Sunday Game Soundtrack: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (GB)

It’s Sunday and that means it’s time for another Sunday Game Soundtrack.  This week, we’ll look at Minako Hamano and Kozue Ishikawa’s soundtrack to The Legend of Zelda:  Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Game Boy.

Link’s Awakening was released in 1993 and is the 4th title in the Legend of Zelda series.  It is the first Zelda series game released for a handheld console.  It was re-released in 1998 for Game Boy Color as The Legend of Zelda:  Link’s Awakening DX.

It was developed to originally be a port of Legend of Zelda:  A Link to the Past for Game Boy but got a bit.. well.. lost along the way.  The very origins of the game are based on the experiments by programmer Kazuaki Morita during the infancy of Game Boy.  Morita would gather other programmers and experiment with the Game Boy development kit during the after hours (they joked that it was like an after school club).  After the successful release of Link to the Past in 1991, director Takashi Tezuka pitched the concept of a handheld Zelda game to Nintendo and it was approved.  They reassembled the Link to the Past team to help development and thus, Link’s Awakening was born.

Link’s Awakening is perhaps known best for the fact that it does not take place in Hyrule.  At all.  Tezuka instructed script writer Kensuke Tanabe to make the game a spin-off and have a completely different feel.  Thus, many of the characters from previous games do not appear on purpose (Princess Zelda, Gannon, etc).  This new direction painted a fresh new picture of the series.  Many concepts make their first appearance in Link’s Awakening– the ocarina, fishing, fetch quests, hidden items to collect, and more.  These were crucial to the development of future titles and became staple elements of the series.

The soundtrack features the duo of Minako Hamano and Kozue Ishikawa, both on their first project.  While credit is given to Kazumi Totaka for the OST, he was only the sound programmer for the game.  Hamano and Ishikawa composed nearly an hour of music for the game, including remixes of Koji Kondo’s iconic overworld theme.  Kondo, who was probably eager to put his mark on the game somewhere, helped compose the ending credits theme… which is coincidentally one of my favorite tracks from the game.

Interesting note:  Though Shigeru Miyamoto was the the producer of the game, he sat back on his feet and did not provide any creative input to the game.  He merely play-tested a nearly complete product and gave input to help implement what was already done.  This may explain why the game has a very different feel from Nintendo developed games of the time.  I mean, there’s cameos by other Nintendo characters all over and you can walk a Chomp on a leash.  And there’s Goombas for some reason.

Please eat this and not me. (credit: Chris Furniss –

Okay, whelp, let’s take a listen:

(credit: Giacomo Poggi)

Hope you enjoyed it!  As always, comment are welcome.


About Classical Gaming

Steve Lakawicz holds an MM in Music Performance from Temple University as well as a BM in Tuba Performance from Rutgers University . His teachers include Paul Scott, Scott Mendoker, and Jay Krush. His love of video game music has lead him to form a blog, Classical Gaming, to promote discussion both casual and academic about the music of video games. He is the co-founder of the video game/nerd music chamber ensemble, Beta Test Music and regularly composes/performs chiptune music as Ap0c. He currently resides in Philadelphia where he teaches college statistics at Temple University. View all posts by Classical Gaming

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