Today we continue our adventure through the bleeps and bloops of 8-bit Nintendo soundtracks.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link seems to be one of the most hated Zelda games. It was different from the first game, and most fans did not like the changes. I chalk it up to a poorly timed experiment. Some things did not work well for what people expected from The Legend of Zelda at the time. However there were some things which the game introduced which have since become staples in the franchise.
It really was a hard game, and the fact that you only have two buttons to work with, plus a directional pad, does not simplify things. To this day, just hearing the battle music from this soundtrack makes me anxious. The syncopation and dissonance do not really help either. Actually, the music for the title screen blends that anxiety from the battle music and the general easy-going feeling from music which plays in the towns and houses. I think the main title does a great job at giving you an overture feel, without actually being a medley.
The music which plays in the palaces was also anxiety inducing, but mostly because of the ostinato in the bass. Does anyone else notice a trend in the scary music in the Zelda series? It all has a similar bass line.
And something about the ii-IV-V7-IV chord progression just get’s blood pressure up. Last year, I found myself in need of an original James Bond / Secret Agent Man theme type song. After trying to come up with something on my own, I discovered they use the same progression as was used in the palaces in this game. After that, I had to drop the project because it would just make me so angry hearing those chords over and over again. And I knew that at any moment one of those gargoyle heads would come, kill me, and reset all my experience points.
Actually, most of this soundtrack was kinda scary. Or should I say most of the time I spent listening to this soundtrack was spent listening to the scary songs. Over the course of my whole life, I would not be surprised to find I have spent a full month wandering through palaces and fighting the guardians. Sprinkle in a little time spent going from palace to town to palace (which is mostly chance enemy encounters along the way). And then the never-ending Great Palace and two painfully hard boss fights.
The worst part of it all is when you die. Ganon laughs at you and, with his smug 8-bit eyebrow raised, seems to ask, “That’s it? You spent 4 hours of your life looking for extra life and died from a ball of dirt dropped on you by a bug?” Not only did my character die, but so did my self-esteem.
There is other music, like what plays in the towns and houses around Hyrule. The main over-world theme is different from the original Zelda’s over-world theme, but it starts out with the same fanfare, which is a nice little homage to its predecessor. Maybe I was just projecting my feelings onto the music, but something about the end of the game, just before the credits, just seems like it is exhausted. Which is ironic because Zelda just woke up. Then it turns back into the soundtrack for an epic adventure. And of course the sound effects for finding an item or fairy, putting a crystal in one of the stone statues at the end of a palace, or playing the flute.
All in all, this sound track is just more tense than the first. There are some games or movies whose soundtrack out performs whatever they were accompanying, but it do not think this is one of them. This will never be the best Zelda game ever, and this will never be the best Zelda soundtrack ever. They are not the worst, either.