Game Music Revue: The Legend of Zelda 30th Anniversary Concert

  • Credited Composer: Koji Kondo with additional artists
  • Released February 15, 2017
  • Label: Nippon Columbia
  • VGMdb Information Page: Deluxe Edition, Standard Edition

 

Last year, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo held a short concert series featuring orchestral arrangements of Zelda tunes performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Now, less than six months later, the concerts have made their way to CD, and in a swank deluxe edition to boot.

I’ve played many a Zelda game over the years, but not all of them. And I think the only one I played to completion more than once was Ocarina of Time, so I’m not the definitive Zelda music expert. With that out of the way, these renditions by the Tokyo Philharmonic really shine a light as to how impressive and epic the music to Zelda can be. More than probably any other game in Nintendo’s library, the music of Zelda just naturally lends itself to the full orchestral treatment.

Spread out across two discs, the majority of the selections performed here are medleys showcasing the best bits from each game. While I feel this might disappoint some fans, I think that game music is a natural fit for medley format. Most of the base tracks are just one to three minutes long, it makes sense to string them together into more cohesive movements and pieces.

The most iconic pieces do get their own full renditions though. The classic field theme from Ocarina of Time shows up complete and unabridged, and it’s just as epic and magnificent as you would hope. And the beautiful “Fountain Theme ” is represented in full also, given a more minimal and quiet treatment than many of the other tracks represented. And of course, the main original theme to the first game closes it all out, and it’s given an appropriately grand arrangement.

Sadly, the encore tracks, the theme to Karariko Village and the main theme to the upcoming Breath Of The Wind game, are not included in this box set. It’s not an issues of space, both CDs clock it at well under 60 minutes, they would have fit, so who knows why they were given the ax. It is a letdown though, I highly doubt that Nintendo will get the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra to perform those tracks again. Would’ve been nice to hear their interpretations of them.

Aside from that, its hard to find fault in the music here. They don’t really take many chances with the arrangements I suppose, and that might be a bother for a few people, but I can’t imagine why. These tracks aren’t broke, so don’t fix them.

If you do want to pick this up, be aware that there are two versions of this set currently on sale. One is your basic 2CD affair that features the music proper along with a nice set of (Japanese) liner notes. It’s a nice package, and if all you want is the music in a decent case, that’ll do you just fine.

But there’s also the deluxe edition, and it’s the one to get if you want your lush, orchestral versions of classic video game music accompanied by pointless collectibles and trinkets…that are really rad and awesome.

Encased in a beautiful embossed box, the deluxe edition contains the complete 2CD edition alongside a bonus DVD filled with selections from the concerts set alongside to game footage from a variety of different Zelda titles. It’s kind of an odd little thing. The videos aren’t cut in a way that match the music at all, but it’s still fun to watch.

Alongside that is a collection of pretty pins, which I assume where the same ones that were available the concerts themselves. Neat, for sure, but I’m not a pin guy (are there pin guys? Regardless, I’m not one of them). There’s also a strange transparent CD stand featuring the the classic 8-bit link. I own a few thousand CDs, so the idea of displaying just one on a special display case is kind of lost on me, but I’m sure this will appeal to someone with a less insane penchant for CD collecting.

Despite their complete uselessness, I do enjoy the gimmicks, and if you want a nice prestige box, then I think the deluxe edition is the way to go. But if you just want the music and no needless filler, then the standard 2CD edition should be fine. But no matter the format, if you consider yourself even a minor fan of the music from the Zelda series, this item is a must have. It’s a great collection of fantastic music, all performed beautifully.

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