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Top 20 Favorite Legend of Zelda Themes of All Time

 

The Legend of Zelda is, without a doubt, my favorite gaming franchise ever. There are probably plenty of other titles that are smarter, deeper, or just as fun and engaging, but Zelda will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first serious introduction to video games.

So today, with yet another list singing its praises, I’m offering my top 20 favorite songs that ever came out of the series.

Note: Please forgive me if some of the audio clips are shoddy. Uploading to YouTube drastically reduces the quality.

 

20) “Guardians Awaken”, Skyward Sword

 

This track is great because it does exactly what it’s meant to, and it’s damn effective at it. “Guardians Awaken” juxtaposes with the more tranquil, almost soothing Silent Realm themes; adding to the suspense and anxiety as you race to gather all of the Sacred Tears before the Guardians awaken. When they do -especially if it was triggered by accidentally stepping in Waking Water or being spotted by a Watcher – a single strike from their swords is enough to send you all the way back to the beginning of the trial, no matter how close you may be to the end.

 

 

“Silent Realm Guardians” is loud, clashing, and metallic, banging in your ears and spurring you into panic, as you are hunted down by silent, unforgiving giants. Once you’ve heard this track, you don’t ever forget it, and once each Silent Realm trial is completed, you feel all the more accomplished for having successfully staved it off.

 

19) “Hyrule Field”, Ocarina of Time

 

Who doesn’t love this theme? It’s just so iconic!

I also love the (for the time) fairly subtle shift from major to minor when you are confronted by an enemy.

 

18) “Hytopia”, Triforce Heroes

 

The music of Triforce Heroes generally has a certain…je ne sais quoi about it. I particularly like the accordion parts in this theme for the main hub area. It’s classy, but fun at the same time.

 

17) “Tarm Ruins”, Oracle of Seasons

 

This track hasn’t aged the best, I must admit, but I still enjoy it. Especially in various remixed forms.

If I close my eyes (and hear past the chiptune element of it), it feels like I’m exploring an ancient forest, littered with walls, archways, and crumbling buildings from some lost civilization. That’s pretty much exactly what you are doing in-game anyway, so it fits. There’s really not much more I can say about it than that.

 

16) “Skyloft”, Skyward Sword

 

Hajime Wakai has written some truly breathtaking music for Skyward Sword, and it is further accentuated by the choice to use an actual orchestra in composing the game’s soundtrack.

The theme for the floating city of Skyloft is, as you might expect, light and airy. To me, it represents the peaceful, joyful existence of living in a sort of ivory tower; almost a Garden of Eden, of sorts, where people and animals work together in harmony. The world on the ground far below is not even a distant memory anymore, and only a few people in Skyloft still wonder about it in any way.

 

You hear the song throughout the game, but it also comprises a fair amount of your introduction to the world. Possible symbolism aside, it’s just very nice to listen to, and much like the “Hyrule Field” theme from Ocarina, it draws you in and provides an upbeat start to your adventure.

 

15) “Bazaar” and its variations, Skyward Sword

 

Same game, different tune.

The Skyloft bazaar is where you shop for weapons, supplies, and potions before heading down to Hyrule proper. It contains about 5 vendors (if you count the potion shop wife and husband as 1), and each has a unique variation of the bazaar theme that begins to play when you approach his or her area. I recommend listening to all of the shop tracks, even if you can’t play the actual game for whatever reason. Each iteration uses different instruments and sets itself to a different pace, conveying both the general bustle of the marketplace and the energy/personality of the vendor.

 

14) Original “Fire Temple” Theme, Ocarina of Time

 

I realize that this version was replaced due to its insensitive use of a core Muslim prayer, and I don’t mean to support appropriation or exploitation. However, I don’t believe that it was meant to be malicious or purposely disrespectful, and before people jump to condemn someone for ignorance, I think that the original intent of the action should count for something.

That said, I don’t know what Koji Kondo was actually trying to do at the time. Personally, as a kid, I thought that the original track was cool and interesting. Of all of the temples in Ocarina, the Fire Temple felt the most like somewhere people might actually go to offer prayers to the gods, and the theme was a major part of that interpretation. A sudden echoing, rhythmic chanting fades in and out throughout the track, making it seem like an ancient, spiritual place; one which has now been corrupted slightly by Ganondorf’s evil influence.

 

If this genuinely offended people, then I am glad that it was cut. Everyone deserves to enjoy this game without feeling like it’s insulting their religion. This was just my 2 cents, as a once ignorant white kid who later went on to love studying world religions in college. It confused me when I picked up a more recent copy of the game several years ago and the chanting was just gone, with no real explanation.

 

13) “Fire Sanctuary”, Skyward Sword

 

Here is a cool fire theme that is pretty cool and doesn’t offend anyone, as far as I know. The “Earth Temple” theme is decent too, but it didn’t get stuck in my ears like this one did.

