Welcome to another edition of TSG Asks, where we ask a question to our staff and then to all of you. This weekend is extra special because we are giving away two tickets to the Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses performance on July 21 in San Diego during Comic-Con. Read on for your chance to enter. In honor of the Symphony we asked the Top Shelf Gaming staff:
I’ll never forget the first time I opened a chest in Ocarina of Time. Making it past the boulder maze in the Kokiri Forest, I strode up to the wooden trunk and that iconic music began to play. Light burst out from inside the container and as I bit my nails in anticipation, Link, just barely tall enough, reached inside and procured a sword. As he held it above his head triumphantly, in a manner that is still greatly mocked today, I felt so thrilled. That simple music cue that plays whenever you open a box and receive a major item brought up so many emotions the first time it happened: wonder, excitement, curiosity, all contained within a span of ten seconds. That little moment encapsulated what the remainder of the adventure would be like, and because of that, I always look forward to the first chest I find in any Zelda game.
Part of me wants to pick an in-game moment for this, but the fact of the matter is that when I think of music in a Zelda game I immediately go to Ocarina of Time’s title screen theme. A black screen fades into the pre-dawn hour over Hyrule Field, the distant clipping of hoofbeats growing in volume. As Link and Epona appear on screen for the first time, a quiet chord ripples out from a piano, joined by the low hum of strings and, as the sun finally peeks over the field, a delicate melody begins gliding over everything. Ocarina of Time’s title screen music is sparse. Unlike Wind Waker’s jaunty and uplifting melody or Skyward Sword’s triumphant Ballad of the Goddess, this theme feels fragile, serene. It perfectly sets the tone for the epic, frequently somber adventure that is about to begin. As a child, this music transported me to another world. 17 years later it does the same thing.
While recently challenged by this year’s Breath of the Wild, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is my favorite game of all time. As a composer, I can’t help but fall in love with the game’s music every time I listen to it. I’ll never forget the first time I heard the Sage Songs. Makar, the little fiddle-wielding forest creature, and Medlii, the winged harpist from Dragon Roost Island, eventually perform ancient songs with you to progress the story. The melodies they played during these scenes were somehow familiar. Then all at once, I realized they were performing the music from the Title Screen of the game, a tune that I’d heard dozens of times by that point. Those moments re-contextualize the entire game and now when I boot up Wind Waker, the music in the title screen is that much more significant to me.