For the last twenty-five years The Legend of Zelda has been upheld as a timeless video game series. Set in a fantastical world, full of demonic creatures, beautiful princess, and grandiose heroes, The Legend of Zelda series has been a continuous highpoint when discussing video games. However, despite its grand popularity, Nintendo has been continuously secretive of Hyrule’s long history, as well as its inhabitants, including a particular green tunic-wearing hero. Well for fans of the series, the long wait is finally over, as Nintendo, along with Dark Horse Books in North America, recently published The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia- and what a grand, mythical history it is.
Coming in at about forty-dollars (Canadian), Hyrule Historia is well worth the price to see the history of Zelda recounted in over two hundred pages. Bound in hardcover, and showcasing a gorgeous pattern of Hylian symbols (the language used in the series) on the cover, along with gorgeous artwork and historical facts, Hyrule Historia provides and extensive recount of the series.
Divided into three sections, and a special magna comic made for Skyward Sword, Hyrule Historia takes readers above the clouds of Hyrule, to the smoky ash of Death Mountain, and into the murky abyss of Lake Hylia. The first section, entitled `”The Legend Begins”, examines the most recent entry in the franchise, Skyward Sword. Meant to largely coincide with the recent release in the long running series, this first section takes an extravagant look at the creation of one of the best Zelda games to date. Each and every page provides readers with intricate details about the creation of Skyward Sword. The majority of pictures include translated commentary, and include early production characters, creatures, and locations. It is amazing too see how much effort and consideration went into this game, not only in terms of design, but simply in trying to weave Skyward Sword into other games in the franchise.
The second section, “The History of Hyrule: A Chronology”, is the most interesting section, and one area in which devout fans of the series have been waiting to uncovere for years. Revealed to fans for the first time, Nintendo has chronicled each and every game in order. While perhaps not being the exact order in which fans expected the series to follow, the chronology of games makes sense. Beginning with Skyward Sword, as Nintendo revealed when the game was being produced, the timeline comes to divert into three paths, not two as once believed, in which all the games come to fall under. Providing the most amount of text in the book, “A Chronology of Hyrule” takes a look at every game in the series, providing summarised key points from the game, along with common bonds shared throughout many games in the franchise. While being quite engaging and thorough in its examination of the series long history, the most interesting aspect of this section can be found in the additional information. Located in a sidebar, these sections provide information on character and creature tribes, world information, and most intriguing, the multiple languages used throughout the games. This is a great additional bonus for the more dedicated fans of the series, who have always wondered what the sages were speaking throughout the series. More than any other section of this book, `The History of Hyrule` will keep you enticed and absorbed in the magical worlds in which this series has created.
The third section, “Creative Footprints: Documenting 25 Years of Artwork”, is obviously more dedicated to the art of the series. Once again documenting every game in the series, this section provides detailed layouts of dungeons, over-worlds, characters and items. While focusing on some games over others (The Adventure of Link only gets half a page, which is the game I was most interested to see as it is so different visually and gameplay wise from the remainder of the series), it is great to see the different stages of development and how the games have evolved visually and stylistically since The Legend of Zelda was released in 1986. Like the previous sections, “Creative Footprints” provides great insight into the creation of one of the most beloved game series of all time.
As an added bonus, the book includes a special magna comic, in which coincided with the release of Skyward Sword and The Legend of Zelda’s twenty-fifth anniversary. Translated from its original Japanese dialect into English, the magna is still read in typical magna fashion and tells the “very first Zelda tale”, which takes place before the events of Skyward Sword. Beautifully drawn the magna is quite action oriented, telling the tale of a ferocious battle between good and evil and the formation of Skyloft, where Skyward Sword takes place. Strangely enough however, only the first few pages of the magna are coloured, while the remainder are left in black and white. I am unsure if this was purposefully done, or if this was the way the original magna was drawn and coloured, but I wish they would have coloured the remaining pages as the pages that are coloured are equally vibrant and dark when they need to be. However, overall, the magna is a nice addition for fans who have not yet explored the magna based on The Legend of Zelda, while also serving as a nice prequel comic for fans of Skyward Sword.
When I first heard about Hyrule Historia, I had high expectations, in which I were unsure could be fulfilled. Fortunately Nintendo and Dark Horse Books lived up to those expectations. While I would have loved to see more additional info and artwork on earlier games in the series, and perhaps less of a focus on Skyward Sword, Hyrule Historia is never the less finely crafted and detailed with artwork and insight into the creation of one of today’s most beloved video game series. For fans who want to get a greater grasp on the lore and the making of The Legend of Zelda series, to individuals who simply enjoy beautiful video game artwork and designs, Hyrule Historia is the perfect way to celebrate a quarter of a century with a hero who has stood the test of time.