The Ultimate Zelda Medley, performed by String Player Gamer with the assistance of the Mini Mario Orchestra, and arrangement by Diwa De Leon, is one of the most fantastic Legend of Zelda medleys I have ever heard. I discovered this gem a few months back while delving into the depths of YouTube. Once I started listening, I could not stop. Not only did each song bring back good memories, but it was tastefully and fantastically performed. Back in the day, I used to do some recordings of Zelda covers, and I remember the frustrations I endured, so I can not say how much I am impressed by how String Player Gamer’s patience and skill to perform such a wonderful (and quite lengthy) musical piece. Though it is a long medley, I never become tired of listening to it. The pace and the songs were chosen well, and merge beautifully into one another; it is never a chore to listen.
I’m going to give a spoiler warning for people who, like me, love to be surprised by the songs in medleys such as this one. For me personally, the joy upon hearing a song I love, as Ghirahim would say, “fills my heart with rainbows”. As previously mentioned, this medley is quite a long one, and as much as I would love to, I will not be able to cover every song used. I will discuss not only the ones that meant a lot to me, but the pieces from a musical standpoint that truly make this medley grand. Stop here if you’d like to hear the medley for yourself first!
This medley covers a variety of familiar tunes, from classic Legend of Zelda to A Link Between Worlds. We first begin our musical journey rightfully so with the opening soundtrack to The Wind Waker, “The Legendary Hero”. Quickly after a short rendition of the main theme, the trumpets sound and we hear the fanfare title theme to A Link to the Past, and that’s the moment I knew that I was going to love this medley. The use of drums, strings, and brass throughout the medley really stands out, and gives more power to the music, as also seen in the next song, A Link to the Past’s, Hyrule Castle theme. This is the version of the Hyrule Castle theme I’ve always wanted to hear! The dynamism of this rendition makes me want to storm a castle (or at least play a Link to the Past again).
The two songs from The Wind Waker, the “Outset Island” theme and “Beedle’s Shop”, also attract attention. Maybe it’s the nostalgia with The Wind Waker being my first Zelda game, but I think the woodwinds sound fantastic with the accompaniment of the strings in the Outset Island theme. I also really admire how instead of separating the variations of the Outset theme (when Aryll is on the island and when she’s not) like on the original soundtrack, it is played together. First you hear that hint of Aryll’s theme, then the sweet reminiscent tune of the Kokiri Forest. It might be hard to even pick out the way it sounded so natural. As for Beedle’s Shop, not only did it transition perfectly from the Outset theme, the percussion is back in action with pizzicato strings. I really think the pizzicato was a wonderful choice to use in this cover; it sounds more prominent than the original theme, especially with the bass drums to emphasize the strings. If it were up to me, I would give String Player Gamer and his crew a gold membership to Beedle’s shop for just this cover alone. But it’s not, so they’re just going to have to pay for 60 items like the rest of us.
Shortly after, our musician gives us two very light-hearted covers of two popular (and my personal favorite) Legend of Zelda songs, “Saria’s Song” and “Zelda’s Lullaby”. The use of pizzicato once again in Saria’s Song is done superbly, and it transitions smoothly into Zelda’s Lullaby. Since the songs are so different, one being energetic and the other more relaxed, I do not think too many people would place these two songs next to one another, but it is really done well. He carried the airy tone from Saria’s Song into Zelda’s Lullaby, which I think made it work. Diwa De Leon’s arrangement continues to amaze as Zelda’s Lullaby then translates into the “Song of Healing” from Majora’s Mask. The powerful music returns, and the use of strings is breathtaking. The mighty brass and drums then make a comeback for the epic rendition of “Linebeck’s Theme” from Phantom Hourglass. I can’t imagine anyone listening to this without seeing Linebeck at the helm of his ship as the strong captain he is — by the end of the game, anyway.
“It pays total tribute to Koji Kondo and the rest of the musical staff”
There are more songs in between that deserve mention; the “Dungeon Theme” (Legend of Zelda), the “Ballad of the Wind Fish” (Links Awakening), and “Song of Storms” (Ocarina of Time), but none of them compare to the arrangement ahead. A grand intro leads into the The Wind Waker‘s “Dragon Roost Island”, a beloved theme by anyone who has ever heard it. This song introduces the electric guitar to the medley, and this piece (dare I say) rocks it! I’ve heard complaints about electric guitar or rock covers of Zelda, but the way String Player Gamer and his team integrates this instrument into their cover, you would have sworn it belonged there from the start. The medley continues to lead into “Gerudo’s Valley” from Ocarina of Time and the “Palace Theme” from Adventures of Link, before doing something completely new. They overlap all three songs! You can clearly pick out each melody, and it doesn’t sound sloppily mashed together. Each tune works in perfect harmony with one another, and this isn’t the last time you will hear this happen.
Midna and Fi both get their themes included respectfully, and couldn’t go without an honorable mention. After Skyward Sword‘s hen it’s the moment we’ve been waiting for since it was teased in the beginning; The “Dark World” from A Link to the Past. A power-driven song that cleverly leads into a song from the sequel game, the “Lorule Castle” theme from A Link Between Worlds. I know I loved the Lorule Castle theme the first time I heard it in my playthrough of A Link Between Worlds, but this medley really reintroduced it to me, and it did not stop there. Once the “Dark Mountain Forest” comes into play, the three songs merge into one, becoming the Dark Lorule Medley — and simply put, it is amazing.
“Each song rekindled a memory from each game it included, and made me want to go back and go on those adventures once again.”
Things calm down after the Dark Worlds reign once we get to good old Kakariko’s theme (as heard in various Legend of Zelda titles), but soon takes an eerie twist to the “Requiem of Spirit” from Ocarina of Time, then quickly dives right into A Link to the Past’s boss theme. Another compliment to the arranger’s skills to pair such different songs together and making it sound so consistent. Ocarina of Time’s “Hyrule Field” theme gets its tribute near the end, and makes me wish that this version of it was included in the re-release. With The Wind Waker’s staff roll coming in, and the main Legend of Zelda theme, our adventure comes to an end on a fantastic note.
There is so much more I could say about this musical masterpiece. It pays total tribute to Koji Kondo and the rest of the musical staff who worked on the Legend of Zelda musical composition. Each song rekindled a memory from each game it included, and made me want to go back and go on those adventures once again. Musically, each song flowed naturally from one to the next. It’s easier to see in some covers than others that String Player Gamer and his team took creative license, and I think it was done superbly and really enhanced the listening experience. While I would personally wish for more songs, I could never ask for such a fantastic medley to be changed. All the hard work can clearly be seen in the performance, and I hope it will inspire more talented musicians to make medleys as amazing as this one.