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Wind Waker Before & After
Written By: AJ Middleton

Months ago, upon hearing (and seeing) Nintendo’s plan for Link’s first adventure on the GameCube, I was, like most others, a little appalled.  I didn’t understand why Nintendo decided to do that to the series.  Never mind, scratch that.  The cel shading was ok, but I didn’t understand why Nintendo decided to make Link look like that.  I mean, you can cel shade and still have the character look older.  The big-head big-eye small-feet thing wasn’t attractive to me.  But, I decided that Miyamoto and Nintendo knew what they were doing (ha) so the game would be added to my wish list.  I had no intention to reserve until I learned of the bonus disk, so I figured that getting the 3+ games in one deal would be worth it.

And now the time has come.  The Wind Waker is in my house.  In my ‘Cube.  Being played.

And what do I think?

With only a few hours completed, I already have mixed feelings.  Let’s start with the positive.  The graphics.  Amazing.  Outstanding.  Cel shading is a simply remarkable technique.  It seems so much like an FMV and cartoon that it doesn’t feel like I should be playing it.  The game moves so smoothly and without flaw, which makes it seem more like something that should only be watched.  When the word got out, some complained about the game being “flat.”  It most definitely is not flat.  Cel shading gives a great sense of depth, from every crack in the wall to the strikingly realistic shadows cast by light in a dark area.  Battles are enhanced like crazy by this technique, by having bright flashes and quick movements when Link attacks.  Sometimes, you get a sense of Pixar-style 3D, and even see a glimpse of our good friend, Mr. texture mapping.  Using the cel shading was not a mistake.  It surely shows the true power of the GameCube.

So yeah, I like the graphics.  But does it feel like Zelda so far?  I’m not sure.  It’s very “happy,” but that comes next.  For one thing, the story has been taking place on the sea.  Zelda has traditionally been on land, so the water twist is a little odd.  Also, there is the plot.  This game is strongly based on The Ocarina of Time.  No other Zelda game has ever directly referred to another installment of the series.  The opening story, as mentioned in the manual, revolves around the legend of the Hero of Time.  Link the 1st anyone?  Besides completely destroying the Single-Link Theory, it makes the Link in the game feel kinda fake.  For example, in A Link to the Past, there is no reference to another hero, so it makes Link seem like the first and only one.  Wind Waker Link seems like more of a descendant (if even that) than the legendary hero.  All past installations of the series have been loosely connected if connected at all (I still refuse to believe that any link between them was originally intended,) and Wind Waker is breaking the rules.  Although, I must admit, the twist that has turned up is VERY different and I know I’ll enjoy the plot, but I’m not sure if it will end feeling like a Zelda.

As I said, the game is very happy.  A little too happy.  Everything is all bright and cheery.  Even the dark areas have certain brightness to them.  Battles look great, but enemies die in a puff of cartoony smoke that looks like something straight from Disney’s Hercules.  There is some item called a “Joy Pendant” that looks like a butterfly.  A Joy Pendant?  Give me a break!  This is Zelda, not Barney’s Great Adventure!  The menu screen is also too happy.  It’s all bright green with big bold letters.  I’m getting memories of old preschool software that my sister used to have.

How can I mention happy without mentioning Link himself?  I still can’t get over the way he looks!  I thought it would fade away, but no.  Link looks KIDDY.  Maybe THAT’S why this doesn’t feel like Zelda- the hero is some goofy elf-boy.  From his huge eyes to his ridiculous expressions to his disproportioned feet, everything about him is wrong.   On top of that, Link looks like some graceful ballerina when he uses the Wind Waker. OTHER people in the game look normal.  Why can’t Link?  Nintendo had many chances to be comical with the cel style, so they shouldn’t have done it with him.  That was a mistake.  Watch out!  Samus might be toonerized next!  Ugh, I want Link not a new Loony-Tune!

Ehheh.  If my decision was solely based on Link’s looks, I would not have this game right now.  Luckily, my passion for Zelda is stronger than the looks of one character.  The cel shading, the water concept, and the direction of this plot are all pulling me in.  Stay tuned (no pun intended) for my next updates!  I’m off to finish!

Check out what he thought after completing the game! -->

Posted: 11-11-03
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