 

12) “Inside the Great Deku Tree”, Ocarina of Time

 

The “Forest Temple” theme is probably better. It’s definitely creepier, to say the least, but “Inside the Great Deku Tree” is soothing and spacey. It really does feel like being inside something truly empty and gigantic, and I love using this as writing music when I’m trying to clear my mind and focus on something new.

 

 

11) “Stone Tower Temple”, Majora’s Mask

 

Foreboding, but not as in-your-face unsettling as the “Ikana Canyon” and “Ikana Graveyard” themes. To me, it feels like a hopeless, endless climb upward, and that’s not too far from my actual feelings whenever I try to make it up to the Stone Tower Temple. You just keep messing with switches and playing that godforsaken “Elegy of Emptiness” song, over and over and over…

 

It’s a fairly fitting prelude to a fantastically challenging Zelda dungeon, though. I used to try to play the base tune on my elementary school recorder.

 

10) “Farore’s Silent Realm”, Skyward Sword

 

I can’t remember what the exact instrument is during this track, but the closest I can describe is “if a tinkle and a clang had a baby, this is what it would sound like.” A glass cowbell, maybe? What kind of bells would forest spirits use, anyway?

I can already picture my audio engineer/high school band boyfriend ashamedly shaking his head at me for that one…

 

But this is my favorite of all of the Silent Realm songs. It is a simplistic, staccato rendition of the “Faron Woods” heme; calming, but also distinctly lonely and otherwordly. I like it a lot.

And, by instinctual association, its accompanying Silent Realm is the easiest and least stressful of all of the trials.

 

9) “The Great Sea”, Wind Waker

 

ADVENTURES ON THE HIGH SEAS! WOO-HOO!

 

Need I say more?

 

8) “Deku Palace”, Majora’s Mask

 

This theme feels like it’d be fun to dance to, and lucky for Link, his Deku form has a spin attack that is adorably twirly.

 

7) “Fi’s Theme”, Skyward Sword

 

Skyward Sword seems like it’s taking up most of the list, doesn’t it?

 

Fi is easily the most annoying companion character in the 3-D games, possibly even the entire series. She is essentially a robot who states the painfully obvious, telling you that you’re low on hearts or the likelihood of a bokoblin shocking you with an electric cattle prod right as he is swinging it at your face.

That said, her theme music is beautiful. I cried at the end of the story, which I won’t go into for the sake of spoilers. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who often has trouble completing games in a year (sometimes a few) or less.

 

Suffice it to say, “God damn it, but Fi made me feel!”

 

6) “Hyrule Castle”, Breath of the Wild

 

Here’s a new one.

Outside of the iconic Zelda retreads, the music in Breath of the Wild is nice if basic and repetitive at times. But this version of the conquered Hyrule Castle theme is a nice compromise of old and new, managing to be feel hopeless as well as looming and sinister.  It even harkens back to Ganondorf’s organ-playing as you ascend the castle steps in Ocarina, but it doesn’t get louder as you approach the sanctum.

 

5) “Lake Hylia”, Twilight Princess

 

Such a beautiful instrumental. Lake Hylia is a big open space where you could just imagine sitting down and watching the clouds and the tide go by.

Incidentally, proportionally-speaking, Lake Hylia in Ocarina of Time should be a similar massive size as it is in Twilight Princess. Even though it looks much smaller (and is, compared to that later game), it does takes Link a while to swim across it; the rising and setting of the sun is what offers the illusion of largeness.

 

…Sorry. That’s just an annoying nitpick I hear from some fans. Either a day in Hyrule goes by really quickly, or the game makers did what they could with size and system limitations of the time, folks. The Nintendo 64 was still damn impressive.

 

4) “Kakariko Village”, Twilight Princess

 

This version of Kakariko’s theme has more character than it did in Ocarina of Time, and that is due to the addition of what I assume is an eagle-bone flute. Or something in that family, at least.

 

 

Renado, the village leader, and his daughter Luda have a distinctly Native American character design, and Kakariko resembles a town in the old west, complete with sparse vegetation and a faded earthy color scheme. The theme ties it all together, keeping a few recognizable chords intact but changing enough to fit the new set up. It’s very pretty, and definitely worthy of being one of my favorite songs in the series.

 

3) “Gerudo Valley”. Ocarina of Time

 

Did anyone else go out and learn about Mariachi music entirely because of this one song?

 

2) “Dragon Roost Island”, Wind Waker

 

What’s not to love about this one? It’s practically bursting with energy and fun!

The “Dragon Roost Island” theme is definitely a spiritual sibling of the “Gerudo Valley” theme. It is probably the closest another Zelda track has come to it, and I would even go so far as to argue that it surpasses “Gerudo Valley,” if only in sheer awesomeness.

