Since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild came out in 2017, I’ve logged in hundreds of hours of gameplay, exploring the vast world of Hyrule, slaying beasts and saving villagers.
Let’s be honest: I was finding Korok seeds and feeding dogs.
I grew up watching my brothers play old Zelda games, but my first real front-to-back playthrough was Twilight Princess. Call it nostalgia, or perhaps my love of dark and creepy things, but this game will always take a top spot in my heart. Midna remains one of my favorite characters in the series, and the Snowpeak dungeon has appeared in my nightmares far too many times to count.
One major thing that TP has over BOTW is its score. BOTW isn’t bombarded with music, which is understandable, seeing as how this is a calamity-stricken, barren world. However, I do wish we had more iconic melodies to go along with such a groundbreaking game.
TP’s score is arguably the greatest in the series. I haven’t played the game in years, and yet the songs still get stuck in my head. Particularly the Hyrule Field theme, which I sometimes end up humming while stealth running through BOTW’s scenery, dodging guardian beams and sniping moblins.
However, in true Alt Echo fashion, we’ll be focusing on a sadder and more harrowing piece on the soundtrack.
“Midna’s Lament” from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess score by Koji Kondo, Toru Minegishi, Asuka Ota
(If a game is 13 years old, is it safe to include spoilers? I’m gonna do it anyway. You’ve been warned.)
There are few Zelda characters whose stories draw you in as much as Midna’s. Upon first meeting her, the player is probably thinking, “Who’s this weird imp girl, and also, why am I a wolf??”
It doesn’t take long for the attachment to settle in. There’s a reason Midna is so adored by Zelda fans the world over. Her sassy attitude, somewhat selfish helpfulness, and super cool design are enough to make anyone happy that she’s the one you’re lugging around on your back all day.
For those who’ve not yet played TP, I’ll try to set the backdrop for this song as painlessly as possible.
Midna is a member of the Twili, a race of people banished long ago to a separate dimension known as the Twilight Realm. She is next in line for the throne when an evil guy named Zant overthrows her, taking away her powers and turning her into an imp. Midna leaves for the light dimension in order to get what she needs to return back to normal, seeming only to be interested in her own goals, and not caring about the shadows overtaking Hyrule, or her newfound doggy friend.
However, Zant tracks her down and gives her a choice: side with him, or side with Link. And she chooses Link! *Gasp*
Zant doesn’t like this and nearly kills her, subjecting her to torture by light. With much of her life already zapped from her, link has no choice but to carry a dying Midna to the only person the universe knows can help: Zelda. Midna tells Zelda to help Link instead of her. Leave her to die and get Link his people legs back, as it were.
But Zelda instead sacrifices her own soul, giving it to Midna to live on for the sake of both Hyrule and the twilight realm.
(*exhale*) Okay, lesson over. Here’s a video if you’d like to watch this scene in full.
This is really heavy stuff. Even as a young person (as I was when I played), it weighs on you — the sacrificing of one’s self so that someone else can live on. This no doubt had a substantial impact on Midna’s outlook, who, upon being brought back to life, realized she needed to fight not only for the Twilight Realm, but Hyrule, as well.
“Midna’s Lament” is a short one – only two minutes long. But from the moment you hear those dark, unrelenting arpeggios, you’re thrown back into that state of panic, desperately trying to save your companion, trudging through the pouring rain, dodging enemies left and right. Am I going to make it? Your heart races as you think of the unimaginable. Will she die before I get to the castle?
If you weren’t already sold on Midna before this scene, the music certainly makes a hard case in support of her. How could you not cling onto her with these minor tones playing in the background? How could it not instill a sense of urgency unlike anything you’ve experienced before in a Zelda game?
I am fully convinced that if this portion of the game were silent, much of the impact would be lost. We wouldn’t grasp the character development as heartily. We wouldn’t feel as attached to the Twilight Princess.
Just as a film can be defined by its soundtrack, so too can a video game find its identity in the orchestra pit. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is no exception to this. If you haven’t played the game, please find a way to do so. And if that’s not a possibility, take time to listen to the score. Even without background knowledge, you’re likely to be moved by every track – especially “Midna’s Lament.”
Featured image taken from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess gameplay.
Welcome to Alternative Echo’s “31 Days of Songs.”
For the entirety of October When we have time, we will be tackling a different theme each day in an effort to spread appreciation for some of our favorite tracks. Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action.