The Legend of Zelda -The Wind Waker- Original Soundtrack
The Legend of Zelda -The Wind Waker- Original Soundtrack
Scitron Digital Contents
March 19, 2003
Buy at CDJapan
Those who have disliked Koji Kondo’s Ninteno 64 scores, including The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, because of the sound system’s limited capabilities needn’t worry about the same problem applying with the soundtrack for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The score still uses MIDI-based instruments rather than a full-fledged orchestra, but the overall quality of the sound is much better than the Nintendo 64 scores. There are some tracks that occasionally sound every bit as flat as Mario Story for the Nintendo 64, but somehow composers Kenta Nagata (Mario Kart 64, 1080° Snowboarding), Hajime Wakai (Star Fox 64, Pikmin), Toru Minegishi (who debuted with the battle tracks of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask) and, of course, the legendary Koji Kondo, manage to avoid making the tracks sound intolerable. Sound issues aside, is the score for the ninth entry in the Zelda franchise worthy of its title? Probably the best way to answer this question is to first rate the soundtrack by how many classic Zelda themes have made it onto the album and then by how the other new compositions hold.
First of all, if you’re a huge fan of the scores for Ocarina of Time and A Link To The Past, prepare for a feast, as many of the familiar themes come from these two titles. The house, shop, treasure chest, morning, and item catch fanfares from Ocarina of Time are all included, as well as the themes for Ganon, Princess Zelda, the Fairy fountain (the best version being a glorious choral feast on “Fairy Spring”), and Hyrule Castle from A Link to the Past. And the classic Overworld theme? Don’t worry, it’s on the soundtrack… hinted on more than one track. Probably the most impressive renditions of this theme are a choral hint via the last track on disc 1 and the very last track on the album, which mixes not just the Overworld theme but the revamped version from Ocarina of Time. The results are nothing less than gorgeous. I should also mention that “Kakariko Village” is resurrected in the most unusual manner I’ve ever heard — it sounds more lively, peppy, and bouncy than it ever has. This may shock Zelda purists, but I soon grew accustomed to it.
Zelda fans should be pleased with the amount of old tunes to accompany Link’s latest adventure, but may have divided opinions about the rest of the tracks. The overall score has a Celtic, sea-going adventurous feel similar to Disney’s Shipwrecked, with occasional dark, menacing songs and breathtaking choral treatments. And speaking of choral treatments, the chorus vocals waver from authentic to sounding like they were derived from a synthesizer, but there are plenty of choral vocals scattered about. In particular, “Jabun” really surprised me; it’s Jabu-Jabu’s theme from Ocarina Of Time, and the vocals sound crisp and authentic in an otherwise repetitive piece.
Probably the most bizarre tracks on the entire album are the ones that are “brief, barely a theme” tracks. “The Forest of Outset Island” is just a two-note mallet instrument playing continuously with two bassoon-like notes popping in about every five beats or so. “Sealed Hyrule Castle” starts out with a very brief wind-like instrument (which sounds like its being played through radiowaves) but then, after a brief pause, we hear these loud door-closing sound effects in a ship’s hold that repeat a few more times. There are many tracks on here that are specifically written for the cinema cutscenes in the game. These tracks mix in various themes or sound like they could come from a motion picture soundtrack album. These tracks are not the most comforting tracks to listen to, but I do not consider “cinema-style” tracks in a game soundtrack a bad thing at all. I actually find it amazing that Kondo and company have been pushing the limits with this score.
The “interactive” element of the soundtrack is especially noticeable in the battle tracks. Whenever Link draws his sword and moves in for the kill, the music increases tempo and/or strikes aggressive chords to accompany his striking an enemy. This is the most amazing feature about the battle themes, which are otherwise disappointingly the score’s weak elements. The problem isn’t that they aren’t exciting or tuneful; there are more battle themes than any Zelda soundtrack to date, one for each of the game’s individual bosses. The themes are even reprised on the second disc when Link faces off with them again later on, but the battle tracks lack the furious, bombastic, boomy feel of those in Ocarina of Time. The last battle track is a clever mixing of Ganon and Link’s themes, but it’s definitely no match for the awesome “Last Battle” from Ocarina of Time.
Despite this unfortunate weakness, the soundtrack still has much to offer, from glorious reworkings of classic fanfares and tunes to the new themes that the soundtrack introduces. The theme for Aryll, Link’s sister, sounds a bit like a derived, upside-down version of Princess Zelda’s lovely theme. it is beautiful and bouncy when allowed more “lively” appearances. The most striking new themes are those for Medli of the Rito Tribe, and Makar of the Korok Tribe. Medli has a lovely, upbeat dance number on a high wood instrument, and Makar continues the Celtic bounciness on a fiddle. The two themes are cleverly intertwined in the game’s opening theme and scattered on various tracks. The same is true for the bouncy “Dragon Roost Island” and very Celtic, bagpipe laden “Forest Haven”. Apparently Kondo wanted more recognizable themes in the music and the job is more than well accomplished. The ending credits music combines the themes for Makar, Medli, and Aryll magnificently in a lovely symphonic finale that ends not with a big bang but with a very pleasing ripple.
There were people who had angry opinions about the album releases for the recent Zelda soundtracks. Because this is the hugest Zelda soundtrack ever (133 tracks!), it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s a two-disc set. Some argue, however, that it could have been three. One track, “Tower of the Gods”, fades out just as it gets started, and the tracks basically loop once. I can imagine plenty of clamor over this, but this seems to be the only other drawback Zelda fans should be aware of.
All in all, The The Legend of Zelda -The Wind Waker- Original Soundtrack is probably one of the most unusual Zelda soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. It’s definitely different from what I was expecting, not as offbeat as Majora’s Mask and very multi-faceted. It’s occasionally weird, beautiful, unconventional, strange, and amazing — all in one package. In the end, however, it functions superbly in the game and the number of excellent tracks make it yet another shining gem in Nintendo’s library of nostalgic soundtracks. The slightly lacking battle themes hamper the album from being another Ocarina of Time, but the other assets to the soundtrack make it a worthy addition to Nintendo’s “legendary” franchise.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Jon Turner. Last modified on August 1, 2012.