March 31, 2012

The List: Zelda Overworld Themes

And when I say that, I mean themes that aren't the Zelda series theme or a variation on that theme. Believe it or not, that's used in a ton of the games: The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past (though not the Dark World), Link's Awakening, Majora's Mask, Oracle of Seasons and Ages, Four Swords Adventures, and The Minish Cap. The other seven games are fair play!

7. The Adventure of Link- composed by Akito Nakatsuka

The overworld theme for the second Zelda game starts off the same as the first, but then takes on an identity of its own. Unfortunately, it's just too similar to its older brother to earn a higher place on this list. Funfact: This game's soundtrack was not composed by Koji Kondo. Nakatsuka also did the music for Ice Climbers and Excitebike, with his most recent work being Brain Age.

6. Phantom Hourglass- composed by Kenta Negata and Toru Minegishi

It's a Wind Waker wannabe. It starts out with some serious Waker vibes but around 14 seconds starts to sound like a Pokemon route to me. Ultimately, because of its familiarity with Wind Waker, it is forgettable. Negata has composed for Mario Kart (64, Double Dash), while Minegishi has worked on many Nintendo games, though never on his own.

5. Ocarina of Time- composed by Koji Kondo

Having never played Ocarina of Time until the 3DS remake, I have absolutely no bias towards this game. I find the Hyrule field theme to be pretty good, but the section that kicks in at 1:35 ruins the thing, in my opinion. My memory of this song? Riding around a small, empty field on my horse to get to the game's next area. It sounds like it should be the theme of wide open spaces, but alas.

4. The Wind Waker- composed by Kenta Negata, Hajime Wakai, Toru Minegishi, Koji Kondo

I'm not sure which of the above guys composed this particular theme, but hats off to them. It really captures the sea-faring spirit! I hear it an imagine myself on the ocean open with the wind in my face and the seagulls at my back.

3. Spirit Tracks- composed by Toru Minegishi, Manaka Tominaga, Asuka Ota, Koji Kondo

I'm not going to lie here, it was pretty damn close between numbers two and three. I, like many, largely ignored Spirit Tracks. There is no denying, though, that the music is masterful. Again, I'm not sure who composed this particular piece, but it fantastically captures the pioneering spirit (tracks).

2. Skyward Sword- composed by Haijime Wakai, Shiho Fujii, Mahito Yakota, Takeshi Hama

Did you know that Koji Kondo composed only one track for Skyward Sword? Primary composition was handled by Mr. Wakai, with Mahito Yakota (Super Mario Galaxy) overseeing orchestration. My guess is that Wakai (Pikmin Series) composed this important theme, and what a job he did. Nintendo's roster of composers is very good at setting the mood. The mood in this case is not riding a train or a boat, but flying through the sky. It's hard to picture anything else when you hear this.


Twilight Princess- composed by Toru Minegishi, Asuka Ota, Koji Kondo

This theme was always destined to be at the top. Unfortunately, Twilight Princess looks to have been the last Zelda game without an orchestrated soundtrack. I've included that version below, which lasts until 5:27, so you can hear the track the way it was originally intended. There is no other overworld theme that is as powerful as this. It's epic, heroic, adventurous, and even moving. Toru Minegishi took over the primary composition on this game and ended up composing the second best (only to Majora's Mask) soundtrack of the series. Job well done, sir!

A Link To The Past (Dark World)- Koji Kondo

In the end, Koji proves that he's got what it takes. The Dark World Theme is a fan favorite. Hell, the original chip version is great. But hearing it orchestrated? Nothing beats it. Except maybe Twilight Princess. And that's why they've tied.

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