Death Mountain is a large mountain (or mountain range) in Hyrule and it is the home of the Goron tribe. Death Mountain has appeared in the vast majority of Zelda games (all of the ones that feature Hyrule), and while it always is modelled differently it is often seen as being a rocky region devoid of vegetation.
Usually found in the Northern boundary of the map (with the Adventure of Link being a notable exception) , Death Mountain typically serves as the final overworld section of most core Zelda games. As such it usually features the toughest overworld enemies and a byzantine design featuring numerous caves, which the player often must traverse to reach a late game dungeon. Starting with Ocarina of Time Death Mountain is often depicted as a very tall active Volcano that towers over the rest of Hyrule. In many games Death Mountain serves as the feeder of water for the Hyrule river system that goes into the waterfall, Zora's Domain and finally onto Lake Hylia.
Death Mountain is also notable for having one of the few environmental hazards found in the Zelda franchise, the famous bouncing boulders that endlessly careen down its' surface in random patterns. If one of these boulders hits Link, he will take damage and be knocked back several paces. In later games these are sometimes depicted as ejectii from the Volcano during continual minor eruptions. In a couple games Death Mountain contains a sub-region called the Lost Hills (or Hebra's Hill) which is an cardinal direction environmental maze in the same vein as the infamous Lost Woods.
Until Ocarina of Time , Death Mountain has been depicted as being completely devoid of civilization and in a Link to the Past it is implied that Hylians are forbidden from even going there by the King of Hyrule. This could be due to the fact that region is Ganon's base of operations in early games. In some games Kakariko Village is nestled at the mountain's foot and serves as Link's last Hylian refuge before climbing the mountain. In Ocarina of Time and future games after, Death Mountain is depicted as the headquarters of the Goron civilization, a group of round rocky creatures who resemble the bouncing boulders found on the mountain themselves.
Also found in the Death Mountain in some games are the Great Fairy, the Fire Temple dungeon, the Death Mountain Crater, Goron City, Goron Mines and its' signature recurring rock formation, Spectacle Rock.
Appearances and Depictions in the Series
In the game Death Mountain hosted two of the game's first quest dungeons. Dungeon 5 was located behind the Lost Hills maze in the eastern half of the region and the final dungeon (The Death Mountain Labyrinth) which included Ganon and Zelda was found inside the left half of Spectacle Rock (by bombing open the entrance) in the very Northwestern corner of the map. The Power bracelet can be found in this region.
Notable enemies include Tektites, Armos, bouncing boulders and the toughest overworld enemy Lynels. These would frequently reoccur in future depictions of Death Mountain.
The only game thus far to depict Death Mountain as the southwestern boundary of the World map, Zelda II is the only game to date in the region known as "North Hyrule". Death Mountain is the one of the only recognizable regions the first game that returns in AoL.
In this version, Death Mountain is essentially of series of subterranean tunnels that have numerous dead ends. Link can find the Hammer in one of them. Spectacle Rock returns in this version, but does not contain any dunegons.
In ALttP Death Mountain is essentially a dramatically enlarged hybrid version of the previous two. The region is depicted as cave riddled giant mountain or range that occupies most of the northern portion of the map. Link must navigate several tunnels to make it to the top. Entry onto the mountain is forbidden by the royal family of Hyrule and impeded by a boulder that can only be removed by using the Power Glove.
A new wrinkle in this version is the ability for link to switch between "Light" and "Dark" world versions of Death Mountain. While both versions of the mountain are similar there are enough differences (e.g. Spectacle Rock is only present in the Light World) that Link can make his way to the top of the mountain.
A new enemy NPC, the deadrock makes its' first appearance in this version. If Link strikes this enemy it will turn to stone for a couple seconds and then revert, making it nearly indestructible (deadrocks can only be permanently defeated by sprinkling magic powder on them to turn them into slimes).
Once again multiple dungeons can be found on Death mountain. The Tower of Hera can be found here as well as Turtle Rock (where Princess Zelda is held) and the series first appearance of recurring final dungeon Ganon's Tower.
