- "If you want to save Tetra, you'll have to play a match of dead man's volley first! So... Are you a big enough boy to return these volleys?"
- — Diabolical Cubus Sisters
Dead Man's Volley is a recurring battle technique in the Legend of Zelda series. This term applies to battles in which Link has to deflect an enemy's magical attack back onto them with his sword, or, amusingly, certain non-weapon items such as empty bottles. The magical attack often has to be deflected multiple times before the enemy drops their guard and is hit, briefly allowing Link to damage them with his regular weapons. Depending on the game, the enemy in question may use multiple types of energy blasts, only one of which can be deflected back, while the other types will cause negative effects in various ways if Link tries to deflect them. Dead Man's Volley was first given its official name in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.
During the first encounter with Agahnim at the top of the Hyrule Castle Tower, Link must deflect Agahnim's magical energy balls back at him with the Master Sword or the Bug-Catching Net. Agahnim utilizes two different magical projectiles during this battle; the red fireball-like attacks can be deflected, while the blue attacks will shatter and damage Link upon impact with either the sword or the wall. Agahnim will also use a lightning attack, which cannot be deflected either.
The second time Agahnim is confronted, he summons two clones who also send energy balls at Link. Link can deflect these energy balls at the real Agahnim, who is less translucent than his replicas.
During the battle with the Agahnim form of the Nightmare, Link has to deflect its energy balls back with either his sword or shovel to cause damage. The Mirror Shield can aid Link by protecting him from these energy balls; however, it will not bounce them back towards Nightmare, making this technique useful if Link is standing in the wrong position or is unprepared.
During the second phase of the battle with Phantom Ganon in the Forest Temple, Link must deflect his energy balls back at him with the Master Sword or an empty bottle. Once he has been hit by one of his own lightning balls, he is stunned, allowing Link to damage him. When he is defeated, Ganondorf's voice resonates through the room, informing Link that the battle against the real Ganondorf will not be as easy.
During the battle with the actual Ganondorf, Link can deflect his energy balls back at him with the Master Sword, Biggoron's Sword, the Megaton Hammer, or an empty bottle. Once Ganondorf has been struck with his own magic, Link can fire a Light Arrow at him to temporarily stun him, and allow Link to damage him with certain weapons until he recovers. Dead Man's Volley gets progressively harder with the more damage Ganondorf takes. Interestingly, playing Dead Man's Volley is optional, as Link can also temporarily stun Ganondorf by hitting him with a Light Arrow when he is charging up his greater magical attack. It should be noted that Ganondorf's magical attacks will destroy the floor where they land should they be dodged outright, making it difficult to get to the center platform in time to attack Ganondorf. However, the Longshot can be used to latch onto Ganondorf while he is on the platform, and again on any portion of the outer wall of the arena to get back to the edge before Ganondorf continues the fight. In addition to the standard method for Dead Man's Volley, the player can also use a variant by deflecting his greater magical attack by using the Spin Dash when he releases it, causing all but two of the spells to hit Ganondorf.
During the battle with Vaati, the sorcerer sometimes launches a large color-coded orb. The different-colored Links can use their swords to bat this orb back and forth between each-other. They effectively play Dead Man's Volley among themselves, hoping to catch Vaati in the middle. If the orb strikes Vaati or the Links, it will inflict damage. If the orb is the same color as one of the Links, then only that Link may safely deflect it.
During the battle with Phantom Ganon, Link must deflect his magic back at him. This time around the timing has changed significantly. The energy balls go faster and faster with each rebound instead of keeping the same speed throughout the battle. The Phantom Ganon of this game is also one of the most adept adversaries of this technique, requiring many more rebounds than any other adversary in the series. He also occasionally releases multiple magic blasts at once. This is countered by the Spin Attack, much like when Ganondorf fires multiple energy balls in Ocarina of Time. This is the second time in the series that multiple balls can be countered. In most games, they have to be avoided completely. It is also to be noted that the music changes depending on the current action: Specifically, whether both Link and Phantom Ganon are parrying the energy ball, if Link wins the volley, or if Phantom Ganon wins the volley. If the first, it will make a brief chime each time either Link or Phantom Ganon deflects the ball back; if the second, a victorious melody occurs; and if the third, a more downtrodden melody occurs.
Phantom Ganon appears as the boss of Whereabouts of the Wind, the first level in the game, located at the top of Hyrule Castle. In this level he uses the classic variation Dead Man's Volley of that was used in A Link to the Past, but may also try and strike the four Links with his sword. He reappears as the boss of Level 5, the Dark World, in the Temple of Darkness. This time around, he creates three copies of himself which fire white energy balls that are destroyed by the Four Sword rather than being reflected, making it more difficult for the Links to hit the colored energy ball.
