Music floated through the air, familiar melodies and reassuring rhythms emanating from a heroic ensemble. From the orchestra at E3 2011, whose rendition of a Legend of Zelda medley received impressive acclaim, evolved a new step for the beloved franchise – a full orchestral concert featuring moving arrangements of the best songs in the series, accompanied by scenes from the games themselves, scheduled to take several cities around North America by storm. Indeed, 2012 started with a bang when The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses premiered in Dallas.
With Nintendo’s approval, the Zelda Symphony was born out of the minds of independent producers Jeron Moore and Chad Seiter, who worked alongside Jason Michael Paul Productions. Eímear Noone conducted all concerts except for the May showing in Atlanta, at which Susie Seiter took over. The concert began with an overture – the same four-minute piece played at E3 2011 – and featured a four-part symphony, with each movement highlighting the soundtracks of one of four games: Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and A Link to the Past. The Wind Waker movement, though it could be heard on the 25th Anniversary CD, included a special surprise for fans when, just before counting off the song, the conductor whipped out a replica of the baton after which the game itself was named and conducted the song with the special item. The 25th Anniversary arrangement of “Gerudo Valley” delighted the crowds, and the haunting rendition of “The Ballad of the Windfish” from Link’s Awakening brought forth a melancholy nostalgia.
The Zelda Symphony was hugely successful in that first season, as confirmed by the fact that the Symphony of the Goddesses is currently in the middle of a third run. I was fortunate enough to go to one of the concerts in 2012, and can say wholeheartedly that the Symphony deserves all of the acclaim it has received. The visuals from the games were woven seamlessly into the music of a live orchestra, and the songs played on the memories of every fan.
Beyond the Symphony of the Goddesses, 2012 was a relatively unexciting time for Zelda fans. The year saw the world waiting with bated breath for the confirmation or rejection of the Mayan-predicted apocalypse; those with an interest in Nintendo’s products, however, were far more concerned with waiting for the release of the Japanese company’s latest console, the Wii U. Just as the previous year had seen the 25th anniversary of the Legend we all know and love, 2012 became the year of the Wii U after, 26 days into the new calendar, Iwata announced that Nintendo’s latest console would hit the shelves in time for the end of the year shopping season. Final specifications for the console were revealed at E3, along with a choice selection of exciting games. The Miiverse was discussed, New Super Mario Bros U was given a title, and Pikmin 3 was demoed.
Just before the world did not get obliterated by asteroids, succumb to a supervolcano, or falter under the weight of some other uncontrollable event, gaming fans rejoiced: November 18 saw the Wii U hit North American markets, followed by a December 8 launch in Japan. This release was characterized by two separate bundles available for purchase – a white 8GB console accompanied by basic hardware and a “deluxe” black 32GB console with basic and extra hardware along with the game Nintendo Land.
Nintendo Land is similar to Wii Sports in that it was designed to show off the innovative features of the new console. Comprising twelve party-game-style attractions set around a theme park, Nintendo Land appeals to both audiences young and old with single-player and both cooperative and competitive multiplayer games. Each minigame is based on a given Nintendo franchise, and one of the team attractions, called Battle Quest, is based on The Legend of Zelda. In the game, each player’s Mii strides on a set path across Hyrule, costumed as Link: players two, three, and four wear red, yellow, and blue outfits while wielding swords against various enemies, and player one is in the traditional green garb, armed with the Hero’s Bow to cover his/her comrades. The game, which provided hours of easy entertainment, was praised by many for showing off the capabilities of the GamePad and for its beautiful, detailed HD graphics which had a charming patchwork style.
Well, as many spent their December 20, 2012 playing Battle Quest on their brand new console, killing time until the end of the world, many others spent that evening watching the Zelda-themed countdown timer at terriblefate.com. The site featured an overarching, terrifying image of Majora’s Mask looming above a blood-red timer that ticked the seconds slowly down to zero, all set on a pitch-black background. This view was accompanied by Theophany’s bone-chilling arrangement of “The Final Hours” from Majora’s Mask, as well as download links for the artist’s tribute album to the game.
With the world still intact, Zelda fans could move on to 2013 without a hitch. Check back with us tomorrow to see what the 27th year of Zelda held!