on January 30, 2013
This book truly does justice to The Legend of Zelda franchise. Honestly it is much wider and thicker then I expect it to be. It is, a little wider than the Japanese version, so Dark Horse can translate the art footnotes in an easier to read format, but I'll touch on that later. Beginning the book is an introduction from famed creator of many Nintendo franchise, including The Legend of Zelda, Shigeru Miyamoto! From there, the book is separated into three sections, "The Legend Begins" which contains plenty of concept art and character designs from Skyward Sword, "The History of Hyrule" which includes the official series timeline, and an in depth and detailed of important plotlines and sections of each game and how they fit into the timeline, and finally, the "Creative Footprints" section, which includes concept art and character designs for the rest of the Zelda games, from the first Zelda to Spirit Tracks (Skyward Sword is already thoroughly covered in "The Legend Begins" section, there is no more artwork for the game in this section). There is some nice little extra sections, one titled "Changes in Character Design" and one tilted "Game Catalog". They are nice, short little sections that I won't spoil for you. Ending the book is a 32 page manga from Akira Himekawa, the creator of the other The Legend of Zelda mangas, along with a nice closing message from Eiji Aounuma, a very important director and producer of the Legend of Zelda series from Ocarina of Time and up. This book is certainly packed to the brim with concept art, storylines, and interesting tidbits of the series. For $20 on Amazon, or even for it's $34.99 MSRP, you are getting more then your moneys worth.
All of this plethora of content is wrapped in a very organized and pretty package. The presentation, especially for the money, is top notch. The cover itself is outstanding, with the gold foil lettering and Gate of Time symbol brillantly standing out on an equally brilliant green background. The pages are of a pretty good quality, making the art very clear and colorful, and are just an absolute pleasure to look at. Back onto the topic of the art footnotes, Dark Horse has done an excellent job translating them. Not only that, the fonts used are very crisp, clear and easy to read, making the bigger size of the book worth it. They may not be the unchanged handwritten footnotes of the Japanese version of the book, but it's a small sacrifice to actually be able to understand and read them easily. Also, there has been some concerns that increasing the size of the book would stretch some of the art. I, for one, haven't noticed any stretched images, although I don't have the Japanese book to accurately compare. Anyways, the background of each page looks browned, making it feel like you are reading through an ancient tome pulled right out of a Hylian library. It's little touches like these that makes the book such a special and pleasurable read. The quality of this book, once again, exceeds the price you pay for it.
Let's dig a little more into the sections, the meat of the book. The first and third section, "The Legend Begins" and "Creative Footprints" contain beautiful artwork from each main game in the series. There is plenty of sketches, colored drawings, and paintings of various concept art found in each game, as well as for character designs, including some different character designs that haven't even made it into the game! An example, Fi has some pretty cool designs, including, but not limited too, a purple ninja design, a more bell shaped design, and even a heavily armored "Iron Man" design! It's nice to see these early, discarded ideas for some of the characters in the series, as it shows you just what really went into making these characters, their personalities, and functions so unique. There is this same level of treatment given into the concept art for areas within each game. Early sketches and drawings and the designer notes show the progression of the development process, and what the developers wanted out of each game. It's truly great seeing how these games came to be, and makes you appreciate the games even more! Onto the Second Section of the book "The History of Hyrule". This section contains the official timeline of the series, with later pages elaborating on how each game fits into the timeline. They truly did a great job summarizing key plot points of each game. There is also some extra lore that is placed in between some games. It helps ties the games together in the timeline, without taking anything away from the lore already established. All of this contained into a neatly organized sections, with each page labeled with the "era" and game that pages lore falls into. It is an interesting read that I would recommend anyone to look through, no matter what timeline theory you adhere to.
Each section is brilliantly crafted, and filled with plenty of interesting art and information. The extras compliment what is an already excellent book. The presentation is wonderfully done. There aren't really any complaints I have with this book. It is an excellent tribute to The Legend of Zelda, and is worth a look from any ardent Zelda fan, and even worth a look from artists. Whether you are a Zelda fan, an artist, or someone looking for a great gift, you needn't look no futher then the Hyrule Historia.
