You might know me as the Mario guy on this site, but as the about us section says my favorite video game series is The Legend of Zelda. From 1 to 1 Sword swinging, to sailing the vast sea, to paragliding off the highest of cliffs Zelda has never disappointed me. One of those things that doesn’t disappoint is the music in the series. Koji Kondo started it all and even now he and all of Zelda’s other composers do a phenomenal job with the music. This article is going to list my ten favorite overworld themes from the series, and why I love them so much.
Editor’s Note: Please also see “An Alternate Perspective” by Brandon at the bottom of this article for a second opinion! It’s a feature we may have going forward to add flavor and diversity to opinion articles.
10. HYRULE FIELD – ZELDA II: THE ADVENTURE OF LINK (NES)
Zelda 2 is a very strange game. Instead of being a proper sequel to the first game it went into a new direction. It abandoned the top down view and adopted a side scrolling style of gameplay with platforming elements (the game is also hard AF). This new theme starts out like its going to be the same as Zelda 1’s theme, but quickly veers off into something different. Its a pretty catchy theme and helps signify how different this game is then the first. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this and not the normal theme when I first played this game ten years ago. Unfortunately, I was not pleased to actually experience the game itself and its brutal difficulty.
9. HYRULE FIELD – THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: FOUR SWORDS ADVENTURES (GAMECUBE)
There really isn’t much for me to actually say about this one. Four swords adventures was a game I really wanted as a kid, but due to the trouble of having to connect four dang GBAs to the Gamecube I didn’t really get to experience it the way it should be. Despite the weirdness of being a multiplayer game FSA had some really great music, and I didn’t actually realize just how good its overworld theme is. Literally, before writing this I had no intention of putting it on this list until I listened to all the overworld themes to help with this article. This theme is a variation of the main theme (like many Zelda games), and its a banger. It kind of sounds like a link to the past’s overworld, but modern not 16 bit. Also the bit at the end of the track (before it loops) is epic.
8. HYRULE FIELD – THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK BETWEEN WORLDS (3DS)
A Link between worlds is nothing short of an epic game. It served as a direct sequel to the original link to the past, and raised the epicness even more. The overworld theme, another variation of the classic, is like ALTTP overworld but reimagined. This time with a bad@$$ trumpet as well. After you get the master sword the theme is remixed a bit for the rest of the game into an absolutely stellar track. It sounds even more triumphant and there are literally bits of the song that harken to Ocarina of Time. Insanely good tracks for an insanely good game. I’m starting to wonder why I put it so low on this list.
7. THE GREAT SEA – THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: THE WIND WAKER (GAMECUBE)
Windwaker, the game of my childhood. Funny fact when I obtained Windwaker my family had lost our gamecube av cables so we had to use PS2 cables to play the game. Unfortunately, that meant we had to play the game in black and white, which sucked considering the game was known for its beautiful cel shaded visuals. We didn’t care though its windwaker.
As for the theme, they couldn’t have done a better job with it. It really does make you feel like your sailing a vast ocean. The waves splashing, the boat bobbing, the fish swimming, it felt surreal. I’d always imagine this theme playing in my head when I was young and would go on boating trips with my grandparents. Amazing theme for an equally amazing game that I’ll never forget. Also, I’d like to give a shoutout to Phantom Hourglass’s great sea theme. Its a well done remix of Windwaker’s theme that you should also check out.
6. TERMINA FIELD – THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: MAJORA’S MASK (N64)
Ah, Majora’s Mask, the creepy Zelda game. When my Bro and I were young this game outright scared us. It wasn’t until like 2010 that we actually played it. We also wrote the game off because we felt like it was a worse OOT and the time mechanic wasn’t our thing. That was a grave mistake. Majora’s Mask might just be the most unique adventure game ever. The relationship you build with its residents, and the impending doom with the moon glaring down at you was just insane.
I could go on but lets talk about the theme. Termina Field is another variation of the main theme, and the only 3D Zelda to not use a new theme. I didn’t care though, when I first played the game I was very pleased to hear this track. Finally hearing something familiar (instead of the creepier music the game had thrown at me so far) was rather calming. Seriously, MM is a stressful game so it was nice being given something heroic to feed off of. I also thought that Ocarina of Time not using the main theme in its overworld was weird so it was cool seeing it here.
