The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia

Half art book, half history lesson, this compilation of concept art, lore, and commentary from game designers beautifully traces the adventures of Link and Princess Zelda that began in 1986 with Famicom’s The Legend of Zelda (in the United States we received the infamous gold cartridge for the Nintendo in 1987). From the beginning, readers will notice that newer games—especially the latest title, Skyward Sword—receive the majority of the focus. It’s understandable that newer titles have more lore and material to pull from, but the disproportionate relation between Skyward Sword and the original title or A Link to the Past—arguably, one of the greatest games of all time—is disappointing. However, the tome redeems itself with a complete, chronological history of the land of Hyrule, which places the games’ events in context. Seeing it all in one place reminds us how hard developers have worked to bring gamers a fully immersive world that moves beyond Hero A shoots Enemy B. The Skyward Sword prequel manga is fun, but a tribute to older titles or less popular properties such as the short-lived animated series would have been a better use of the space.