Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia Review

The Legend of Zelda has always possessed a long muddled timeline.  Like the chicken or the egg argument, no one knew exactly which game came first when trying to form a chronological order.  This argument created much strife amongst fans, but all of this has now been resolved.  With the release of The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, fans finally have an official timeline to quell their arguments. Hit the jump to see why!



The book is broken up into four main parts.  After an introduction by creator Shigeru Miyamoto, the first section is called “The Legend Begins” and tells the story of Skyward Sword with great detail and tons of concept art.  The second, “The History of Hyrule” is the main attraction of the book.  In this section, the official chronology is laid for every game.  The third is the “Creative Footprints,” where artwork from past games is introduced and some sketches from the deep, dark depths of Nintendo’s dungeons are brought to the light for the first time.  The final segment is a special comic from artist pair Akira Himekawa which tells the story of a time even before Skyward Sword.

Link concept art featuring the many faces of Link!

All of the concept art included in this book is a little staggering.  Out of the 274 pages, easily two-thirds of it is concept art.  The sketches range from the final build of characters to their first humble conception.  Some sketches even include interesting facts about the characters.  For instance, the most attractive feature of the character Fledge is supposed to be the nape of his neck, or the Ocarina of Time is the same color as the Time Shift Stones so its ability to alter time could mean it was created from the same material.  Little gems like these are all over the design sketches and it adds a special layer to the universe that devout fans will enjoy learning.


Twilight Princess features my favorite look for Ganondorf.
My favorite part of the whole book is the chronology.  The pages of “The History of Hyrule” give a timeline that would have been impossible to guess without the official guidance found in this book.  A step-by-step history of the land of Hyrule is weaved through each of the games and learning how each of the games affects the others is fascinating.  Even though I love the chronology, this is where my biggest problem with the book arises.  After reading the timeline, it is obvious that the creators had to stretch to tie it all together.  Some of the divisions in the history just seem too far-fetched.  I am supposed to believe that one of the timelines begins because Link, the Hero of Time, is killed by Ganondorf?  That just seems a little ridiculous to me.  Like Eiiji Aonuma says in his letter included in the book, the games were created specifically with gameplay in mind and the chronology is just an afterthought.

The special comic included in the back of the book by Akira Himekawa (a pseudonym for the female manga artist pair A. Honda and S. Nagano) is an interesting iteration of Link.  The art by Himekawa is wonderful and the story is a bit darker than any of the games.  It clearly depicts the very first time Link is present in the history of Hyrule as we know it, even before Skyward Sword.  By going further back, the comic fleshes out the one piece of history that the chronology was light on which is The Ancient Battle.

Concept art for the Gorons shows many different sketches.
Verdict - BUY IT
The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia is a work of love for all Zelda fans.  The creative team really wanted to give something back to the people on the 25th Anniversary of the franchise and with this book they nailed it.  With tons of concept art, an official timeline, insight into the creative process, and a wonderful comic, this book is one that any Zelda fan will find worthwhile.  If you like Zelda, buy it.  (Sidenote: I gave this a "Buy it" rating because I can only see this as something the most hardcore of Zelda fans will want.  The book is definitely a collector's item.  Hundreds of pages full of concept art is not something everybody will love, but if learning all of the ins-and-outs of The Legend of Zelda is what you desire then buy this.)

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