Koji Kondo
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony



by Elijah K. STAFF
November 19th, 2011 | 185 replies

Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

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.

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user ratings (127)

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 19th 2011


hahaha I was just talking about this soundtrack with a friend earlier. Well, the Ocarina of Time- Hyrule Symphony one to be exact, but still.

Contributing Reviewer
November 19th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Koji Kondo is a god amongst men

Digging: Funeral Advantage - Body is Dead

November 19th 2011


Awesome, didn't know this came out!

Digging: Hybrid (UK) - Re_Mixed

November 19th 2011


Holy shit, didn't know this came out, must get NOW. Disappointed about the lack of Majora's Mask like you mentioned, but the tracklist is plenty fine to go on without it.

Pos for a great review too, by the way. Like how it comes across clear you've got a history with the material and know what you're talking about.

November 19th 2011


Excited specifically to hear Gerudo Valley, that was always up there as one of my favorites.

November 20th 2011


It's fun reading other peoples' nostalgia. pos

November 20th 2011



the beginning of gerudo valley reminds me of carol of the bells for the first 20 seconds, then it
becomes everything carol of the bells is not

see u guys later, engaging in fantasy land now.... t minus 4...3....2....1

Staff Reviewer
November 20th 2011


Pos-ed on principle alone.

Digging: Deafheaven - New Bermuda

November 20th 2011


love the summary. this guy is a genius

November 20th 2011


song of storms?

November 20th 2011




How are you enjoying my recs?

November 20th 2011


Must get this.

November 20th 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

Sorry I had to give this a 5 because it's Zelda. And Skyward Sword brings a tear to my penis.

November 20th 2011


...only exacerbating the excellence that has always been there.

I wouldn't use the word exacerbate here as it generally as a negative connotation of making things worse, and obviously you're talking about the positive.

great write up other than that. I was a misguided youth, I never really got into video games so I can't really say that I know jack shit about zelda or its music.

November 20th 2011


I love you for making me aware of this. Forever. Eternally. Pinky-promise.

November 20th 2011


Even if you're not a fan of the game series itself, the music is plenty worth tracking down and giving a listen to on its own.

November 20th 2011


^probably but I don't care enough to check it out

November 20th 2011


Nintendo's go-to man for every flagship brand's soundtrack.

"Face to Face on the Bridge" and "Queen Rutela" from Twilight Princess are easily my favorites from him. Former is the soundtrack every final battle should have, latter is the way Lord of the Rings should have ended off with.

Digging: Vennart - The Demon Joke

November 21st 2011


Very good review, Eli - I really hope they feature this... as a matter of fact, I'm going to go request it right now!

November 21st 2011


Koji Kondo is a master

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