The 'Shroom:Issue XXIV/Non-Mario Review
Now here’s something different. The story of Wind Waker, at first, seems almost more like a Mario story: heroine gets kidnapped (although in this case, it’s Link’s sister, not the princess Zelda), gotta go save her. Some thought Wind Waker even had the laziest story to date! But again, they’re wrong, because it expands into something much bigger.
Link discovers he’s actually connected to the Triforce. To Zelda, and to Ganon. He finds out his true destiny is to save the sunken land of Hyrule, which is now buried beneath the waves of the Great Sea as a result of the Flood. While saving his sister started out as the main objective, you have to save the entire country of Hyrule as well. The game actually connects itself with previous Zelda’s, and particularly, Ocarina of Time--there are many homages and references to it.
And plus, there are many heartfelt moments in this game, such as the reunition scene with Aryll, among other things.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Yes, this game, although stirred up lots of controversy, is quite a gem. It is often considered the true sequel to Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. Really the only part of Wind Waker that was controversial, was the cel-shaded graphics. Fans were just outright appalled that Nintendo would try making a more realistic Mario but a more cartoony Zelda. It just didn’t seem like Zelda’s style. So it must have sucked. Did it really? Contrary to the belief of some gamers, it really didn’t! The graphics: pure beauty! The cel-shaded effects and cartoony look of the game give it quite a charm of its own, unique to all who look at it.
The cut-scenes all have characters making all sorts of different expressions, some of which can be outright hillarious (Link’s "startled" face still makes me laugh every time I see it). Everything in this game just looks crisp and smooth and the colors all fit in perfectly and look vibrant. Furthermore, it was quite a refreshing take on a Zelda game. People figured that, if it were on the GameCube, it would push the system to its limits and look as realistic as it could be. Though they were wrong, I think it’s better that they were.
And the look of the game is really something quite different. It makes it feel like less of a graphical style and more like a piece of art. A Zelda fan would probably have to approach it with an open-mind, but once they get used to it, no doubt they should like it, or at least accept it.
Zelda games are well-known for their remarkably deep puzzle solving and fighting aspects, Wind Waker is no different. While the puzzles and dungeons are definitely not as hard as Ocarina of Time’s, they are still quite challenging. And, you have to keep in mind that Miyamoto (the beloved creator of the Mario franchise) wanted this game to be slightly more kid-oriented, but it’s still for everyone. Wind Waker adds all sorts of side-quests and fun things to do, some of which are amazingly distracting. It’s like you have your whole little world out there to explore; the sea is enormous and the tiny islands on it are aplenty.
Swordfights have been greatly improved with the addition of the all-new and awesome parry attacks, which create a new level of tension and drama to the battles. There are many sword techniques to learn, and the Link in Wind Waker is even faster than that of Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask, so battles are quick, but not completely "easy", either!
In a way, Wind Waker also has some more platform game-like elements, such as being able to fly on Link’s Deku Leaf. It gives one a sense of freedom, a freedom like no other Zelda.
Another recurring theme in a Zelda game, is the importance of music. In the 3-D Zelda’s, it has become almost like a tradition to give the hero some sort of instrument. While there are nods to classics in Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker’s music isn’t quite as vibrant or memorable, but it is extremely far from being bad. The tunes all had some thought put into them; Forest Haven’s music makes you think of a friendly forest, Outset Island’s music makes you think of a happy town, etc., so they all portray what they mean to portray quite accurately. Some music really creates the feeling of a mysterious area, or dangerous enemies lurking nearby.
No doubt Wind Waker made a lot of fans worry that it wouldn’t be like Zelda, and that it would stray too far from the series’ roots. It tried lots of things out; most of them were successful, but I can clearly see why a fan would not like the game because of this. But it also expanded the core audience for Zelda, in a way, for the younger players. It added either more or less to the Zelda franchise. But no matter what they say, it’s my personal favorite in the series.
Pros and Cons
The good: More gameplay variety, plenty of new characters, totally new setting and scenery, homages to Ocarina of Time, good music
The Wind Waker is a truly unique game that changed a lot for Zelda. It replaced a lot of the dungeons with seafaring and treasure-hunting. While it received occasional mixed opinions or even sometimes outright-negative ones from fans, it if far from being bad, and will remain in the hearts of gamers everywhere.