Its 1986, you find yourself in a forest with no sense of bearing or purpose. You enter a cave; an old man gives you a sword and tells you ‘it’s dangerous to go alone.’ Its 1992, you awake to cries of help in your sleep; someone is in trouble. Your Uncle has told you to remain behind, you later find him slain in a dungeon. Its 1998, you sit atop your gallant steed Epona, galloping full speed to Hyrule Castle. The land is clouded in darkness, but you are not afraid; you have a kingdom to save. Its 2011, your heart is pounding as a great cliff stands before you, you close your eyes and step off, falling, faster and faster until you land on the back of a great bird. Gripping this majestic creature tight, you are soaring through the sky, throwing caution to the wind.
If any, or all, of those moments bring back fond memories of two button controllers, RF Units or a little boy in green, then you are more than likely familiar with the Nintendo videogame series The Legend of Zelda. It’s been over 25 years since Shigeru Miyamoto introduced his beloved franchise, and in a volatile business with highs, lows, copy cats, and try-hards, The Legend of Zelda remains the most acclaimed video game franchise in history. To celebrate this monumental feat, Miyamoto and publisher Dark Horse Comics lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the franchise and give fans The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, a massive book, current number one best seller in America on Amazon, dedicated to all things Zelda.
From green cover to green cover, this book is a carefully crafted treasure trove of never before seen features that any fan of the series will love. Not only do we get unreleased production art, maps, and a letter of introduction from Miyamoto himself, the book also contains the complete chronological time-line of Hyrule’s history. After 25 plus years of rumour and speculation, the world now knows how Zelda’s beguiling history truly unfolds.
The book itself is divided into three parts; ‘The Legend Begins’ a production diary of Skyward Sword, ‘The History of Hyrule’ and ‘Creative Footprints’ which is 25 years of production art. Off the bat, the only criticism one can find within the book is the decision to start off with the Skyward Sword content. Yes, the Historia was initially released in Japan to coincide with the release of Skyward Sword, but this makes the book feel dated. Time will tell in regards to the games legacy, but it’s placing in the book should be in line with the other games, not singled out for temporary promotional benefit. However, this minor gripe does not detract from the gorgeous production art or the background information provided about Sword at all. Anything Zelda related is welcome; it should just be in proper order.
We then move onto the ‘History of Hyrule’, a timeline so intricate that scholars could study and dissect it for years to come. Some of the games covered here are decades old and have been replayed millions of times, yet the way the timeline is presented keeps everything fresh, offering new perspectives on classic tales. One of the more interesting aspects of the timeline is the way it branches out, creating three alternate realities based on the outcomes of Ocarina of Time. It must have been a logistical nightmare to piece together 25 years of seemingly unrelated content, yet here it is and the writer’s involved must be applauded.
Next up is ‘Creative Footprints’, which is comprised of artwork, notes and facts from every game in the series. Nintendo is well known for their secrecy and to gain access to these materials feels like a privilege. There appears to be so much that you’ll find something new to look at every time you randomly open the book to browse. All that, and just when you thought you were done, you find a bonus manga from the legendary Akira Himekawa which leaves you begging Dark Horse to create an on-going comic series for us stateside.
Fans of the entire Legend of Zelda game series will absolutely love this book. It’s a masterpiece worthy of its namesake with every page brimming with content; even the most casual of fan will find something to gawk at. From Miyamoto’s personal introduction, to the closing essay by current franchise director Eiji Aonuma, this book is tailor made to whoever is fortunate enough to hold it. In short, The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia is a true treasure that should adorn every bookshelf. Just a word of caution; make sure you have access to at least one of the games while you’re in possession of this book, because you will want to play.