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Well now, can't imagine you were expecting this song at the top, were you? Here's the rationale: it's 1985 and every other game is about jumping on shit, collecting coins or getting a better score. Zelda challenged you to find a reason to play, and the further you dug, the greater your rewards. In the days of no internet, no faqs and no maps, finding even the first underground labyrinth was a miracle. Then, upon entering, you're inundated with a relentless, claustrophobic tune that repeats forever. Its unnerving, rhythmic bass line felt as though it were reverberating through the halls, adding layers of dread with each passing loop. No other game at the time was even remotely scary - with this track, Zelda became the first NES game to make us feel unrest.
As you draw closer to the labyrinth's boss, you'll start to hear it roar through to walls. The added ambience makes an already taxing journey just that more scary, especially at a time when most games' sound effects were uninspired noise. Then it all ends with Link grabbing a piece of the Triforce and climbing back out of the labyrinth with a triumphant tune we'd come to know as the official end to the song's unending loop.
Zelda: The Music has the labyrinth tune (or "underground" or "underworld"), plus it's loaded with lots of other songs as we mentioned before.
Remixes of note
Swedish rock band Game Over belts out a ton of Zelda-related lyrics in Hyrule's Angel, and after four minutes you'll finally reach the labyrinth tune. And it's just as creepy when cranked out by pure metal.
wRenchpilot offers a more literal translation, featuring nothing but the brief ditty looping for four minutes in UnderWorldPressureCooker. But, like its name suggests, the mix keeps piling on more with each pass. A great listen.
Finally, Neskvartetten delivers an authentic bayou sound with LinkGoestoNewOrleans. It's a convincing scenario, a jam band sitting on the docks, cranking out an improvised homage to the greatest Zelda tune of all time.
Think we're completely and utterly insane for leaving out the Windmill Theme or something from Ages, Seasons or Minish Cap? Believe us, there were plenty that started on the list, then fell off as considerations changed. If you want to keep the discussion alive, head to our forum for more.
Mar 4, 2008