For more than 25 years, Nintendo has been enamoring gamers with the franchise that is The Legend of Zelda. The series has been one of epic proportions, featuring familiar tales of saving princesses and worlds from great evil and has been critically praised since its inception. But as great as the gameplay has always seem to be, there will always be one feature that won’t go unnoticed when creating these masterpieces–the music.
What Is It?
Symphony of the Goddesses, Second Quest is the follow-up to the wildly popular four-movement symphony from last year, and it was every bit as good as the one last year.
Nintendo first unveiled the Zelda Symphony at E3 2011, when the buzz around Nintendo was the upcoming Wii release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Gamers who purchased the game early were treated to a bonus disc that included live orchestral recordings of live Zelda music, which only ended up to be a snippet of what’s to come.
Aside from just Skyward Sword, Nintendo announced that the Zelda Symphony that had just opened their presser would tour North America, and I had the opportunity to attend not once, but twice. To make things even better, my hometown of San Jose, California was the location of the last concert of the year. Twice.
Why Should I Care?
Anybody who appreciates the Zelda series, without a doubt, has a strong sense of appreciation for Koji Kondo’s musical scoring of the entire series. Kondo has arguably done more for the series than both Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma, handling the music for literally every game in the franchise–at least the ones Nintendo published.
But what makes the concert itself different than your typical symphony? Aside from the fact that it’s based on video games, seeing as how the franchise has existed for almost three decades, it really helps to visualize what it is you’re hearing. At the back of the orchestra is a big screen that portrays scenes from the various Zelda games with their accompanied by their music being played by the orchestra, and what really makes the program impressive is how the music really adds to the emotion you see on the screen. In the orchestra’s Ocarina of Time movement for example, the music starts to slow down and have a sad feeling while the familiar scene of Link leaving the forest and his best friend Saria can be seen.
The series has featured games spanning all Nintendo platforms, but the original Symphony of the Goddesses only featured music from the Zelda games on consoles. In Second Quest, the first part of the symphony featured movements from The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks–both of which sound a tad different than the rest of the games of the series. Not a lot of people have finished Link’s Awakening, so it was particularly amusing seeing the reactions from other Zelda fans when they saw Link steal items from the shop on the big screen.
Seeing the reactions from other fans and having these sort of reactions myself is also what made the experience great. For me in particular, I ended up learning different ways to play the game. Again, using the Ocarina of Time movement as an example, the video montages featured Link’s battle with Ganondorf. (You know, the battle that ruined the timeline forever.) When Ganondorf unleashes multiple balls of electricity at once, you can apparently counter that with a spin move. Before the concert, I was under the impression that you just have to take the hit.
3DS owners also might want to take note that they’d be surrounded by literally hundreds of other people also equipped with a 3DS, allowing for a lot of StreetPass action. I actually StreetPassed over 50 people at the event. While I didn’t play every StreetPass minigame, I managed to finish quite a few puzzle boards thanks to everybody I passed by at City National Civic.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Since the concert will take place at a symphony hall, and due to the fact that there are plenty of skilled musicians including ones who have played in the prestigious Skywalker Symphony, the price to pay to attend the Symphony of the Goddesses isn’t cheap. Depending on where you live, if they have the concert, you can pay anywhere from $40 to $120.
Is it worth it? As a Zelda fan who has appreciated this series since the very beginning, I say yes. I also want to strongly suggest that you bring a friend or two who at least know what the series is all about. Though I can’t talk for somebody who hasn’t played a Zelda game before, the fact that there’s a screen sort of gives casual on-lookers something to pay attention to while listening to the great music.
The symphony itself consists of the Overture, which does a fairly good job of showcasing Zelda over the years as well as movements newly featuring Link’s Awakening and Spirit Tracks as previously stated.
In addition, they’ve brought back the orchestral renditions of Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and The Wind Waker–which also featured footage of The Wind Waker HD, followed by “Only on Wii U” after that particular movement ended. (Nice marketing, Nintendo.) Shows earlier in the year actually only displayed GameCube footage previous to this concert, so that was one of the few surprises featured in my particular city.
It wasn’t just movements though, a medley for Gerudo Valley, which was previously just an encore, also was played. People were insane about it, but I just don’t understand the appeal with Gerudo Valley.
Speaking of encores, I don’t know what decides which encore is played, but since my city was the last performance of the year, the orchestra went ahead and did three encores–a movement from Majora’s Mask, the theme to Dragon Roost Island from The Wind Waker, and the Ballad of the Goddess from Skyward Sword.
Majora’s Mask is my favorite game of all-time on top of being my favorite Zelda game, so I went absolutely nuts when the hosts said it would be played (and I went even more insane when the words “Majora’s Mask 3D not confirmed,” were being joked around). Is it okay to be crazy at this symphony? It normally isn’t, but for Zelda, it’s all good.
And that’s exactly what this event was. All good.