Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – “Temple” (Hirokazu Ando)April 17, 2010
Here’s the famous theme “Temple” from Super Smash Bros. Melee (2000). It’s an incredibly catchy tune originally from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987) that was remembered and invigorated by the wonderful Melee version. The Melee remix was composed by Hirokazu Ando of HAL (Kirby’s All Star, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror). The original was composed by Akito Nakatsuka (Ice Climber, Wario Land: Shake It!). The track is also known as “Palace” or “Shrine”.
Melee‘s version of the theme has a very cool opening with acoustic guitar. It’s only about ten seconds long, but the whirling notes and wind sfx provide a wonderful call to adventure, oozing the feel of the shadowy mouth of a dungeon. This underlining loop is repeated and layered throughout the piece like the unraveling of Ariadne’s thread in the labyrinth and the echoes of footsteps on the eerie stone walls. The piece goes into full swing with a sweeping string section that is punctuated by percussion blasts like whip cracks. The instrument selection feels very much in concord with Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, particularly the flute line. Ando also adds a nice choral section about halfway through to crank up the intensity and show those Darknuts who’s boss.
It’s very interesting that this piece was used in Melee instead of a more traditional Zelda theme – most people had forgotten Zelda II by this point – the game simply didn’t hold up to the other titles in the series. The piece probably returns because Mr. Nakatsuka was working with HAL on Melee. “Temple”‘s reappearance meant other mixers would have their shot at it, with Magical Trick Society’s “Sanctuary” from Triforce Trilogy (2005) being one of the better examples, with some nice string samples and an intense drum and trumpet battle segment for the second half that recalls Link to the Past boss battles. However, I don’t feel Shogo Sakai’s version from Brawl was very good, though it does integrate some of the other Zelda II themes into it.
The original version has a nice trance-like feel to it from the drone of the synths. It really gives a weight of oppression and danger to the temple with the steady drum beat the quick step and crunch of Link’s boots on the stone floor. The piece loops at 1:32, which is incredibly long for an NES title. “Temple” appeared on the Famicom 20th Annivesary Collection Vol. 2. Interesting enough, the original soundtrack was composed by Akito Nakatsuka, NOT Koji Kondo. Shigeru Miyamoto also doesn’t seem to have had much to do with the game’s design, as he’s not listed in the credits. Perhaps this explains the game’s departure from the original.