FBM – Overworld Themes Part 1: Overview

JordanMarch 25th, 2013 by Jordan

Good afternoon, and welcome to the first in a new series of Flute Boy’s Meadow: Overworld Themes! As the name suggests, for the next few weeks Flute Boy’s Meadow will be looking at all of the overworld tunes from the Zelda series and see how they compare and contrast to each other. While I do aim to cover every game from the original Legend of Zelda to Skyward Sword, this is not going to be a sixteen-part series. I have way too much ADD to keep a singular focus for three and a half months.

The current plan is to cover these in sections, probably five or six, by lumping games into categories. Jump inside to see the overview and intro for this series!

A game’s overworld is the main hub area from which the player can travel to the game’s locations. Since the series debut every Zelda game has had its own overworld in some way, shape, or form. Still, over the years the series has seen numerous variations and uses for these overworlds and, in turn, the music has changed appropriately. Some have opted for a march theme, others for rousing fanfare, and still more for a soft and relaxing tune all based on how the game’s overworld is structured.

In a way, each game’s overworld can be grouped into categories. To condense this series into a reasonable number of posts I will be using said categories. The overworld types are the Exploration Overworld, the Transport Overworld, and the Menu Overworld.

Exploration Overworlds

This is the lifeblood of the Zelda series. Most games feature this type of overworld, and deviation from it has caused some pretty disgruntled fans. The makeup of an Exploration Overworld involves a large, interconnected map that the player has every capability of exploring every inch of. These overworlds are typically traveled by foot with optional transportation like Epona and Moosh available.

The name comes from the amount of freedom a player has to explore these worlds. Towns, caves, forests, and any conceivable secret are all integrated into the world in a way that the player can find them at will. Themes for Exploration Overworlds are the most iconic to the series, featuring rousing tunes that keep one moving forward with excitement for the next nook or cranny to be found.

Games that feature this type of overworld are The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, the Oracle games, Minish Cap, and Twilight Princess. Essentially 70% of the series is built around this, so I feel it just wouldn’t do them justice to pack all of these into one post. This category of overworld will probably occupy at least two or three weeks of this series.

Transport Overworlds

Born out of The Wind Waker‘s Great Sea, these overworlds cannot be traveled without a vehicle of come sort. This limits exploration to specific pockets of activity such as islands or stations, and requires music that doesn’t bore the player as they sit and watch Link travel for them.

I wish the series would stop focusing on these so much anymore, but then I suppose it can’t be helped. Still, they have had some pretty great music selections; these are usually heavily reliant on their respective themes, so each overworld’s tune is based around its setting moreso than any other category.

There are only a handful of games that feature this sort of overworld: Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, and Skyward Sword.

Menu Overworlds

Hardly worth the title “Overworld,” these are really more like Stage-Select screens from which the player chooses where to go next. As such, they probably will not receive much focus in this series if they even get a post. These sort of “overworlds” have only appeared in Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures.

Now, I can’t wait to get into actually writing about these different themes in the coming weeks, but for now I’d like to hear your thoughts. What are your favorite overworld themes? Do you prefer Exploration or Transport? What other Zelda music categories would you like to see dedicated series for in the future? Let me know in the comments!

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  • PRDX4

    Exploation over Transportation. ABSOL-UTELY
    I LOVE OoT, MM, WW, and TP’s overworld themes.

    • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

      Ehm hem. WW is a transportation. IMO, it’s kind of some of each, but it’s transportation in the article.

      • PRDX4

        I know, but I was just saying I liked their themes.

        • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

          Oh, sorry, I kinda overlooked that. My bad XD

      • http://ZeldaDungeon.net/ Jordan D.

        It IS both.
        Being the first transportation overworld, Wind Waker still had a lot of Exploration Overworld in it as well. I packed it into the Transportation category so it would have more than three titles to be honest :-D

        • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

          OK, that’s what I was thinking. When you’re in the boat it’s just exploration, but what I liked about it is that you can actually get out of the boat and explore random islands/towers at sea, without having to go through that docking scene in PH and ST. I like how you could just get out and swim around.

  • jkchamp

    awesome love your posts

    • http://ZeldaDungeon.net/ Jordan D.

      Thanks! Glad you enjoy ‘em :)

  • Westar

    For sure the melodies from the transport overworlds, especially Spirit Tracks, it’s a fantastic piece of art! It gives the game a whole different role than if it would have been a different theme. I also think that Toru Mingishi is the greatest composer of music to video-games ever lived! Love your series, longing for the next one!

    • Link7766

      I agree that the transport games have the best music, but I think Skyward Sword has the best music out of the transport games.

      • Westar

        As for the OVERWORLD theme, spirit tracks is my favorite, but overall, Skyward Sword has the best music in my opinion also. (Much because it’s a recorded orcestra, and not just made on a computer).

        • Link7766

          I agree completely

  • Link7766

    I love both exploration and transportation almost equally, but if I had to choose, I have played more transportation so would choose that

    • http://ZeldaDungeon.net/ Jordan D.

      They each have pros and cons, but in the end I’ll always love an exploration overworld more. I especially love Wind Waker’s, though, since it’s a marriage of the two varieties.

  • JeredenDonnar

    Please spotlight the Overworld them from Spirit Tracks!! It is the best!!

  • CheeseOnion

    I would love to see a series that covered the different music in the same type of area’s. For example ordon woods and faron woods.

    • http://ZeldaDungeon.net/ Jordan D.

      This will be something like the first step into that sort of thing. I do plan on such comparison posts in the future, but I figured I ought to start with the primary area of each game.

  • Knots077

    What was the point of the videos. It was the same picture for two minutes.

    • http://ZeldaDungeon.net/ Jordan D.

      The music. I don’t have a way to directly post music files/players, so I opt for YouTube videos that play the music.

    • et34

      You didn’t have your sound on, did you?

    • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

      Let’s see. The title is “Overworld Themes”. By themes it means theme music. By theme music it means, well, theme music. And why would he have an article without the music, if that’s what it’s about……? -.-

  • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

    MAH favoritte is tha men-you over warldd. Becaz yu can doo stuf eezeyer.

    XD that one seems like it would be awful, but I’ve never played those 2 games, so I wouldn’t know.

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