I’m not going to lie, the original Legend of Zelda is a tough one to get through. I don’t know if it’s just my poor coordination skills or if the game is genuinely that difficult (I’d like to think of it’s more the latter), but one thing is for certain: I am all too familiar with the game over screen and that dreary little tune that plays along with it. Little did I know of what an incredible and uplifting tune that this little ditty would turn into.
Time after time I would be in the middle of a dungeon when several Darknuts or some other threat would appear and get the best of me, bringing me to the black screen with the white, bolded letters telling me that I lost once again. That eerie music would begin to play, and it always felt rather unnerving. The strange melody and the 8-bit bells always had me feeling a little gloomy after another loss. This melody made me feel like I’d failed, and this is the sad song they play at Link’s funeral because I’d gone and killed the poor little guy — but then I heard the rest.
It wasn’t until I bought one of the Zelda anniversary CDs that I finally listened to the song in its entirety. The CD was completely listed in Japanese, so I went through each song to listen and translate each song to English. It was a fun little challenge for me, picking out each familiar tune as I clicked on each file.
It was then that I heard those 8-bit bells and knew in an instant it was the game over theme from the original Legend of Zelda. As I clicked on the title to rename the file, the song continued to play. Suddenly a bouncing bass kicked in. Next thing I knew, a more cheery melody was playing alongside the bells until they suddenly disappeared. This couldn’t be the same song I knew, could it?
Alas, it was the very same — well, sort of. It’s the ending theme technically, but it is an overall extension of the game over theme and boy do I wish the full song in its entirety would play after a game over! The more and more I listen to this piece, the more encouraged I feel. This song that used to be the bleak elegy for a lost soul suddenly became an uplifting melody of a hero who’s triumphant. It’s almost as if this song is singing “Way to go, champ! You did it!” It’s a reward for those players who have worked hard to complete this exciting game and saved Hyrule and its princess, and one day I hope to earn this very satisfying tune for myself.