The Legend of Zelda series has had some terrific commercials over the years, but one that has always stuck in our minds more than most is the Japanese commercial for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past from 1991.
This commercial featured a bunch of actors in costume as Link, Zelda, gibdos, and stalfos all dancing around, while a Zelda-themed rap track played in the background. For years, we've just assumed that the song must have been written for the commercial, but as we recently discovered, through spotting a Japanese music credit on one of the uploads, it appears this is not entirely the case.
Instead, it seems the track is actually a retooling of an earlier 1991 song called 'Game Boys' (ゲームボーイズ) from the Japanese rap group Scha Dara Parr's album Towering Inferno, released the same year.
Scha Dara Parr is a trio of musicians that includes Bose, Shinco, and Ani. They've released a bunch of records over the years, with Game Boys being among the more famous of their tracks. The song was written as a tribute to the Super Famicom and Game Boy generation, and even includes a snippet of Koji Kondo's iconic Super Mario Bros. theme.
It should come as no surprise then that when Nintendo went looking for a way to advertise its latest Zelda game to a young, teenage audience, it would tap into this pre-existing connection.
In an interview with the Japanese weekly magazine, Weekly Playboy, in 2015, Scha Dara Parr's Bose told the publication that they modified the original song 'Game Boys' to come up with the new Zelda version, the lyrics of which praise the virtues of the new action-adventure game. He also mentioned that as part of the experience he got to meet the legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto, a personal dream of his. And that yes, the group did also 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 good memories."
After years of wondering about this particular rap, it's great to finally have some context behind why it exists. It's also started us down the rabbit hole of checking out more of Scha Dara Parr's work, including this 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: