- "Watch out for its ax attack! It hurts a lot! Strike when it drops its guard!"
- — Navi
Iron Knuckles (アイアンナック Aian Nakku?) are recurring enemies in the Legend of Zelda series. They are depicted as knights clad in thick, heavy armor wielding huge axes or other large weapons. They are among the strongest of enemies in the series, possessing a high tolerance to attacks and delivering large amounts of damage when fighting. Due to their strength, Iron Knuckles are typically very rare at a game's outset, and become more common only as Link's journey progresses substantially through the game.
Iron Knuckles are among the strongest and most skilled foes encountered in Palaces, similar to their overworld counterparts, the Lizalfos. All Iron Knuckles in this game wield swords and shields, testing Link's skill at close-range swordfighting. Additionally, their heavy armor renders them immune to Sword Beams. They are capable of blocking Link's attacks in with their shields, before counter-attacking with high or low sword strikes which can be blocked with Link's shield, but do harsh damage if they hit.
Iron Knuckles appear in armor the color of orange, red, and blue, each going up in difficulty in that order. The blue Iron Knuckles can fire Sword Beams of their own, making them deadly even at a distance. They retain this ability even when damaged. Link gains 50 experience points for defeating an orange Iron Knuckle, 100 for defeating a red, and 150 for defeating a blue. Interestingly, they do not notice Link when he is in an elevator if it is higher than the ground. This can be used as an easier way to defeat Iron Knuckles.
In the Island Palace, a blue Iron Knuckle named Rebonack appears as the area's boss. It rides atop a mechanical, armored horse and utilizes a lance to attack. After being hit a few times, it drops to the ground and continues its assault on foot as a normal Iron Knuckle, only slightly more difficult due to the layout of the room. Rebonack also appears as a mini-boss in the Hidden Palace.
Iron Knuckles are generally regarded as the deadliest regular enemies in the game. They deal four hearts of damage should they hit Link with their large axes while sending him flying backwards a great distance, and their attacks cannot be blocked by a shield, only dodged. As Iron Knuckles take damage, more and more of their armor falls off. This increases their dexterity but leaves them more vulnerable to attacks. Interestingly, Link can pull himself towards an Iron Knuckle using the Hookshot or Longshot, transporting Link into its attack range, making both opponents vulnerable. Iron Knuckles generally start battles sitting down and not noticing Link's presence. When Link strikes one with his sword, however, it stands up and starts attacking.
Iron Knuckles appear several times, including three separate fights in the Spirit Temple. In the room before the battle with Twinrova, Link encounters a strange orange-hued Iron Knuckle. This Iron Knuckle has stronger armor than the two encountered previously. After defeating it, the plates of armor fall off the Iron Knuckle, revealing Nabooru as the one inside. Nabooru had been brainwashed by the witches, and thus forced to attack Link.
The final appearance of the Iron Knuckle is Inside Ganon's Castle. After Link destroys the Six Evil Barriers and enters the main tower inside the Castle, he comes across two Iron Knuckles, one black and one white. These can be battled separately if Link is careful to awaken only one at a time.
|“Watch out for its ax attack! It hurts a lot! Strike when it drops its guard!”|
Iron Knuckles are identical to those found in Ocarina of Time, except for the armor piece under their helmets which has a different symbol on it. Link has a few new methods for combating them thanks to new items such as the masks. Their armor can only be damaged by sword strikes, Goron Link's punches and pounds, bombs or other explosives, and Light Arrows. After the first layer of armor is removed and the enemy picks up speed, it will be open to all forms of attack, though it is immune to the stunning effects of Deku Link's spin attack, Zora Link's electrical shield, and Deku Nuts.
Only three Iron Knuckles appear in the game, two of which can be found beneath Ikana Graveyard; a black one guards the stone where the "Song of Storms" is inscribed, while another, white-armored one, guards a Piece of Heart. The game's final Iron Knuckle, a gold one, can be found in the Hylian Moon Dungeon in the Moon. Only the first of these three must be defeated to complete the game.
Interestingly, a suit of golden Iron Knuckle armor is on display in the Curiosity Shop. Kafei, who lives in the Backroom of the Curiosity Shop, utilizes the armor's eye hole to spy on the shop in hopes of finding Sakon, who had stolen his Sun's Mask.
An Iron Knuckle appears as a boss in Tykogi Tower. His stone minions appear to be the same ones controlled by Militron in Link: The Faces of Evil.
In Ocarina of Time, if Link positions himself such that the camera moves just through the vertices that compose an Iron Knuckle's helmet (and certain other pieces of armor), a Gerudo can be seen inside. Additionally, removing the enemy's top armour piece reveals a feminine figure. It is possible that these Gerudo were brainwashed by Koume and Kotake, just like Nabooru was, as both share the same vacant, wide-eyed stare. Another possibility is that they are meant to be elite loyal followers of Ganondorf (who they likely worship as a god) who serve Ganondorf of their own free will. It is also possible that they were Gerudo who where transformed into Iron Knuckles with Magic, either against their will and/or out of fanatical devotion to Ganondorf.
These Gerudo may also be seen when the same process is used in Majora's Mask; however, this may simply be a case of reused models. It is also possible that during development, the Iron Knuckles' helmets were meant to fall off during the second stage of the fight, revealing the person inside. Iron Knuckles also emit yells and grunts that sound distinctively male, but so does Nabooru's Iron Knuckle form, which could be the result of the acoustics within the armor(i.e. the sound of the wearer's voice bouncing off the insides of the suit, making it deeper in pitch).
Another possibility is that the game designers used existing Gerudo 3D models as a template around which to base the Iron Knuckle design simply for convenience, and did not intend for Iron Knuckles to be seen as Gerudo. However, this seems unlikely, as the under-the-helmet appearance of regular Iron Knuckles is noticeably different from the mini-boss Iron Knuckle, Nabooru. If the game designers were opting for convenience, all Iron Knuckles would likely bear Nabooru's character model inside them. It is also possible that the designers did not want the identity of the Iron Knuckle fought as a mini-boss revealed earlier in the game.
|Dark Link · Ganon · Link · Princess Zelda|
—Full list of characters
|Horsehead · Helmethead · Rebonack · Carock · Gooma · Barba · Thunderbird · Dark Link|
|Western Hyrule · Eastern Hyrule · Lesser Hyrule · Maze Island|
—Full list of locations
|Parapa Palace · Midoro Palace · Island Palace · Maze Island Palace · Ocean Palace · Hidden Palace · Great Palace|
|P Bag · 1-up Doll · Magical Sword · Magical Shield · Candle · Flute · Handy Glove · Hammer · Raft · Boots · Magical Key · Cross|
|Fairy Spell · Fire Spell · Jump Spell · Life Spell · Reflect Spell · Shield Spell · Spell Spell · Thunder Spell|
|Trophy · Water of Life · Kidnapped Child · Six Crystals · Triforce of Courage|
|Fairy · Hylian|