Soundtrack Central The best classic game music and more

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Jon Turner Jan 1, 2022 (edited Mar 3, 2022)

Ten years ago (well, technically eleven), Skyward Sword became the truly first Zelda soundtrack to employ a full orchestra for its music.  Not just for an opening demo either (ala Twilight Princess), but with most of its tracks being full-throated orchestrations.  While the game has divided fans, the music has near unanimously been considered one of its strongest assets.  Yet it seemed as though the game would never get the soundtrack album it deserved.  That is, until last November when the folks at Columbia put together a fabulous 5-CD collection featuring all the music from the game.  (Only exceptions being two jingles:  "Goddess Cube" and "Shiekah Stone Hints", but even that is debatable.)  As usual, the presentation and production values are fantastic from Columbia, although there has been some controversy over the sound quality on some tracks.  While the orchestrated tracks are, for the most part, crisply recorded and come across as CD-quality, there are a few which sound like they were taken straight from the BTSM files.  To be fair, there are other tracks on the album which are mostly synthesized, and so having them sound, well, like they're straight from the Wii is understandable, but the inconsistencies may strike some as odd.  That aside, the release is still well put together and once again I commend Columbia for giving credit to each of the composers for each track.  This is something that the soundtrack albums for The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess both failed to do (and in the latter's case, it felt like a half-complete release, even in its 3 CD form, there were clearly tracks that were missing -- call me a stickler, but I prefer to have no single CD track omitted from the album).  Luckily, for Breath of the Wild and Link's Awakening, Columbia has rectified that problem.  They've done the same with Skyward Sword.

With Mahito Yokota (Super Mario Galaxy) behind most of the orchestrated tracks, the quality of the songs are, of course, phenomenal, with the opening "Ballad of the Goddess" (Zelda's theme backwards) a real standout.  Other highlights:  "Skyloft", the Tchaikovsky-flavored "Strong Enemy" (the first mini-boss battle), "Girahim's Battle Theme", "Fi's Theme", "Isle of the Goddess" (Final Fantasy IX vibes), and the seven minute long "Staff Credits" theme.  The latter is the sort of full-throated orchestral treatment collection of main themes one would expect, with a beautiful nod to the classic Overworld theme.

Admittedly, there are some tracks that stand out less than others, and most of them tend to space out over between discs 1-5, and causal listeners probably might be better served for a "Best Selection" album of sorts.  Still, Skyward Sword was long overdue for this kind of deluxe treatment, and for diehard fans of this music and of course, Zelda in general, there's no way fans will want to miss this outstanding product.  It's definitely among the top five soundtrack releases of 2021.

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