The biggest version of Death Mountain yet, this time depicted as a giant active Volcano towering over Hyrule. This version also hosts the first series appearance of the Goron race. Most of the playable area is called the Death Mountain Trail which leads to subterranean Goron City and the Death Mountain Crater. The "mood" of the mountain can be noted by the color of the smoke emanating out its' top. If they are white it is safe, if they are red an eruption that will rain flaming boulders onto all nearby is imminent.
This version again contains multiple dungeons, The Dodongo's cavern located near the base and the Fire Temple located in the Death Mountain Crater inside Spectacle Rock. Both being mid game dungeons in their respective quests (Child and Adult timelines). In the Adult Timeline like Hyrule Castle Town Death Mountain trail is covered by a dark sky showung Ganon's corruption and constant eruptions occur until Link defeats Volvagia. Also to be found is the Great Fairy fountain, which Link can gain access to using magic and the spin attack for the first time.
This version of Death Mountain occurs as the third stage in which the Links must navigate magma pools to defeat the Great Flame.
Like Four Swords, Death Mountain once again is a stage, this time divided into sub-stages Death Mountain Foothills (which contain Hebra's Hills), The Mountain path and the Tower of Flames. Link must defeat the Helmaroc King around series staple Spectacle Rock to clear the Mountain Path Sub-stage.
Less prominent than earlier appearances, Death Mountain once more is home to the Goron tribe. New features this time include steam vents and hot springs. In order to reach the early game Goron Mines dungeon which are located deep within Spectacle Rock, Link must navigate through hostile Gorons to reach their elder, Darbus, and best said elder in a game of Sumo.
Possible Other Versions and Inspired Versions
Despite occurring on Koholint Island (as opposed to Hyrule) A rock very similar to Spectacle Rock appears in the Tal Tal Mountain range.
These Japan-only satellaview remakes of Legend of Zelda and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past feature the same World Maps of those games (despite slightly different scenarios). Given their odd character choice ("mascot", a male or female character that represented the Satellaview, referred to as the Hero of Light from another world in game), their canonical role in the Zelda series is questionable. The Death Mountain region retains its' name in these versions.
The Land of Termina is essentially twisted mirror of Hyrule. Two areas of Termina share similarity to Death Mountain. The Woodfall swamp has a crater that has rings of smoke reminiscent of the summit of Death Mountain and near the Mountain Village in the Snowhead region is a rock very reminiscent of Spectacle Rock. Gorons populate the Snowhead region as well.
In Oracle of Ages there is a region called the Talus Peaks, which plays in similar fashion and looks similar to Death Mountain from A Link to the Past.
Oracle of Seasons
In Oracle of Seasons, once again there are Gorons living on a mountain. This however a frozen mountain called Goron Mountain, which also plays in a similar fashion to Death Mountain from A Link to the Past.
In Minish Cap there is very Death Mountain-esque region called Mt. Crenel in location and design. Given that this game takes place in Hyrule and that Nintendo released an official timeline including it, it is likely Mt. Crenel may be Death Mountain.
In Wind Waker Hyrule is revealed to have been flooded in a great deluge creating the Great Sea. There is small island chain called Spectacle Island which is very similar to Spectacle Rock in the NW corner. However there is also another volcanic island called Dragon Roost Island in the North East corner of the map which shares many characteristics with death mounatin such as enemies, general appearance, bomb flowers, dragon (Valoo a fire breathing dragon ala Volvagia) and musical theme. However Dragon Roost Island is on the opposite end of the map from Spectacle Island. The Gorons however live on neither, in Wind Waker the have become nomadic merchants.
Thus it is unclear if either Spectacle Rock or Dragon Roost Island or both are/were Death Mountain.
The Death mountain stage is stage two of this Wii shooter game, Link must shoot targets held by Gorons in various patterns.
In this spinoff featuring the Tingle character from Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker, there is a mountain called the Mt. Desma on the Third Continent that contains the final dungeon. In the Yamatami language (a race in game that lives there), that means "Mountain of Death".
A rock very similar to Spectacle Rock can be seen near Eldin Volcano on the World Map, the player however can not visit it.