The Sound Of Few Hearts

The audacity! I am highly focused, deeply entangled in the surrounding atmosphere, finding my way through the depths of an ancient dungeon while listening to mysterious, but strangely melodic sounds – a fully immersive moment of tension. My palms are sweating. But then I slip and from now on I am hassled by the siren of that infuriating sound that drills deep into my brain, screaming: “HEY! HEY!!! YOU ARE PLAYING A VIDEO GAME! AND SOON YOU WILL DIE!“

I despise the sound Zelda games are making when I am low on health. It is not simply any sound that is being repeated into all eternity. It is a high-pitched sound straight from hell that clings itself into my ears until I finally find some hearts to restore my health.

Whether I am traversing the tough-as-nails Turtle Rock in A Link to the Past or finding my path through the creepy Shadow Temple in Ocarina of Time – the atmosphere is being torn to shreds as if I was attending a beautiful concert, standing right next to the most drunken fan who continuously shouts the same thing towards the stage while not at all maintaining a proper social distance between his naked, sweaty body and me.

And what’s with all the drama anyway? At least since the days of the Nintendo 64, it really isn’t all that bad to die in a Zelda game and it barely ever happens. What does happen though is running low on health, triggering that infernal sound. But Nintendo just rolls with it. From the very first entry in the series up to Breath of the Wild I am constantly reminded that Link is about to be brought down to his knees. It would be all good if it just went on for a few times, that might even add to the tension of a tough fight. But the damned sound still haunts me half an hour later, when I am stumbling through the dungeon without remotely being in danger of taking another hit. At that point, all of my adrenaline is flushed out of my system and all I am is annoyed. But it does have an interesting effect: I am very much eager to look out for hearts to replenish some of my health. Not because I am afraid of dying, just to make that sound stop. Maybe that was the idea all along and Nintendo is just being clever once again.

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