Iron Knuckles are one of the largest, stockiest foes in The Legend of Zelda franchise. However, they have only appeared in The Adventure of Link, Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Rebonack and Nabooru (after being brainwashed) are notable Iron Knuckles across the Zelda series. Iron Knuckles are some of the toughest enemies in the series and are noted for their massive damage output. They are able to deal 4 hearts of damage in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, and 8 hearts of damage in Master Quest.
Iron Knuckles are large, heavily armored knights, equipped with swords or axes capable of dealing immense damage. Though quite similar to Darknuts, Iron Knuckles are less common across the series, and usually play the role of stoic guardians as opposed to the more aggressive behavior of a Darknut. The main difference however is that they do not share a Darknut's traditional weakness to attacks from behind. These foes are dueling elites, incorporating much of the same swordplay technique Link does during battle to great effect. These creatures are also known for their unmatched defensive capabilities and long vitality. In their debut, The Adventure of Link, these knights predominantly appear in the temple dungeons where it is said they were "iron warriors" chosen by the King of Hyrule. They fight with both sword and shield, and appear in three varieties of increasing strength: orange, red, and blue, with the Blue Iron Knuckles being capable of shooting Sword Beams.
The Iron Knuckle appeared later as minibosses in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, in the former appearing as a facet of the plot at the Spirit Temple, and in the latter as guardians that appear predominantly under the Ikana Graveyard, protecting tombs. They were distinguished from Darknuts of previous games by their use of huge axes, capable of taking four hearts from Link at every swing, making them the strongest recurring enemy in the games. Their grand size and armor coverage also meant they took many hits to defeat, but their slow attacks and recovery are their weakness. Like in Zelda II, they also come in varying strengths and colors, with one in particular being larger and having more extravagant armor.
- Main article: Rebonack
In The Adventure of Link, a Blue Iron Knuckle called Rebonakku is the Boss of the Island Palace. This boss is also known as "The Guardian Ironknuckle" or simply "Ironknuckle", but The Official Nintendo Player's Guide refers to it as Rebonack, an alternate translation of its Japanese name. It rides a levitating steel horse and wields a lance, and charges at Link at a high speed. Seemingly on the back foot against a mounted opponent, Link must use the Down Thrust initially to damage it and the horse. After enough damage is done, it dismounts the horse, and can then be fought as a normal Blue Iron Knuckle. Two more Rebonacks appear as minibosses in the Three-Eye Rock Palace, one of which guards the chamber containing the Cross and the second appearing before the pit that leads to the boss, Barba.
Plot Significance in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask
In Ocarina of Time, Nabooru is captured and brainwashed by Koume and Kotake, a pair of Gerudo witch sisters. Koume and Kotake then force the brainwashed Nabooru to protect the entrance to the final chamber in the Spirit Temple as an Iron Knuckle. Her armor is larger and more regal than any other Iron Knuckle. Nabooru is unique in that her armor falls away and harmlessly reveals her upon defeat, apparently releasing her of her hypnosis before being spirited away.
In Majora's Mask, there are only three Iron Knuckles: two are beneath the Ikana Graveyard on the first and second day respectively: one is guarding the resting place of Flat and the other is guarding a Piece of Heart. The third is on the Moon in the hide and seek game played by Link while in his Hylian form. Also in Majora's Mask, gold Iron Knuckle armor can be seen on display in the Curiosity Shop. The significance of this armor is unknown, but it is interesting to note that the armor wields a sword like their appearances in Zelda II, not an axe.
Iron Knuckles in The Adventure of Link are experts at defensive strategy, using a shield they constantly move up or down to block Link's attacks while also attacking high and low. Link must also focus on defense and watch the swing of its sword and block accordingly while looking for an opening. He should use the Shield magic to protect himself when fighting them. It is also possible for Link to jump and perform a low stab at its head to inflict damage.
In Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, they are particularly weak to Jump Attacks while they recover from failed axe strikes. The armor of the Iron Knuckle can be damaged, providing two stages to every battle. While wearing armor, they are slow and impervious all attacks save for sword swings and Bombs. Once enough armor is removed, they become enraged and move quicker, but are now weak to arrows, opening up the opportunity for a successful long-range strategy. Moreover, they can be damaged by Bombs and Bombchues, but the damage dealt is very low. Despite their similarity to Darknuts, it is not recommended to attack an Iron Knuckle from behind, as they can perform a fast, deadly spinning attack to counter such a strategy. Nayru's Love is particularly useful when fighting Iron Knuckles due to the extensive damage they cause.
- Iron Knuckles hold the record for the highest damage output in a single attack of any regular enemy in a Zelda game, dealing four hearts of damage in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, as well as eight hearts in Master Quest. Encompassing every enemy and boss however, Shadow Link and Gramps in A Link Between Worlds hold the record for dealing the most damage at a whopping 32 hearts in Hero Mode.
- In the Japanese version of The Adventure of Link, Iron Knuckle's Sword Beams flash and will disappear when blocked, much like Link's own, but in the NES version, they will not flash and will bounce off of Link's shield. The NES Game Atlas referred to these attacks as knives, rather than beams.
- In Ocarina of Time, the armor within which Nabooru is encased looks slightly different than that of the other Iron Knuckles fought in the game, particularly the helmet. It also does not wield a weapon until the fight begins; instead, it summons an axe from thin air by snapping its fingers.
- Onox, the main antagonist of Oracle of Seasons, highly resembles the appearance of an Iron Knuckle. The only considerable difference is that Onox wields a Ball and Chain while Iron Knuckles tend to use axes.
- Iron Knuckles from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask wear a cloth tunic bearing Gerudo patterns, similar to those seen on Ganondorf's and Twinrova's clothing.
Armor of an Iron Knuckle in the Curiosity Shop in Majora's Mask
- "You know about the Iron Knuckle, right? Stay away from its ax attack, then look for a chance to retaliate." — Tatl (Majora's Mask)
- "By the way... I really messed up... I was brainwashed by those old witches and used by Ganondorf to do his evil will..." — Nabooru (Ocarina of Time)
- "Something's strange... This is not an ordinary enemy!" — Navi (Ocarina of Time)
|Names in Other Regions|
|Japanese||アイアンナック (Aian Nakku)||Iron Knuckle|
|Spanish||Nudillo de Hierro|
|Spanish||Nudillo de hierro (OoT3D)|
|French||Poing de fer (OoT3D)|
|German||Eisenprinz (OoT, MM)
| Iron Prince|
|Chinese||铁甲武士 (Tiějiǎ Wǔshì)||Armored Warrior|