The Top 5 Most (Un)Surprising Things Left Out Of The Legend Of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony
So last friday I sat in the front row at The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony at The Pantages Theater in Hollywood, CA. If you’re like me, you either have a rock-hard bone-daddy right now, or you want to murder me and suck the blood out of my ears, eyes, and brain in hopes of getting any small remnant of that night to experience for your very own (Or both. Yuck. Yuck?). It was incredible. I’ve loved Zelda since I was a small child; getting to see all those familiar beeps and kooky little boops transformed into beautiful pieces of classical music before my very ears was an absolutely amazing thing to behold. On top of that, Eiji Aonuma (Director since Ocarina of Time) and Koji Kondo (Music Supervisor for the entire series) were both there, and the entire concert was synced to clips from the games. I can think of no finer tribute to the first 25 years of this classic franchise.
That’s right, a ROCK-HARD BONE-DADDY.
However, (Isn’t there always a however?) those who know me well can tell you that I’m a creepy gooey weirdo, and so I was a little disappointed, though not very surprised, to find that some of my favorite moments from the series were conveniently left out of the festivities, almost like Nintendo was choosing to forget that they ever existed. I mean, I get it. Nintendo’s always been a family friendly company, and these strange odds and ends only tarnish their squeaky cleanliness, but Zelda’s always been weird! Aonuma himself once said the series found inspiration in Twin Peaks and that show’s weird as sh*t! So, in the interest of preserving these sweet, little nuggets of creeping spookiness, let’s peel back the collectible gold cartridge plastic, and head down into the dark circuits of the underbelly to take a look at the “Top 5 Most (Un)Surprising Things Left Out Of The Legend Of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony”:
I love the way Nintendo characterizes Link in The Twilight Princess. He’s a good old boy, a down home hero, who reps his village hardcore. He’s even got a little fan club made up of local children who look up to him. Let’s see, there’s sweet, little, kidnappable Colin, inappropriately sexy-looking Beth, rascally young Talo, and...what the hell is that? Like, a baby or...? Is it little girl? No? A boy! Why would it have a bow in it’s hair? Maybe it’s still just so young that it has no say in the...? What? Malo can talk?
A motley crew. What if this was what Mötley Crüe looked like?
Yikes, you guys. This weird little man-baby-that’s-actually-a-child-somewhere-in-the-middle-age-wise, doesn’t just not make sense, he’s super-unsettling. He’s sort of like, the smart sarcastic leader in the comedy routine that is the children of Ordon Village, even though he literally looks like a full-on baby, and the way he talks, all stone-faced and with, like, modern syntax, makes me feel like he’s some sort of inter-dimensional demonic presence that only exists in my personal copy of the game, and that he’s been spending the past six years tormenting me as a way to cope with his near-infinite lifespan.
He also starts a chain of shops during the course of the game, and instead of using his soul-crushing intelligence to create tasteful and effective advertisements, what does he do but adorn every available surface with his blank, expressionless face? That’s what Benito Mussolini and Kim Jong-il did, guys. Just sayin’. Mussolini and Kim Jong-il.
Remember the scene in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World when Scott takes a piss in the most serene bathroom in dreamworld? Remember the delightful song that plays during it? “The Great Fairy Fountain’s Theme” is one of the most recognizable pieces of music from the Zelda franchise, and it's certainly the most relaxing. It was mesmerizing to watch a harpist play this song live in front of me, even with my rock-hard bone-daddy.
In fact, the entire point of Great Fairy Fountains is to give Link a place to take a break from his harrowing adventure, heal up, and chill out. Sometimes he even gets some dope spell, which is like, bonus coolness. In summation, it's a cool-ass place.
When Ocarina of Time came out, though, we were all terrified. Maybe some of you haven’t played it, and are wondering to yourselves, what could ruin such a delightful respite? Bet you didn’t think the answer was a rainbow of thirty-foot-tall vine-covered prostitutes who twirl up out of the spirit realm with the ungodly wail of a mother bald eagle ripped away from her newborn eaglets, but that’s exactly what it is.
Oh, sweet lord.
Like, who was in charge of this? I bet it was some, like, demented Satanist murderer, whose sociopathic quirk was recording the death throes of his victims and hiding them in the soundtracks of video games. That’s my best guess, because what the f**k else would be a rational explanation for this absolutely flagrant defiling of the Great Fairy’s Fountain? I love the Great Fairy’s Fountain, you guys.
You know what else is odd about this? The exact same thing happens in the next game! After Ocarina came out and was a huge success, Nintendo was like, “These fairies are the keys to our success! We MUST bring them back!” And they did. Or maybe it’s just that weird demon again, haunting me through Zelda games until the ends of time.
Speaking of weird demons, let’s talk about Tingle for a minute. Tingle is the biggest weirdo of all time, even if we’re not just talking about Zelda. He’s a 35-year-old cartographer of sorts, which is fine, I guess, but also, he wears a forest green onesie wherever he goes, with a kind of built-in pointy hat. Not so fine. He also maintains throughout the series that he’s a reincarnated fairy (!!!), and he says these weird magic words all the time. Also, he’s super possessive of them like some weird, obsessive-compulsive wizard. Least fine of all. We have now officially entered the realm of crazies and creeps.
