“. . . a wonderful volume at a very attractive price point . . .”
In February 1986, gaming took a new turn with the release of The Legend of Zelda.
A video game combining strategy, puzzles, mazes, and adventure in a way that created a whole new category of gamer: the casual gamer. But Zelda did not just change gamers, it changed the entire video game industry: Sixteen official video games, a Saturday morning cartoon series, manga, novels, dolls, action figures, children’s books, and a symphony have been produced based on a single franchise.
Now available in the United States, The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia examines the history of the franchise, provides fans the sneak peek they’ve been waiting for, and solidifies why The Legend of Zelda was ranked the #1 video game of all time by Game Informer and was the inaugural inductee into the Video Game Hall of Fame.
Originally released for the 25th anniversary in Japan, it’s release created significant buzz with the inclusion of the definitive timeline of the Legend of Zelda series—a topic long debated on various fan forums.
The book itself is divided into four main sections: “Development of Skyward Sword;” the newest Zelda video game designed specifically for the Wii platform; “The History of Hyrule” and “Creative Footprints” give a behind the scenes look at the development and evolution of the franchise; and a special manga that serves as a prequel to Skyward Sword.
The “Development of Skyward Sword" reads almost like a strategy guide for the series. It provides several detailed maps to guide you through the changeable terrain and introduces you to the new and returning characters. We are able to go behind the scenes to see the characters fine-tuned through the designers’ sketches and are given close up views of the various locales we will be visiting.
Sadly, little is discussed about the actual gameplay or what benefits were gained in designing the game specifically for the Wii.
“The History of Hyrule” and the “Creative Footprints” are the meat and potatoes of the title. Here we are able to delve deep into the extensive mythology of Hyrule, and discover the timeline’s three-way split that puts to rest all other speculation (Nintendo had previously stated that they would not reveal the timeline as they wanted to leave that up to the players; one can only assume that Nintendo decided to reveal the secret on the 25th anniversary as a special treat for the fans).
The character designs are mesmerizing; to actually watch a favorite character progress and have the designers explain the rationale for the adjustments is a real treat! For players who have not played all of the games in the series, they will be brought completely up to date and will be able to have a clearer path as they progress. Additionally, with the revelation of the timeline, players will be able to choose a more linear storyline if so desired, or they can have a blast jumping back and forth between different incarnations of Link.
The manga, while beautiful, is the weakest portion of the book. Purely for hard core completists, the pages dedicated to the prequel of Skyward Sword would have been better spent on interviews with the developers and designers, a more thorough discussion of the influence The Legend of Zelda has had on the development of games for casual and female gamers, and a little bit more on the genesis of the franchise.
Dark Horse has produced a wonderful volume at a very attractive price point, and it is no wonder that it was able to grab Amazon.com’s #1 sales spot away from 50 Shades of Grey. So grab your copy of The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Hystoria, queue up Symphonic Legends on Netflix, and get ready for an adventure!