[Celebration of the Wild is a month-long celebration of the anniversary of this beloved game. All month long we will be picking our favorite songs, fan works, places, memories, and more of this wonderful addition to the Zelda series. Breath of the Wild has revolutionized the franchise all for the better and it’s only suiting we take this month to celebrate its achievements.]
Happy Anniversary to Breath of the Wild! We’re kicking off this Breath of the Wild appreciation month with an epic composition – the Hyrule Castle theme. I’m sure every fan of the game agrees that this piece has already become iconic. Whether you explored the rest of Hyrule to its fullest before heading to the castle or went straight to conquer Calamity Ganon, this incredible orchestral piece was waiting to get you pumped.
I remember how striking it was the first time I heard it. Breath of the Wild’s music is overall very mellow and atmospheric, as it sticks to using gentle piano and violin notes for most of its environmental music. So going from that to this grandiose symphony, I was suddenly invigorated and filled with a sense of valour. It became clear to me that this was the final frontier. It was the time I had to apply all my courage and strength to actually make it to the top of the castle, let alone conquer the evil awaiting me there. Every time Link takes a step or scales a cliff leading to the castle, the constant drumbeat and trumpets create a fanfare that energises you to keep moving. It makes you feel so valiant. It feels like the whole of Hyrule is saluting you while you head towards your biggest fight yet.
I picked this combined version of the piece because I couldn’t possibly choose between the inside or outside iteration. They both use different instruments to incredible effect. The inside version does so in particular with the organ, which plays so prominently and is reminiscent of Link’s ascent to Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time. In this version, you can occasionally hear the powerful organ alongside the drums and trumpets. I almost wish it was in the original! It’s so foreboding – it effectively injects into the track a sense that Ganon’s evil literally lurks around every corner, in the form of monsters and his Malice, and, of course, Calamity Ganon himself once you reach the top.
Another aspect of the Hyrule Castle theme that I enjoy is the piano. It’s an interesting contrast to the trumpets and drums that pump you up and the organ that signals danger. The high piano notes and violins that often enter the piece, and occasionally play the iconic hero’s theme, make you feel like good will triumph over evil in Hyrule. It also directly contrasts with the organ. The organ’s deep, chaotic sound creates a ‘darker’ tone and is immediately associated with Ganon. Oppositely, the high piano and violin notes feel uplifting and pure and hearken back to the peaceful music that you hear throughout Hyrule – in parts of the world that he has not yet tainted. It makes you feel like once you finally reach the top and conquer Ganon, you will restore that peace back to the castle and ultimately save all of Hyrule.
It’s truly an incredible composition, given how spectacularly it evokes all these different feelings while you explore the castle. It’s so fitting for the finale of Link’s journey, bringing everything together for one last feat of courage.