HD version, I found myself noticing all kinds of great things I didn’t appreciate years ago when I first played. I found this particular topic to be especially clever and perhaps even downright brilliant. So I’d like to take this time to talk about why I think the ball and chain is such a great item.
The ball and chain itself is a pretty common medieval type of weapon so it fits right in with the swords and sorcery feel the Zelda games have. They’ve even been used by other enemies in the series before so perhaps it was just a matter of time before Link got one for himself.
The other element is the fight beforehand. You actually fight an enemy that wields the ball and chain. You walk into a room with cage walls and ceiling and two indestructible sets of upright armor. As you go towards the exit both doors lock and you turn around to see the suit of armor in front of you destroyed before your eyes. You then see the other, now living, suit of armor pull back the ball and chain that did the damage. This fight is interesting in itself as it has you using your clawshot on the caged surroundings to bait out his attacks, allowing you to then hit him for a period after while exposed. Or… if you suck like I do… just get hit a bunch of times until he throws the thing and just happen to have enough hearts to tank that much damage… heh heh. I’m stupid and bad at games, I know. But there’s more to the fight than just that.
This fight teaches you everything you need to know about the weapon without you ever even holding it yet. You see right at the start that it can destroy otherwise unbreakable scenery. While he swings the ball around his head preparing to attack you can still be knocked around if you get too close, just like when you get the item. And you also notice with each of his attacks that the weapon has decent range but a long recovery time, as this is what exposes him long enough for you to strike his one weak point. Not to mention showing how powerful it is by the amount of damage it can do to you. The fight teaching you so much without needing to force it down your throat via a text box that feels the need to put every hint in bold to make it EXTRA obvious.
Plus there’s the cool aftermath of actually getting the item yourself. After you beat this mini boss his body explodes, yet the ball and chain remain. You just see it on the ground there and decide to take it. There’s no magical chest that appears or barrier that unlocks to let you get to it. It doesn’t even seem like this is something important to your mystical journey as the one chosen by the goddesses. It’s just a cool weapon you picked up off of a dude you murdered, and you keep it. It’s just another nice change of pace from the typical way of doing things, even if this isn’t the only item to ever do that.
The last bit of why it’s great is pretty simple I suppose. It’s a highly useful weapon! It can do a lot of damage with good range and even offers some protection, with the downsides being that it slows your movement, is slow to attack, and leaves you exposed for a long time. However, it’s great for its respective dungeon because the enemies here are handily countered by it. There are ice dudes that can generate spears to stab at you or even throw at you from a distance. These annoying enemies can have their spears blocked merely by holding the ball in front of you AND you can shatter them, spear and all, in one hit! There are those big ice heads that breathe cold air at you that can freeze you and stop your progression… but no more! You can wail them into the smaller ice thingies that slide all over the god damn place when hit. Even THOSE little buggers become your bitch when you launch the ball and chain at them and turn them into shards before they have a chance to bounce off of anything.It actually makes these otherwise tough, annoying, or downright impossible enemies a breeze to fight now. It empowers you. Plus there’s the neat parts where you have to use the ball and chain to knock around chandeliers and use them as swinging platforms.
So I hope this made you think a little more about the ball and chain beyond its face value. Maybe you’ll think harder about some of your favorite Zelda items and grow a greater appreciation for them. Perhaps I will too. If I do, I’ll be sure to share it in a similar fashion. Don’t be afraid to leave some comments on things you liked or disliked about the ball and chain that I might have missed. Maybe you want to bring up some other super interesting item and why it’s so interesting. Or maybe you just want to say hi. Whatever you feel like doing in the comments, go right ahead. I’d also like to take a moment to mention I stole all images from a general Google search and also I know those enemies have names… I just didn’t think looking them up was really going to be worth it as part of the overall point. Plus I’m lazy. Alright, my bases are covered. I’ll see you all next time I have more thoughts on Legend of Zelda stuff.