5. KOHOLINT ISLAND – THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: LINK’S AWAKENING (GAMEBOY/SWITCH)
Link’s Awakening was one of my first 2D Zelda games, and one of the first games I played on my 3DS. Link is trapped on Koholint Island, and the only way to get off is to wake up the windfish. The overworld theme and hearing it for the first time is amazing. You start out the game washed up on a beach and a simple tune plays while you search for your sword. Once you find it this incredible theme starts and so does your journey. The theme itself is another variation, but with its own heroic flare. Very impressive for a game that was released on the gameboy. The game is chock full of other great themes as well.
The Switch remake of the game is even more incredible with its orchestral remix and all. There is also a second version of the tune that only plays if you are with Marin at a certain point and it has an awesome recorder remix to it. I highly suggest playing this game. Even though its a gameboy game its fantastic (possibly my favorite 2D Zelda), and if you don’t like 8 bit you can try out the remake which is equally good.
4. HYRULE FIELD – THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME (N64)
Ocarina of Time, the game that made me a gamer. I said that Windwaker was my childhood game, but OOT was even more of my childhood game if that makes sense. To say that it’s a legend is an understatement. I still think this game is the best game ever made (especially considering the 3DS version), and its OST obviously is one of the best ever. Koji Kondo like always outdoes himself here.
The overworld theme was a bold decision considering its brand new, and not a variation of the classic theme. Originally, I thought it was strange not having the main theme here, but man it was a great decision. The theme is exactly what the game needed. Zelda had entered the 3D realm, everything was bigger and better now, and so is this theme. Walking into Hyrule field for the first time was crazy, being able to run around a big open field was crazy, and this theme accompanies it so well. It’s epic and soothing at the same time. I always got freaked out at the part where the song sounded like something dangerous was happening because I used to think an enemy was approaching me. Overall, this theme was the perfect way to kick off the new era for Zelda.
3. DARK WORLD/LORULE – ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST AND A LINK BETWEEN WORLDS (SNES AND 3DS)
This is cheating a bit since I’m using two different games here, but I felt like I had to. The dark world theme, and its remixed Lorule track are incredible. The change from a cheerful Hyrule to a desolate Dark world was a game changing moment for players when they first experienced it on the SNES. The land is corrupt and full of the most vile of creatures. I mean it, the game becomes immediately more difficult in the dark world, everything tries to kick your @$$. The theme does an amazing job of conveying that sense of difficulty and that ‘oh crap sh** just got real’ moments.
A Link between worlds Lorule adopts a variation of this theme. At first the intro makes it seem like maybe the new dark world would have a different theme, but then it smacks you in the face with an incredible remix. Honestly, I started cheering when the intro ended and I heard that new mix. Then once you are in the late game and ready to head to battle Ganon the theme slightly changes into a more heroic version of the tune. It’s an incredible moment, ‘the hero of Hyrule marches towards his final destination in order to vanquish the evil that has beset Hyrule and Lorule’, I love it.
2. HYRULE FIELD – THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TWILIGHT PRINCESS (GAMECUBE/WII)
Man where do I start with this one. Twilight Princess set out to do one thing, to be the best Ocarina of Time 2 that it could be. Well, it passed with flying colors in the gameplay department for sure, being an epic on the scale no Zelda game had achieved yet. With insane moments, memorable characters, and a fairly large overworld at the time. Of course, the music passed with flying colors as well.
The large overworld is perfectly complimented by its theme. It’s one that purely replicates the feeling of adventure managing to outshine the themes of OOT, MM, WW, and even the main theme. My favorite part of the song (at 3:18) always gives me chills when I hear it. It also has a familiar pattern of tunes to Ocarina of time like with the dangerous sounding bit again.
When I listen to the theme I can’t help but be reminded of the games epic moments and characters. The Ordon kids, saving the zoras, sledding to the yeti mansion, battling king bulbin in a 1v1 horse showdown on the bridge of eldin. Midna’s lament, pulling the master sword, freeing the twilight realm, this theme just evokes all that and it’s magical for it.
HONORABLE MENTION: TAL TAL HEIGHTS: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: LINK’S AWAKENING (GAMEBOY/SWITCH)
I felt like I really needed to include this theme so I threw it in as an honorable mention. Tal Tal Heights is an area in Zelda Links Awakening and is accompanied by this tune. This area is where the Wind fish resides so the sense of urgency this sound evokes is a great fit for the theme.
