At the dawning age of 5, our family usually has weekly get together at my Uncle’s house in Southern California. With the adults mingling out in the back porch, conversing among themselves over durian and balut, the kids are inside strategizing a mean game of hide and seek. Unfortunately, I was often time appointed as the seeker. And so as my stubby clumsy legs carried themselves through the vast mountains of carpets and couches of my Uncle’s house—I decided to boldly ventured into the forbidden cavern of my Uncle’s room, equipped with a plastic dollar sword from Chinatown and a little imagination—hoping to find the remaining hide-and-seek survivors.
As I hacked and slashed my way through dangling clothes and crumpled receipts, I fervently searched every corner of the room for the remaining players. I looked underneath the bed, the closet, the bathroom, and curtains but still no luck. I lost hope and grown weary of the game. Just when I began to lost interest in my Uncle’s room, I noticed a small chest box in the corner, enamored in fine mahogany wood. I was curious yet hesitant at the same time but was finally lured in by the chest box’s enchantment. My body trembled with excitement as my fingers loosen up the latch on the chest. “What could possibly be in this box?” “What is so secretive that my Uncle has to put a chest box at such an obscure location?”
And there it was, in its full glory. It was my Uncle’s secret stash of an assortment of Nintendo video games. From Super Mario to Castlevania, from Ninja Gaiden to Mega Man—the collection of Nintendo games were neatly stacked as if the games were an ancient artifact, untouched for many years. My eyes quickly scanned through the collection but were finally stunned by the glistening golden cartridge that stood out among the bodies of gray masses, lying lifelessly in my Uncle’s chest box. I picked up the golden treasure and read the words out loud to myself, curling my tongues into foreign shapes and cylinders, “Le…gend…of…Zel…da.”
I sprint towards my Uncle, confessed that I found his NES collection and plead him if I can borrow the game. After 10 minutes of begging, following with what seems to be perpetual motion of circulating arms and legs in the air, my uncle finally caved in and allowed me to borrow his limited edition Legend of Zelda game.
I quickly grabbed my NES console and carefully inserted the game into the system. I was unsure as to what magic this special golden cartridge holds. Within seconds, I was greeted by what appears to be honey to my ears, fire to my heart, and the burning passion to explore uncharted lands. My eyes were glued onto the TV, completely stunned by the heroic ballad theme, absorbing every intricate note that this 8-bit video game was able to elegantly produce.
From exploring dungeons, to secret passages, from venturing to woods and open fields—the music transitions unisonally with the movement of my thumb, as our hero Link explores the idyllic Kingdom of Hyrule fencing against armor clad orcs and lizards.
That was 20 years ago.
Even today, the sound of Zelda’s rudimentary beeps and blips still continue to fuel my love for this ongoing franchise. If there is one thing that Koji Kondo does well, (the musical composer of Legend of Zelda) it is the ability to create a rich and magical environment through his scoring compositions—compiling one of the most well known melodies in video game history.
As Legend of Zelda continues to evolve over the years, technology has allow itself to cultivate and encompass a much more vibrant musical piece than its predecessors. Musical scores no longer derived from midi file but instead blossomed into beautiful orchestral music. As a result, music became equally important to both gameplay and graphics—in which all these elements are intertwined in order to generate this masterpiece.
As the years progressed and my old Nintendo console continues to collect dust—the memories of my Hyrule expedition sadly exist solely in my yesteryears. The Dark Lord Ganon and his Gerudo cronies have probably by now recaptured Princess Zelda, spreading his seed of evil on the once tranquil land of Hyrule. My inner Link calls for my assistance, but the softness of his whisper has been brush aside many times by the mundane trivialities of the real world. Hyrule was under despair and all I did was nothing.
However, I’ve recently discovered that an orchestra symphony was going on a North America tour, dedicating to Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary. I continue to read on, scanning any information relating to the symphony performance. And then it hit me. Collective memories of my Zelda adventures returned back. The sweet melodic of Zelda’s theme song, the burning desire to explore new terrains, and the thrilling battles finally came to me. The whisper of Link’s calling has finally roared itself into my heart. The fulfillment that I experience then was reminiscent to the very first day I laid eyes on the gold cartridge 20 years ago.
I read on, “Symphony performs Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary on March 28 at San Francisco”. My body melts into my chair. I was delusional. Everything around me suddenly transformed itself into Legend of Zelda’s paraphernalia. My pillow suddenly hardened into a shield. The clothes hanger on the floor curved its body into a boomerang. My baseball bat transfigured into the Master Sword. Everything green reminded me of Link. Green towel, green carpet, green book, green jacket, all reminded me the forest green tunic that the hero drapes himself with before he ventures into the unknown.
Without a moment to spare, I press the “purchase” button and bought myself a ticket, back seat in the auditorium. I didn’t care where I sat. As long as both my heart and soul are present during this sacred performance, my body will become light with ethereal joy—dancing to familiar tune like Fairy Fountain and the sound of Gerudo Valley theme, in all its epic glory
So you see, my love for Zelda was not diminished. It was perhaps buried, burrowed, bequeathed so deep within me that all it took was a quiet voice (perhaps my inner Navi) to bring me back to the world in which my childhood once love—a world of adventure and conquest. Thank you Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony for refilling my love and heart meter for this magical game.