When Link battles Possessed Zelda, Ganondorf channels himself through her and throws magical energy balls at Link, allowing him to deflect them back at Zelda's body. Despite being possessed by Ganondorf, Zelda appears largely unharmed by her deflected blasts while Ganondorf cries out in pain (possibly because Possessed Zelda still attacks with light-based magic which has no effect on Zelda's body but is harmful to Ganondorf). When the pain becomes too much to endure, Ganondorf's hold over Zelda weakens enough for Midna to use the Fused Shadows to exorcise him from the princess' body, forcing the villain to transform into Ganon, ending the Dead Man's Volley.
Like in Ocarina of Time, both the Master Sword and an empty bottle are effective to reflect the light orbs.
After Link "rescues" the Diabolical Cubus Sisters, they challenge him to a game of Dead Man's Volley; the first time it is ever referred to by any specific name. They are taken down one by one when hit by the rebounds, and the final one will enter a different attack pattern in which three attacks are fired simultaneously. Only one of these can be deflected. It is the Diabolical Cubus Sisters who coined the term "Dead Man's Volley".
Bilocyte can fire noxious goo from its mouth, which Link can repel with his sword. By swinging his sword to the left or right, he can redirect the goo attacks at different angles in order to hit Bilocyte's fins. Once the fins are destroyed, vertical sword strikes are used to send the balls of goo back at Bilocyte's eye, stunning it and allowing Link to attack it with his sword. As the battle rages, Bilocyte will start dodging the balls of goo by moving to the left or right. Link must then swing his sword to the left or the right depending on Bilocyte's position.
Ghirahim possesses the ability to create lines of daggers and shoot them at Link, which can be deflected with shield bashes or properly angled sword attacks and Skyward Strikes. Ghirahim can also shoot a fiery variation of the Skyward Strike at Link in their third battle. Link can reflect these back at Ghirahim if he attacks them on their edge. Ghirahim will also deflect them back at Link several times before being stunned.
Additionally, Demise's lightning attacks can be deflected by Link; however, this is completely optional.
Yuga employs this technique during the final battle against him. He fires blue energy balls at Link, which must be deflected back at him in order to damage him, causing him to retreat in the wall as a painting. If Link swings his sword as the energy ball is coming towards him, when he slashes the orb it will only go a little ways before going back towards Link. In the final stages of the battle, Yuga will shoot two energy balls that Link must reflect in series.
The Lady employs this technique during the final battle against her.
Dead Man's Volley makes a brief appearance as one of Link's combo attacks for the Great Fairy moveset, during which the Great Fairy and Link will play a brief game of Dead Man's Volley, where she fires an energy ball which the two deflect back and forth several times damaging and juggling any nearby enemies, before the Great Fairy finally grabs the energy sphere and slams it into the ground, damaging any nearby enemies.
In addition to appearing as part of the Great Fairy moveset, this technique appears when fighting with Phantom Ganon.
A similar move to Dead Man's volley was practiced during the final battle with Ganondorf. After Ganondorf used magic to overpower his sword struggle with Link, he charged up a gigantic spell to deliver the final blow, but Link managed to deflect the spells at Ganondorf, stunning him long enough for Link to cut him down for the count.
|Link (x4) · Princess Zelda · Six Maidens · Vaati|
—Full list of characters
|Phantom Ganon · Helmaroc King · Stone Arrghus · Jalhalla · Dagtail · Frostare · Big Dodongo · Vaati · Ganon|
| Whereabouts of the Wind · Eastern Hyrule · Death Mountain · Near the Fields · The Dark World · The Desert of Doubt · Frozen Hyrule · Realm of the Heavens|
—Full list of locations
|Bomb · Bombos Medallion · Boomerang · Bow · Fire Rod · Four Sword · Lantern · Magic Hammer · Quake Medallion · Shield · Slingshot|
|Blue Bracelet · Carrot · Force Gem · Force Fairy · Heart · Heart Container · Moon Pearl · Pegasus Boots · Power Bracelet · Roc's Feather · Shovel · Small Key|
|Knight Mark · Letter · Magic Book · Royal Jewels · Vaati Barrier|
|Gerudo · Goron · Hylian · Zuna|
|Bellum · Ciela · Linebeck · Link · Ocean King · Oshus · Tetra|
—Full list of characters
|Blaaz · Cyclok · Crayk · Diabolical Cubus Sisters · Dongorongo · Gleeok · Eox · Bellum · Ghost Ship · Bellumbeck|
|Bannan Island · Cannon Island · Goron Island · Harrow Island · Isle of Ember · Isle of Frost · Isle of Gust · Isle of Ruins · Isle of the Dead · Mercay Island · Molida Island · Zauz's Island|
—Full list of locations
|Temple of Fire · Temple of Wind · Temple of Courage · Ghost Ship · Goron Temple · Temple of Ice · Mutoh's Temple · Temple of the Ocean King|
|Oshus's Sword · Wooden Shield · Boomerang · Bombs · Bow · Bombchus · Grappling Hook · Hammer · Phantom Sword · Shovel · Fishing Rod|
|Leaf · Neri · Ciela · Pure Metals · Phantom Hourglass · Spirit Gem|
|Anouki · Deity · Fairy · Gerudo · Goron · Human · Hylian · Yook|