Collecting items and weapons (even the useless ones) to stop the evil that swarms Hyrule is as essential as facing off Ganon in the many boss fights over the years. The Legend Of Zelda games always presents a massive inventory of items to unlock for Link by finding them across Hyrule.
Many are pretty straightforward: usually rewarded by progressing through dungeons or completing simple side quests. However, some are not so easy and are rather difficult to acquire due to their cryptic nature or overly long side quest or simply players being unaware that the item exists.
10 Great Fairy's Tears - Twilight Princess
Getting the Great Fairy's Tears for the first time in Twilight Princess is time-consuming but nothing too hard. It required Link to capture twenty Poe Souls and bring them to Jovani; resulting in the tears being given in a bottle for Link to drink. Not only do they restore all hearts but provide Link with a temporary damage boost.
Now, getting the tears again is where things get ridiculous. The player is forced to travel to the Gerudo Desert and find the Cave Of Ordeals which acts as a mini-dungeon. At the end of the trial, Link will be rewarded with unlimited Great Fairy Tears but only with one bottle at a time, forcing the player to return to the trial every time to refill the bottle.
9 Ice Arrows - Ocarina Of Time
Ocarina Of Time is jam-packed with small details that are easy to miss. Unlike the Light Arrows, Ice Arrows and Fire Arrows are completely optional. To unlock the Ice Arrows requires having completed the Gerudo Fortress, allowing the player access to the Gerudo Training Ground. This is another mini-dungeon and much like the Fortress itself, it is an annoying maze.
It's more reason why fans have bitter tastes in their mouth from the Gerudo Fortress. Fortunately, the Ice Arrows are a nice reward for completionists and can make some puzzles in the remaining dungeons much easier if used correctly.
8 Mirror Shield - The Minish Cap
Yes, the Mirror Shield does make a return in The Minish Cap, forcing players to try and find it. Unfortunately, it can only be obtained after Link has defeated the final boss: Vaati. Throughout Hyrule are hidden caves with mysterious walls which can be used to fuse Kinstones, thus returning Gorons to caves.
Once all six Gorons are reunited, Link must fuse a Kinstone one more time with the Goron on the far right. This awakens Biggoron atop Veil Falls who will trade Link's shield for the Mirror Shield. This prize feels rather useless since there is very little to do in Hyrule after the story is beaten.
7 Hestu's Gift - Breath Of The Wild
Seemingly embracing collect-athon games similar to the sadly forgotten Banjo-Kazooie or Super Mario 64, Breath Of The Wild has a side quest in which Link must collect nine-hundred Korok Seeds across Hyrule. The reward is that Hestu gives Link a golden lump.
Not only is it clearly feces but Hestu's Gift does absolutely nothing to upgrade Link. It is simply a golden trophy for collecting all Korok Seeds, suddenly making the whole side quest not worth the hassle. Side quests are something that many agree should be improved upon in the sequel.
6 Gilded Sword - Majora's Mask
Anything in Majora's Mask takes an obscenely long time to accomplish due to the three-day time cycle. After reforging the Kokiri sword into the Razor Sword, it can be upgraded one more time by winning the Goron Race and receiving gold dust. If the player has 24 hours available, they can give the dust and sword to Zubora.
The next day, Zubora will gift Link with the unbreakable Gilded Sword which will come very much in handy when Link faces the final boss. The biggest trouble with this side quest is making sure to get the timing perfect, otherwise, the player will be forced to restart.
5 Magic Armor - The Wind Waker
Cryptic side quests and secret items across the many versions of Hyrule are normal for The Legend Of Zelda but The Wind Waker has one that took things way too far. First, it requires a Town Flower from Zunari and somehow the player is supposed to know to travel to Bomb Island and give it to the merchant Goron.
Next, the Goron will trade Link the Sea Flower for the Town Flower. The Sea Flower is then taken to the Goron on Greatfish Isle to be traded for the Exotic Flower, allowing the player to return to Zunari on Windfall Island and be rewarded with a gem that creates armor made from magic. While the final reward is one of the more helpful items in the game, the number of steps can be a bit overwhelming.
4 Hylian Shield - Breath Of The Wild
The Hylian Shield is the iconic shield of the series, making fans want to immediately find it in Breath Of The Wild. Like many things in Breath Of The Wild, there are no hints to finding it. It can be found inside the dungeons of Hyrule Castle Lockup which can be accessed in different methods.
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Inside, the player needs to find a circular room with a massive skeleton. Upon entering, the skeleton will rise into a Stalnox, beginning a surprise boss fight that can be a challenge depending on how upgraded Link is. The reward is the classic Hylian Shield which combined with the Master Sword will please every old-school fan of the franchise.
3 Biggoron Sword - Ocarina Of Time
This quest can only be done after certain dungeons including the infamous Water Temple are completed. It requires the player to go back and forth between Kakariko Village and the Lost Woods multiple times performing fetch quests and finishing one under a time limit without teleporting. Next, it requires going to Gerudo Village to get a broken sword that must be repaired by Biggoron but he's blinded.
So Link must talk to King Zora who will give Link another item that must be delivered under a time limit to the professor in the Lakeside Laboratory. Finally, take eyedrops to Biggoron at the top of Death Mountain and Biggoron will repair the sword in three in-game days, allowing Link to get the Biggoron Sword. It is one of the most tedious side quests but it gives a helpful item, especially for the final battle.
2 The Couple's Mask - Majora's Mask
Another needlessly convoluted side quest that will likely force players to restart the cycle many times in Majora's Mask. To get the Couple's Mask requires the player to go on a long multi-step process across all days of the cycle to reunite Anju and Kafei.
The process is ludicrously long: the longest quest in the whole game and requires perfect timing. In the final moments of the third night, if all steps are done correctly the couple will be reunited in the Stock Pot Inn, they will give Link the Couple's Mask. The player must be quick to reset the cycle or it will be for nothing.
1 Fierce Deity Mask - Majora's Mask
Why is this one so difficult? It requires Link to obtain every mask in the game and trade in the 20 non-transforming masks to the Moon Children. As a result, Link will be given the Fierce Deity's Mask which is practically essential in order to defeat Majora.
This might not seem so difficult by the sound of it. Keep in mind that there are over 20 masks in total in Majora's Mask. Each mask requires completing its own side quest, including the aforementioned Couple's Mask. It forces the player to reset time countless times, hence why it is one of the most difficult games in the series to 100% complete.