Awesome Video Game Music: Hyrule Castle

One of the cool things about the music from The Legend of Zelda franchise is how a handful of themes are expertly remixed to fit multiple games. One such theme is the one for Hyrule Castle, which appears multiple times in the series. I’d like to focus on three specific versions, the first being the one from A Link to the Past (I'm including an orchestrated version if you prefer some better sound quality).
 

OriginalOrchestrated
  
  
  
  

Perhaps it’s because A Link to the Past was the first Zelda game I played, but to me, this is the most regal, most spirited, and therefore most definitive version of Hyrule Castle. Everything from the instrumentation to the chords to the rhythm hints at medieval royalty and grandeur, a common vibe in the series that is never more prominent than in A Link to the Past. In fact, the whole thing starts off with Princess Zelda herself contacting you requesting rescue, and you immediately barge your way into the castle with this theme in the background, setting up the tone for the entire game. The castle itself also sits smack dab in the center of the world map, and you revisit its decorative halls at the game’s pinnacle moments. And each time you do, you’re greeted once more by the blaring sounds of this iconic theme. Rarely is a single song so central to a game, but the Hyrule Castle theme from A Link to the Past embraces the role wonderfully. 
 
Wind Waker Hyrule Castle
Farewell Hyrule King
    
  
    
  
  
By contrast, the Hyrule Castle theme found in The Wind Waker does practically a complete 180. It still retains the same royal motifs, but its more somber tone lacks the “For king and country!” pomp that is so central in A Link to the Past. Rather, it is fairly subdued, almost hinting at defeat, or perhaps a longing for past, better days. This fits so well with the state of Hyrule Castle in The Wind Waker, which is found frozen in time on the bottom of the ocean, completely forgotten. Hyrule Castle is no longer the center of the world, and the music does a fantastic job at representing this fact. The lingering musical patterns from previous games such as A Link to the Past are effective at reminding us of the former glory of this grand kingdom, making it clear just how much has changed. It’s just a great touch, and it’s neat to see a theme such as this adapt to different games so readily and successfully.

Last but certainly not least, I’d like to highlight another song from The Wind Waker, called Farewell Hyrule King. This song is essentially the Hyrule Castle theme remixed yet again, played at a single, climactic moment of the game. Without spoiling anything too specific (as if the name of the song isn’t specific enough), I can safely say that this is my favorite version. Piano is such a perfect fit, and the pacing and rhythm suggests that something terrible has happened. It has, of course, and when the song ramps up in the second half it seems to emulate the anger, confusion, and general madness one might feel after a tragic occurrence. Best of all is the musical clarity of it all- this is just a great, well written piece of music that’s a real treat for the ears. While I greatly appreciate the versatility of Hyrule Castle on the whole, Farewell Hyrule King is the version that sticks with me the most, and is the main reason I love this theme as much as I do.
 
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5 Comments
Posted by MajorMitch

One of the cool things about the music from The Legend of Zelda franchise is how a handful of themes are expertly remixed to fit multiple games. One such theme is the one for Hyrule Castle, which appears multiple times in the series. I’d like to focus on three specific versions, the first being the one from A Link to the Past (I'm including an orchestrated version if you prefer some better sound quality).
 

OriginalOrchestrated
  
  
  
  

Perhaps it’s because A Link to the Past was the first Zelda game I played, but to me, this is the most regal, most spirited, and therefore most definitive version of Hyrule Castle. Everything from the instrumentation to the chords to the rhythm hints at medieval royalty and grandeur, a common vibe in the series that is never more prominent than in A Link to the Past. In fact, the whole thing starts off with Princess Zelda herself contacting you requesting rescue, and you immediately barge your way into the castle with this theme in the background, setting up the tone for the entire game. The castle itself also sits smack dab in the center of the world map, and you revisit its decorative halls at the game’s pinnacle moments. And each time you do, you’re greeted once more by the blaring sounds of this iconic theme. Rarely is a single song so central to a game, but the Hyrule Castle theme from A Link to the Past embraces the role wonderfully. 
 
Wind Waker Hyrule Castle
Farewell Hyrule King
    
  
    
  
  
By contrast, the Hyrule Castle theme found in The Wind Waker does practically a complete 180. It still retains the same royal motifs, but its more somber tone lacks the “For king and country!” pomp that is so central in A Link to the Past. Rather, it is fairly subdued, almost hinting at defeat, or perhaps a longing for past, better days. This fits so well with the state of Hyrule Castle in The Wind Waker, which is found frozen in time on the bottom of the ocean, completely forgotten. Hyrule Castle is no longer the center of the world, and the music does a fantastic job at representing this fact. The lingering musical patterns from previous games such as A Link to the Past are effective at reminding us of the former glory of this grand kingdom, making it clear just how much has changed. It’s just a great touch, and it’s neat to see a theme such as this adapt to different games so readily and successfully.

Last but certainly not least, I’d like to highlight another song from The Wind Waker, called Farewell Hyrule King. This song is essentially the Hyrule Castle theme remixed yet again, played at a single, climactic moment of the game. Without spoiling anything too specific (as if the name of the song isn’t specific enough), I can safely say that this is my favorite version. Piano is such a perfect fit, and the pacing and rhythm suggests that something terrible has happened. It has, of course, and when the song ramps up in the second half it seems to emulate the anger, confusion, and general madness one might feel after a tragic occurrence. Best of all is the musical clarity of it all- this is just a great, well written piece of music that’s a real treat for the ears. While I greatly appreciate the versatility of Hyrule Castle on the whole, Farewell Hyrule King is the version that sticks with me the most, and is the main reason I love this theme as much as I do.
 
For additional information on this blog, or to view other entries, click here.
Posted by FunExplosions

Fantastic bog, man. The music was such a large part of what made The Wind Waker so magical. One of those games that had so many memorable moments. 
 
(Oh, and your link at the bottom gives me a 404 error)

Edited by MajorMitch
@FunExplosions: Thanks for the comments! I think Wind Waker's music is fantastic, and gets overlooked all too often. And thanks for pointing out the link. I'm not sure what the problem is... it worked fine for me, but I tried redoing it. Hopefully it works for everyone now.
Posted by ESREVER

Everytime I replay LoZ: ALTTP, I get chills from the Hyrule Castle song. Everytime I hear it, I imagine hearing the "clank, clank, clank, clank" of Link's footsteps down the stairwells and "splash splash" through the flooded regions, as well as the sword swipes and grunts when taking a hit.  
I basically visualize me playing the game when I hear this track. Picking up a pot and throwing it a guard to knock him off the floor and hearing the "wheeeooo" as he fades into the blackness. All the sound effects play in my head as I listen to this wonderful piece of music.
 
My favorite Zelda of all time and the OST is a huge reason why.

Edited by MajorMitch
@ESREVER:  Isn't it great that good video game music can conjure up such specific memories? Good stuff!