Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TOP Track #18 - "End Credits" (Link to the Past)

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is undoubtedly my favorite game in its franchise. It's possibly my favorite game for the Super Nintendo (but those are bold words; I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to them). I know I grew up loving Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy IV, but somehow this game felt like my first great epic. I think it really comes down to the ending. That's what seals the deal. The ending of A Link to the Past is possibly the greatest ending to a video game of all time, but it's not something you can recreate by watching it on YouTube. It's really about the journey, and how this music makes you feel as you come to the end of that journey.

I haven't given it too much thought, but in its day A Link to the Past was probably one of the longest, most grueling adventure games I've ever played. The quest to get the Master Sword in order to defeat the wizard Agahnim would only thrust you into a parallel dimension, where an entirely new and almost three-times as long adventure awaited you. This is an amazing realization for an eleven-year-old.  When they tried this again in Ocarina of Time, only jumping between two points in time rather than parallel dimensions, I wasn't surprised. I expected it. Though I can't lie (since it's previously published) pulling the Master Sword in Ocarina of Time is truly epic. So when you go through this massive game, which builds up to an ultimate showdown with Ganon over the fate of the world - you really have a great sense of relief and accomplishment. The closing credits are a welcomed breath of relief and hope from all that could have been if you weren't there to guide Link to victory.

I know these judgments were meant to be unbiased, but there's something about the use of music within a game that is tied intimately with what emotional reaction it expects you to feel. Therefore judgment on this song is probably boosted considerably by just how rewarding it feels to sit back and enjoy it after a hard day's Dark World invasion thwarting.


A Link to the Past is my favorite game out of the "Legend of Zelda" series. I'm sure most people would agree, aside from a few who (justifiably) prefer the Nintendo 64 installments. I'm going to level with you, though: when I was a kid, I needed a player's guide to beat this game. Without it, I was pretty helpless. It took me forever to finally reach Ganon and beat him. And when I did, I was presented with one of the most satisfying endings of the era. It felt like the entire weight of Hyrule had been lifted from my little shoulders. The ending and the credits seemed like a personal gift from Kondo Koji.

Unlike the melancholy ending theme of Chrono Trigger, "To Far Away Times," the one we get in A Link to the Past is a mix of Zen serenity, accomplishment and courage. We are shown images of Hyrule at peace, with its people happy to return to their quiet, secluded lives. As the song goes on, it gets more and more regal as the traditional "Hyrule Field" theme is mixed in. It's a song that assures the player: yes, good can triumph over evil. You just proved it! It's a satisfying feeling for anyone who has ever doubted the morality of mankind - or in a less dramatic sense, anyone who has ever doubted their own gaming ability. The ending theme is my favorite piece of work from Kondo Koji, and I suspect that he's pretty proud of it. It's comes across as a statement about the endurance of the human spirit.

- Deez

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