'The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia' - Advance Hardcover Review

 

Legend of ZeldaA little more than twenty-five years ago, The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System began one of the most successful video game series of all time.  The game cast players as a young hero named Link, who had to traverse eight hazardous dungeons, solving puzzles and earning new equipment, in order to restore the Triforce of Wisdom and save the titular Princess Zelda.


More than a dozen games later (and that's not counting re-releases, ports, and certain horrible Phillips CD-i releases we'd rather not think about), the lore of the Zelda series is sprawling and varied, encompassing multiple generations of Links and Zeldas and numerous threats to the peace of the fantastic land of Hyrule.  Because of the series' habit of combining recurring elements with new ones, the history of this land, its people, and its heroes, has always been a bit murky.


Enter Hyrule Historia, the product of twenty-five years of Zelda development.  Despite its name, it's mostly an art book, chock full of concept art, design notes, and the occasional storyboard for every game in the series, though the detailed stuff is heavily weighted toward the last few games in the series: Twilight Princess, Spirit Tracks, and, especially, 2011's Skyward Sword.  Fans of these games in particular will find plenty to like in the pages of this volume, if concept art and the like is their cup of tea.


The history section consumes perhaps a quarter of the book and provides a nice overview of the events of all the core games in the series since The Legend of Zelda, though it adds little to the lore of the world that the games themselves do not contain.  As someone who has played all of the Zelda games in question (if not necessarily recently), I found little of great interest in most of the text of this section, save for the odd speculation about the connection of this artifact to that later artifact or something like that.  The timeline itself is an interesting approach, splitting things into three separate timelines that exist in parallel, with Ocarina of Time as the lynchpin, but ultimately this "official" take is a novelty, no more or less interesting than some of the well-forged fan theories out there.


The last component of the book is a short manga that tells a story from the background of Skyward Sword, and probably doesn't make a lot of sense without the context of that game (though it doesn't spoil much, either).  The manga is fine, but definitely not the main attraction here.


The history was the part that got me most excited, but it let me down a little.  Still, I stayed for the beautiful concept art, the design notes, the progression of characters I've come to know over the years, the occasional in-joke amongst the design team, and the celebration of the length and breadth of this great series.  For some, what this book promises is something it doesn't quite deliver; for others, though, this will be the art book that all true warriors strive for.

 

 

Last modified on Friday, 21 June 2013 01:34

Brandon Perdue, Fanbase Press Contributor
Favorite Comic: Top Ten by Alan Moore and Gene Ha
Favorite Tabletop RPG: Fireborn
Favorite Spacegoing Vessel: Constitution-class Refit
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