The Legend of Zelda NES Games
Composed by Koji Kondo and Akito Nakatsuka
The Legend of Zelda, one of Nintendo's most prestigous franchises. While Mario was a more linear game, Zelda was meant to be very non-linear, forcing the player to think carefully about where to go and what to do next. Koji Kondo, who had previously composed Nintendo's Super Mario Bros was assigned to this game, two weeks after the original release of Super Mario Bros in September 1985. With instructions like "short BGM, fanfare, and sparkly" Kondo set to compose a score that was drastically different than what he achieved in his previous game. Originally, Kondo planned on using Maurice Ravel's Bolero as the game's main theme. Upon discovering that the copyright on Bolero hadn't expired, Kondo composed an original piece instead. A piece that would ultimately define the Zelda franchise as a whole throughout a majority of its history. The Legend of Zelda was originally released on the Famicom Disk System as a launch title. The game was converted to the far more limited Nintendo cardridge for the North American release, reducing the audio quality of the majority of the score from the game.
The Adventure of Link was not like the previous game. Experience points were added, magic spells were used at the cost of magic points displayed by a magic meter, the overworld was presented ala Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, and the actual interaction with enemies or the non playable characters was presented as a side-scroller. The Adventure of Link did not feature Koji Kondo. Instead, the score was done by Akito Nakatsuka. Nakatsuka, like Kondo, helped score many of Nintendo's memorable titles in the 80s. Some of Nakatsuka's contributions include Excitebike, Ice Climber, and the Nintendo version of Punch-Out!! The score did not feature any of Kondo's pieces from the previous game. However, the Temple piece increased in popularity due to arrangements appearing in the Smash Bros series, as well as the Nintendo 3DS Zelda, A Link Between Worlds.
The Legend of Zelda's beginnings were a mix of innovation, curiosity, and experimenting. All three of which would become signature approaches to each addition to the Zelda franchise. Koji Kondo's score especially became a standard bearer for how every Zelda game, whether he composed it or not, should sound.