Ranking the Legend of Zelda’s playable instruments, from worst to best
During the holidays we repost some of our best reports, interviews, opinion pieces and talking points from the past 12 months. staff and contributors – articles which we believe represent our best of 2021. Here you will find our usual mix of thoughtfulness, frivolity, retro skill, nostalgia for the game and, of course, enthusiasm for all things Nintendo. Enjoy!
Our Nintendo Life video game music festival is coming to an end soon, and we can’t think of a better way to send it than to spend way too much time analyzing the musical instruments from the Legend of Zelda series.
Everyone knows and loves the Ocarina of Time, it’s true, but it’s far from the only instrument the Hero of Time has put his mitts on. It’s not even the only one ocarina he is possessed. Let’s take a look at the instruments from Link’s Adventures, in order of how much we love them (with a few more critical-style stats for fun), and celebrate how music influenced the Zelda series!
16. Strange Flute (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons)
The bizarre flute from Oracle of Ages and Seasons can be used to summon one of three animals: Ricky, the boxing kangaroo, Moosh, the flying blue bear, or Dimitri, a dodongo who can swim. You’ll have to pick one to get to different areas of the game – I like Moosh the most, because he’s adorable – and the Strange Flute will change name and color depending on which one of the three you pick.
It sounds awful, however. It might just be the crispy audio from retro games, but that certainly doesn’t do Strange Flute a favor – it’s even hard to discern what the melody is. Extra points for Moosh, minus points for most of the other stuff on this.
Memorable songs: 2/10
15. Howling Stone (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)
This one is a little … strange. Most of the instruments are played by humans (or, well, Hylians) in Legend of Zelda games, but Twilight Princess gives us the option to make a dog scream on a rock and call it an “instrument”. I’m not a purist – I think everything that makes music is an instrument – but this one can’t really resist something you might actually find in an orchestra.
Still, it’s an inventive way to let Wolf Link participate. Pretty hard to play, and it still sounds a bit bad, if you ask me, but extra points to let me awoooo.
Memorable songs: 5/10
14. Spirit Flute (The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks)
Listen, the ring of the Spirit Flute is kinda lovely, but LORD do I hate flippin ‘pan flutes from Spirit Tracks. Maybe I just wasn’t a particularly skillful kid, or maybe it was due to my appalling lung capacity, but the last few songs that made you skip notes were HELL. [Kate is mistaken, the Spirit Flute is easily Top 5 material! – Ed]
Blowing the microphone is a really nifty little trick that the DS really I wanted gamers to love (remember the last case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, with all the fingerprint dust? Or WarioWare?) But I just couldn’t get into it.
Memorable songs: 3/10
13. Ocarina of Wind (The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap)
The Game Boy Advance’s little speakers didn’t do this one a favor, but luckily, Minish Cap’s Ocarina of Wind is only used for a short tune: the one you play to get to it quickly. to a Wind Crest. It’s the same tune from The Legend of Zelda’s Flute, but Minish Cap’s Ocarina is much less useful than TLoZ’s Flute, which is essentially a musical Swiss Army Knife.
Memorable songs: 6/10
12. Flute (The Legend of Zelda)
And, speaking of the flute (or the recorder, if you prefer) – this little wind instrument appears in a bunch of Zelda games, but the first game, The Legend of Zelda, is where we got it. heard for the first time this iconic music which would later become the menu track of Ocarina of Time. Of course, since you’re reading a track about Zelda’s music on a Nintendo-themed website, you’ll already know that it later became the Warp Whistle tune in Super Mario Bros. 3, so I don’t need to tell you this.
Thanks to the limitations of the hardware, it’s not very interesting to watch, but when it comes to utility, the flute / recorder is pretty darn good – you can use it to travel fast, find secrets, and even dry out some lakes.
Memorable songs: 7/10
11. Hawk Grass (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)
Twilight Princess’s horse grass is in the shape of a horseshoe and summons a horse, so of course the bird-shaped grass summons a bird. Not a bird you can climb on, mind you, just a friendly hawk that can be used to scavenge items out of range. Falcons are cool, but hawks are unfortunately not particularly useful in Twilight Princess, and also criminally underused.
The song is cool, though, and goes back (or … hawks return) to Ocarina’s Prelude of Light with its reverberating melody. Maybe we could bring the falcon back in a future Zelda game?
Memorable songs: 7/10
10. Harp of the Goddess (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)
I’ve never played a harp so I’m not qualified to say it at all, but … do people normally play the harp by just running their hand back and forth like s’ they were lazily trying to crush a fly? I always thought harps were more of a soft pinch, instead of a beat, but for Skyward Sword, the Wiimote’s capabilities didn’t extend to “realistic harp playing”.
Having said that, I like the melodies of the harp. I mean, it’s just ascending and descending scales, but still, there’s kind of a sweet lullaby kind of feeling. Granted, it always sounds a little crazy when you, the player, do it, but once you’ve got it right and the cutscene begins, it’s pretty cool.
Memorable songs: 6/10
9. Deku Pipes (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask)
A little too twangy for my taste, but still pretty rad. The Deku Pipes are the closest tie that can resemble one of those one-man bands, which is a big part of their appeal, and the fact that they’re not do wooden as much as they are grown up made of wood is extremely cool. Sound, on the other hand, could turn out to be divisive – is it a horrible horn or a pleasant baritone?
However, in the larger context of Majora’s Mask history, the Pipes are just a beginner’s instrument – essentially Termina’s version of a baby xylophone.
Memorable songs: 8/10