"The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" holds a very special place in my heart. And so too, does its music. Far darker and more serious than past Zelda scores, it was unlike anything I'd ever heard from Koji Kondo. This is definitely not your typical Mario or Yoshi score. That's not to say that the entire album is dark and moody. The music here ranges from light-hearted and playful to dramatic and beautiful.
Many familiar themes return, such as "Kakariko Village". However, there are a few new places in the land of Hyrule. "Zora's Domain" has an extremely beautiful Carribean-like rhythm. "Gerudo Valley" has a Spanish/Mexican flare and is so catchy, you'll not get it out of your head for some time. Hyrule Castle Town ("Market") is lively and sounds like it would be packed with people, making me think of a Renaissance Fair. And "Kokiri Forest" is very innocent and playful. Just like its child inhabitants who will never grow up.
"Zelda's Theme" is back, and is even more beautiful than it was in "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past". "Ganondorf's Theme" is just as wicked as ever, especially its rendition "Inside Ganon's Castle". It contains three variations of his theme performed on an organ. I've never heard Ganondorf's theme sound so menacing and destructive. "Kaepora Gaebora's Theme" is simply lovely. It sounds old and wise, perfectly fitting for a wise ol' owl. "Ingo's Theme" is very well done (I love that banjo!), and "Shiek's Theme", with its wonderful harp, matches his poetic nature. "Koume and Katake's Theme" is so much fun and cunning.
There are many choral tracks, such as "Temple of Time", "Legend of Hyrule", and "Chamber of Sages", which are all beautiful and well done. I could hardly tell the chorus was synthesized. But, what are probably the most impressive selections are the dungeon themes (or Temples). "Forest Temple" is by far one of, if not the, most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard in a videogame. It is hauntingly beautiful, with what sounds like rattling bones (my wierd imagination!) and someone shrieking. "Fire Temple" is epic and powerful, with what I'm convinced is a true-to-life male chorus chanting devilish hymns. "Water Temple" is beautiful and aquatic, and sounds Mediterranean. "Shadow Temple" sounds just like an evil place that tells all about Hyrule's bloody past of hatred and greed. And "Spirit Temple" is a beautiful Egytian-like piece.
Many people criticized OoT for not having the original "Legend of Zelda" theme. While I won't speak blasphemy and say that "Hyrule Field Main Theme" is anywhere near as exceptional, it is great in its own right. If you listen closely, you'll even catch a few notes from the original. The theme has three renditions as well: upbeat and adventurous when Link is on his way, threatening and dangerous when Link is engaging in battle, and peaceful and serene when taking a glance at his beautiful surroundings. I think Koji Kondo maybe wanted to try something new, and I applaud him for it.
I do, however, have complaints. My complaints are geared strictly toward the individuals in charge of producing this OST. Firstly, "Fire Temple" is a disappointment. Where is the male chorus? That was my favorite part of the song. It was the first track I wanted to listen to when I got the OST. I was very impressed with its clarity, and was enjoying the powerful bass drum and tambourine, only to have it fade out at the 45 second mark. Very disappointing. Which leads me to my next complaint. Why wasn't this OST sold as a double-disc set? Each track only plays through once, and they obviously ran out of space (about 12 seconds of the "Water Temple" was left out as well). This soundtrack really should have been two CDs (I'm glad Nintendo went with Pioneer for the Majora's Mask OST). Lastly, one of my favorite boss battle tracks ever, "Dinosaur Boss Battle", is missing its chorus. The last two segments featured a female then male chorus, but not on this disc. Oh well. This is still a classic score nonetheless.
Also worth special mention is "Last Battle". It is an epic and beautiful song, complete with a full chorus. As far as all-time best final boss themes go, this, and Sephiroth's "One-Winged Angel" share the number one spot.
Overall, this is a true gem that you definitely should not pass up. Koji Kondo is one of the industry's best composers. And Ocarina of Time is probably his best work as of 1998. A few may not give this OST a chance due to the bad reputation the N64's sound board has earned over the years. That is unfortunate, and it would be their loss. The synthesis may not be the best, but when it comes to composition, no one can match Koji Kondo in my eyes. Get your hands on this disc. Believe me, you'll be glad you did.