Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia

3:00 PM on 01.30.2013 // Chris Carter

It's dangerous to go alone... take this

You'd be hard pressed to find a Nintendo franchise more storied than The Legend of Zelda. Although Mario and Pokémon have far surpassed the series in terms of raw sales, Zelda fans are among the most passionate fans in the industry.

Naturally, an official love-letter to Zelda enthusiasts is going to get quite a bit of attention, leading it to take the top spot on Amazon's bestseller list -- enter Hyrule Historia.

The compendium is segmented into four parts: "The Legend Begins," which is entirely about Skyward Sword; "The History of Hyrule," which takes us through a journey of every Zelda game to date; "Creative Footprints," which is my personal favorite section filled to the brim with sketches; and finally, a comic prelude to Skyward Sword.

Join me as I dive into every facet of what Hyrule Historia's 277 pages has to offer.

The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (Book)
Writers: Shigeru Miyamoto, Eiji Aonuma

Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Released: January 29, 2013
MSRP: $34.99

From cover to cover, the physical book is wonderfully crafted. The word "tome" actually is fairly accurate, as the book feels fairly weighty, and almost a steal at the asking price. It has a beautiful minimalistic cover that represents the elements of the Zelda series, and colored in the perfect shade of green, it's a great conversation starter as someone walks over to it and sees the resemblance to Link's classic tunic.

The first thing you might notice when you open the book is the inclusion of a letter by one of the most famous faces in Zelda history: Shigeru Miyamoto. It's a nice little section that explains what the Zelda series means to him, and what some of the basic tenets of the series are. Towards the end, Eiji Aonuma also gets to weigh in. Both of them are fairly lengthy and from the heart, detailing how the Zelda series came to be and what it means to both of them.

These were crucial additions that really added to the overall package, letting you know that this wasn't just a cheap cash-in. Do keep in mind that this is a straight translation of the Japanese book that dropped in 2011, so a few parts are not going to be up to date.

The first major section of the book is the portion on Skyward Sword. And when I say "Skyward Sword," I mean nothing but. There are sketches, artwork, character profiles, and a general overview of every single area in the game -- in fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is basically a complete book in its own right with regards to this particular Zelda iteration.

My favorite aspect of the Skyward chapters is probably the little tidbits of information, like the fact that they specifically removed a sense of regality from Skyward's Zelda character design, but at the same time had to figure out a way to make her stand out.

Or the reason why the Pumpkin Landing bar doesn't serve milk is because Skyloft doesn't have "ground themed" animals on it. If you've played it, you probably noticed that, but at the same time it's nice to see how much thought was put into the game.

In addition to factual nuances, the writers also have a bit of fun too. Like when they suggest that Sheik's harp from Ocarina of Time may be the same one as in Skyward Sword, or that the Timeshift Stones might be made out of the same blue material as the iconic blue Ocarina.

The artwork is plentiful and beautiful, and there are a lot of quotes that bring to light how much creative freedom was given with the game. You'll get to see early concepts, like the creatures that were supposed to be the original Kikwis, and a rejected Zora-like race.

There are tons of Skyward-related sketches, factoids, and art on display in this section. If Skyward is your absolute favorite game in the series, you'll be in heaven, and it's probably worth a purchase for that alone.

Personally, I wasn't the biggest fan of Skyward Sword, so I would have appreciated some elongation of the other three portions of the book. At the same time, this first section was so well done that I gained a bit more appreciation for the game, and I even had the itch to play it again. Plus, you have to keep in mind that this book was released in tandem with Skyward Sword and the 25th anniversary celebrations.

Next we move onto the "History of Hyrule" section, which everyone will probably remember as the initial controversy-starter a while back that brought Hyrule Historia so much buzz. While this may seem like a standard retrospective at all of the Zelda games, it's a bit more than that.

This is the "big deal" that everyone was referring to a few years back, when it was said that Nintendo would take on the "official" timeline theories that have been circulating for years. The book explains how there is initially one timeline that eventually splits into three different realities.

Whatever your take is on the "official" stance, Nintendo does a decent job explaining how each game fits without getting too ridiculous -- the key is that Ocarina splits into three branches -- and that's really all you need to understand.

Each game is roughly equally represented, from fan favorites like Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time to underrepresented games like The Minish Cap. All of the stories more or less weave into each other, with sufficient reasoning given for the split-timeline theory.

The only bad part about the this section is that it doesn't include any spinoffs, but that's understandable as this section is mainly presented in order to establish an official canon.

Next we move onto "Creative Footprints." This section is my absolute favorite, and I even wish it was a little longer. You get to see insane drawings (some of which have never been shown before), like the original developmental maps by Shigeru Miyamoto.

These sketches in particular resonated with me, as I vividly recall drawing my own segmented grid-based maps. When Hyrule Historia constantly reiterates that Miyamoto had a hand in nearly every aspect of the original Zelda, it shows.

This section is heavily in favor of the more famous titles, so there are lots of materials from Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and the original The Legend of Zelda (Twilight Princess has more art than any other game in this portion).

"Creative Footprints" mirrors some of the best parts of the first Skyward portion, with new concepts that never made it past the drawing board. Like the existence of an Oracle of Seasons/Ages Ganondorf that blew my mind (as opposed to Ganon, who did appear), and "GameCube Island" in The Wind Waker.

