Don't let the promise of a new Zelda game distract you from everything else the switch has to offer. Here's why you should be just as interested in Arms.
The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia Review
It is hard to believe that it has been over 25 years since The Legend of Zelda released. It is even harder to believe that I’ve been around for it all and experienced the series from beginning to its current iteration.
Like a few other legendary game series, Zelda has its roots in Nintendo. Sprawling from the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto, The Legend of Zelda has transformed from a simple yet epic adventure on the NES to one of the most complex and beloved never-ending tales. It has deservedly taken its place among Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, The Little Red Riding Hood, and all of the other timeless classics. It may not always be presented in a literary sense but since its inception the legend has grown and grown into something that was entirely up to the imagination… until now.
Nintendo partnered up with Dark Horse Books to do the unthinkable: they explained The Legend of Zelda. I find this to be akin to taking a magic trick and explaining it in front of a group of kids. They have effectively taken something that I have known since I was a child and given me a road map to its fairy tale.
Instead of hating them for it and having the magic of this legend ruined for me, I found myself even more fascinated by it.
If there is anything that this commemorative book does, it will enthrall you with The Legend of Zelda like never before.
The 25th Anniversary and The Kingdom Above The Clouds
The first thing you need to know about the Hyrule Historia is that this is a beautifully crafted book. They went all out to ensure that with the first sight you are captivated by the quality of the covers, art, design, and even the paper that was used for print. Finishing up at 274 pages, the amount of content, art, and knowledge you get from this tome is just incredible. Factor that in with the asking price of $34.99 and the ease of finding it for much cheaper (Barnes & Noble, at the time of this review, has it available for only $20) and you’re looking at something that must be in every Zelda fan’s collection.
As for what’s exactly in the book, you begin with an amazing foreword by Shigeru Miyamoto, the man responsible for the creation of this series. After that, the Historia brings us to the beginning of the series with the 25th Anniversary celebration of Skyward Sword, the series’ most recent addition.
The book goes into every detail about the game’s creation and purpose. You’ll learn how the characters’ designs came about, the reasoning behind the story, why things were the way they were, and just how unique and responsible Skyward Sword was for the rest of the series.
Trust me, even if you weren’t a fan of the game, you’ll come out with a new perspective on it after reading through this first section.
The art, concept images, little stories, and tidbits all add to the insanely complex story that is The Legend of Zelda. A story that is soon unveiled and explained…
The Legend Explained
This is by far the most interesting and content-filled section of the book. For the first time, fans of the series can understand everything from the creation of the world to the eternal tale of Zelda, Link, and the Triforce.
The section begins with a page of instruction and how to interpret the chronology. It is an excellent beginning to ensure you go through the rest of the section with ease. It also hints at the weaving aspect of how things may be foretold and occur at one time and reoccur in another. There are many eras in the Zelda history and this book goes through all of them.
After the introduction and instruction, you’ll be given the full timeline on one page. You’ll see key events and games placed on each thread of time. It is interesting to see how the timeline begins in a linear path and then is shattered by the events in just one game. There are different paths that this legend can go down and through every game we experience them all. It really makes you appreciate each game for what they did in the timeline.
Furthermore, you turn the page and begin the in-depth explanation of the chronology and how every event began, the impact it had, and how it was either resolved or dealt with.
There are a ton of side notes on these pages that I implore you to read them all. Each of them gives insight to a character, event, or item. You’ll learn how things are connected through the eras and how key items such as Zelda’s harp from Skyward Sword may in fact be the same one she uses in Ocarina of Time. There are plenty more side notes that reveal awesome little details like that and weave time and events together.
You will no doubt spend the most time in this section and for good reason. There is so much to learn and so much to take in. It truly does explain the legend.
Turning The Pages of History
After learning all there is about the timelines, what else could you possibly need? How does reading about the history of the games, its design, and evolution sound?
The Creative Footprints section offers tons of concept images, design notes, and unused materials for every core game. This section gives you insight into how the development for a Zelda game goes from many wild ideas into a solitary vision.
Later on you also get a 2-page flowchart of how Link has changed over the years beginning in 1987 and all the way up to Skyward Sword in 2011. You’ll also get to see design evolutions for other characters and a catalog for every game in the series.
The section wraps up with another big name in Nintendo responsible for many things that have taken Zelda from its roots to its current state, Eiji Aonuma.
Wrapping Up The Historia
Nearing the end, we are presented with a lovely manga that depicts the story of The Legend of Zelda and Skyward Sword. This 32-page visual treat is meant to be read from right to left just like traditional manga. For those who have never read any manga, the page right after Aonuma’s footnote explains how to.
This is a great story to read and perfectly ends this commemorative book. To go from not knowing the true history, to having it all explained, and to witness the beginning in a visual sense is an experience not many other books can give you.
I was shocked at how well done this book was. I was expecting quality but not to this caliber. From the moment I took it out of the shipping box to the moment I put it down, my jaw was dropped. First just from the design and quality of the book and then from the content and new knowledge of this insanely complex legend I went through. It was a journey that made me appreciate The Legend of Zelda more than I already did and it’s one that I recommend you have yourself.
This is one book that every Zelda fan should own. Do not miss out on this incredible celebration of all things Zelda after 25 great years.
Here’s to 25 more!