Let’s get this out of the way: The CD-i games aren’t good. Even if you’ve only seen gameplay footage, one can quickly make an inference that they’re not good. It’s very easy for us to quickly point out all of the bad things in these games, and this has been a recurring trend in the Zelda community.
Recently, I watched a playthrough of both The Wand of Gamelon and The Faces of Evil. This was mostly out of curiosity, as I wanted to see for myself. While they certainly didn’t look appealing, there was one good thing about them I noticed that a lot of folks don’t talk about. Today, I’d like to talk about what I think is good about the CD-i games: the music.
Do I think the CD-i games have, or even come close to having, the best music in the Zelda series? Not even remotely. What I can say, however, is that for what the music is, it’s quite solid. The music tracks may not always match the theme of the level they are used in, given how impressively upbeat they are — but listening to them without the context of the gameplay, they can be surprisingly good.
Of course, it’s a little easier to say this when the rest of the package isn’t that great to begin with, but even then I think that the music stands pretty well on its own. I’ll give you an example.
The “Sakado Graveyard Theme” is relatively short but dang if it isn’t super funky. Not your typical Zelda fare by any stretch, but this is the kind of song I can see getting stuck in my head quite frequently. It was a good enough song to where I wanted to write this article you’re reading right now, and I think that speaks volumes (musical pun very much intended).
It has a solid beat, it doesn’t grate on the ears, and it even has a very slight, spooky tone to it too while being awfully happy for a graveyard theme. It’s a ludicrous song, but the game itself is ludicrous and I think that only adds to the charm. The only thing it really has going against it is that it’s not that long, which is not even a huge deal since it’s supposed to loop anyway.
Another example I’d like to bring attention to is “Shutoy Lake – The Red Tower”. Like the previous song, it has a good amount of funk going for it too and it’s unabashedly ’90s. Tony Trippi, the composer of the game, did quite a good job at making a catchy, very ’90s song as you ascend this treacherous tower (treacherous if only because of hitboxes and awkward jump mechanics). The song feels a bit hectic and yet somewhat adventurous, which conveys climbing a dangerous tower very well, with that good old funky sound going for it. Sure, you might be screaming at your television in frustration and cursing every single person who made the game, but at least you’d be doing it to some solid tunes!
I’ve always been the kind of person to point out the positive elements in things as critically panned as the CD-i games, always striving to find a solid balance between good and bad. If something is inherently bad, the positives stick out a bit more to me than usual. While I was watching the aforementioned playthrough, the soundtrack to these games most certainly stood out and I was somewhat bummed that no one really talked about how the music was actually pretty decent. Again, it’s most definitely not my favorite soundtrack by any means, but I think it’s pretty good and something worth pointing out despite all the negativity and criticism that surrounds these titles.
And hey, if nothing else, imagine a graveyard where a bunch of Gibdos and ReDeads appear, Link leading them with the “Thriller” dance as the Sakado Graveyard music plays. Can you imagine anything better than that? I certainly can’t.