Towns were first seen in The Adventure of Link, and to be honest, they weren’t very good or interesting. There were a lot of forgettable locations and even more forgettable people (Error being the obvious exception). It’s just not what a Zelda game deserves. Move forward a few years to the A Link to the Past, and exploring an urban setting within Hyrule becomes a worthwhile venture.
The music is usually the first thing one notices when the screen scrolls within the borders of the village. The peaceful melody has become a staple of the series and transforms the game’s experience. You are no longer traversing the hazardous wilds of Hyrule. This is a peaceful and interesting town, full of peaceful and interesting people.
As you take your first steps through the village, you see it is full of life. Vendors, children, mysterious old men, friendly old women, some jerk that rats you out to the soldiers, the irritating aforementioned soldiers, and an informative innkeeper. It’s a busy place for sure.
The homes are all inspired by a classic European medieval design, just like Link’s own house. They are all quaint and unassuming and drive home the feeling that this is supposed to be a modest village tucked away safely in a secluded part of the country.
Kakariko Village often acts as a central hub for Link’s journey across Hyrule, and he is required to return to it multiple times throughout the game. You find multiple key items here, such as the Bug Catcher’s Net, the Flute and even one of the Bottles. The frequent stops to see the fortune teller for advice are also major contributors to the need to return.
The fortune teller, speaking of which, is one of the multiple points of interest that comprise Kakariko Village, but not exactly located within it. Him, the library, the blacksmiths and their home, and the operators of the mini-games to the south are equally important members of the community.
I’ve always liked this. Surrounding locales and characters do a lot to embellish the significance of a town. The population expands out past the confines of the main area, much like a real-life city. Kakariko Village isn’t just relegated to one screen. A nation’s heart is its people, and Kakariko Village is the place most Hylians call home. It personifies Hyrule in that regard, if I want to get metaphorical about it.
Now, I can’t end this off without talking about the single most important inclusion in the game, one found in Kakariko Village. It’s a particularly infamous inclusion that has returned in multiple games and is known to all fans of the series: those dreaded Cuccos.
We all found out that you could hit the Cuccos with Link’s weapons. We thought it was funny, so we didn’t stop. We should have stopped. I don’t know why Nintendo decided to implement a now-franchise-wide method to give players PTSD. Your option is to run. Run or die. I can no longer play a Zelda game without the fear of accidentally hitting one of those monsters.
That’s Kakariko Village for you. It’s established so much in the series, and A Link to the Past would be such a different game without it. People to see, places to go, things to do. Hyrule feels so much more lively with its inclusion.