on June 2, 2015
As a Zelda fan, I have long wanted to know the official timeline for the Zelda Universe, and this book definitely provides that and so much more. Before I bought this book, I had been uncertain if it would live up to my expectations, but I finally decided to buy it in late 2013; I've now had it for more than two years, and I am still looking at this book all of the time -- needless to say it was far better than anything I had hoped for. I realize that the review I am about to give may be quite long, but it is also extremely detailed and covers a lot more of the book's content than most reviews tend to discuss. I hope you will take the time to read it so that you know exactly what to expect when you purchase this product. Here is a list of the main sections in the book, where I will explain what may be expected in each and review it:
The Legend Begins: The World of Skyward Sword
This is the first major section in the book, where you will find a great deal of interesting concept art and also small notes on each character/location written by some of the game's creators, which are actually very insightful, and sometimes quite amusing. Yes, this section does take up a large part of the book, and rightfully so; this book was released as a celebration of the 25th Anniversary, and, by extent, the release of Skyward Sword, which was, at the time, the newest Zelda game. This may annoy some fans, but it should be kept in mind that Skyward Sword is not just another new Zelda game, but also the "origin story" of the Zelda universe. Naturally this wonderful game would get a lot of love and attention, and any true Zelda fan should be able to understand that to celebrate Skyward Sword is to celebrate the origin of the beloved series and every other game in it. I find it terribly sad that people claim to care so much about what's canon and what's not, but then choose to ignore a game that is canonically at the start of everything on the timeline, and as a result, needlessly bash this book for respecting that. This is not a huge advertisement, but a celebration that Zelda has made it this many years and is finally able to reward fans with an origin story. As a fan of the game, I can definitely say that this section is very satisfying and does not miss a single aspect of it. As a bonus, there is also a panel of additional facts, hints, and interesting theories about the things in Skyward Sword and their possible relation to the other games on the bottom of most pages in this section.
The History of Hyrule: A Chronology
This is probably the thing that people purchasing the book will be the most interested in, as it is an actual list on the official chronological order of the different Zelda games, according to Hyrule's historical events. All of the core games in the series up until Skyward Sword are included here; however, all of the spin-offs (e.g., Link's Crossbow Training), the two Satellaview games, Soulcalibur 2, and, thankfully, the awful CDi games, are not listed here. It is very well written, with a few mysteries that leave the reader with some very interesting questions, but not so many that the games seem out of place in the chronology. The timeline splits off in three directions after Ocarina of Time, but this should be no problem for anyone who is even just beginning to understand the concept of alternate universes, also called multiverse. In short, it is listing a set of three universes that occurr as a result of different possible outcomes at the ending of Ocarina of Time. It may sound difficult, but it is actually quite simple; this topic is covered in many different games, books, and TV shows nowadays, so I'm sure a great deal of people out there will be able to grasp this without any trouble. Furthermore, it gives some details about the first legend of Zelda game and Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link that the original games could not provide, such as the story of what happened just before the game began that set Link on his adventures. In addition to this, many of the pages detailing each era also include a small chart at the bottom of the page showing the Hylian writing of that particular time, along with a way to translate it into either Japanese or English. This is very important to those who have always wanted to read the writing placed on many signs and objects throughout the different games, so fans are sure to be pleased that these official translating guides are finally available. The Skyward Sword writing, however, was left out because Nintendo had intended for fans to try and figure it out (many already have).
Creative Footprints: Documenting 25 Years of Artwork
As the name would suggest, this section is full of artwork from the other core games in the Zelda series. It is definitely true that there is more artwork for the newer games like Twilight Princess and the Wind Waker, but I do not feel that this means they are ignoring the older games; I realize that the other artwork is simply more easy to find and publish because it is newer. As they said, for the older games, they had to dig through stacks of old documents to find the concept art, whereas the newer art would be more accessible. Also, it is unlikely that there would be much art for some of the older games, since the game systems were extremely limited in graphics, and as a result, not much detail could be put into designs that would be visible within the games themselves. Overall, this is a pretty large section, so they certainly were generous with the amount of art put in it.
Special Comic: The Skyward Sword Manga by Akira Himekawa
This was a very special manga requested by Eiji Aonuma for the 25th anniversary. As is stated by Akira Himekawa in the back of the Hyrule Historia book, this was also to celebrate the release of Skyward Sword and tell a story connected to the game that would complete the "very first Zelda tale" (Skyward Sword). As with most manga, it is read in the traditional Japanese right to left, back to front reading format. Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT a preview for a longer Skyward Sword manga; this is just a very short, very special story. There will not be a bigger manga released later, as is evident now that well over three years have passed since Hyrule Historia's initial release.
