Nintendo Sound History Series – Zelda the Music

 

Review by · August 21, 2005

Recently, Nintendo has released a lot of soundtracks heralding the golden age of Famicom, noting its glorious transition from 8-bit to whatever-bit-we’re-now-on. One such soundtrack is this one: “Zelda the Music.” This crazy album is essentially 70 tracks packed into one disc (much like the Ocarina of Time OST), featuring music from Zelda games old and new. Where are its strengths? Where are its weaknesses?

The single-most obvious strength of this album, in my opinion, is that it has a full collection of music from “Link no Bouken” (or, “Link’s Adventure”), that crazy side-scrolling game for Famicom. These songs are probably some of my all-time favorite Zelda melodies. Seriously…think about it for a second. Aren’t these songs really catchy, and especially nostalgic? I like them more than the first Zelda game, personally. This is evidenced by the number of songs I sampled from this game.

And look at this bit of trivia revealed by the tracklist: the American version had two songs that the Japanese version didn’t have! The “title” and “battle” music received much-needed improvement, as the Japanese versions were quite bland. Kudos to Nakatsuka for the work.

Other strengths include the fact that we get tracks from “Four Swords Adventure”, which, although it steals the majority of its music from the Super Famicom Zelda title, it is an upgrade in synth, and otherwise would not have seen its music released in any form.

This brings us to the album’s one flaw: where is the Game Boy music?

Seriously, hasn’t the Zelda series had something like four or five titles on handheld systems by now? There was Link’s Awakening, the two Oracles games, and Minish Cap! None of these games have ever had a soundtrack release, much to the dismay of Zelda fans worldwide (because, let’s face it: Zelda music is good on any sound chip, be it GameCube or Game Boy). As both a completionist and a lover of the Game Boy synth, I uphold a sense of righteous indignation against Nintendo: until Zelda’s GB and GBA soundtracks have been released as officially-licensed soundtracks in Japan, I will be less than satisfied. I know there are others among you who feel the same way.

And what tracks do we have filling in the space that should rightfully belong to Link’s Awakening etc.? You guessed it: two N64 titles and Wind Waker. Games that have all received complete OSTs, and even arranged albums. Like we haven’t heard these before, Nintendo! This was a waste of disc space…and they certainly weren’t a “best of” in the least bit. Where is Gerudo’s Valley, huh?

The disc ends with a simple 8 minute arrangement from the king of sampling himself, Shinji Hosoe. He generally just took some of the tracks from the album, slowed them down, sped them up, and added drum loops. It sounds neat, but it isn’t anything too terribly special.

So, who should own this album? It’s good for casual fans who don’t want the full OSTs, people who are obsessed with Link’s Adventure (like myself), or people who buy every last Zelda product they can get their hands upon. Everyone else should avoid it like the plague, perhaps as a form of boycott. Stand proud, my VGM brethren! We shall have our Minish Cap OST someday!

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and cats.