In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, gamers were treated to the same music through every dungeon… except one. After Link had cleared the six main Palaces of the game he eventually came to the final challenge: The Great Palace. This was one of the hardest levels in the game, and it also came with the unique treat of having its own music… which was quite the memorable piece at that.
As one of the first pieces of Zelda music to be specifically unique to a single dungeon, “The Great Palace” (or Great Temple in the Japanese version) is a very notable example of how Zelda music can set the tone for an area. Make the jump to read more!
Track: “The Great Palace/Temple”
Game: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)
There is not a whole lot of complexity to this song’s purpose and goal. This is the final dungeon of the game, and at the end you will face your two most powerful opponents yet (I personally hate Thunderbird with a passion. Just throwing that out there). The dungeon this music plays in represents the end, the full culmination of Link’s journey. Victory here means he will obtain the Triforce of Courage and awaken Zelda.
It’s a pretty momentous location.
There are some consistencies to be found between the music for The Great Palace and that of the regular palaces in the game. Both begin with a short, almost jarring intro that feels like plunging into the depths of a mysterious place. Both have an undercurrent that repeats three notes over and over. And both sound pretty awesome.
One big difference with The Great Palace, though, is that it hits much higher notes than the Palace theme. It almost seems that everywhere “Palace” goes for low notes, “Great Palace” shoots for the high ones. When I wrote about the regular Palace theme, I commented that it felt tense and mysterious, like delving deep into a strange place. The Great Palace consistently sounds higher, but it still feels tense and mysterious. The music almost seems like it has changed from caverns to peaks, from dark passages to steep cliffs.
In the end, I like my previous comparison of how “The Great Palace” sounds. Think of the first six dungeons as Link attempting to fight through the low, tough parts of his adventure. Now, think of the Great Palace as his final trial. Link sees the end in sight, and thus it is his time to aspire to the heroics he is destined for.
The Great Palace is still tense, still somewhat menacing, but in the end… it is a victory song. It represents a place no less deadly than the others Link has delved through, but one that holds the light at the end of the tunnel.
And so, that is how I like to think of “The Great Palace.” As usual, be sure to let me know in the comments how you like this song as well as your thoughts on how well it ties into the game, and be sure to leave requests if you wish! Thank you for reading, and I will catch you next week.