Audio

The Famicom Disk System included extra sound hardware that let game creators make more interesting sound effects and music than they could with the ordinary Famicom and NES. Since we’re comparing the FDS version of Zelda with the NES version here, it’s natural that a number of audio differences exist between the two.

Since I grew up with the NES version, I’m used to the audio it uses. But Japanese fans are mostly in agreement that the FDS version sounds much better and that the cartridge versions are lackluster.

Here are some audio comparisons for your listening pleasure. See which ones you prefer!

Background Music

There isn’t much music in Zelda, but a few tracks are slightly different between the two releases. Let’s give ‘em a listen.

Title Screen / Intro

This famous song greets players as soon as the game starts up. I’m extremely attached to the NES version, but Japanese fans tend to believe that the Famicom Disk System version is much better, with its faux-flute sounds and such.

I do agree that a lot of the instruments make part of the song sound nicer in the Japanese version, especially the bells and flutes. They give it a more “fantasy” vibe. There’s this weird percussion or something in the background of the Japanese version that sounds strange though – at first I thought it was static or the audio messing up, but nope, it’s supposed to be like that.

I like the strength of the NES music. I don’t know why, but the beeps and boops just feel strong for some reason. I also like the combination of the start of the NES music and the flowing waterfall on the screen. Somehow they’re a really good match.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Final Dungeon

The final dungeon in the game has its own background music, and boy is it ever intimidating.

The NES one probably doesn’t need much introduction to readers of this site. The Japanese one has a few differences though:

  • There’s a short, fast beat for a while before the main song starts
  • The beat keeps going throughout the entire song, like a racing heartbeat that won’t stop. The NES version seems to lose it for a while
  • When the music loops, it also does the start-up beat again. This makes the loop sound awkward compared to the more seamless NES version

I’m not good at explaining sounds and music, so hear them for yourself:

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Dying & Game Over

When you die in the game, Link spins around and “pops”. In the Japanese version, this spinning sound reminds me a lot of when Pac-Man dies. The NES version sounds pretty different.

The game over/continue screen music is a little different between both versions too. Mostly it’s a case of different-sounding instruments – the NES version sounds a lot more beep-boopy.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Ending

The ending music sounds slightly different too, which isn’t much of a surprise since it’s so similar to the continue screen jingle.

Overall, I think the Japanese one sounds a little more dance-inducing for some reason :P

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Sounds and Short Tunes

A lot of sound effects and short little tunes were changed in the game too. Some of them are so slight that I almost didn’t notice them at first. In fact, I’d wager there should be more listed here that I’ve just forgotten about or accidentally missed. If you know of anything that should be added, please let me know!

Secret Discovery Chime

The little tune that plays when you uncover a secret sounds ever-so-slightly different between both games.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Recorder

The melody played when you use your recorder/flute sounds a little different too.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Getting Items

The sound that plays when you pick up a normal item is slightly different between the two games. As is the sound that plays when you get a key item.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Getting Rupees

I’m not sure I got these audio clips right, but the sound played when you pick up a rupee is a little different in both games.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Sword Shooting

The sound your sword makes when you shoot it (when you have full health) is definitely different in the two games.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Bombs

The sound that bombs make when they explode is very different in both games. The NES version sounds a lot “bombier” I think.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Opening Doors

This was one of the more obvious sound differences – when you unlock a door or open a shuttered door, the door makes a sound. This sound is very different in both versions:

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Getting Hurt

The sound Link makes when he gets hurt is a tiny bit different too:

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Enemy Deaths

The sound that enemies make when you kill them is different in both games. I feel the NES version has a much more satisfying feel.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Nearby Boss

When you’re near a boss room, you can hear it making a sound. This sound is very different in both games – and the Japanese version has multiple types of the sound, depending on what the boss is. I believe the NES version only has one sound that plays for all the enemies.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Boss Howls

Boss enemies (and major enemies) make sounds when they’re attacking or when they’re hit. In the Japanese version there’s a variety of different sounds used, but in the NES version it seems only two sounds are used. I could be wrong about that, if so, please let me know!

But whatever the case, the sounds are very different between both games. I do like how the FDS versions sound more “creature-y”, but there’s something about the NES versions that I like too.

Japanese FDS Version North American Version

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

No equivalent?

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No equivalent?

Other Music / Sounds

It’s hard to keep track of all the sound and music subtleties in the game, so if I’ve missed something, please let me know!

Also, thanks to this site for a number of these sound effects – I wouldn’t have known how to get a bunch of them on my own (without music) otherwise!

And for more info and details about audio differences, you can see here too!