Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – Ending (Koji Kondo)December 28, 2009
As the year draws to a close, I wanted to pull a few of my favorite ending themes. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991) is a good place to start, and it is also one of my favorite game endings. The entire ending sequence (not counting the Triforce Chamber), lasts 7:44, and it has some nice cutscenes showing all the places the player has traveled and all the people he helped as well as some wonderful music. This medley of the “Ending” and “Credits” themes comes from Legend of Zelda: Sound and Drama (1994), another rare album.
This song is actually a combination of the ending and credits themes from Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The track begins with the “Triforce Collect SFX” that plays at the end of the Triforce room sequence. The “Ending” theme then plays accompanying a long cutscene showing how Link has brought peace to the kingdom of Hyrule through his heroism. All the evil has fled and the world is back to normal (or about as normal as Hyrule can ever be!). The theme gives a nice sense of flying over the rolling hills, forests, and mountains of Hyrule as a nice victory march. A rupee-esque harp is even played for good emphasis (1:12). Many of the different scenes have their own variations of the main theme, such as the ocarina player in the forest (2:10), who is shown playing in the grove to all the animals as a more dance-like movement driven by strings begins. The end sequence with strong trumpets coming to a crescendo is where Link returns the Master Sword to its place of rest, deep in the forest. In all the track has some nice variations, and is a pleasure to listen to.
Next plays the “Credits” theme, which is one of the most beautiful vgm pieces. It is an arrangement of the Zelda “Overworld” theme, played softly with strings (violins and cellos), then adds a flute. It is very calming and peaceful. In the background, the skyline of Hyrule is shown in silhouette, beginning with the brilliant sunset of the Golden Land and then fading into a pastel blue as the camera pans right. A demo of the Triforce spins in the middle ground.
At the second half of the “Credits”, the main “Overworld” theme kicks in. The player has heard hundreds of times on the adventure, but this time the track has been arranged and is calmer, more triumphant and providing a sense of closure. At the end of this section, a list of the player’s performance is shown, cataloging how many times he died (including saving and quitting in the original version), followed by a total. The trumpet in perhaps a little too forced and cheesy at the end, rather than muted and soothing, but in all this is one of the best arrangements of the main theme simply because it treats the whole song so lightly.
There have been some rather nice remixes of this song. The most notable is the “Main Theme” from Legend of Zelda: Four Swords on the Gamecube, which plays on the title screen. It is a looping version with some slightly better synths that do a good job of replicating the sound of the SNES. Really a lovely track to use for the title screen. A full-on orchestrated version of this theme would be phenomenal.
Legend of Zelda: Sound and Drama contains a few remixes from Link to the Past done on synthesizers on Disc 1 as well as a Drama track (like a radio drama, it features music and voice acting to tell a story). The second disc contains the complete soundtracks to the original Famicom Legend of Zelda (1986) and Link to the Past. The album’s arrangers, Yoshiyuki and Masumi Ito, also arranged Super Metroid: Sound in Action. The album also came with a Triforce sticker.
Edit: Ryan also told me about BogusRed’s “Into the Golden Sunset”, which is a brilliantly beautiful piano remix of the “Credits” theme and well worth the listen.