GN Unplugged is an article series here at Gaming Nexus which takes a look at the world of gaming outside of consoles and PCs; this is meant to highlight those offerings within the gaming culture that don’t require a joystick or mouse and keyboard. We will look at various toys, movies, and comics tied to the video game industry as well as various table top and card games. If you have any recommendations for products that we should look into please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
As someone who considers himself to be a die-hard gamer, I have grown accustomed to being jealous of my fellow Japanese brethren (gamers). They always seem to get the coolest and most sought after gaming extras, be it cool statues and collectible figures to incredible art compilations. One thing in particular that I have always wanted to get my hands on is something they got a few years back from Nintendo, The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia. The book, which was released back in 2011, is one part art book, one part encyclopedia, and the ultimate collection of all things Zelda. It was created and released as a part of the 25th anniversary of the acclaimed Legend of Zelda series.
Now, although a few years later, this incredible work of art is available here in the States thanks to the work of Dark Horse Comics. We aren’t talking about a half-hearted copy of the original masterpiece but a detailed and fully translated reproduction of the entire compendium. Every single aspect of the original work is present here and painstakingly translated to give fans all of the details that can be found in the original release. Everything from the personal-letter introduction from series creator Shigeru Miyamoto to the detailed chronology and timeline of the series’ lore, it’s all here.
It’s hard to classify Hyrule Historia to a single type of book or genre. The massive 277-page compilation is many things. First off, it is partly an art book consisting of the various art and assets that have made up the Zelda franchise between 1986 and 2011. We’re talking about everything from early sketches and notes from Miyamoto and his teams to full-fledged illustrations and galleries of now-famous characters and locations.
The early sketch work in particular is especially intriguing as many of them include hand-written notes made during the design process of the character or locale being depicted, all translated for fans. Especially when you consider the wide variety of production teams that have handled the series since its inception, there is a lot to see in this department. Remember, Nintendo isn’t the only company that has handled the series during its run; some of the portable entries in the series were worked on by Capcom, among others.
Seeing all of the behind-the-scenes material and assets is really a rare treat for Nintendo fans. We have gotten used to seeing a lot of that with other companies in the form of video documentaries and such, but rarely does that type of access or imagery come from Nintendo. The Big N has developed quite a reputation of being very closed when it comes to public access. We usually see their finished products and not much else. If we’re lucky, we may get glimpses of the the process in extensive strategy guides or leaked materials, but rarely do they ever hand out access such as this.
There are some chapters in the series’ history that don’t get any reference in the book, which is a bit disappointing. As bad as they were, it would have been cool to see some reference to the various CD-i titles or the often forgotten animated series. These were all officially endorsed by Nintendo at one time or another, so why ignore them now when celebrating the franchise’s anniversary? I guess that there is an attempt to make up for their absence with a special comic included at the end dedicated to Skyward Sword.
Hyrule Historia could also be looked upon as an encyclopedia of all things Hyrule. This book gives us the most complete and detailed look at the characters, places, and even the various legends that make up the Hyrulian lore. This information spans the course of time in all of the games, covering all of the various depictions and era of Hyrule. It is a who, what, where, when and why for every entry in the series and holds the definitive answer to many fans’ long-unanswered questions, especially on the topic of the franchise’s chronology.
This is because there is an entire section that lays out an itemized and detailed chronology of the series. Finally, we know exactly what order the games should be played in. I am not talking about an order depicting when the various games were released, but a timeline that shows how the events fall into line. As any fan will tell you, the Zelda games occur (chronologically speaking) in random order; it is hard to pinpoint the correct order just from playing through them.
Hyrule Historia sets the record straight in terms of laying out an official timeline. Did you know that the series actually depicts multiple timelines? When placed in order, the storyline actually branches off in two different directions after the events in Ocarina of Time. One branch flows as if the Hero is triumphant while the other depicts a course of history where he is defeated by Ganondorf and his evil intentions.
There is no question in my mind that Hyrule Historia is a must-buy for any gamer. I am not just talking about Zelda fans, but for anyone who has an appreciation for the classics in our beloved hobby of gaming. This belongs on your coffee table or desk alongside any other game memorabilia that you may own. I am not trying to sound like a salesman here, but the price point is right too. Most companies would take advantage of something like this and try to sell it for upwards of $100; we have seen plenty of them do that in the past. Dark Horse and Nintendo certainly don’t do that here and have released it to the public for an extremely reasonable $34.99 price tag. If you are looking for the perfect gift for the gamer in your life or just wanting to beef up your own gamer credibility, don’t hesitate to pick this book up.