The Wind Waker has one of the most celebrated soundtracks of the entire Zelda series (hence it earning three spots on our Top 10 Zelda Scores list), and so I just can’t help but talk about it as part of our celebration of the game’s 8th anniversary. I’ll be handling this in a similar style to the recent “5 Zelda Tracks I’d Like Remixed in Skyward Sword,” so while I plan to talk about as much of this awesome collection of tunes as I can, I won’t be able to get to every song in Wind Waker‘s playbook.
Yes, I realize the Youtube vid I’m drawing from is actually from the Ending Credits, but this song is such an iconic part of the Wind Waker library that I just had to use the longer version. Really sets the tone for the game’s thematic focus on wind and fit the opening cinematics like a glove. Staring out over the open ocean from a coastal cliffside was never so epic. No wonder this one came in at Number 7 on our Top 10 Songs list. I also found it really cool that this track made its way into the actual gameplay in the form of the Earth God’s Lyric and Wind God’s Aria, the two melodies you need to open the way to the Hyrule temples in the second half of the story.
While the song’s positively magnificent in its original form, there was an unplugged remix compiled by a swell dude named FreddeGredde that surfaced a couple years back that rekindled my love for it all over again. Check out the results:
Come on. Tell me you’ll get that one out of your head anytime soon. I dare you. (Oh man, gettin’ some tears just listening to it. Well this is embarrassing… Moving on!)
The Legendary Hero
Here it is – the first track that greets players when they begin their new game. Really nice narrative piece that delivers the epic tone of the story being told in the background with all the kick we’d expect from Zelda. The classic Hyrule Overworld theme features here, and to great effect. Makes me hope that Skyward Sword will get some kind of opening story montage as well, one that comes with an equally epic musical theme.
A non-musical aside: the story art here is really something, and I’m glad some of the later games like Minish Cap, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks have continued the tradition of using unique storyboard artwork in their intro legends. With Skyward Sword‘s “impressionist” art direction, one can only expect we’ll get something similar in terms of scenery art.
This one clocked in at Number 4 on our Top 10 tracklist.
Outset Island’s theme song had this neat energy to it that I really enjoy even to this day. It oozes the sense of peace and tranquility enjoyed by Link’s island before the Helmaroc King attacks. So, it’s not particularly “island-like” and therefore is kind of weird as the first major area theme in a game largely based in the sea – still, it’s an excellent addition to the long list of Zelda town tracks.
Fun fact for those of you who have never noticed: this song samples a bit of the Kokiri Forest theme. Listen for it at 0:55 and 1:30. I love little musical references like this – I might even like them better than true remixes since they’re really only there for the hardcore Zelda music fan to take note of.
This wouldn’t necessarily be one of my picks for the Best of The Wind Waker or anything, but it’s definitely one of the game’s trademark songs given that it made its way into the sequel, Phantom Hourglass. Neat juxtaposition between your typical swashbuckling pirate theme and the lighthearted atmosphere of Wind Waker, and in that sense a perfect musical exemplification of Tetra’s pirate company as a whole. Again, it just goes to show you how Wind Waker is a musical masterpiece, courtesy of Koji Kondo.
Wind Waker‘s only other real town besides Outset featured an equally excellent musical score. Windfall Island’s theme keeps perfectly well with the rest of the bouncy, airy Wind Waker soundtrack, and does a miraculous job synthesizing the prevalent Kakariko Village samples with good-ol’ brand-new music. It’s fortunate that the song is so good on the ears, since you certainly have to spend a lot of time there if you want to collect everything there is to find in the game!
Here we go – the bread and butter of the Wind Waker soundtrack. This is the song you’ll hear most, and that’s a good thing, since it captures the essence of a voyage at sea as keenly as one could possibly hope for! I’ve harped on how much I love the sense of discovery Wind Waker‘s Great Sea brings enough times that I’m sure most of you know how I feel about this track. This, my friends, is how an iconic overworld theme should be. This is why Zelda‘s music is the best in the business. Absolutely brilliant.
Yeah, it didn’t exactly make our staff-wide Top Picks list, but it certainly made it on mine.
Dragon Roost Island
That’s right – I’m already at seven awesome songs and we haven’t even reached the first dungeon yet. Dragon Roost Island is something special – so much so that many consider it the last bastion of strong and powerful game area themes in the Zelda series of recent years. I don’t know if it’s the perfect encapsulation of the whole “island feel,” its catchiness and memorability, or pure nostalgia speaking, but I have to agree that this is one of the best area themes we’ve seen – maybe that’s why it stands out so much from the rest of the crowd. This one’s Number 3 on the Top 10 List for a reason, folks!
I was really surprised to see such a strong track make it in as the mini-boss battle theme. There’s a lot of back-and-forth between various instruments here that really amps up the energy in the midst of a rough fight against some Moblins or Darknuts or what have you. Add the nifty musical attack effects that turn up later on in the track and you’ve got yourself the quintessential Wind Waker battle theme.
Ah, Molgera’s theme. Honestly, if you showed me this song and I had no idea what the context was, I don’t know if I could have told you it was a boss theme, and yet somehow it fit the tone of the battle perfectly. Molgera’s rhythmic motions as it flew around the stage seemed almost in sync with the musical vibrations – or maybe it’s all just my imagination. Either way, this is probably the cream of the crop in terms of unique Zelda boss tracks, which certainly explains how this one made it as one of the unlockable songs in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And, again, it didn’t make the cut for the Top 10 list, but that’s not due to lack of support from yours truly. One of my all-time favorites.
This has “epic duel” written all over it. From the get-go this song pulls out some really powerful organ chords, background vocals, and drum crashes that give the necessary oomph to make this just what Wind Waker needed to pull off a spectacular finish. Also, does anyone else get the feeling that a lot of Twilight Princess‘s music draws inspiration from the instrumentation used here?
Farewell, Hyrule King
Wow. Just…wow. What an emotional song, mixing the iconic sounds of the classic Hyrule Castle Theme with the tragic drama that is the ending of Wind Waker. The King of Red Lions has to throw his ancient kingdom away to ensure peace and prosperity for his descendants, and he still manages to pull out of it with some degree of triumph. Notice the musical progression from the start of the piece, culminating at about 1:25. Dang, I’m getting goosebumps as I’m writing this.
That’s really the feeling I get from a lot of Wind Waker‘s soundtrack, though, and I hope it’s the same for a lot of you. If you feel there’s something from Wind Waker‘s musical score that deserves some cred that I couldn’t get to here, leave it some love in the comments section. Otherwise, just sit back and enjoy the music.