Review Summary: From the bottom of Lake Hylia, to the very top of Death Mountain, "The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony" is beautiful collection of songs from one of gamings most beloved franchises.
I remember it vividly, waking up each weekend morning, rubbing my eyes, yawning incessantly, immediately turning on my Super Nintendo to delve into The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
. Since then, I’ve enjoyed many a Legend of Zelda game, ranging from its humble beginnings, to its recent darker, more mature outings. Oh yes I’ve been through it all; conquered puzzling dungeons, traversed dangerous lands, and even bested the most fearsome beasts. Yet it hasn’t been the ho-hum story that’s stuck with me through the years, nor the scarily perfect gameplay present in each title. Rather, it’s been something that many gamers take for granted; a vital, inexorably critical piece of each Legend of Zelda game-the music.
What makes the music of The Legend of Zelda so special? Firstly, it’s the absolutely stunning delivery a la
Koji Kondo, the longtime composer of such series as Mario and Star Fox. Kondo imbues a sense of wonder and magic into each score he composes, crafting a back drop perfect for whatever game is in question. Each release features music unique to itself, giving the entire series a lovely sense of diversity. Sure, the general main themes are retained, but they are given a facelift, meshing wonderfully with whatever style the game dictates. But The Legend of Zelda’s music is more impactful than most other series’. While the pieces in each game create an excellent soundtrack in which to adventure, it should be noted that music has historically played a large part in many of the releases’ stories, even affecting the way the player interacts with the world. It is because of all this that the music of The Legend of Zelda is so timeless, and why every single fan should hear The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony
As the title indicates, this group of songs is to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the series, and is but one small piece of the overarching celebration. While new games certainly please, it is this record that many fans will be returning to; a stunning collection that chronicles the series’ history of music with a bold, vivacious delivery. Although much of the music featured here was once contained to a simple soundboard, the general feel is translated perfectly into a grand symphony. Each of the tracks feels new, but at the same time wonderfully familiar. They have been dealt with extreme care, ensuring the memories of those who have been listening to them for years were not trampled on. This is fantastically impressive, as the songs have been beefed up, sounding greater than even before. The music has always been great, but it is difficult to argue that the limited sound technology present in many of the games did not make certain pieces somewhat simple in nature. Here, however, the music of The Legend of Zelda is brought to life like never before, only fluffing up the excellence that has always been there.
The recording opens up with “The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley,” an amalgam of several tunes from the franchise’s history. It’s an absolutely perfect way to open up, giving listeners a taste of the music from each game, as well as setting the stage for the rest of the tracks. Some surprises rear their heads, such as “Kakariko Village-Twilight Princess,” unexpected due to its simplicity, but it ends up being a rather impressive rendition. Not surprising, however, is the overabundance of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
, and Twilight Princess
-two of the franchises most successful games both critically and commercially. The music from each is done through various selections, as well as a medley. Wind Waker
receives the same treatment, which is welcome considering it is often the seen as the black sheep of the series. However, the bouncy and light medley is great to hear in between the decidedly “epic” sounds of the other games. It’s a tad disappointing that some games didn’t receive much attention. Aside from a few bits in the beginning, Majora’s Mask
is not at all represented here. It would have been great to listen to the darker, sadder tones of the game, but unfortunately it was swept under the rug. What does please is the inclusion of a song from the newest Zelda game, Skyward Sword
. It’s a fantastic song, and is the first fully orchestrated piece to actually be featured in a game. As the most recent release, it is situated at the very end, paralleling the opening notes that have been in each game thus far with the newer sounds most fans have yet to hear . It is a nice way to see where the series was, and where it will be going.
To put it simply, The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony
is absolutely essential for anyone who has ever called themselves a fan of the series. It draws from the series’ history, creating a stunning package that allows one to reflect on the past, whilst also giving a glimpse into the future. Even if gamers have had these tunes committed to memory for years, this wonderful recording is more than enough to warrant revisiting.