[C.’s second guest post here]
WARNING Zelda references to follow
I don’t know why, but people seem to hate Navi. You know, that cute little fairy that follows Link through blazing dungeons and ghostly graveyards, the flying thing that journeyed with Link through seven, count ‘em, SEVEN years of adventuring (some time travel is involved but it’s all the same thing. )… yeah, people seem to hate her guts… if fairies even have guts.
I don’t fully understand why. I mean, sure, her constant “HEY, LISTEN!!” can get slightly annoying since she seems to chirp it at you every 2 minutes, but it’s all out of love and in an attempt to help you save the world. She’s such a sweetie. However, she’s not the only tiny friend of Link who was on the unpopular side. But while Navi was considered annoying, the word I’ve heard used to describe Midna is bitchy.
That bothers me, because from the first time I met her, I thought Midna was awesome. The Legend of Zelda has used many different individuals to guide Link, whether it was Navi in Ocarina of Time or the King of Red Lions in Wind Waker who turned out to be the king of Hyrule (probably should have done some kind of spoiler tag for that but… meh, too late now). In Twilight Princess (TP), we finally got a guide with a personality, and a hilarious one at that. Sure, for the majority of the first part of the game she spent her time making fun of Link, calling him her slave and all, but she was feisty, and better yet, she was feisty in a tiny, package.
But whether you thought Midna was a horrid little witch or the best friend Link’s ever had (you know, besides Saria), there is one moment when you panic for the little munchkin. The next however many paragraphs will be spoilers, so if you don’t want anything spoiled, you should read the other posts on this lovely blog :). But seriously, I don’t care if this is a 5 year old game, it’s amazing, it’s Zelda and if you haven’t played it, shame on you, go play the GameCube version so you can experience the greatness in its truest form, with Link as a lefty. (If you knew Link is naturally lefty, you’re awesome :)
As in many games in the Zelda franchise, Link is tasked with getting three artifacts that will save the world. But something inevitably goes wrong and then the real adventure begins. More specifically in TP, you gather the 3 artifacts, but OH NO!! One of the antagonists shows up, takes the fruits of your labor, reveals some plot stuff and curses Link back into his wolf form. This is where Midna shows her true colors. Although she has green on her hands and yellow/orange eyes, her body is mostly black and grey as you would expect from a creature of twilight. The colors they use, especially in the twilight areas make her black and greys pop as vibrantly as a peacock, it really is something to behold. (I never thought I would describe black or grey as vibrant but LoZ has been known to do amazing things.) However, as a creature of twilight, she also is pained by Light, and so hides in Link’s shadow outside of the Twilight realm. (Foreshadowing possibly?)
While Link lies on the floor, cursed into canine form this “witch” tenderly cares for her now-canine companion and tries to defend him, but it’s obvious she is outmatched. As Link (and you) watches, Midna is tormented, dangled, flung to and fro, and eventually forced to come face to face with the light spirit, Lanaryu, and infused with light… yea, that’s no bueno.
When you regain control, it turns out Lanaryu teleported you out of danger, and informs you that heading to Hyrule Castle and speaking to Princess Zelda is your only chance. But Midna is not looking so well. Whereas Midna normally sits up and rides Link like Epona, she is now draped on Link’s back, unable to move, barely able to breathe, mostly colored grey with a few black spots and a sea foam green tuft coming out her head that glows in the moonlight.
And then this song starts to play:
And throw in a couple of F’s in there too, because this scene is so firmly ingrained in my mind, I will never forget sprinting to Hyrule Castle in an attempt to save this little thing that legitimately looked like it was going to die. The sound is so evocative in this part, possibly more so than in any other game I’ve played. The sound effects are slightly louder so you can hear Link’s paws as they sprint to the castle and Midna’s attempts at breathing, labored and painful. AND in what I think is a final screw you to the player, there are still enemies on the field who, when encountered, trigger the enemy music, interrupting the gentle yet urgent track playing during your journey.
But you don’t want to hear that! NOT NOW!!! MIDNA’S DYING DAMMIT, I NEED TO SAVE HER!!
I’ve heard some criticism of this as well. Why would you interrupt such a beautiful scene with enemy battle music? I think it’s for the best, though; the enemies are a disruption, and therefore they disrupt everything: the mood, the music and your attempts to save Midna.
I’ve played through the game twice, watched this particular scene even more times, and I still got goose bumps when I watched it again today. And while her pale color scheme and almost tortured movements aided in my sense of awe, the sound design, especially the song, unofficially named Midna’s Lament, were the true inspirations.
I hate using the term “video game music,” as if all music found in a video game belongs in some less important genre. It’s like saying “movie music” – somehow it loses legitimacy and is relegated to something belonging in the background, not music in its own right, for its own sake.
The music found in video games is diverse, and can be powerful, ambient, melancholy and so much more. I feel silly even attempting to describe it because there are so many tracks that are simply amazing like Aquatic Ambiance from Donkey Kong Country, and so many incredible composers, like Yasunori Mitsuda, composer for two of my favorite games, Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger. I could spend hours talking about the music in those games alone.
Please forgive me as I am unable to fully express the impact the songs can and have had on me. The best way I can attempt to describe the beauty of some songs in videogames, in particular Midna’s Lament for this example, is this: both times I have played this part of the game I felt as if the song was leading me to Princess Zelda so she could save Midna, and as I arrive just outside Zelda’s I hesitated because I didn’t want the music to end. Midna’s Lament actually caused an internal conflict within me, causing me to worry about Midna, yet making me fear any progress in the story would bring to an abrupt end this eerie bond formed with Midna, as well as the fear that I would never hear the song again (and heads up, you don’t).
Now that’s a powerful song if I’ve ever heard one. Oh well.