The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker

Written by James Stevenson on 3/26/2003 for GC  
More On: The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker
Any title bearing the name of Zelda is immediately subject to intense scrutiny. It is something that is unavoidable, it cannot be escaped, Zelda games are held to a higher standard, they are more anticipated, and more is expected from them. It’s the double-edged blade that defines a series that has approached a holy state in the mind of gamers. While Wind Waker is one of the best games in recent memories, it falls short of eclipsing Ocarina of Time, and A Link to the Past.

The story begins 100 years after the Hero of Time (Link in Ocarina of Time) defeated evil and sealed it away. But things have changed, evil returned, and no hero rose to fight against it. The world was covered in water, and evil was allowed to fester. On Outset Island, a boy comes of age, and is clad in green. A giant evil bird that has been kidnapping girls with long ears then abducts this boy’s sister. Link sets off, to chase the bird with a group of pirates, and the story begins.

The narrative in The Wind Waker isn’t as involved as say, the Final Fantasy series, but it has more than enough to keep Zelda fans happy. I enjoyed the story quite a bit. The gameplay is tried and true to the Zelda formula. There are a few new items, and a few items that have not returned, and a couple new abilities for Link (to sidle along the edge of a wall). As a whole, most of the typical Zelda-style gameplay remains the same.

Nintendo’s feeble attempt to shake its kiddie image.

The biggest change is that this game is set at sea. You’ll gain a sailboat, and sail, and with the ability to control the wind with the wind waker (essentially the replacement to the ocarina of time), you can get around with ease. The world is massive, one sector is about the size of the Great Field from Ocarina, and there are around 50 sectors. Each one has an island of some sort, some have no relevance to the story and are only for mini-quests, others contain fairy islands, and yet others have dungeons or towns.

The sailing does actually get tedious, until you find the Warp Song (which is required to finish the game, actually). The game and its series of quests will take you through about six dungeons which is somewhat disappointing considering that Ocarina had around 8. None of these dungeons are nearly as difficult as Ocarina’s Water Temple; in fact they don’t even come close. However the game has a fair amount of non-dungeon quests to complete as well, so it’s not all bad. I just wish that there had been a couple more dungeons, with one damningly difficult one somewhere in the mix.

The most difficult aspect really is some of the Overworld puzzles. Chalk that up to me racing through the game in a week, but I missed some clues here and there and had a couple times where I was seriously stuck. Fortunately I was able to figure it out, but there were some puzzles in the overworld that were more difficult than those in the dungeons – a bit odd.
The combat has been refined slightly. There is now a counter move – while fighting, Link’s sword will glow green, and you’ll be able to press A to perform a spiffy move to damage your opponent. At first this doesn’t seem important, but later in the game it is. As a whole, this game plays like Ocarina in most respects.

I guess the biggest point of debate for this game will be the graphics. The graphics are gorgeous, but I have found a few areas where there are some nasty blemishes. Sometimes during close-ups or cut scenes the characters look absolutely horrific. I wish for some of these things Nintendo had actually gotten some real cartoon animation done, but instead we get the polygons.

The rest of the time, the game looks fantastic. From the effects of Link running, to the grass, to how his eyes move before he does, every aspect of the gameplay graphics is highly tuned and polished. There are moments when the sun is setting, the colors are just incredibly vibrant, and your jaw just hits the floor. There are some moments of remarkable beauty in the game.

The animation is also top-notch. When you watch Link engage in a sword duel, the fluidity of it is remarkable, and unparalleled. There are just so many times where it blew me away. I love the character designs, some of the enemies are so elaborate, they’re just a joy to fight and kill.

A blooper from the short lived Legend of Zelda The Wind Breaker

The soundtrack is top-notch. I have been humming the tunes for the past week. There’s a very pirate feel to it at times. I love some of the new tunes, and the remixes of the old ones are great. The title-screen music is good, but the intro remix of the overworld theme sent chills down my spine. From the new tunes you play with the wind waker, to the sound effects of the weapons and enemies, it’s a solid, solid, audio package. Tie in the fact that the game support Dolby Pro Logic II for surround sound, and this rivals Metroid Prime for sound on the GameCube.

This will not dethrone Ocarina of Time or Link to the Past due to the shortness and graphical technicalities; it’s still a very solid Zelda title. This is one of the best tiles to hit the GameCube, and the early frontrunner for Game of the Year.

Are the winds of the world not blowing in your favor? Then we suggest you pick up BradyGames' excellent strategy guide. Its signature series guide features maps, hints and everything you need to make your stay in the land of Zelda as pleasant as possible.
While it can't dethrone Nintendo's previous magnum opus, The Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker is a masterpiece in its own right. Anyone who owns a GameCube simply must own this game, end of story.

Rating: 9.6 Exquisite

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

James Stevenson is Contributing Editor for the nationally published Cinescape Magazine and its website, Cinescape Online. Being the slacker that he is, James is frequently seen hitting on younger women, bumming free trips off of companies, and being a general consumer whore. His passions include musicals, chick flicks, and anything relating to flowers and butterflies. He has been hopelessly addicted to videogaming for the past 16 years and giggles whenever he gets an early release of a game in the mail. Besides writing reviews of high-profile games for Gaming Nexus in his spare time, he likes working on and driving his 1977 MG-B. It's a small car, meaning he's definitely not compensating for lacking in any other departments (if you catch our drift).

It's rumored that he is addicted to the smell of the inside of a new videogame, and takes hits whenever he opens a new one to start playing it. We feel bad for the guy, he's always raving about the "visions". He dips his oreos in diluted skim milk for seven second before taking a bite.
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