Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Legend Of Zelda: Hyrule Historia - A Review

I love this cover
Just over 25 years ago a gaming franchise began that changed my life and while that may sound melodramatic, I assure you it isn't. The Legend of Zelda helped me through a childhood of isolation and bullying. I found strength in the Triforce and the words 'courage', 'wisdom' and 'power' became my mantra throughout my teenage years. In fact, my very first post for Forces Of Geek was all about that.

So it's no surprise that I shrieked with joy upon hearing about the Legend Of Zelda: Hyrule Historia and I was equally excited to be given a chance to review it. I vaguely knew that Nintendo had released such a book in Japan but was unaware of plans for a wider distribution and translation by Dark Horse.

Needless to say, I was over the moon to learn of its impending release and even more excited when pre-order sales for the book knocked 50 Shades of Grey off of Amazon's #1 spot (If that's not a sign that the geek will inherit the Earth than I don't know what is!).

For those of you who were lucky or quick enough, there were only 4000 limited edition books up for grabs, I imagine getting your hands on one now will cost you an organ or two and a hell of a lot of bidding on eBay.

Still, don't let the lack of limited edition status put you off buying the regular title, it's a weighty tome well worth it's price and if you've seen any other video game titles given the Dark Horse Books treatment in the past than you'll know that it will be beautifully printed and made with all the love of a fan. In fact, the overseer of the book for Dark Horse, Patrick Thorpe, is a self-professed fan. He even approached Nintendo a year prior to the project to ask for to be attached to the book.

And this is another lifelong fan explaining why you need this book. This isn't your typical game encyclopaedia or guide book, The Legend Of Zelda: Hyrule Historia is a comprehensive collection of every single character, item and location accompanied by stunning artwork (including a large number of never-before-seen sketches and preliminary drawings!) spanning the entirety of the franchise in chronological story order beginning with Skyward Sword.

Some of the stunning artwork from inside the book

The most interesting part of the book for me personally was the incredibly detailed timeline which placed each game in order and within it's respective timeline. This included a split into three separate timelines, surprising as I thought there were only two! This has long been the subject of discussion for many Zelda fans and has been widely debated but with no actual confirmation. Thus, this revelation was ocarina music to my ears! Oh and 'incredibly detailed timeline' is an understatement because there's a whole chapter on the subject. The history in this book is astounding and I don't think I've seen or read a book about a game that is this specific and intricate.

Originally this title was going to be a tie-in with the release of Skyward Sword and that's quite evident from the amount of pages dedicated to it. If like myself, you haven't played Skyward Sword there will be spoilers, however I don't view this as a negative - there is a lot of history, mythology and origin to explain in the series so naturally, as a prequel it's not surprising that Skyward Sword takes up a lot of space in this book.

There's even an exclusive manga at the end by the incredible Akira Himekawa, the creator of The Legend Of Zelda manga series, which links in with Skyward Sword. This looks to be the only way of getting your hands on it too with no plans having been announced to release it independently. Also included in this beautifully illustrated hardback are letters from Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma which are lovingly written, full of insight and charming little anecdotes about the series which cements the crux of this book.

Ultimately it's a huge celebration of 25 years of The Legend of Zelda and regardless of your first experience with Link, be it way back in the beginning in 1986 or more recently in 2011 this book is an absolute must for every fan of the franchise. Bravo, Nintendo! Bravo, Dark Horse! Both have done a wonderful job compiling and creating a book that will sit proudly on the shelves of any Zelda fan.

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