The story starts out in beautiful full-color, then goes to black and white after a few pages. Some people find this disappointing, but I for one am quite happy with it as it is. The art style is beautiful and perfectly suited to the Zelda style. The story is top-notch and extremely touching, describing the tale of the war between the goddess Hylia and the Demon King Demise, the ascension of Skyloft, and the true origin of the Zelda/Link reincarnation cycle, along with introducing the very first Link, Hylia's Chosen Hero, and explaining his bond with the Crimson lofting. Now, some people claim that some things contradict the games and therefore cannot be true; however, in my opinion, this is incorrect. The Master Sword could have existed previously, been forged by Link and his comrades who would later be called the Seven Sages, and then devolved after the Triforce left its blade and entered the Silent Realm, just for example. In any event, I simply wanted to point out that while other reviewers claimed it non-canon, this was actually never said, and since I realize that many will skip over it if they feel it isn't canon, I wanted to clear that up, so hopefully more people will give it a read and enjoy this book to its fullest. In fact, since it was requested by Zelda's creators and placed in this official book, I think it's pretty safe to say that it is canon. Definitely worth a read, and in my opinion, worthy of its own separate game. I have to say this is my favorite part of the book, as it truly made sense of everything that I still had questions about in regards to Link and Zelda. If you are worried that this story may disappoint you, don't be; I am a huge Zelda fan and adore all of the core games in the series, but this story still holds an extremely special place in my heart, perhaps even slightly above any Zelda game I have ever played (and I've played them all); it's that good. Akira Himekawa's love and respect for the series truly shows in every aspect of this tale, and the final lines in the story really sum up the Zelda series beautifully; "a story that weaves destinies and spans eternity".
At the start of the book and just before the manga are two small sections in which Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma, respectively, say a few words about their love for the Zelda series and thank the fans for their continued support, nicely wrapping up the book in a very nostalgic way.
The name Hyrule Historia is not intended to imply that the book is mostly about the development of past games, or the history of the series as it has evolved over the years, although it does provide some of that; the name refers to the chronological history of Hyrule that is shown in the book, with all of the events talked about and shown in Skyward Sword being at the beginning of that timeline. Anyone who buys this book would do well to remember that, as it is unfair to expect the book to be about the official chronology, and still not have any focus on Skyward Sword over the rest. As a whole, the book is beautiful and interesting, the price is extremely amazing compared to the usual price in-store, and though it took a while to arrive from overseas, it was well worth the wait. I know that some reviewers complained that their book did not arrive with enough protective packaging, and as a result, was damaged, but this was not the case for me; it arrived in a very large box filled with protective bubble pack, and was in perfect condition, as I bought it new. I highly recommend this book to any and all Zelda fans, and I sincerely hope that if you are undecided about whether or not to buy it, like I had been, this review will have convinced you to give it a shot. You will never regret it.
Dark Horse has put out some pretty amazing graphic collections lately and this is no exception. This is a wonderful item that is well appreciated by an old Zelda fan like myself. The original Legend of Zelda is the game that got me hooked on video games (thanks a lot!) I remember as a kid, thumbing through the comic/story section of the Zelda manual so much that I wore it out! Now, 25 years later, we have one of the most iconic and enduring video game franchises rivaled only by Mario and Final Fantasy for longevity, popularity, and recognition.
First of all, this sucker is heavy, nearly 4 pounds. It has nearly 300 pages, and is a pleasantly large 12.3 x 9.5. What this means is that it is a very good size for viewing the art and photography. The pictures are clear and the included drawings and notes are very nicely done. Obviously the artists at Dark Horse have digitally covered and written many notes in English, since it would be tough to have to read Japanese. But it seems they kept the style of even the penmanship close to the Japanese (and I mean the color of ink/pencil, line thickness, cursive notes for when kana was used, etc...). I like the attention to detail, though they could have also included captions under the drawings notating what the characters translate to in English. Still, I'm happy. At least they didn't leave it all in Japanese with no translation!
My one complaint (a small one) is that a great deal of content is put aside for Skyward Sword. At times this does read like a commercial for the upcoming game. Granted, the folks at Nintendo want people to know about it (and since this is a translation of the Japanese version - we have to understand that they put it together). I just wanted folks to know. Though I would rather it be included then have it cut thereby reducing the number of pages. I just would have liked a bit more content for the first 3 games. Gladly though, the book designers didn't acknowledge those CD-i Zelda games!
For the $21 price tag this is a no brainer. It will probably sell out at some point and go up in price from third party sellers, so get it now!
Also a note: My copy came with a plastic wrapping, but there were still several marks and indents from handling and shipping. So if you are going to collect this and read it with plastic gloves and such, then you might want to buy a copy in person somewhere where you can visually inspect the book. It's still in good condition, but not 'Mint' condition. But I don't care since I plan on reading the hell out of this.