The remake for the game also has this bad@ss orchestral arrangement remix to it, and includes a part where the song throws in some original 8 bits notes to it. Once you find yourself close to beating the game the song changes a bit to something even more heroic akin to Lorule in A Link Between Worlds. Again I’d wholly recommend playing Link’s awakening, its amazing, and you get TWO incredible overworld themes.
-1. REALM OVERWORLD: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: SPIRIT TRACKS (DS)
Now for the number one overworld theme in Zelda. Spirit Tracks is a game that doesn’t get talked about much. It and Phantom Hourglass were released for the DS and were very different. The games basically took place on both DS screens and controls were entirely used with the touchscreen. Spirit tracks specifically sees Link operating a train he uses to traverse throughout Hyrule. And well the theme that plays when your driving the train couldn’t have been better. I know I have said this for many themes, but this tune does the best job of them all evoking its overworld. The sounds of train whistles, and the violin blend perfectly. Also, while the train thing might seem silly the song still manages to sound incredibly epic, and its even better when your actually riding on the train in game too.
Really, the actual traversal in the game can get quite tedious. There is back tracking at certain points and the train isn’t all too fast which can be quite frustrating, but this song literally makes it worth it. I remember whenever I had to partake in some of this back tracking I’d go ‘ugh’, but once boarding the train and hearing this tune my frustration would go away. To the point where at times I’d get excited to ride the train throughout Hyrule just because I get to hear this masterpiece.
Well that’s my list of my favorite Zelda overworld themes. Let me know if you agree or not I certainly know LordNerevar wont hehe. Seriously though, these themes do a perfect job of making you feel like a an epic hero, and are tunes I grew up with and will never forget. This year actually marks the 35th anniversary of the Zelda series which is crazy, so expect more articles like this one to pop up in the future. I will also be reviewing as many Zelda games as they throw out this year as well. With all that said, until next time, peace.
-Written by Andrew Wright (Tamantayoshi)
An Alternative Perspective
Hi there, Brandon here! Andrew wrote a fantastic article and I think his choices are great. I also wanted to provide my take on this list in condensed form, partially as a way to highlight how good Zelda overworld themes are even with a wide range of preferences.
|10||A Link to the Past: Overworld||An updated version of the original Zelda theme, this theme sounded great updated on the SNES and represented ALttP‘s approach as a more expansive update of the original game.|
|9||Spirit Tracks: Overworld||Andrew touched on how catchy a tune this is, but it does a great job making you feel “TRAIN” as well as just being a banger.|
|8||A Link Between Worlds: Lorule||A fantastic rendition of ALttP‘s Dark World theme, the orchestra really brings this epic tune to life.|
|7||Link’s Awakening: Tal Tal Heights||Just a fantastic tune, looping in the Zelda main theme but in a unique and exciting way.|
|6||The Wind Waker: The Great Sea||An incredibly evocative theme that makes you feel like a brave adventurer sailing the vast sea. As someone who played Windwaker as a kid, a very emotional song for me.|
|5||Majora’s Mask: Termina Field||For such a non-traditional game, it’s ironic that Majora’s Mask is the only 3D Zelda game to feature the main Zelda theme as its primary overworld melody. It’s an exciting update to a classic theme, with a more intense feeling suitable for the game’s darker atmosphere.|
|4||Ocarina of Time: Hyrule Field||Andrew described this epic theme well – it was brand new for a brand new generation of Zelda. It’s varied, adventurous, and memorable.|
|3||Legend of Zelda: Overworld||One of the most memorable tunes in gaming and known well even in pop culture, the original 8-bit melody is incredibly catchy and does a great job communicating “adventure”.|
|2||A Link to the Past: Dark World||Andrew described the feeling of hearing this theme for the first time after entering the dark world well. It’s darker and more intense than the light world theme, and carries with it a sense of urgency. And it’s just a banger!|
|1||Twilight Princess: Hyrule Field||Similar in scope to Ocarina‘s overworld theme (probably not a coincidence), this original and epic tune exemplifies Zelda‘s focus on adventure and heroism more than any overworld theme in the series, in my opinion. It goes through highs and lows, perilous bridges, and a part where the game’s main riff soars in an emotional burst of melody. Another emotional song for me, as Twilight Princess was a huge part of my childhood. The ZREO’s team orchestral remix is an incredible rendition as well.|
Thanks for reading and thanks again Andrew! – Brandon