I apologize if that was sacrilegious.

If Mexican music being applied to desert amazon women didn’t quite fit perfectly for you, this theme seems completely appropriate for the Rito, a seaside race of bird people who worship a giant dragon that sits atop their mountain. I’m not sure I can explain exactly why, but it just works.

 

Don’t ask me why they all wear powdered wigs, though. I have no idea.

 

1) “Zora’s Domain” and ” The Serenade of Water”, every incarnation

 

 

Sorry to mush together two songs for the top spot, but they are both gorgeous, and they essentially go hand in hand, as common themes for the aquatic Zora people. If you don’t know what they are, how did you even get here? imagine a  reversed-mermaid.

Or don’t, and just look below.

 

In the case of the latter song, I particularly love “Queen Rutela’s Theme” from Twilight Princess. It’s hauntingly beautiful, yet oddly comforting, much like the ghost herself.

 

The general “Zora’s Domain” song is what I most want to hear when I’m baking, writing, lounging, or swimming, for some reason. It just makes me happy to listen to it, and it definitely makes me think of water. It may not be as epic as something like “Dragon Roost” or “Gerudo Valley,” but it doesn’t have to be. It soothes the soul and cheers the heart.

 

*The images and sound clips used in this post do not belong to me. Please let me know if you notice any of the audio being missing or not working properly, and I’ll find another link.

What are your favorite Legend of Zelda tracks? And why?

 

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My Top 10 Favorite Generation 7 Pokemon

Happy 100th post!

Before the release of Pokemon X and Y, I was all but begging Nintendo to pull the plug. Many of the new designs were eyes slapped onto random objects and scribbles, and Ash, who should be pushing thirty years old by now, was still ten, but somehow has seen enough lady friends come and go to start up his own maid cafe. I officially quit playing the games after Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, consoling myself that maybe this was just that whole “growing up” thing I kept hearing about.

Whether it was my individual tastes or not, it just felt very tired, as though the franchise was running on nothing but steam anymore. Obligation and sheer momentum would keep it chugging forward, but it wouldn’t ever seriously capture my attention or child-like wonder again. It was too busy trying to keep up with the trends of its intended demographic, which tend to age as quickly as they do. That’s why Ash never ages, after all; no ten-year old could possibly relate to a kid who is even slightly older than them. 

Side Gripe: Nintendo, can we talk? If you can’t get a trainer’s license until age ten, then what’s the deal with these little snot-noses?

preschooler-ella preschooler-oliver

 

Thankfully, the two newest installments (and YSun and Moon) resuscitated Pokemon right before my eyes, showing me that it could still be creative, interesting, and at least slightly more innovative, in addition to upgrading the graphics. Then Pokemon Go came in for the kill, buttering me up with nostalgic indulgence and some costly, sweaty wish-fulfillment.

And, in the spirit of fairness, let me share with you some Pokemon that I’ve actually genuinely liked since the resurgence. After all, I was never a Generation I and done kind of girl; I liked plenty of Pokemon from the other generations just fine. Five just rubbed me the wrong way, for whatever reason.

10) Rowlet

600px-722rowlet

 

This little guy is adorable, and pretty great to start Sun or Moon out with too. The first trial has Normal-type Pokemon, but the two following it include Fighting and Water-types respectively.

Disregarding what he evolves into it, Rowlet just makes me want to hug him. And kudos, Nintendo, for finally making me like the Grass-type more than my other starter choices.

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Meh. It’s cute.

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OH HOLY GOD, WHAT IS THIS MONSTROSITY?! I’D SAY KILL IT WITH FIRE, BUT THAT WON’T WORK! KILL THIS SUCKER WITH LIGHTNING!

 

9) Mudsdale

600px-750mudsdale

 

Oh, cool! More equine-based Pokemon!

I wasn’t crazy about Mudbray’s design (Side Gripe: I don’t know why it looks stupider than Mudsdale because mules and donkeys tend to be a lot smarter), but I can definitely get behind this majestic evolution, even if it is based in mud. Its speed stat is the lowest, which seems ironic, but it’s only really weak to three other types and its Ground-type moves get much better with leveling. Mudsdale looks like a “salt of the earth” kind of guy, pun intended; the design is a  nice contrast to Ponyta and Rapidash’s distinctly mystical, feminine look.

 

8) Lurantis

600px-754lurantis

 

It’s a humanoid mantis with cute striped hakama. A great balance struck between cool and pretty without being too cutesy. According to its Pokedex entry, “It requires a lot of effort to maintain Lurantis’s vivid coloring, but some collectors enjoy this work and treat it as their hobby. It fires beams from its sickle-shaped petals. These beams are powerful enough to cleave through thick metal plates.”

 

7) Cosmog (a.k.a. Nebby)

600px-789cosmog

 

I’m awarding this one mostly because for once, a Pokemon game got me actually kind of invested in my mute avatar and her friends. Well played.

Actually, while we’re on the subject…

 

6) Solgaleo & Lunala

250px-791solgaleo

circleoflife

 

NANTS INGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA!

 

600px-792lunala

 

Both of these legendaries are surprisingly cool and elegant. I love that the creators tried to keep them in form with the actual sun and moon; they aren’t just the same color of the game title, for once. Solgaleo probably would have topped this one out of sheer awesomeness if I’d been playing Pokemon Sun, but I just like Lunala too much. Halvsies it is!

 

5) Tapu Fini

250px-788tapu_fini

 

The Guardian Pokemon are interesting in general, but excluding my brief story arc with Tapu Koko, Tapu Fini is probably my favorite of them. I love her color scheme and Water/Fairy-type combo, and the swordfish-like shield she pops out of reminds me of Aphrodite’s clamshell. Supposedly she is based on sirens, mermaids, and the Hawaiian god of the ocean, Kanaloa.

She is one of the most obnoxious Pokemon to catch, however, considering that she can heal herself with every turn and her catch rate-of-success is among the lowest of the low.

 

4) Type: Null

600px-772type_null

 

At first, I thought, “This is a Pokemon? At best, it reminds me of a jagged armored Mewtwo that needs to be put out of its misery.”

It does use the heavy mask on its face to keep its power in check, according to the Pokedex entry,  and the fact that it was a failed experiment by the Aether Foundation that Gladion freed in the hopes of helping it…awwwwwwwwww!

It’s weird-looking, but it just needs a little love. Literally, to evolve it, you have to max out its friendship, and its evolution, Silvally, is much happier and more in-control, thanks to you. Isn’t that sweet?

 

3)  Palossand

770palossand

 

At first, I scoffed at this one. A ghost sandcastleReally, guys? The very idea of a Ghost/Ground-type combo sounds contradictory by itself!

But, kind of like with Sylveon, with time and exposure, I warmed up to the idea. This time, I was helped along by its disturbing Pokedex entry: “Possessed people controlled by this Pokémon transformed its sand mound into a castle. As it evolved, its power to curse grew ever stronger. Buried beneath the castle are masses of dried-up bones from those whose vitality it has drained.”

What a unique ghost story! The souls of its drained become balls of hatred that form more Sandygast, its pre-evolution, and children are drawn to its whimsical shape and meet their doom by reaching for the shovel on top.

…Who comes up with this stuff? Do you need any therapy?

 

2) Mimikyu

600px-778mimikyu

 

The ghost that wants to be loved so badly, but one glance under its sheet will drive any human or Pokemon insane. It wears a uber-cheap Pikachu cosplay, but looks like a poor imitation of Pokemon’s beloved icon. Is it trying too hard, or not hard enough?

Whatever it is, Mimikyu is tragic, pathetic, and adorable. Maybe it can be the underground mascot for awkward, lonely otakus everywhere.

 

1) Oricorio

oricorio-1110x2921

 

Oricorio is my favorite Gen 7 Pokemon, and probably my favorite of all bird-based Pokemon. It can take on four distinct, colorful forms, resembling a cheerleader, Hula dancer, Flamenco dancer, and Japanese fan dancer. These “styles” are based on the island meadow it inhabits or the kind of nectar you feed it, and much like the Fairy-type combo Guardian Pokemon, Oricorio pairs each with its own unique Flying-type combo.

The Pa’u (pink) Oricorio looks the most suited to Alola, but the creative team must have decided that wasn’t enough. My personal favorite forms are the Sensu (purple) and Baile (red) because they look so beautiful, elegant, and downright classy, but I was excited to see all of these birds and their dances for the first time. You can bet I was running around with my Rotomdex camera, trying to capture the best possible shot of them in the wild.

It still astounds me how much culture could be crammed into one game. Even better, it feels totally natural, inclusive, and fun. Pokemon could still stand to see more innovative gameplay, especially in its main series, but I’m much more optimistic now, thanks to Sun and Moon in particular. It’s not some monstrous, shambling zombie that obstinately refuses to die.

 

*None of the pictures in this post are owned by me.

My Top 5 Modern Adult TV Shows, Part 2

2) Breaking Bad

Breaking-Bad[1]

 

Originally, this was a three-way time between Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Better Call Saul, but that would be a cop-out.  By all accounts, Saul is still in its infancy, and even though Game of Thrones seems like it was genetically bred for me, I have to give props to Breaking Bad for getting me into a genre I had virtually no interest in: Crime Drama.