Since the popular games are featured, some sections are shorter than others. For instance, if you love Phantom Hourglass but hate Spirit Tracks, you're going to be disappointed, as PH only gets a scant few pages while ST gets around 20.

Plus, since a little under half of the book is dedicated to Skyward Sword with the first and fourth sections, you're going to be disappointed if your favorite game isn't represented here.

At the end of "Creative Footprints" is a list of games in the series. Again, some spinoffs aren't included, which is a shame as this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

The only additional titles this section covers is the GameCube Collector's Edition, Master Quest, and a very brief overview of the Satellaview Zelda games and Link's Crossbow Training. This was probably the weakest part of the book and almost felt like an afterthought.

After all is said and done information wise, Hyrule Historia ends with a comic read manga style, right to left. The comic itself is a prelude to Skyward Sword, which might immediately turn some people off.

It features a a few beautiful full color pages, then the rest are traditional black and white. The story itself teeters on the edge of one of the more mature tales in the Zelda universe, but it's over so quickly that it loses its luster a bit.

While I wouldn't say it's completely forgettable, it's not really a must-read nor is it something that will stick in my mind every time I think of Skyward Sword. In the end, I kind of wish it was a bit more fleshed out and had a few more color pages.

So given all of this information, should you get Hyrule Historia? If you're a general Zelda fan, it's a no-brainer. There's a decent amount of new information here, the art is beautiful, and the timeline section is great to have as a general reference for whenever you want to re-learn or decipher the story of one of your favorite franchises.

But if you're a more casual Zelda fan and only gravitate towards a few select titles (like one of the more underrepresented ones), I'm not sure you'll be wholly satisfied.

The book contains so much Skyward Sword that, if you don't like it in some capacity, you may be disappointed. If you have no appreciation of the retro titles as well, the impact may be diminished, especially the portions involving Miyamoto and Aonuma.

Even still, Hyrule Historia is a great read. I learned some things both old and new, and I got to enjoy some beautiful art. What more can a Zelda fan ask for?

Chris Carter, Reviews Director
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidChris Tips
Chris (Magnalon) has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! -----------... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night, got farther than ever in Wasteland 2. This is my third playthrough-once thru beta, once through the orig version, now on Directors cut. Worth the restart, and it speaks highly of the game that I like it enough to do this. DAMONTA HERE I COME!
KeithTheGeek avatarKeithTheGeek
GUYS HELP I KEEP BUYING MORE AMIIBO. Today it was Little Mac, since he went back up on Gamestop's website. I probably would have gotten Captain Falcon as well if I wasn't already running a little short on cash.
BigDoniel avatarBigDoniel
50 hours in and I can safely say that Xenoblade is the best JRPG I've played in years. Should hopefully be finished in time for X too!
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
One job down on day I should have off, now for the other job.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I beat Murasaki Baby on PS Vita. Easy 100% trophy. That ending theme tho.
TheGwailo avatarTheGwailo
I have 34 games in my Steam queue alone, 4 on xbone, and a handful on handhelds. I have 3 days to make a dent. Time's up, let's do this!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: To make up for yesterday, I decided to ask a second Community Question today. Have you taken advantage of any Black Friday deals today? If so, what did you purchase? Feel free to share pictures of your spoils, if you have any.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Some Black Friday artwork arrived today ! [img][/img]
Lawman avatarLawman
Black Friday is getting to me. All these games I kinda, maybe want that are at anywhere between respectable and deep discounts, but I'm not sure if I want to bite. I'm wondering if Godzilla's worth $12? After checking review scores, I'm not sure.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Mission complete![IMG][/IMG]
Serethyn avatarSerethyn
Black Friday slowly seems to creep its way onto Continental Europe, but I'm not complaining! I managed to get my grubby little paws on a new physical copy of The Wonderful 101 for €20! Thanks, America!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Since I missed yesterday, I am going to do something a little different today. Are there any questions you would like to ask me for a change? If so, please feel free. I may add a second Community Question later today, as well.
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Isn't PES 2016 Free-to-Play model just the demo with extra crap thrown in?
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Damn Gumo, you cold as fuck. [img][/img]
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
While partially responsible for one of the biggest jokes in the metal, Cold Lake by Celtic Frost, Curt Bryant is doing the soundtrack to the game Slain!. I'm digging the shitty garage band vibe.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
How is the Lightening thread STILL GETTING COMMENTS!?!?!? P.S. I am trying to make Chex Mix, but we lost my special recipe I custom designed. sucks man.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Got a deal on a Surface Pro 3 model that I wanted. Now I just need a deal on a PS TV in Canada and I'm golden.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
If you in the UK, don't have a PS4 and don't mind buying used/display goods there's a few reconditioned PS4 (12 month warranty) on amazon for £199.
SirDavies avatarSirDavies
my dilemma this black friday is a PS4 for bloodborne and little else or like half the games on my steam wishlist. I know in my heart which one I'm going to pick.
El Dango avatarEl Dango
"You had all the lasagna you could ever eat, yet you kept going!" "This isn't about the lasagna anymore, Jon, and I didn't come this far just to quit! Tonight, I'm making sure my name will go down in history!"
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -