Posts Tagged ‘Zelda’

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Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “Windmill Hut” and “Lost Woods” (Koji Kondo)

December 6, 2010

What’s this? Two songs in one? Well, it IS almost the end here, and I realized I’d forgotten to talk about two of my favorite Zelda tracks, “Windmill Hut” and “Lost Woods”. I was always a fan of “Windmill Hut” due to its stormy nature – tossed ’round and ’round by wind and weather, and the sadness of never knowing where you’ll end up. “Lost Woods” likewise has the mystery of the winding forest path as well as the nostalgia of returning to the place of your childhood, a point that was by no means lost when the track was arranged for Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Thankfully, there’s a piece that combines them both, “Eye of the Storm” by Rozovian.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “Eye of the Storm” (Rozovian)

“Eye of the Storm” is a new age electronica piece with rich instrumentation through bells and percussion combining both forest and rain, water dripping through the canopy, a pure stream trickling through the glade. And I must say I was instantly taken by the atmospheric sounds of the thunderstorm in the intro. Rozovian chose to arrange the two tracks together because he saw a melodic similarity between the two, though “Windmill Hut” is more clearly audible than “Lost Woods”, which seems sunk more into background support.

“Windmill Hut” has a couple notable arranges, the first by SAiNT 420 (Jeff Little) called “SoS” (“Song of Storms”), a guitar arrange whose West Coast funk I’m partial to. The other is a more hardcore rock cover by Ashane, picked off VGMix 2.0, which is great for the angst of the storm.

Of course my favorite version of “Lost Woods” is from Twilight Princess, known there as “Sacred Grove“. What really sets this piece off is the use of harp for a truly enchanting walk through the forest. The song draws particularly heavily on player nostalgia, as it is most directly tied to Ocarina of Time, the favorite Zelda game to many, and so when the song plays, it brings back so many memories of past games in the series to longtime fans. I know this version isn’t exactly highest quality and has the forest sfx in the background, but all the same, its calmness and the centrality of the notes draws on the one-ness of nature befitting of a sacred grove. The spirit of Saria of the Kokiri Woods must still reside in this sacred place…

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Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “Forest Temple” (Koji Kondo)

August 5, 2010

“Forest Temple” has to be my favorite piece from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (other than the “Song of Storms,” of course!). While there’s not much in the way of melody, the piece is memorable for the unique sounds of the percussion and the hints of a melody floating over the entire piece like beads on a string. This soothing, forest-y percussion underlying the entire track – a rattling of wood and hollow reeds, tribal music in the dark. Above this is a synth line suggesting violins or other strings, the high notes decorating the space with dust motes in beams of light and the branches of the canopy. At 1:10 a choral section is added for the spirits of the forest. I suppose in the end, the piece is a little trance-like, but overall it is a very pleasant, atmospheric piece, with the strange instruments making it exceptional.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “Forest Temple” (Koji Kondo)

The interesting thing is, comparing the Ocarina of Time soundtrack with the Super Mario 64 soundtrack, the instrument sets are very similar, especially for tracks like “Forest Temple,” which sounds quite a bit like the “Cave” theme.

Most of the remixes of this track have been trance. There was a pretty weak mix by Acoustic Department on the German Ocarina of Time Vol. II: The Lost Tracks album. There is also a rather odd lyrical mix (in Japanese) by pixietricks (Jill Golden) called “Prayer” from OCR. Not really a fan of this one, either. She might be able to speak Japanese better than I can, but it just doesn’t sound right when she sings it. Thankfully, the folks at Zelda Reorchestrated did an awesome straight-up arrange of this piece. Too bad it’s missing the vocal tracks (Though I have to say I’m a bit jealous ZREO managed to get to go to E3…for a vgm remix site? I run the biggest Metroid site on the web, and nobody invited us…).

I do have to say a couple things about the Ocarina of Time soundtrack (1998). Nintendo rarely does soundtracks to their games, but this time they went all out: the first prints of the album came with a replica of the Ocarina of Time in a special display box. Similar to the Metroid Prime and Fusion Soundtrack, there were also four covers to choose from (simply fold the booklet differently). Even without the first print, this still gets an A+ in album design with awesome disc art, booklet, and case design. Like most great things, too bad it’s out of print.

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Legend of Zelda – The Wind Waker – “Ancient Hero” (DarkeSword)

August 3, 2010

Legend of Zelda – The Wind Waker (2003) seems to be the Nintendo game many people love to hate, whether for the cel-shaded graphics, kid link, endless sailing, or that damn Triforce treasure hunt. While the game certainly has its flaws, I personally found some aspects (such as the sailing) to be rather enjoyable. And the graphics I found had similarities to Link to the Past. In any event, the soundtrack at least was enjoyable, with a nice ocean and ethnic flavor, particularly with some of the island themes (Dragonroost comes to mind). However, the main theme is one that stands out the most, particularly through DarkeSword’s excellent rendition, “Ancient Hero.”

Legend of Zelda – The Wind Waker – “Ancient Hero” (DarkeSword)

DarkeSword (Shariq Ansari) is known for his excellent instrumentation, and “Ancient Hero” is no exception. High production values mean instruments that sound much like the real thing, and the violins, choir, trumpets, and flute are spectacular. The arrangement is also top-notch, with a slow build where the bard’s harp recalls the tale of legend, with a lilting melody that seems all but lost in the distant past, that slowly grows in complexity and depth as the bard spins his tale, adding choir and trumpets. The main melody then arrives about 1:00 in, heralded by the violins at 0:47 which recall stormy seas, sheets of rain, and high waves, a distant light on the ocean. The atmosphere is exceptional, feeling straight out of an actual coastal town. In the middle, we finally hear the classic Zelda theme, which creates a nice break and tie with the rest of the series.

“Ancient Hero” is an arrangement of “The Legendary Hero,” the intro story theme. This, too, has a wonderful instrument selection, with guitar, ocarina, and fiddle – all ethnic instruments that would fit clearly within the world of Wind Waker. Also, the rendition of the Zelda theme on fiddle is amazing, an image that, along with the woodcuts and stained glass, will stick with me (along with the sailing!) as the most defining moment of this game.

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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – “Crying Alone in the Darkness” (Pixelated)

April 28, 2010

“I remember the other day I went right instead of left, and I probably shouldn’t have done that…” [NSFW for language]

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – “Crying Alone in the Darkness” (Pixelated)

Link finds himself lost in the Great Temple at the end of his quest. What will he do? Will he save the Princess? Or will his blood be spilled over Gannon’s ashes to revive him? Sadly, this is the worst official Zelda game, mainly because of its poor difficulty balance (a sword the size of a butter knife isn’t terribly fun to use against six-armed guys with huge swords). I still don’t know how I ever beat it, but the ending is quite different from the other Zeldas.

This is really more of a narrative layered over a synth mix of the “Great Temple” theme (again, the voice level is a little low – this is probably the last poor recording I’m uploading).  To technically, it’s not VGM. Rather, it’s more stupid crap dredged from the archives of VGMix 2. Anyway, you could probably do something funny like this using Facebook journal entries.

Also: Season 3 of Legend of Neil will finish shooting by this weekend, so there will be some new episodes up next month! I guess this will just have to hold you over until then…

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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”.

Super Smash Bros. Melee – “Temple” (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link) (Hirokazu Ando)

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. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “Gerudo Valley” (Koji Kondo)

February 28, 2010

The final piece in the ‘cowboy’ set, while not being the end of all cowboy music that’s out there in games, is a real classic that might have been overlooked as fitting in this genre – “Gerudo Valley” from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time(1998). This is a fantastic tune depicting dusty Gerudo Valley, guarded by the Amazonian Gerudo warriors, who don’t take kindly to men (even if that ‘man’ happens to be a 7-year-old boy). Once again, Kondo demonstrates his ability to compose a piece that fits the atmosphere of trudging through a dusty canyon with a mud-and-brick city built into the cliff faces and inhabited by fearsome warriors, with a catchy tune to match.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “Gerudo Valley” (Koji Kondo)

“Gerudo Valley” has a wonderful driving beat perfect for dancing, almost as if Kondo is channeling Ricardo Montelban to dance in those boots of his (it’s more likely wood blocks or sticks clapped together). This sound is persistent throughout the piece and gives it a great ethnic feel, which when coupled with the guitar and trumpet, has a distinctly Spanish taste to it. So when you think ‘western’, this is probably more a Mexican western or one set in Spain. The piece is but built around a few central notes and progresses through multiple variations on this theme to create a rondo effect.

“Gerudo Valley” is also one of the most popular tracks from Ocarina of Timeand has been remixed dozens of times, garnering eight mixes on Overclocked ReMix alone, of which Scott Peeples’ is probably the best. There was anorcehstrated remix on Hyrule Symphony (1999), which is a lovely violin and cello rendition, complete with string-plucking. Both Ocarina albums should still be available for purchase through CD Japan, Play Asia, and other stores.

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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.

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – “Ending” (Koji Kondo)

Also available in FLAC

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. Read the rest of this entry ?