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The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Review By:  Tikerman

Developer:  Nintendo
Publisher:  Nintendo
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Adventure
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card, Progressive Scan, GBA/GCN Link Cable (Tingle Tuner)
Date Posted:  6-17-03

Everyone in the gaming community has been highly aware of the hubbub surrounding The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, dubbed Celda. When first news of Wind Waker's graphical presentation broke, there was a flurry of outrage and shock at the cel-shaded animation, clearly aimed at a younger audience. After E3's stunning realistic scene portraying an adult Link (earring and all) battling Ganondorf, many were expecting GameCube's graphical abilities to be put to the max for the latest Zelda adventure. So, understandably, there was at the very least surprise at Nintendo's decision. I myself had been looking forward to seeing Ocarina of Time's graphics, magnified brilliantly, in the next Zelda. So, when I heard the news I was skeptical.

Well, let me tell you something. Best part about Wind Waker? The graphics. I know, I know, they look "kiddy". Whatever. They look gorgeous. The animation on Wind Waker is luxuriously smooth that every environment, every one of Link's movements is a spectacle to behold. It's almost hard to concentrate on the game with so much going on. Shadow, light, water, facial expressions, wind, body movements, et cetera. It's all great. The shifting light and dark as a candle swings on a rope is astounding. You acquire a telescope at one point, and upon zooming in 8 times on an enemy or an object, not even the slightest sign of pixilation shows. Every single cel-shaded object is brilliant and masterfully done.

Every little thing is like a work of art; the dark plume of smoke with which every enemy dies with a “poof”, every explosion of every bomb, and countless others. The detail and effort put into each little thing. The music, like the graphics, is great. Every track has a full vibrant sound that reflects the environment and the action. The game opens with a Celtic-sounding piece that made me giggle with joy before I even started playing.

The story starts with Link and his sister chillin’ on their home island, where they live with their grandma. All is well until due to a major flub, a giant evil bird that had captured Tetra the pirate, drops her, and in confusion, grabs Link’s sister instead. Link almost immediately joins up with Tetra’s pirate crew to go in search of her sister. Link quickly discovers that this journey is more than he bargained for, and that he is involved in something much more sinister and complex than he realized. He acquires the boat/person King of the Red Lions (kind of a wordy name wouldn’t you say?), who can sail him about the water-covered world of Hyrule (once you get a sail, anyway). To defeat your nemesis, you must collect the three pearls (sound familiar?) of the goddesses, and prove your worth as a hero. Then the game really gets going.

For all the change in appearance, Wind Waker plays a lot like the N64 Zeldas. L is used to lock on (and you have to hold), and R and B are used to perform various activities, like “crouch” or to swing an acquired weapon. A is used for the sword, and X, Y, and Z are used for items. Link’s abilities are upgraded, and little tweaks here and there make the gameplay more fun, and easier to control. One major update that I love is the ability to pick up weapons dropped by enemies. Another nifty thing is the ability to move the camera completely freely at any time with the C stick. To be dramatic, I like to do a 360 degree view of Link as he runs somewhere. Highly nifty.

There are also more facets to the gameplay than in previous Zelda games. The most notable is of course sailing. Sailing is a lot of fun, and although sometimes tedious, it generally offers interesting, somewhat challenging, adventures. Treasure map collection, treasure collection, battles with sea creatures, and other things make sailing possibly the best part of the game. Use the Deku Leaf to navigate the winds of Hyrule in attempts to reach far off or high up places. The grappling hook allows Link to swing like Tarzan from swingable areas.

Music makes a gameplay comeback in a downsized role as well. Instead of learning a myriad of songs, you learn a single tune (which you conduct with the Wind Waker) to change the direction of the wind, and a about five others later. It’s nice to see that Nintendo isn’t harping on that theme so much for every game, but more music would have been nice. Also, masks, which debuted in Ocarina of Time and were the focus of Majora’s Mask, are nowhere to be found.

Wind Waker tends to the less challenging side, but there are certainly puzzles and events which require skill. On the whole, the game goes by fairly quickly, but you may become stuck here or there and require time to solve.

Highs:

  • Awesome graphics

  • Great gameplay in the Zelda tradition

  • Great music

  • Sweet items

  • Sailing!

  • C-stick camera viewing

Lows:

  • Perhaps not as challenging as one might prefer

  • Doesn't cure cancer

Final Verdict:

This game is possibly the best game out period, with Metroid Prime coming to mind as the only possible competition. The graphics, the music, the time-tested gameplay, and every other little thing (like the Tingleceiver) make Wind Waker a great cohesive game adventure experience. It’s difficult to point out problems with Wind Waker, the only one I can say is that it’s maybe a bit too easy. Of course, there are little problems here and there that make Wind Waker less-than-perfect, but its about as good as one can expect.

Overall Score: 9.7

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