Well, my Zelda Dungeon friends, it has finally happened. My brother bought me a copy of Spirit Tracks for Christmas. In other words, I finally got to experience what is easily one of the best soundtracks of all the handheld Zelda games.
Now, every Zelda game’s soundtrack tends to be diverse and usually makes it difficult to choose one track that is indisputably better than the rest. With Spirit Tracks that is not quite the case. As anyone who has played it will tell you, there is one track in this game that will stick in your head forever… and you enjoy that it does. No matter how many times I hear it, “Overworld Adventure” remains one of my favorite Zelda overworld themes of all time. Yes, that includes every rendition of “Hyrule Field” ever; it certainly holds its own against those and then some.
Just why do I enjoy this song so much? Jump on in to see!
Regarding this song, I would like to start by remarking on its wonderful job of being an overworld theme apart from the rest. At face value, the upbeat western tune that provides the song’s main skeleton serves mostly to give it the necessary excitement that is found in all overworld themes. What I find admirable about this is the fact that it accomplishes this both without brass fanfare (which dominates just about every other Zelda overworld theme) but also while drawing forth a reference to classic society. The rapid mix of banjos and some violins sends one back to the Old West, when train tracks were helping to unite the east and west coasts of America. Fitting, then, that this song plays whenever you drive your train.
These basic associations are just the groundwork of the song, though. Now that you’re brought into the mood of the train’s motion (the music compliments the train’s chugging perfectly), there is another layer overtop that which dominates the song: the pan flute. The primary instrument of the game manages to slip into most of its songs yet it never gets boring. Nintendo proved with this soundtrack that they can make pan flutes sound more beautiful than many of us imagined, at least for me.
Some of my favorite parts of this track alternate in their reliance upon the pan flute. About forty seconds into the song, the flute hits a few high notes that I simply love. Just a little later the pan flute drops out completely and we are treated to a slower bit where the violin (cello maybe, it’s definitely a bowed instrument) takes center stage to play a bridge of sorts that leads into the next repetition of the song. I love the contrast these sweeter tones have with the still-pulsing western banjos, and in the end it does nothing but improve the song.