You may have noticed that we're doing a video game music festival while the summer months are still here — but you may also be wondering why we haven't included the most important music of all.
Fear not! I'm here to save the day by ranking EVERY SINGLE VERSION OF FAIRY FOUNTAIN FROM THE LEGEND OF ZELDA. That's right, it's a
slow news day very important use of my time, that no one asked me to do, even. We'll start with the "worst", and move our way up to the "best".
And please, before you all come into the comments and tell me that I'm wrong: try listening to (at the time of writing) 23 different versions of the same song and come out the other end with your sanity intact. Also, tell me your ranking and we can compare our notes!
23. Fairy Queen (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, 2002)
The Wind Waker has two versions of Fairy Fountain, and this one is the worst. Fairy Queen is a strangely carnival-themed take, to go along with the creepy flirty child queen of the fairies. Listen, I do not like the Fairy Queen, and I do not like her song.
Don't get me wrong — it does exactly what it's meant to. You've been led to believe that the Fairy Queen is a huge, matronly lady, only to find out that it's a child. It's unsettling. That doesn't mean I have to like it.
22. Choose Your Adventure (The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, 2004)
The title screen for Four Swords Adventures is a version of Fairy Fountain that sounds familiar, but is apparently entirely its own. It's louder than A Link To The Past's original, and it's in a different key to Ocarina's, too. I find this one a little too unsubtle and unoriginal, I think — it's certainly a very pared-back Fairy Fountain, but it offers nothing new for the tried-and-tested formula to set it apart.
21. File Select (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, 2011)
I'm being mean here, but I have to be to separate these themes from one another: this one sounds a bit like someone playing a harp with a screwdriver and an appointment to be at in five minutes. I really like Skyward Sword's music, but this one just rubs me up the wrong way — it's oddly rushed, weirdly paced, and sort of... angry-sounding? Somehow? I like the soaring strings, but they just come in a little too late; I've already been scared away by the rest of it.
For a game that's all about the harp, I would have expected something a little more interesting from Skyward Sword. This, for me, is not it. Sorry.
20. Lucky Lobby Ball Fairy Fountain (The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, 2015)
This one's a secret one, achieved by keeping the Lucky Lobby Ball, up in the air while you wait for new matches. It's not... great, and neither is Tri Force Heroes, but it's a nice little secret nonetheless — it's just a shame that it has to include the noise of the sword swipe when you're actually playing the game. Then again, it's kind of grown on me, like a little metronome. Bwep.
There's also an 8-bit version if you wear the Timeless Tunic!
19. Fairy Fountain (The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, 2007)
Having to create a Fairy Fountain that can compete with the previous Zelda game, Twilight Princess, but remain functional on the DS's limited hardware, must be tricky — and Phantom Hourglass' Fairy Fountain doesn't really stand out as a result. It's a little bit too synthetic, a little bit too muted. An average take, I think.
18. Fairy Fountain (The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, 2013)
A Link Between Worlds has three versions of Fairy Fountain, and this is the one that's actually used as the fairy fountain theme itself. This one is the worst of the bunch, but it's still good... it's just a little too fast, and there's a strange off-beat harp in the background that makes it oddly unsettling, like there's a song playing in another room. As far as Fairy Fountain themes go, this one isn't as magical as the others.
17. File Select (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, 2006)
We're starting to get to the good ones, rather than the ones that are just a little off for some reason. Twilight Princess' take on the File Select screen is pretty by-the-numbers, so there's not a whole lot to object to.
However... I'm not 100% sold on this one, to be honest. The piano playing seems a little forceful, and although I'm well aware that I'm trying to find just about anything to nitpick the differences at this point, I think I'm right. I'm discovering that I prefer the gentler File Select screens.
16. Fairy Fountain (Hyrule Warriors, 2014)
I guess it's no surprise that Hyrule Warriors didn't do a totally wild take on a classic, but with the downright weird stuff they did to the Zelda timeline, I think they probably could have done it anyway. This take is good, don't get me wrong, it's just a little boring!
15. File Select (The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap, 2004)
By this point in the Zelda series, Fairy Fountain has very much become one of the very recognisable tunes, especially for the file select screen. Minish Cap's File Select take is nothing that will blow you away, but it's quite a lot bassier than the rest, making it seem a little more grown up. It's alright.
14. Great Fairy Fountain (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, 2017)
This one is so fast, but it really fits with the Fairy Fountains in Breath of the Wild — they're hard to find, a little bit unnerving, and exciting. Your heart beats in time with this speedy version as a giant woman comes out of a flower, screams, and then eats you; it feels almost as if it's trying to keep up with itself.
Honestly, the entire experience of finding a Fairy Fountain in Breath of the Wild is so much more than the sum of its parts; the song itself takes a backseat to the utter joy/terror of the large lady. It's not a particularly exciting version (in my opinion), and the speed is a little much, but in the game itself, the theme is very quietly played in the background.
13. Fairy Fountain (The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap, 2004)
Minish Cap's fairies are a little different to the usual. Rather than your average Fairy Queen, each one is based on insects: the Great Butterfly Fairy, the Great Dragonfly Fairy, and the Great Mayfly Fairy, in keeping with the "you're really small" theme of the game.
The Fairy Fountain version in Minish Cap is a little slower, a little warmer, and a little more sleepy-feeling than the others — but not by a lot. It's solid; but it's not reinventing itself.
12. Fairy Fountain/File Select (The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, 1991)
The OG, the mould in which all other Fairy Fountains were made, A Link to the Past's version is used for the start screen and the fountains scattered across the map. It's a great tempo, and it manages to sound like twinkly harp music despite being 16-bit music. But I can't give it maximum points for being the original — later versions, with more orchestral takes, definitely improved on the excellent foundation that ALTTP laid down.
I'm not saying it's bad — without this version, I wouldn't have even been able to write this piece — I'm just saying we have to start somewhere.