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With the Legend of Zelda series, music has been a key factor to the experience since the beginning. From the early and simple NES tunes to the epic orchestrations in Skyward Sword, this series has seen its fair share of atmospheric and amazing songs. These songs not only add to the immersion and scale of the games, but are guaranteed to stick in your head hours after you turn the console off.
With this blog, I hope to open the eyes of casual and even hardcore Zelda fans to the astounding music that each entry features. While gathering the songs for this article, I discovered some extremely catchy tracks that I hadn’t paid attention to beforehand.
Before I start though, I’d like toss out a few disclaimers. First, I wasn’t entirely sure how to do this blog when gathering the information I needed, and still am not entirely sure how well it will go over. I settled on posting all of the music I’ve picked out, a little blurb about each game, and then some comments on the music itself if I see it necessary. Please, if you have any critiques with how I’ve set this up, don’t be afraid to tell me in the comments below.
Secondly, this will be a long blog, especially if you try to get the most out of it. I’d like everyone, if they have the time, to listen to each music track posted and hear for yourselves just how good they are (although you don’t have to listen to the entire track if you don’t feel like it). I’ve limited myself to at most 15 tracks per game, and please tell me if even that’s pushing it. I’ll lower it for the next part.
Lastly, while I do believe is the best music of the series, it’s still drowned in my own opinion and tastes. If your favorite song isn’t in my picks, I’m terribly sorry, and would love for you to tell me what it is in the comments.
Now, without further rambling for me, I give you what I believe to be the definitive list of the top Zelda music (In no particular order though. Narrowing down the songs was tough enough). Get your headphones ready.
(As a side note, I will be marking my personal favorite tracks in red. Just in case you were wondering.)
The Legend of Zelda (NES)
It’s the game that started it all, and most of the music nailed it on the first try. Heck, most of the music and sound effects are being constantly remixed and remade in Zelda games to this very date. It’s iconic, and for a good reason.
As you can see, there are only about three songs worth mentioning. The others are either just jingles, or they're so repetitive that they start grating your ears after the third loop. These three tracks, however, you can listen to over and over and you still won't be sick of them.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)
In a surprising move, Nintendo decided to make the sequel to the top-down, adventure focused original into a side-scrolling RPG. This is debatably an awful or genius move, depending on who you talk to about it, but one thing’s for certain: they upped the ante in the music department. While not as iconic as the originals by far (possibly due to the lack of popularity the game has), I believe it’s catchier than the first game’s. There’s at least a lot more to listen to.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
This was the series’ first venture into the 16-bit era, and dear Lord was it amazing. Once you stepped outside of Link’s house and heard the music for the first time, your heart filled with desperation. You had to save that princess, and you had to be fast. From that point onward, your ears were bombarded with the beautiful 16-bit midi that didn’t let up until you turned off the system. Whether you were exploring the overworld or fighting with Ganon, it all fit wonderfully.
The Goddess Appears:
Dark Mountain Forest:
Battle With Ganon:
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (Gameboy Color)
A cult classic among Zelda fans, Link’s Awakening is adored by nearly everyone who plays it, including myself. However, it’s more for the gameplay, story and characters, as the music is severely lacking when it comes to the series’ standards. Don’t get me wrong, the music is good, but it lacks a certain… punch that the other games have. It’s just not as memorable to me as the other soundtracks in the series. Perhaps you, the reader, can decide what you think.
Player Select (Zelda):
The Ghost's House:
(Link's Awakening DX gets bonus points for bringing back/remixing the dungeon theme from the original.)
Ballad of the Wind Fish:
Link: The Faces of Evil (Phillips CD-i)
Haha, just kidding. You couldn’t pay me to listen to that filth for over ten seconds.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64)
Like A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time was a gigantic leap forward for the series. With the Nintendo 64 console, Nintendo developers were allowed a ton more memory to work with, and they must have used all of it with Ocarina. It’s not only filled with a huge three-dimensional overworld and plenty of quests and side-quests, but it had a huge soundtrack to boot. This soundtrack is what many consider to be the gold standard for a Zelda soundtrack, and I don’t blame them. When collecting the tracks for this blog, this was the only one that literally hurt my brain to pick from.
(You may notice this as the Crystal music from A Link to the Past.)
Temple of Time:
Minuet of Forest:
Bolero of Fire:
Nocturne of Shadow:
Requiem of Spirit:
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Nintendo 64)
Definitely the darkest of any Zelda game, the soundtrack follows suit with some of the most deceiving songs I’ve ever heard. Don’t understand what I mean? Just listen to the first track in the game.
(At first it lures you in with its cute and catchy tones, then... it gets sinister.
Clock Town Day 2:
(There are three versions of this song, and it's actually pretty genius with the way it's handled. On the first day, it's as upbeat as possible. On the second, it gets a bit more fast paced and loses the warmth; it sounds a bit emptier. On the third day, the music is incredibly fast paced and there's some added sounds that make you realize that the end is near. It's heartbreaking, really. Personally, I enjoy the second version the most.)
Manager's House Council Room:
Song of Healing:
(Fun fact: this is actually a remix of the horse race from Ocarina of Time and here.)
Music Box House:
Stone Tower Temple:
To The Moon:
Majora's Wrath Battle:
(All of the Majora battle tracks are great, but I picked Majora's Wrath due to how fast paced and frantic it is. Majora's Incarnate is my second favorite of the trio of songs.)
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (Gameboy Color)
Possibly even more obscure than Link’s Awakening, Seasons and its sister game (we’ll get to that next time) are very unique. Not only in their code sharing and story carrying gameplay, but in their music styles. Neither of them necessarily scream “Zelda” to me, but that’s not a bad thing.
Two Quests of the Triforce:
That Popular Subrosian Dance:
Dancing Dragon Dungeon:
The Windmill Theme:
(Well would you look at that, the Windmill guy gets a cameo in Oracle of Seasons! I believe this is his last appearance in a Zelda game though, or at least where he's playing his windmill... box... thing.)
And that’s it for this part! I hope you enjoyed the blog, and while it may take awhile, part 2 will definitely exist soon. I have the will, I have the want, and I have the way. With that said, I can confirm that it won’t be the very next blog I post.
As for you, dear reader, I’d love if you’d sound-off in the comments below. I need you to help me make part 2 two times as good!