There’s something pretty special about the Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses. Go to any concert and the crowd is a sea of lights, camera phones held high to capture what’s happening on stage. The crowd at a Zelda symphony is full of lights too, except those lights come from Nintendo DSes, as the crowd play Zelda to the sound of the orchestra. It’s not that they’re bored. It’s that they are actively living the experience we’re all reliving.
It’s that shared experience that differentiates the Zelda crowd. Go to a regular concert and the crowd has shared a passive experience: we’ve all listened to the same album(s). But, at a Zelda symphony, we’ve shared an active experience. We’ve all swung the same sword, all sailed the same seas, all felt the damning frustration of that water temple. We’ve all been Link, and this is the soundtrack to our adventure.
And that adventure was the focus of the evening, not anything happening on the stage. The closest we got to rock stars were video messages from figures involved in creating the games. And while they received whoops and cheers, they were there to celebrate the games as much as we were. They weren’t taking credit for our adventure. They were sharing it with us.
Even the videogame footage shown on the screen wasn’t something for us to adore. It was more of a highlight reel, a reminder of the highs and lows we had all been through as we battled to save Hyrule.
Of course, the music was incredible, and we all had favourites we were hoping to hear (and even calling out for). If I’ve made the evening sound like we all came together in a transcendental, unified mind, we didn’t. We listend to a great orchestra play music we love. But I guarantee you’ll never have the same experience at another concert. Music might be the soundtrack to our lives. But each song means something different to each listener, and we react differently to hearing it. And there’s something awesome about an arena of fans having the exact same reaction to the same piece of music.
The Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses isn’t just about great music; it’s a collective recollection, and that’s pretty special.
So we did it. 24 hours of playing Legend of Zelda and, although we didn’t hit our target, we raised money for a good cause. I’m feeling pretty chuffed with both myself and my brother, Chris. We did good!
The marathon began with a few technical problems which meant we couldn’t stream to YouTube. Instead we used Twitch.TV, and we’ll upload the video to YouTube for prosperity instead. Once that was agreed we dived straight into Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time! And the conversation got weird quickly.
Now we're talking about organic chicken kievs. This is not your average video gaming marathon!
We had originally hoped to finish both Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. However when we found it had taken us four hours to finish three out of ten dungeons in Ocarina we began to realise that wasn’t going to happen. That was a shame – Chris has never completed Majora – but we soldiered on.
But we made it through and, after an even more frustrating battle with Ganondorf, Ocarina of Time was in the bag! It took us very close to 17 hours and that didn’t even include any side quests. But we powered on and plugged in Majora’s Mask.
Already on the first temple! Kicking ass as little Deku Link! Topic of discussion: David Hyde Pierce. As you do! #Zeldathon
4 AM is always the time when an all-nighter struggles most. We were frequently standing, walking around and drinking energy drinks. We certainly began to question why on Earth we were doing this and began to blame the other for the idea. And, being tired, we began to make mistakes.
We've knocked out too many sections of the column in Snowhead so we're having to redo it. So frustrating! Looking forward to sleep!
But we needed to rally and somehow making fun of Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi seems to turn it around for us. After falling down a lot we finally rectified our mistakes and Chris beat our final boss fight! It was left to me to take us home, so I fetched our horse, Epona, so we could get the Zora mask and spend our last half an hour exploring the waters. And experimenting with control options.
Spicing up the last 15 minutes with dual control; @Christopher_J_K handles one half of the controller, I the other. We're wacky guys #zelda
All in all it was a great experience and we’re both surprised to find we’re not sick of the sight of Zelda. We’d quite happily play some more!
Our biggest thanks to those that sponsored us, we really appreciate every penny you donated. If you missed our stream, Chris will be posting video to the PandaPad YouTube Channel and if you want to donate any money I would recommend nipping over to the Child’s Play Charity website. It’s a good cause and they’ll make sure every penny you donate goes to helping these kids stuck in hospitals.
Our 24 charity gaming marathon begins on 20th July and although we discussed a few games to play, we settled pretty quickly on Legend of Zelda. There’s plenty of reasons to love the Zelda series, but here are our top ten reasons for playing Zelda for 24 hours straight.
1. The Music
This might be the number one reason why I love Zelda. The music is just incredible. The games include no spoken dialogue, so the music does all the talking. And it certainly speaks to you. It’s stirring, epic, creepy, fun and moving. The fact that there’s an orchestra concert of the music touring the world tells you how amazing the soundtrack is. It’s also just plain catchy.
2. Assassin’s Creed is Just Too Long
Chris did a gaming marathon earlier in the year with Halo, right around the time I was playing Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. But the AC games are just too long and too draining. Zelda, on the other hand, has the same epic quality but remains light and fresh. Perfect for a 24 hour marathon.
3. It Tells a Mature Story Without Being “Adult”
Assassin’s Creed is a very violent game. Violence is an easy shortcut to a feeling of maturity, but Legend of Zelda takes a tougher route. While it would be easy to write them off as kids’ games, (especially with the cute, cel-shaded graphics of Wind Waker), they actually tell mature stories without having to resort to the dark and gritty clichés. Legend of Zelda keeps an all-ages feel but tells stories about good and evil, or hope and faith, loneliness, the nature of friendship.
