I’m a bit of a lapsed Zelda fan. While the earlier releases were pretty much holy writ in my video game bible, my lack of a GameCube for Wind Waker, the waggle annoyance of Twilight Princess on Wii, and the incredibly annoying motion control necessary for Skyward Sword mean I’ve only played them slightly, and never finished any of them..
Thus, this book, Art and Artifacts, is fantastic because it covers all games from all eras, and opens the door to the nostalgic versions of these games that made me love Link and his adventures.
The Legend of Zelda: Art and Artifacts (Dark Horse Comics)
The true value of this book is nostalgia, but the other value is perhaps one of perspective. For those of us who grew up playing in these pixelated worlds, the on screen representation was typically only an avatar.
A representation of what was actually happening. Link wasn’t made out of green blocks, he was an elven looking warrior–so the artwork produced for the games helped guide us, and give us more depth as to what we were experiencing.
As the games evolved, along with the technology, the screen became more true to art, until finally it became it entirely. No longer would an image in a manual have to truly explain what a Moblin was supposed to look like, it was there in glowing light.
I think there is a slight loss in that. Looking through these pages I remember the hours I poured over the map of Hyrule that came with Zelda, or the complex one that Nintendo Power printed for A Link to the Past. That additional resource fleshed out what was in some cases a total mystery. Vague hints, and little info in game made us hungrier for supplemental material. One of the reasons Dark Souls hits a chord with people today is because of that restraint; a show-don’t-tell mentality. We had no choice–there were limits as to what could be shown, so we looked to art and manuals and strategy guides, and the work produced was excellent.
Be aware: this is not a guide to the art, but mostly the art itself, with little to no explanation text. There is an interview in the last pages, but this is not some exhaustive guide with page notes and info on every piece of art. The art stands alone in most cases.
Reading this book brought me back to when I sat in the back row of my geography class in 7th grade, sketching Link and various enemies on graph paper instead of paying attention, and playing my Zelda game watch.