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The Sound of Silence

By Shane Kelley

June 4, 2019

When telling a story, there are five basic guidelines to include: characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. When one of these elements is lacking, too strong, or missing altogether, the overall story can be unbalanced, resulting in an uninteresting, unexciting, and sometimes incomprehensible story. Within the Legend of Zelda series, Link is often seen and not heard, yet the world and story seem to be strong and unwavering. How does Nintendo make these experiences so harmonious?

Link’s lack of speaking really makes the player feel that his or her actions directly influence how he or she can interact and communicate with the world within the game. In doing so, this choice by the creators offers the chance to feel isolated and, in this state, could really unbalance the guidelines of the story. However, Nintendo counteracts the lack of speech with the power of music and ambient sound. This once again levels those guidelines and can bring balance to the “Triforce,” my young Hylian.

In every Legend of Zelda game, we can count on having an amazing musical score and all the amazing sounds that delight our inner ears. The lack of verbiage with our main character really allows the player to see the sights and hear the sounds within an area. The music pieces that are crafted for the specific areas are reminiscent of real-world cultures and take influence from them to create an original and delightful piece. This experience is what really helps to define a Legend of Zelda journey.

Also, instruments play an important role in most of the games, even to the point where an instrument can be seen in a title, such as in Ocarina of Time. Instruments, of course, provide both a way to interact with the world and create new ways to play. An example is the pan pipes in Phantom Hourglass, where the player blows into the microphone on a Nintendo DS to play the notes. Creative ideas and unique ways to utilize these instruments or mechanics in the game set these experiences apart from other types of games by pushing the game’s boundaries, which is brought about by the human element, restricted only by one’s imagination.

Other games incorporate new ideas, such as The Wind Waker, by using a new art style that left some excited to play and others wanting to shy away. By using this new art style, Nintendo incorporated a new way to help tell the hero’s story. With the cell-shaded, cartoon-like graphics, the game is able to use the characters’ faces, most notably Link’s, to show emotions and expressions unlike before. These ideas were incorporated in later games using all sorts of art styles, but the use of one’s face to further along the plot really brings more life and depth to the characters and allows them to be more relatable to the audience.

The question that a lot of players might have is will Link ever talk, and, if so, will he be annoying like his cartoon counterpart? (Insert “Excuse me, princess.”) If Link were given a voice, how would Nintendo go about doing so? Would his voice play an important role with the mechanics of the game? Could we hear Link sing opera or simply hear him say “Hi”? These questions, if answered, could change up the game mechanics, story, and overall feeling of a Zelda title. Do you think that Nintendo will have Link break his silence?

Who knows what Nintendo will incorporate in the next Legend of Zelda game, but we can relate to these lyrics from Simon & Garfunkel: “Hello darkness, my old friend,” reminding us that Link will always battle an evil, whether it be Ganon or any other darkness within the series. The song also goes on to say, “People talking without speaking...” This is the whole essence of Link’s persona within the game, ultimately saying a person can effectively communicate without physically talking. Though the comparison of this song to the Legend of Zelda has nothing to do with the game, you can see how its words can be used to explain that there are many ways to convey one’s ideas and relate to the audience. Before Breath of the Wild, “No one dared disturb the sound of silence,” but Nintendo did and had another new idea that shapes how Link interacts with his surroundings, once again telling another fantastic story.

Please comment below with your thoughts on the matter, and please follow me on Twitter @stillsaneshane.


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