The Legend of Zelda series has had some terrific commercials over the years, but one that has always stayed with us more than most is the Japanese commercial for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past from 1991.
This commercial features a bunch of actors in costume as Link, Zelda, Gibdos, and Stalfos dancing around, while a Zelda-themed rap track plays in the background. For years, we've just assumed that this song must have been specifically written with the commercial in mind, but as we recently discovered, through spotting the Japanese music credit on one of the uploads and doing some research of our own, it appears that this isn't the case.
Instead, as it turns out, the track, performed by the Japanese rap group Scha Dara Parr, is actually a retooling of an earlier song called 'Game Boys' (ゲームボーイズ) from the ensemble's 1991 album Towering Inferno.
Scha Dara Parr is a trio of musicians, which includes Bose, Shinco, and Ani. They've released a bunch of records over the years, with 'Game Boys' being one of their most successful tracks. The song was written as a tribute to Nintendo, the Super Famicom, and the Game Boy generation of gaming, and even features a short sample from Koji Kondo's iconic Super Mario Bros. theme during the roughly four-minute recording. It's unsurprising, then, that Nintendo would eventually come to enlist the group to help promote one of its upcoming games.
In an interview with the Japanese weekly magazine, Weekly Playboy, in 2015, Scha Dara Parr's Bose told the publication that Nintendo had asked them to modify the original song 'Game Boys' to come up with the new version for Zelda, the lyrics of which praise the virtues of the new open-world action-adventure. He also revealed that as part of the experience he was lucky enough to get to meet the legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto, a personal dream of his. And that yes, the group did eventually beat the game themselves.
As Bose told Weekly Playboy:
"We didn't have the Internet back then, so when we got stuck, we just had to go through trial and error. My friends and I would call each other even in the middle of the night to exchange information. When I couldn't solve a puzzle that required the use of a hookshot, my friend showed me how to solve it at the club, and I quickly turned around and went home to resume playing Zelda, leaving the club behind. Those are [some] good memories."
After years of wondering about the origins of this particular rap, it's great to finally have some context as to why it exists.
It has also started us down the rabbit hole of checking out more of Scha Dara Parr's work, including their 1993 collaboration with De La Soul on "Long Island Wildin" and their work with Ad-Rock from the Beasties Boys on the track 'Where Ya At?' You can listen to the original song 'Game Boys' and watch its video-game-inspired music video below: