I have been playing video games for years. I have slain countless bosses, seen hundreds of Game Overs and credits alike, and saved most princesses worth saving. Still, few of those experiences left me feeling as victorious and proud as last Saturday when I finally beat Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Seeing Thunderbird and Dark Link finally fall after months of trying felt . . . awesome.
To commemorate this momentous point in my Zelda gaming career, I have elected to use one of Zelda II‘s most popular songs for today’s edition of Flute Boy’s Meadow. Jump on in to check it out!
Track: “Palace Theme” (“Temple Theme” in Japan)
Game: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)
Purpose: Background Theme, Dungeon
Composers: Akito Nakatsuka, Kōji Kondō
Before we begin, I would like to make a note to all the younger Zelda fans here: Yes, this song is in Super Smash Bros. Melee. That version is so incredibly different, though, it’s hard to really compare the two. Today, just focus on the original.
Back in the good ol’ days of Zelda, there were no different themes for each dungeon. Save for the Great Palace, you got the same tune for every one of them. Because of this players could spend hours of their playtime slogging through different dungeons all to the same music. Fun stuff.
This presents a challenge: making a dungeon theme that can be heard constantly without being annoying. This is a common item for any and all video game music, but it holds especially true for this case considering how much time the dungeons in Zelda II can take.
Beyond the annoyance factor, there is also a requirement for this tune to be . . . well, a dungeon theme. Such themes have varied greatly throughout Zelda’s history, but they tend to be either mysterious or adventurous in mood. Which option does this one opt for?
Right from the beginning, I love this song. That four-note intro followed by the three falling notes which head straight into the theme gets me every time. It gives one the feeling that things have just gotten serious, and that is further solidified by the rest of the theme.
The main “body” of the tune leaves no doubt about what it’s trying to say. It is tense with a fairly adventurous air about it. The song makes one wonder what’s behind the next door, what could come jumping at them next, and what enemies and treasures alike could be awaiting their adventurous soul. And the player feels awesome while doing it. This song lands on the perfect line between the “adventurous” and “mysterious” boundary, filling the player with a sense of both as they delve into the depths of dungeons. It’s an exciting tune all around.
Well, I’m sort of blurring the lines here since I already nailed down my verdict in the last section . . . but hey, I don’t mind saying it again: this song rules. I may have found The Adventure of Link to be frustratingly hard at times, but I never got tired of listening to this epic dungeon theme. This is the kind of tune I like to slay enemies and find treasure to; it’s just a great song all around.
So, what are your thoughts about The Adventure of Link and its music? Do you like the dungeon theme, or are you a bit less enthusiastic about it? Are there any songs you love from the series that you would like to see me look at next? Let me know in the comments!
Also, I plan next week to finally start looking at some Zelda songs that I don’t love (they exist!), so be sure to come back this time next week to see! Until then, take care and enjoy your Hyrule Historias, those of you who have copies.