01-Breaking-Bad-003_1883[1]

 

The conception of the show was this: “Turn a Mr. Chips type into Scarface.” Walter White is by no means a perfect peach before his descent to the dark side, but you follow his progression easily. He’s made choices that he’s happy with, but also many choices that left him feeling pathetic and emasculated, and his pride can only suffer so much. So when he finds out that he’s probably going to die from Lung Cancer, he accompanies his DEA brother-in-law on a casual meth lab bust to “covertly” scope out his next venture: becoming a New Mexico meth kingpin.

With the help of a former student, the street-smart but chemically illiterate drop out Jesse Pinkman, Walter begins his simultaneous rise to the top of the drug ladder and race to the bottom of human compassion and decency.

walt-protects-jesse[1]

 

Much like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad is brilliant, not only for its drama, flow, and intelligence, but for its compelling, yet morally grey characters. The show has inspired so many complex reactions from fans; I myself have gone from loving a character to hating them and back again, all within the scope of a season or so. I find this even more impressive because the show has no dragons, magic, or grand political conquests to fall back on, which are interesting but entirely too innate to my tastes. It takes place in relatively modern day America, and while some schemes can be too intricate and far-fetched to be believable, or just rely on insane luck, suspension of disbelief surprisingly doesn’t hinder the show much.

The greater significance of such a show is its willingness to delve into the “why,” if in more subtle ways than the “how.” Keeping with the theme of criminals being real people who act on life’s complexities, this show provides both a cautionary tale to the individual  (don’t commit crimes and act on fantasies of power and influence) and an encouragement for viewers to look at prevalent, problematic ideologies (for example, subtly-enforced, pervasive hypermasculinity that boys pick up on as they grow up) in society that may need tweaking.

 

Walter White is at fault for his actions, no questions there, but the need to feel “manly” by providing for his family and discouraging his wife from working, as well as profiting from a creation that is solely his baby, are things that regular Joe Schmoe’s might sympathize with, but can also be, for example, teaching them to crush their feelings down inside and be too proud to accept help from others, even when they might really need it.

Mentalities like that, while not necessarily causing or indicating issues like domestic violence, can certainly be contributing factors.

Breaking Bad is about many things, but I see it predominantly as a story about a man running from his weaknesses, rather than embracing them.

And, on that note…

 

1) BoJack Horseman

bojack[1]

 

Forgive me, South Park. You haven’t been replaced; this is just a whole different ballpark.

This show is amazing. It’s depressing as all hell, but it’s truly amazing, and if the viewer is open to it, BoJack Horseman may just change your outlook on life. I really don’t think I or anyone else just talking about it can ever do it the justice it deserves. It is just one of those things in life needs to be experienced to be fully understood and appreciated.

Back in the 90’s, BoJack was in a very famous T.V. show, Horsin’ Around (in a nutshell, Full House). 20 years later, he’s largely done nothing but sit around, do drugs, and re-watch episodes of his own show, longing for the glory days and yet running from them at the same time. Even though BoJack got the fame and fortune he was aiming for, BoJack Horseman (the show, not the character) goes out of its way to show you how hollow and meaningless that can really be.

Just look at the intro:

 

What is the impression you get from this? How does it make you feel?

BoJack is rich, self-centered, and constantly pushing people away when they try to get close. He’s dragged out of his shell somewhat by Diane Nguyen, the woman hired to ghostwrite his memoir, but she is also dealing with commitment and comfort issues with her own boyfriend, Mr. Peanutbutter, a rival actor who became successful by essentially ripping off Horsin’ Around. BoJack’s agent and former girlfriend, Princess Carolyn (voiced by Amy Sedaris, the sister of one of my favorite authors btw), is constantly trying to get him up off his ass while dealing with her own loneliness and stress. Todd, a dumb but well-meaning slacker (voiced by Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad), lives in BoJack’s house rent-free and tries to be his friend, even when BoJack frequently puts him down.

Ironically, though the cast is comprised of many anthropomorphic animals, it is a very human show. At its core, it’s about change and consequences, as well as the definition and permanence of “happiness.” In the words of the great Albus Dumbledore, “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”

Bojack2[1]

 

Despite being downright unlikeable at times, BoJack is a very compelling character. He was dealt a crappy hand with abusive, unloving parents, but that doesn’t excuse him hurting the people he cares about most. And what is very refreshing about the show is that, unlike with something like Family Guy or even The Simpsons, there is a “too far” BoJack can reach, and his friends will call him out and hold him to it, even if it’s heartbreaking for them.

All of the main characters have their redeemable and irredeemable moments, because the show wants to illustrate that people, the world, and in particular, Hollywood, can be very screwed up, especially if they stop growing and changing. BoJack Horseman explores their capability of making the right choices; their capacity to learn from past mistakes and change in the future.

Watching his exploits, even the more humorous ones, you realize things about yourself that you’ve been ignoring or hiding from. It can feel downright terrible, but you don’t want yourself to fail, and you find yourself not wanting BoJack to fail either. The “power of positive thinking” only applies so far, because change is difficult and comes one step at a time.

