At the end of 2011 Nintendo of Japan put together the first and most comprehensive collection of “The Legend of Zelda” information to date for the franchises 25th anniversary. It was entitled “The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia” and was only made available in Japanese.
Today, with the help of Dark Horse Comics, US Zelda fans have the definitive Legend of Zelda tomb translated into english to enjoy!
The Hyrule Historia is 270+ pages of facts, concept art, design notes and commentary on Nintendo’s storied “The Legend of Zelda” franchise. The book includes an introduction from series creator Shigeru Miyamoto and and wrap up with Eiji Aonuma, the series producer, who both lend insights into the creation of the series and the Hyrule Historia.
The book is split into 4 main sections, the first section is the origin of the series. Which is the story of the newest game in the series Skyward Sword. Second is the much debated “official” timeline for “The Legend of Zelda” series. Third is a collection of rare artwork and concept art from the Zelda series which go back to the first game that was released on the NES. Lastly the book contains a special Legend of Zelda comic for top Japanese comic duo Akira Himekawa.
CONCEPT ART – The Hyrule Historia is full of concept art and design notes for nearly every game in the series. It is a real treat to see how many of the fan favorites came to be and a lot of the tiny details that went into designing the games. The book also has a great comparative section that shows all the different iterations of the main characters Link, Princess Zelda and Gannon throughout the games, and explains the reasons behind some of the design choices. Many of these design sketches and concept sketches have not been seen by the general public if seen at all, which makes this book very special.
BONUS ROUND – The special comic at the end of the book from female duo Akira Himekawa is a nice bonus to an already stellar book. It is published in the traditional “manga” style where the readers read from right-to-left which was a nice touch in this english edition of the book. The art is great and the story is a prologue to the latest game Skyward Sword. The bonus comic really adds to the extensive history of The Legend of Zelda.
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS – In the “official” timeline section the book goes into great detail of how each game in the series falls in line and how it relates back to the main nexus of the series Ocarina of Time. As many fans now know “The Legend of Zelda” timeline is that of a fractured one so this section is set up a little bit like those ‘choose your own adventure’ books where one section leads back to another which is fun.
NOT SO LOVED
LOOKING TO THE SKY – The Hyrule Historia is a bit Skyward Sword heavy. there is a good 70 pages devoted to the series. Although I loved all the detailed notes and concept work that was placed in that section I feel like there should have been a little more on some of the other titles especially the previous console games. I understand why there is a large focus on Skyward Sword as it is the origin tale and it was the latest game in the series but I would have liked a bit more on the older games development besides where they stood in the timeline. The heavy emphasis on Skyward Sword could also be due to the fact that archives for the older games may have simply been lost.
FRACTURED TIMELINE – I was never a proponent of the ‘multiple timeline’ theory that the games split off depending on events of Ocarina of Time. It was a theory that was hotly contested among hardcore Legend of Zelda fans. In the Hyrule Historia Nintendo made “official” the multiple timeline scenario and laid out all the games according to this theory. This is what Nintendo is using as the “official” timeline for now. The preface of this section reads that as games come out the story is always changing and being rewritten. I think this is clever making The Legend of Zelda more like an archeological discovery. The more games that come out the more we discover about the history and the more complete picture we get to paint.
The Hyrule Historia is a massive undertaking that was well researched and well crafted. It is a must have for any Legend of Zelda series fan; new and old, casual or hardcore. This book is an amazing 25th anniversary gift to the fans and hopefully not the last.
The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia is available today and published by Dark Horse Comics. It is available in a Limited to 4,000 Edition ($69.99) and standard Hardcover (34.99)
An 8 page preview of the book can be seen here at Dark Horse Comics.com
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