Sounds of a game: The Legend of Zelda

January 10, 2007


Zelda has many memorable songs that have been featured during the series twenty years, but one specifically, the Legend of Zelda theme, is forever linked with Zelda in the same way that Super Mario’s opening level is linked to him for eternity. Koji Kondo’s original composition is both short and simple but instils the player with a feeling of joyous exploration and brings up any players spirits as they get lost around the simple but confusing world of the Nes classic. The simple motif is catchy and the percussion and bass help to give it a more epic feel that fits the game’s theme nicely. The final minor riff towards the end of the theme helps to emphasize the evil that is pervading Hyrule, while it’s fast change back to the beginning shows the good (symbolised by the major key) being victorious over evil.


The Super Nintendo version of the Zelda theme is a simple evolution of the 8 bit classic, using more suitable instruments (predominantly brass) to show the grand scale of Hyrule field, the theme is the same as the Nes classic aside from a few additional instruments. A natural evolution of the original idea.


While the theme is distinctly lacking from Ocarina of Time, it makes it’s triumphant return in Majora’s mask where the theme evolves beyond the original motif. The use of staccato instruments helps give the theme a more disjointed feel, in keeping with Majora’s overly obscure and off kilter feel. The theme also features a much more sinister rise near the end of the phrase, and doesn’t feature the major section interrupting in a blaze of glory. A slightly darker version of the theme, for a darker Zelda.

The theme’s noble feel is timeless, shaping to any style and is a tribute to Koji Kondo’s genius. Very few game themes are as memorable as Zelda’s, and less so in more modern times. Hopefully, we will experience more wonderful compositions around this theme in future Zelda titles.


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