The show is also genuinely funny…No, really. I’m not kidding.

Like South Park, it’s satire is biting, but unlike it, BoJack Horseman has smaller adventures, tighter show continuity, and a more coherent narrative. That doesn’t make it shallower or any less important, mind you; it’s just a different, more focused approach. Storytelling put above jokes, as opposed to the reverse.

If you can make it past the easy first few episodes, you may be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised by depth of wit and humanity here. I was, for sure. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I wouldn’t oust South Park or Game of Thrones from a top spot that easily.  XD

 

 

I hope you all enjoyed my list. If you’ve seen these shows, or check them out sometime soon, let me know what you think in the comments!

Top 10 Favorite Zelda Sidequests

 

I am not a completionist. At all.

When I play, unless it’s something I’ve done before, I’m mostly interested in character and plot. I see video games like movies, but better, because you can be an active participant.

As long as I can move, and the camera isn’t conspiring to assassinate me, I’m a happy camper.

When I game, I am the type of person who often rushes into a battle unprepared (not sufficiently leveled up or stocked up) because I just want to advance the main story. I level up when forced to, or happily during a second playthrough, but usually, whether I’m going in as the tank or the strategist, I’m praying I can just move on. Sidequests can be the bane of my existence; sometimes feeling more like chores than anything else.

That said, Zelda games are my big exception.

I still don’t typically strive to get everything you could possibly get in the game, but there are a ton of different quests you can choose to do, and a lot of them are really fun. I complete them as soon as I can, or later, when I’m trying to stall the inevitable ending of the game.

For the purpose of this list, I am classifying a side/subquest as: any quest that either a) has no or little effect on the end’s result, and/or b) does not need to be done to finish the game. More items will probably lean to the latter, but there you have it.

Let’s begin!

 

10) Poe Soul Hunting

This spot was a toss up between bug hunting and poe hunting from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but the poes win because:

poe

Come on.

Sure, Agitha is a disturbing but intriguing character, and the bugs get to go to a tea party at her place once you collect them all. And yeah, catching bugs is extra fun in Skyward Sword, once you figure out the net. And you can use them to spice up potions, strengthening status effects. This is fun and useful stuff here.

But screw that! Ghost hunting!

ghostbusters-image

And the ghosts look like this:

imppoe

And this:

Poe_(Twilight_Princess)

Hell, I thought they were fun to hunt back when they looked like this:

468px-I8y97gt98BigPoe

Along the course of the plot, you will meet a man named Jovani. He has quite the sparkling personality.

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His story is that he got greedy and sold his soul to the poes for abundant wealth. They granted his wish, but also turned him into a living jewel, so he can’t even spend his money, or swim around in it Scrooge McDuck style!

So he’s turned over a new leaf, and he needs you to murder 60 poes before he can be returned to normal.

This quest is a spiritual sister to both the poe and skulltula quests from Ocarina of Time. The difference here is that the hunt employs Link’s other form, rather than a bow or other standard weapons. You can only see poes using wolf senses, and once you’ve spotted one (usually at night, indicated with a floating ball of light and creaking sounds), you jump and bite it repeatedly until it falls to the ground, then dig the soul right out of its chest.

You get the picture by about 0:06, but still. Hardcore, and pretty damn brutal. It’s not the darkest thing that Nintendo has ever given us in these E rated games, either.

But it’s a fun collection quest with some freaky adversaries.

Who you gonna call?…Yourself!

 

9) Gerudo Training Ground

After you obtain the Gerudo’s membership card (which is hilarious) from the desert tribe of Amazonian/Spartan women, you have access to several things. The Haunted Wasteland (needed for plot), the horseback archery game, and the Gerudo Training Ground.

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Inside await various puzzles (many of which are timed), to test your stamina, ingenuity, and whether or not you’ve got all the right items. Or, in some cases, whether you’ve brought enough of the right items. Like bombs and arrows.

You’ll need those.

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Water puzzles, fire puzzles, monster puzzles, and more. All for the relatively useless, but nice and item-collection-completing Ice Arrows.

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And when I say useless, I mean that there aren’t many or any boss battles left where you could use them by this point.

There really isn’t too much to say about this one. It’s pretty low on this list, but still a fun mini-dungeon with elements from most of the other dungeons you’ve faced, combined in an atmospherically-acclectic moosh. Just beware misusing your keys, because you only win so many.

 

8) Magic Armor 

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Yeah, the sailing in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker did get a bit tedious after a while, but thankfully, the HD remake keeps the ability to teleport while upgrading you (via the auction) to the swift sail, making traversing the Great Sea more fun and fluid. Now, if only they gave you the option to bypass the fish man’s dialogue every time you want to fill in your chart…

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He’s a contender with this owl, Navi, and Fi as most annoying, “helpful” character.

