The Legend of Zelda – Main Theme (mixed: Yuzo Koshiro)October 21, 2009
VGM Daily’s second track is another classic, this time the Main Theme (aka “Overworld Theme”) from The Legend of Zelda (Famicom, 1986). The track was originally composed by Koji Kondo and is probably the second most recognizable track from videogame music (my pick for the third will be coming Wednesday, if anyone wishes to hazard a guess!). The Zelda Main Theme has been remixed about as many times as the Super Mario Bros. Overworld Theme (the count can probably numbered at well over 100), but I personally think this version by Yuzo Koshiro for Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii, 2008) is by far the best. (Koshiro is another king of VGM). Unfortunately, there was never an official soundtrack, and so this version is recorded from the game itself.
Zelda’s soundtracks have always had an epic feel to them, but this version goes back to the original 8-bit Nintendo game and really expands on the theme. Again, Koji Kondo’s music was able to capture the feel of exploration and combat with monsters, giving the sense of a large, open world of Hyrule Kingdom for the game’s intrepid elvish knight, Link, to explore in his quest to rescue the beautiful Princess Zelda (she’s at least a 9). While Kondo will continue to insist that it is the success of the game that leads to his music’s wide recognition, it is without argument that his music contributed greatly to the success of the games, and that without such a fantastic soundtrack, The Legend of Zelda would be severely lacking.
Koshiro’s rendition of the theme is fantastic in the sense of an orchestral composition – it captures the variations of the theme and paints an ideal picture of the game world in epic cymbal crashes and big brass. Unfortunately, because the image is fairly static, it does not directly capture the sense of exploring Hyrule Kingdom as in the original versions, but for a 2D fighting game like Brawl, which has a static screen, this is enough. The track also feels like it should end with a final, majestic cymbal crash, but this was shortened for the sake of an infinite loop. I’d played around with editing the song to simply fade out with the crash, but this was unsatisfying.
Incidentally, while the MP3 version of the song is 44khz VBR, the original song was encoded at only 32khz, 100kbps. This happens a lot when a game’s original format is not CD audio. When compared with the original Super Mario Bros. theme, produced over 20 years earlier, the audio capabilities of the Wii are much more diverse than those that could be produced by the Famicom/NES. While at its heart, the Zelda Main Theme remix has the same overall composition style as the Mario Theme, this difference in technology truly demonstrates how far game audio has come over such a short period of time and indicates the diversity possible today.
Interesting note that this coincides roughly with the completion of the second season of the farcical Legend of Neil series now being produced through Comedy Central. It is a fantastic, hilarious low-budget romp through the Zelda universe, but be forewarned as the show is certainly NSFW!