Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX – “Ballad of the Wind Fish” (Kazumi Totaka, et al)November 15, 2010
Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was the best GameBoy game ever made this side of Tetris, so it only made perfect sense that when the GameBoy Color was released, Nintendo would release a DX version. Link’s Awakening DX contains 79 songs (versus 67 in the original). The soundtrack has an amazing selection of music, with a unique song for each dungeon (something not even A Link to the Past had at that time) for over 1 hour of music in the DX version. Out of these, my favorite is the sad-sweet “Ballad of the Wind Fish”, here sung by Marin.
The Wind Fish which is – as the great sages of Koholint Island tell us – “neither wind nor fish” (oookaaay…) sleeps inside a giant egg at the top of Mt. Tamaranch. Waking the Wind Fish destroys the dream of the island, and everyone on it except Link and the Wind Fish fades into memory. Therefore, saving the island from the Nightmare comes at a bitter price, one that is foretold through the sadness at the heart of the “Ballad of the Wind Fish”. Was it all just a dream…?
Though played only on a single instrument (a square wave emulating Marin’s voice), the mournful calling of a siren across the endless waves is full of an emotion that is deep as the sea. It is a song of longing, a desire for a land across the ocean and the distant memory that lives on those shores. It is perfect then that Marin should sing this song; it is her siren song – though temptress she is not! At one key point, Link and Marin play the song in a duet using the instruments he has rescued from the dungeons. Here, the song gains greater weight through the bond the two have, reinforced by the mellow conch horn.
“Ballad of the Wind Fish” has several variations. Similar to “8 Melodies” from Mother/EarthBound, each version is played with a different instrument until they are all combined before the Wind Fish’s cave. I personally enjoy Marin’s version better, as the full instrument selection seems a bit out of balance (maybe because Link has to play all of them himself! ).
As far as arranges go, “Ballad of the Wind Fish” is also one of the most popular, up there with “Tal Tal Heights“. “Symphonic Ballad” by Bladiator and GrayLightning is one of my favorites with a sweetly mournful piano, flute, and strings. Nixdorux has a more playful orchestral arrange “The Sad Fish” that ends with a nice jazzy section, but it is not as well-composed as “Symphonic Ballad”. Actually, if you like dance/rave, Willrock does a mean mix through “Waking the Fish“. I will also add “With Waking Eyes” this old 11-minute guitar medley by zyko of most of the major songs. Not quite the level of Virt, but a nice minimalist style. Plus, it’s fairly rare since VGMix 2.0 went under.
Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was composed by the famous Kazumi Totaka (Super Mario Land 2, Animal Crossing, “Totaka’s Song”), Kozue Ishikawa (EarthBound, Wario Land II), and in her debut, Minako Hamano (Super Metroid, Wario Land: Shake It!). I am tempted to say that “Ballad of the Wind Fish” was composed by Mr. Totaka himself, considering the sound of the melody as well as the use of only one instrument when it first appears. Mr. Ishikawa may have been influential in the use of multiple instruments ala “8 Melodies”, but without proper credits, it is always difficult to tell.