4. There’s no spoken dialogue
Dialogue is restricted to text displayed on the screen. On top of that the playable character, Link, has no dialogue at all. All he gets is facial expressions and the odd grunt. This invites the player to mentally voice the characters themselves and turns Link into a blank slate onto which they can project themselves. Legend of Zelda invites you to be the hero.
5. The Mythos
The Triforce. The goddesses. Even Link and Zelda themselves, the reincarnating heroes of Hyrule. Each game builds upon what came before, building up an enormous mythos (and a convoluted timeline) and creating a rich world for us to play in.
6. Chris Has Never Completed Majora’s Mask
I’ve heard it said that Majora’s Mask is the Empire Strikes Back to Ocarina of Time’s Star Wars. It’s an apt comparison. The first act is a grand, uncomplicated epic of good verus evil. By comparison the sequel is messy, smaller, more interested in characters than noble battles. The sequel is harder to get into as a result, but the rewards are great for those who manage it.
7. There Are No FMV Videos
FMV (Full Motion Video). Me no likey. It yanks you out of the game and shows you a cutscene with achingly beautiful graphics. Then it drops me back into the game, which now looks like Polygon World by comparison. Legend of Zelda renders its cutscenes using the same sprites as the one you play with. It makes the game more cohesive and doesn’t interrupt my experience.
8. The Puzzles
Block puzzles. Lock and key items. Even some fetch quests. The puzzles mean your brain gets as much exercise as your thumbs. Some of them are pretty straightforward, others are long and involved. Others are controller-crackingly infuriating. Kafei’s Mask, anyone?
9. The Population
Gorons and Zoras, Deku Scrubs and vengeful cuccos. And then there are the characters themselves. The Happy Mask Salesman who always seems too happy until he flips out. Sweet innocent Malon who never seems to catch a break. Guru Guru and the catchy tune of his. Old Men who tell you it’s dangerous to go alone. Legend of Zelda is full of bizarre and wonderful characters and races, always entertaining and delightfully…unique.
10. It’s straightforward
I didn’t play Ocarina of Time until some time after it was released. I’d been put off RPGs mostly thanks to Final Fantasy VIII. Hit points. Experience points. Dance points and hokey-kokey points.
Legend of Zelda lets me run around and hit things with swords. If it was a hammer it’d be perfect. It’s straightforward fun, perfect for a 24 hour gaming marathin.
Our marathon starts at 10:00 GMT 20th July and we’d love for you to join us. We’ll be live tweeting from @realjtk and @Christopher_J_K. You can also watch the action at the Panda Pad at on Twitch TV. We’ll do our best to entertain you and please do consider donating. It all goes to Child’s Play charity, who provide toys and games for kids stuck in a hospital. How can you say no to a cause like that?
It was a peculiar coincidence. I’d woken up with a tune from a Zelda game in my head (probably the Song of Storms from Ocarina of Time) and was wondering if anyone had ever recorded Zelda music with real instruments. And then I stumbled upon a tweet mentioning a Zelda Symphony.
Ten minutes later I had tickets. And, after months of waiting, I got to go last week. And it was amazing.
My introduction to The Legend of Zelda series was through Ocarina of Time for the N64. This was Zelda’s first foray into 3D gaming and, I think, its finest outing. It’s big, epic, full of music and there’s time travel involved (I’m a sucker for time travel). Each Zelda game I’ve played since has always been compared to Ocarina, but none have ever come close.
The Symphony encompassed some of the great musical highs of the Zelda series. After the prelude we were presented with the movements which were based on one of four games: Ocarina of Time; Wind Waker; Twilight Princess; and Link to the Past. These were accompanied by clips from the respective game on a screen behind the orchestra. Which, by the way, was only the flipping Royal Philharmonic!
These movements were interspersed with introductions by either conductor Eimear Noone or producer Jeron Moore. Noone was obviously passionate about the music and the series, grinning like the rest of us when she produced with a flourish a replica of the Wind Waker baton. Moore wore his geek credentials on his sleeve, making cracks about the Water Temple from Ocarina and clearing up the true origin of Zelda’s Theme.
And the music itself was incredible. The Zelda series has always created great music but it’s been limited to synthetic instruments. Arranged and performed by a full orchestra, it was breathtaking. I’d listened to the 25th anniversary CD, but it doesn’t compare.
And the movements weren’t the entirety. Everyone came back for not one, not two, but three encores to play the Ballad of the Wind Fish, Gerudo Valley and an unexpected Majora’s Mask movement.
Highlights? Have to be:
• the unexpected Majora’s Mask movement; Majora’s Mask has some great music but always stands in Ocarina’s shadow;
• the Ocarina movement; it’s my favourite game and not on the 25th anniversary CD, so it was such a treat to hear it.
• the reaction to the Gerudo Valley introduction: one man screaming “YES!” at the top of his voice. Beautiful.
There was just one date in the UK but the Symphony continues to tour in other countries. If you’re a fan of Zelda you must go and see it. In fact I’d recommend it to any fan of classical or orchestral music.
And speaking of fans, check out these cosplayers. They posed for photos after the symphony was over. You have to admire the skill and dedication on display!