Throughout the ages, music has influenced people all over the world in so many different ways. We've heard so many different kinds of music in so many different places that we've begun to associate different sounds with different stories, places, even emotions.
The same applies to the music of Zelda. You hear the simple guitar chords overlapped by a flute and violin, and you immediately think of the bright cel-shaded colors of Wind Waker's title screen. You hear the low, sad hum and the delicate piano on top, and you remember the lament of the people laced within the famous "Song of Healing." You hear the castanets bouncing across the dry air as guitars and trumpets tell you of the shimmering sand and the fiery sun in Gerudo Valley. You all remember these songs and these places. Koji Kondo has magically made it impossible to separate the two, a fact much under-appreciated. So today, let us appreciate this magic and explore what makes some of the music of Zelda so fitting.
Head past the jump to listen to some of Zelda's finest music
Ok, this could be a contentious one, but before you all start throwing rotten fruit in my direction or calling me names in the comments section just hear me out.
First and foremost I love Zelda games. Always have done. I’ve finished them all at least once, the 25th Anniversary Symphony concert is rarely off my playlist, and my first child is called Saria. (My wife doesn’t actually know that, she thinks her name is Chloe and the birth certificate got blown away by a freak gust of wind. I play along, but when I meet my baby daughter’s gaze…there’s a look there. She knows.)
So, this isn’t a hatchet job, but more an homage to those flawed bits that my fellow Zelda fans will recognise. Like soldiers coming back from war, the stories of suffering are always the ones people linger on. And boy have we suffered at times.
I’ll make it clear at the outset, this is not a feature about those parts of the game where you spend ages looking for the way through, only to find it’s blindingly obvious once you work it out (or look it up). That, my friends, is Zelda, and it’s entirely subjective.
Instead, this list will feature quirks of gameplay, unfair quest requirements, frustrating fights and other moments that have had us all leaving teethmarks on our controllers.
So, buckle on your Master Sword, make sure your Ocarina is snug and let’s go forth. And if anyone sees Tingle, ignore him. He’s just attention seeking.
You all remember the amazing Zelda HD Experience trailer from E3 of 2011 don't you? It's been almost two years since it was first shown off by Nintendo, but for those two years we had to make do with footage taken from a camera, but not anymore! There was a Nintendo Direct from not too long ago where direct footage was displayed in glorious HD and it's been ripped straight from the video in a short, but fantastic, 9 second clip so be sure to check it out!
Over the years I have heard several touching stories of how Zelda helped people escape hardships in their own lives and learn how to overcome obstacles and be brave in the face of oppression. That doesn't mean people don't get that feeling from others games - I myself use to escape in Secret of Mana... and I admit that Goldeneye 007 helped me escape some in-fighting in my house when I was younger. Still, for some reason Zelda seems to resonate with people even louder. It's not generally considered a very challenging series (it's definitely no Dark Souls), nor is it considered to necessarily have the greatest story telling (it's no Skyrim or BioShock Infinite). Yet the sense of adventure combined with the pure unadultured joy of the simplistic journey impacts people on several emotional levels.
Zelda itself was there for me through all the big changes in my life. Hit puberty? Perfect timing for Ocarina of Time, where you see a mere child thrust into a very adult situation. Teenage years with the study Girlfriend? Wind Waker helped us enjoy each other even more on those never ending weekend flings. The hardships of dropping out of college and forging my own path? Enter Twilight Princess, where Link feels abandoned and lost everyone, except this strange little imp named Midna. Then, Skyward Sword came along, signaling a new beginning for the Zelda series - which also lined up with the time I would meet my future Wife.
Zelda became special to me because without realizing it, when I needed its message most it was there helping guide me. What about this series makes it so special to you?
There have been a lot of musical twists and turns within the Zelda series. You have famous Ocarinas that can bend time and space, alter weather patterns, and call upon your trust steed. There are mystical flutes, joyous a joyous "Harp" (I know it's a Lyre, but the game calls it a Harp!), and even a nice Baton that performs some magic of it's own in producing sounds that can control the winds on the open sea. The one I like the most is the one I simply had the most fun with: The Pan Flute from Spirit Tracks.
I know what many are thinking... that instrument hardly worked! Indeed, if you were on the train, bus, in a car... really anywhere that had noise (say, a TV in the background), it could really affect any accuracy you were going for and thus create a lot of failed plays. Yet, I played it mostly on my own in a quiet room and as such things seemed to work out swell. Besides, it helped produce one of my favorite musical combinations:
What's your favorite?
Talking about what game is your personal favorite in the series is a rather popular talking point. We all have various opinions and enjoy several different facets of the Zelda kingdom that at any given point we could prefer one game over another. What we don't talk about are the games that are arguably at the bottom end of the spectrum. In the end, none of the Zelda games are bad. I don't even know if Nintendo knows how to make a bad Zelda game, but in my humble opinion I believe I have compiled a list of five games that are probably at the bottom of my list of Zelda titles. Games I will probably not be replaying anytime soon.
Imagine a Zelda game that didn't come to its ultimate conclusion at the very end. Imagine, instead, the game hinted heavily that there is more to come, and that a second, third, maybe even a fourth game is needed to complete the tale? (I honestly feel that two games is probably enough for me) Imagine, if you would, that you're facing off against Ganondorf, but something strange happens. The Triforce explodes... or inexplicably, Link loses, and gets casts off, to a faraway land, banished to a dungeon, or something else of that nature.
I have talked many years ago about having a Zelda game in which the main character died at the end, but what if a shocking ending was really just a prelude to the quest not ending and something else, even bigger, to come. I actually think this premise could have worked well for one of the criticisms I had with Twilight Princess. Remember when Ganondorf jacked the story away from Zant and then Zant was turned into a meandering child-like jealous character? Well, imagine if it turned out completely different.
After a rather thought provoking response to yesterday’s Zelda U related article, I figured it was worth continuing the series and expanding upon it each day going in order of the Zelda game releases to see if there really are aspects of each game Zelda U should use.
This time it may seem like a challenge to many, because The Adventure of Link, despite my love for the game, is wildly considered the black sheep of the Zelda family (that is, of the games that are canon). Is there really anything Zelda U could inherit from this much maligned title?
The Legend of Zelda will forever be remembered as the launch pad for a now legendary series. It was this free and open world with lots of live action to the point that many had never experienced anything like it before. It was difficult, but not so difficult it was impassable. It had hidden items, hidden rooms, upgrades… it was really a game perfectly suited for the mid 80’s.
Zelda U is coming, and it’s coming at some point in the next… three years? I think that’s a rather safe time table, and as such it’s time to see what aspects it should simply inherit from the very first game released in its native series.
It's notable when talking about how overrated or even underrated an experience is in a series that it doesn't truly affect how good the game really is. Majora's Mask in this case is a fantastic, one-of-kind, experience It's easily in my top 5 favorite games in the series and arguably remains as one of the favorite games among the staff here at ZI. Still, the more I look around not just ZI, but the internet on the whole; I am starting to think that Majora's Mask is overrated. Badly so at that.
Now, most would scream Ocarina of Time is the overrated one, since it gets all the praise. It also gets plenty of criticism for setting the bar to a point no other game can achieve, and also for, essentially, being outdone by other games but living on through nostalgia. I am not here to debate these points, but I am just pointing out that it's actually started to become "hipster" to diss Ocarina of Time and put Majora's Mask on a pedestal. Reality is, Majora's Mask is a great game, but it gets way too much credit.