This article argues that the music of opening peritexts within two The Legend of Zelda games reflects their reception history and continuity within the series mythology. On the one hand, “The Legendary Hero” peritext of The Wind Waker mirrors the game's reception history as one of departure from a Zelda tradition established by Ocarina of Time, which caused controversy initially yet gained acceptance in the long term. The audiovisual components of “The Legendary Hero” all position gamers to consider the events of Ocarina of Time as old, submerged under the Great Sea. Textual references to “legend” and “myth,” visual cues of antique art and runes, and musical cues harkening to medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque tropes within Western music—all these serve to depart from Zelda tropes.
On the other hand, the title-screen peritext of Twilight Princess restores the legacy of Ocarina of Time. Reception of the former always includes its nostalgic, intimately connected relationship to the latter. Consequently, Twilight Princess garnered immediate praise but became problematic in the long term. The audiovisual components of the title-screen peritext position gamers to reestablish continuity with Zelda tropes. Visual and musical cues reach across several previous games and as far back as the original The Legend of Zelda game, all of which orient players back to traditions from which the franchise had departed for years. Thus the music of the peritext enables players to engage in Zelda's potential for self-reference more apparently than its adoption of Western-music tropes, as in Wind Waker.
The peritexts of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess complement each other and allow us to understand more critically the reception and historiography of each game, how the music can reveal a deeper understanding of narrative themes characteristic of each game, and their placement within the Zelda mythology.