Much of mystery you will find on this uncharted Koholint island!
There's foreshadowing all over the place - in Link's Awakening, the dungeon bosses are called nightmares.
Anyway, onwards! The first dungeon lies on the far side of the Mysterious Forest. Deep inside the forest is... a raccoon? Who warps me back to the start when I continue past him. And has a very sensitive nose - well, that's a hint if ever I heard one.
I didn't recall how to get past from the Gameboy version, so instead I went exploring and eventually found an underground tunnel (with a sliding block puzzle that I must remember to revisit when I can lift heavy things) and a mysterious mushroom. Then with further exploring I find a witch who turns it into magic power which sets things on fire? Weird, but useful against moblins and annoying electrified blob things. And useful against an annoying raccoon, which turns back into Tarin?
This is definitely one of the weirder Zelda games.
Anyway, the purpose of all of this is to find the key to the Tail Cave and the home of the first nightmare. The dungeon-crawling is classic room-based 2D Zelda and for this one at least is fairly straightforward, though I recall later dungeons get more confusing. One thing that's always stuck out with Link's Awakening however is it gives the player a lot more hints which is nice.
As is traditional in Zelda games there's a dungeon-specific item and here it's the Roc's Feather, which lets Link jump over gaps. I'm actually writing this a few dungeons behind and that's been such a useful item that it's stayed more-or-less permanently assigned to one of the available buttons! As is also traditional, the dungeon item is then needed for the miniboss which here is giant pink blob that pushes a giant spiked cylinder along the floor... and went down very quickly when I deployed elemnar's Link-as-a-Viking approach. See, that does work sometimes!
Finally it's time for the
Nightmare defeated and it's time to collect the Full Moon Cello, the first of eight instruments.
...A path opens... in the blooms...