Here’s the thing about him, for all the weird, little characteristics they’ve given him, there’s literally no payoff! All he ever does is give you an item, mark your map, or upgrade something you already have! There’s no plot! For the most part, everything he does could also be done by a treasure chest!
Oh...hey... Yeah, I gotta go...
So, why? Why Nintendo? Why did you create this weird character? He wants to be a fairy but he isn’t, he thinks he’s magic but he’s not, and he looks like a pedophile! He clearly idolizes Link, but he almost seems to resent him. Could it be the designers poking fun at Zelda fans? Or maybe it’s an inside joke. Maybe the designers think that no one will ever notice that they’re screwing with us? In an interview on the official Nintendo site, all it says is that Tingle was created “in a very relaxed manner."
What the hell does that mean? To me it sounds like drugs. Like doing things “in a very relaxed manner” is some sort of Japanese code for drugs. Or you know, it could be that the design team was relaxed because they were in a trance, under the spell of that ageless deity from across time whose sole purpose is ruining my life. But that’s crazy, right?
The mask trading sequence from Ocarina of Time is a classic example of an old school side quest. You get the masks from the salesman, you take them to the people who need them, grabbing extra money along the way, eventually culminating in the ability to use the Mask of Truth whenever you need to. Fun, right? And the Happy Mask Salesman is the quintessential humble shopkeep, with his hands all clasped and his face all smiley. Double fun!
But mess up on the quest, and you get a sneak preview of the horror that is Angry Happy Mask Salesman. He drops all pretense, directly insults you, and insists you leave his shop immediately. And that FACE. You guys, that FACE. It’s like, I don’t even know exactly. It’s like a glimpse into his real personality, which is that of a person who is a killer, and has always been a killer, and oh, I don’t know, slices people’s faces off and MAKES MASKS OUT OF THEM. And who does he think he’s kidding when you come back in and he’s all smiley again, like nothing ever happened? Chilling.
Ack! No need to get up! I’ll leave!
And then, in Majora’s Mask, we get to a whole other level of weird, when we find out that the sneaky old Happy Mask Salesman has gotten mixed up in something more horrible than anything we could ever imagine. We never even really learn what it is, except that it can conceivably destroy the world, and once Link gets back the titular mask (LOLTITZ), The Happy Mask Salesman just peaces out. That’s it. Just like, bounces into the woods. Nothing could be shadier.
And then, as a final touch, we have those positively sobering masks that Link uses to change forms. If you haven’t seen them, just like, do it, and then when you’ve seen how much pain and fear can be conveyed by a piece of machinery as archaic as the N64, you’ll be that much wiser and grizzled. Maybe that all-knowing demon won’t seem so far outside the realm of the possible, because how ELSE?
And now, an entire game designed “in a very relaxed manner”. How could it not be? It takes place immediately after the perfect A Link To The Past, in a weird world where every single townsperson acts suspiciously, and like, Mario and Luigi and Yoshi and Chain Chomp and Kirby and Princess Peach and Goombas and even Mr. Wright from SimCity make an appearance. And then, spoiler alert, at the end of the game, we find out that the entire game has been a dream.
So, like, what? How weird is this? It’s like, the whole game is some sort of fever dream that Link has, but then we have to consider, by that logic, the possibility that Link has knowledge of Nintendo characters, but that’s impossible, so then what? I guess it might be the player’s fever dream, but then what does that say about our minds? That we’re all weirdos? And what about the Wind Fish?
The Wind Fish is a mythological beast in the game which actually looks more like a humpback whale, but one whose mommy screwed a butterfly. The entire point of the game is to wake him up, and when you finally do, the twist is that you too are sleeping, but we’ve already covered this. What we’ve yet to address, however, is the fact that after Link is awake, and the entire island you’ve been on for the whole game fades away and disappears because it was a dream, the Wind Fish is seen flying overhead! So, like, it was a dream, but the Freddy Krueger-esque Wind Fish still exists, and he can see into our minds and pull out our knowledge of other Nintendo games to populate this crazy black and white Gameboy world? Am I over-thinking this? Maybe. OR MAYBE IT’S THE DEMON.
So okay, okay, okay. Maybe the concert was better off without a slew of things which pretty much fully convinced me that I was the victim of a very powerful paranormal entity. But let’s assume for a second that THE DEMON doesn’t exist.
Should the Zelda franchise really be separated from these creepier aspects of itself? Maybe not. But maybe that was never Nintendo’s intention by leaving them out. I like to think that really, the reason I didn’t see hide nor hair of these things from my incredible rock-hard bone-daddy seat in the front row at the Pantages that night, was because if Nintendo ever acknowledged them, they might lose whatever it is that makes them special. These weirdnesses are our little secrets with each other, so let’s keep ‘em that way, and let goofy assholes like me write about them, and then you can read about them and tell your friends, and hopefully they’ll live another 25 years.
And by the way, THE DEMON is real, too. Check it out.