He's a contender with this guy, Navi, and Fi as most annoying, "helpful" character.

But in defense of the sailing, the game is very big on color and atmosphere; the weather and lighting changing frequently, as well as a multitude of interesting islands to explore. So suck it up, whiners!

This is a big fetch quest and you will probably need a guide to avoid backtracking and unnecessary purchases. There are several people scattered across several islands on far sides of the map, and they will give you things in exchange for other things. And money. You will need lots of money.

Zunari

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The nice thing about these various trading items (flowers, flags, statues, etc) is that later, you can buy them on Windfall Island and use them to decorate the place or your own personal cabana, if that’s your thing. It’s not really mine that much, but few other fetch quests can say that they allow you to use and reuse items you traded away for your own purposes.

So, while I haven’t been upselling it very much and it can be frustrating occasionally, this quest is mostly fun, and in the end, you get a nice shielding device that makes you invulnerable for as long as your magic meter holds out.

Nifty!

 

7) Fetch Quests/Gratitude Crystals

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Gratitude crystals can either be found lying around Skyloft in hard to reach places, or by doing favors and quests for characters along the course of your adventure. I like the latter more, particularly those that involve going down to the surface and dowsing to locate lost items, like the fortune teller’s (replacement) crystal ball and the Fun Fun Island clown’s party wheel. Dowsing in general was pretty fun for me throughout this game.

Anyway, you collect crystals to get things like pieces of heart and wallet expansions. You get those by giving the crystals to a demon who longs to become human.

I’m not kidding, either. He looks like this:

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Friendly-looking, right?

Despite the mildly sketchy way that Batreaux is introduced (you go looking for a lost child only to find her having “screaming contests” with this guy in a hidden bungalow beneath the graveyard), he gives good rewards in exchange for the crystals, and you can have oodles of fun tracking stuff down. Sometimes, the solution to someone’s problem is interesting and complicated, while other times it just the standard point a to point b delivery.

It’s more fun finding things in a game when you know where the item should be and can scope for it. In real life, your car keys go missing, and you’re in trouble. All you can do is retrace steps and blindly fumble and hope. 😦

But on the other hand, video games make people look really morally horrible. They will only help you if you help them first…

Moving on!

 

6) Circus Leader’s Mask

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This mask is ugly as sin and virtually useless, but the jam session you go through to get it is fun. Fun, and short, but it takes a lot of elements and items to even get to this subquest, so it does feel like an accomplishment.

 

5) Skulltula Houses

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask will take up a lot of this list. It’s the game with the most sidequests and, in my opinion, some of the most fun ones. Especially because of the useful items you typically receive for your troubles.

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There are two spider houses: one in Woodfall, and the other at Great Bay. I like both pretty evenly, but if I had to pick my favorite, it’d be the Oceanside Spider House. It’s dark and haunted-looking, with Stalchildren hanging around to add to the ambience.

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Creepy, grinning, giant masks; minimalist, isolating music; a hunt through several dark and dusty puzzle rooms; and a giant wallet as a reward, with a new mask waiting around the corner. Also, you’re genociding these pleasant things:

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Enjoy!

 

4) The Romani Mask

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The first step in this quest involves aliens.

No joke.

Romani Aliens

It is one of the most bizarre things in all of Zelda. But that is what makes it so fun and interesting.

On the first day, you go to Milk Road and blow up the bolder blocking Romani Ranch. Inside, you will find several people (and activities), but the most important are Romani and her older sister, Cremia.

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Romani will be outside, running around with her dog and shooting at a balloon with her bow. You talk to her and get your horse after a brief mini game, with the promise to help her ward off an alien invasion early the next morning. Cremia doesn’t believe that such a thing will happen, but she is delighted to hear that the road is open to travel. Now she can deliver her alcoholic milk to town!

…I’m not really kidding about that, either. It’s tied into a really dark scene later, and the game makes no bones about it being hard stuff.

So you fight off these…alien…ghost…looking things:

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for a couple of hours, keeping them away from the barn with arrows, until they all go away. When you talk to Cremia, she will offer to give you a ride back into town on the second night, which you should accept.

The two of you chat (as much as Placeholder Link is capable to), and a series of road blocks lead you into “ugly country.” Some local farmers in masks come riding up to your wagon like bandits and try to destroy the milk bottles. It is your job to fight them off with arrows to the face.

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Once you’re done: congratulations! You get a cow mask/hood/thingy! It gets you into the 21 and over milk bar in town after dark!

Paaaaaaarty!
Paaaaaaarty!

 

See what I mean? Bizzzzzzzzaaaaaaarrrrrrrreeeeeeee.

