THE WIND FISH IN NAME ONLY, FOR IT IS NEITHER
Continuing with the surreal nature of Link's Awakening, I returned to Mabe Village to find that Madame MeowMeow's pet BowWow had been stolen by Moblins!
And by "BowWow", I actually mean a chain chomp. Which unlike most chain chomps is friendly, and will only nom enemies. In particular it'll happily eat any and all Moblins it comes across which does make me wonder how they managed to catch it in the first place...
Anyway, rescuing BowWow is a fairly straightforward fight through the Moblin Cave, with a slightly tougher miniboss at the end. And having rescued it, I then get to take it for a walk! There is a point to this - the next dungeon is in the Goponga Swamp and is blocked off by acid-spitting flowers... which just so happen to be BowWow's favourite snack. So that's getting in to the Bottle Grotto sorted!
Bottle Grotto (and I've just realised while looking through the screenshots I've taken that the map actually looks like a bottle!) is indeed more confusing than the Tail Cave was. It makes heavy use of colour-coded shifting platforms and switches and involved a fair amount of backtracking. It's also the first time in Link's Awakening that I gave in and looked something up in GameFAQs - there's some enemies that look like shy guys, and I couldn't work out how to defeat them since they shield against frontal attacks and you can't walk up behind them. The trick is to face away from it and spin attack.
Of course, having just looked them up in the Zelda Encyclopaedia for this post I've found an entry that names them Mask-Mimics and says, "...defeating them requires some ingenuity - like getting back to back with one and using a Spin Attack". It never occurred to me that that book would be useful as a strategy guide!
The item for this dungeon is the Power Bracelet which lets Link actually pick things up. This means I can engage in the traditional Zelda pastime of smashing all the pots! And another guide-dang-it moment: there are some dungeon doors that you have to open by throwing a pot at them. That took an embarrassingly long time to realise.
But enough dungeon crawling! Eventually I backtracked to the nightmare of the Bottle Grotto: a very clown-like Genie that lives in a bottle (instead of the traditional lamp) and juggles fireballs! Whacking the bottle with my sword merely stuns it - as the genie says, "even the walls here look tougher than that dinky thing!". Like with the raccoon from earlier that's a hint if ever I saw one, so I threw its bottle at the walls and smashed it that way. A few rounds of that shattered the bottle and it was on to phase 2 which turned into a war of attrition - it splits into two and I didn't find a trick to work out which would be the right one, so I just deployed the Link-as-a-viking approach. That just about worked... on my second attempt (and my last save was further back than I'd have liked, so to keep the 0-death counter I had to replay quite a bit!).
With that out of the way, it's time to pick up the second instrument: a Conch Horn!
The prairie is waiting...