What’s even more bizarre (and dark and twisted) is what happens when you fail to protect the ranch from aliens…

 

3) The Couple’s Mask

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Outside of making one guy happy and giving you a heart piece, this mask does nothing. Even less than the Circus Leader’s Mask, which can at least cry rivers. But the quest to get it is the longest in the game, and the resolution for the people involved is both sad and heartwarming. It’s very satisfying that way, somehow; one of the most in-depth and satisfying quests ever in the series, I would argue.

The Skull Kid (the main antagonist of the game) cursed a man named Kafei and gave him the body of a child, but still the mind of an adult, three days before he is supposed to marry his love, Anju. The customs of Termina (the land you are in, as opposed to the usual, Hyrule) dictate that two people commemorating their joining as husband and wife, as a symbolic gesture and simultaneous praise of the guardian giants, must each make a mask and exchange them with one another on the day of the ceremony. To add insult to injury, before Kafei could inform Anju of his misfortune, his wedding mask was stolen by a thief named Sakon, a “prancing man with a grinning face.”

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Now Kafei, ashamed and desperate to find his mask before he confronts Anju, hides behind another mask that looks suspiciously like Pikachu (but is really more of a general Japanese fox mask) and lives on the far side of town. Anju, unaware of these events and having lost almost all contact with her fiancé, is distraught, and hesitant to evacuate town along with her family (due to the rumor of the falling moon).

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Not even Kafei’s mother knows where he’s gone, and it’s up to detective Link to sort this mess out!

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Haha!
Haha!

You get a lot of masks from this quest; the most out of all of the quests you could choose to undertake. It’s definitely not one of the flashier and funner masks, but in the end, the couple’s mask is a nice trophy to remind you how hard you worked to make all of these characters happy.

…Before you reset the time to the first day, and everything goes back to the way it was. Doomed.

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2) Nintendo Gallery

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I love Pokemon Snap. Always have, always will. And my Facebook is crammed with pictures. Not club pics and selfies (some of the latter, to be fair), but a lot of landscapes and nature shots. And deer.

I love taking photos. I love getting the perfect shot and focusing on every little minute detail to do so. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker foresaw this, and acted accordingly.

So you take pictures (once you upgrade to a color camera) and then take them to a small pillar of land near The Forest Haven. Here you will find the Nintendo Gallery, where you can turn in good photos for shiny figurines, lovingly sculpted by this fellow:

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You track down every person, monster, and animal (almost) that you can find, no doubt freaking them out with numerous, obsessive pictures, and you fill the rooms in this place with colorful figurines. Not only will they look pretty, but they also have little blurbs about the characters they represent.

ChuChus_(The_Wind_Waker)

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This quest is utterly useless in the grand scheme of things, even by other useless quest standards, but it feels great to the completionist, and even to those who just want to say, “I stopped to take a picture of this boss during the middle of the battle! I have horrendous battle scars now, but look! A trophy!” 🙂

Hooray for catering to youth culture who are increasingly self and phone/camera obsessed!

The HD remake is worse in this regard because (while you get the colored camera much more easily, have more open slots for photos, and can use other players’ photos to complete your quest) you have the ability to take selfies. Literally, selfies. And you can stick them in bottles and send them to other people, receiving their selfies as well.

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Kill me.

 

1) Item Upgrading

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Hands down. This is. The greatest thing. Zelda has given me. Ever.

The fact that Skyward Sword shields can now take varying degrees of damage (rather than, say, the Deku shield just being obliterated by lava or fire) is an interesting, if occasionally irritating dynamic Nintendo recently added. But I barely used mine outside of certain battles anyway. Ironically, this game made shields feel more like decorations than anything else. Some people would argue you don’t need them to get through, although with hero mode I would definitely say, “pick one up for insurance.”

But the chance to upgrade my bow for better sniping capabilities?

Bows

Awesome!

The beetle can fly farther and faster now?

Beetles

Awesome!

You can use items you get from monster murder/drops, bugs, and just random things that you find around the overworld. That idea is so simple, but so brilliant, it moves me to tears.

…Well, not really. But still.

Scavenging and hunting has the most appeal in this game, I think, because you can put what you find to many uses that are nice and can help you out, but won’t stall out the plot waiting for you. And it’s not just for completionists! How about those folks concerned with always having the latest models?

No one else in Skyloft will have these cool toys!

Seriously, though. Why hasn’t Link ever thought to add on to his weapons before? Polish and spit-shine them, add a few tweaks! The closest he came before this was probably Twilight Princess, with the Eagle Eye and the ability to make bomb arrows.

Psst…Nintendo! Bring those back!

 

So there you have it. My top 10 favorite sub and side quests from the Zelda series. Which ones are your favorites? Are there any ones I so unfairly missed? Let me know!

*The fan art is by Zelbunni, and that and their other work can be found at the link under the image. As always, I don’t own any of these images or videos. All hail/credit to Nintendo, Ghostbusters, and the creative minds of the web for their collages.