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The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube) artwork

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube) review


"We find our young hero sleeping upon a lofty perch, overlooking the sparkling sea. He’s suddenly jarred from his slumber by his younger sister, Aryll. She then reminds him that today is his birthday, and he needs to speak with his grandmother. Once at the house, his grandmother gives Link his birthday present. New clothes? He is then told that the outfit is worn to commemorate the Hero of Time. Now, our hero, donning his new green garments, makes his way back to the island lookout to talk with h..."



We find our young hero sleeping upon a lofty perch, overlooking the sparkling sea. He’s suddenly jarred from his slumber by his younger sister, Aryll. She then reminds him that today is his birthday, and he needs to speak with his grandmother. Once at the house, his grandmother gives Link his birthday present. New clothes? He is then told that the outfit is worn to commemorate the Hero of Time. Now, our hero, donning his new green garments, makes his way back to the island lookout to talk with his sister. She wants Link to take her most prized possession, a telescope. Looking through the telescope, Link sees a strange bird carrying a young woman toward Outset Island with a pirate ship in hot pursuit. The colossal bird is then pummeled by a boulder launched from the ship. Stunned, the bird drops the girl into a nearby forest.

Link sets out to save the young woman from the forest where she fell. After traversing the mountainous region, Link crosses the bridge into the forest. Upon entering, he sees her hanging from a tall tree. In his attempt to get her down, Link is confronted by his first enemies. He valiantly fights them off, and rescues the young woman. After escaping the forest, they come to the bridge, and Link sees his sister across the way. At the moment she begins to cross, she is mistakenly captured by the giant bird. Link must now fight his way through the dungeons, and rescue his sister.

The simplistic hack-and-slash battle system that the Legend of Zelda franchise was built on has, of course, evolved over time. Now instead of simply button mashing, the battle system is contingent on pressing the B button in conjunction with the joystick. These intuitive controls allow Link to fluently perform a wide array of attacks. The many diverse aspects of battle come to play when fighting different enemies. A lot of them you can’t simply attack head on, but some take certain items or combos to defeat. Such as the Yellow Chu’s. They emit an electric shield, which upon attacking, will shock Link. Stunning the Chu with your boomerang will cause the electric field to fall, leaving it open to an attack. You will also be forced to fight heavily armored knights, and in order to cause damage you have to strip them of their armor. By performing a parry, you can dodge their strike, roll behind them, and use an upward slash. Link will then slice through their armor, and with a slew of attacks, his foe will fall in a puff of black smoke. The Wind Waker makes certain elements of the gameplay mandatory, causing you to instinctively perform complex combos during crucial points in battle.

The newest gameplay aspect in the Wind Waker is sailing. The King of Red Lions, a lively red sailboat with a lion’s head, will guide you through most of the game, hinting at what the next stretch of the journey will bring, and helpfully marking your sea chart. The Wind Waker, a magical baton that allows you to control the wind, will also be an indispensable asset while sailing. Using it to control the direction of the wind will allow you to fill your sails with the breeze, and gain full speed while sailing. Other items can be used while on the boat as well, and are at most times necessary to beat sea creatures. Yet, with all that said, sailing is still a monotonous part of the gameplay. But the beauty of it all will lull you into a trance. And although the sea is not exceedingly large, it does hold many traps. Cyclones are one of the most common obstacles to overcome while sailing. They will pick your boat up, and toss it someplace completely opposite of where you need to be.

The graphical style of the Wind Waker was, at first, very controversial; however, it can now be viewed as an artistic masterpiece among video games. Instead of the usual mix of somber greens and blacks, the Wind Waker adds vibrant yellows and reds that make the world sing. And the detail of it all is amazing! While Link is getting prepared to be shot from a cannon you can’t help but giggle at the anxious look that comes over his face. And the sparks that fly upon the impact of two steel blades are stunning all by themselves, but if you add the recoil of both characters from the force of the blow, it becomes cinematic. The enemies, at times, are very lively, and sometimes overly animated. The quirkiness of the enemies in the Forsaken Fortress is nothing short of hilarious. While you’re sneaking around you will see that the guards have a creepy realism about the way they walk. Yet, when you’re spotted, they flail in a cartoon-like manner, and chuck an oil lamp at you. However, the developers did not forget the title “Wind Waker”; therefore, there is an emphasis on wind in the graphics. While traveling around in the Wind Waker universe you will notice the wind occasionally blow through the grass and treetops, and you will often see a wisp of wind whip past Link’s head emitting a light fluttering sound.

The moan of the bow. The rumble of collapsing earth. And most importantly, the heart stopping sound of two swords clashing. This is how Nintendo brought realism to cel-shaded graphics, by not missing even the slightest sound effect. It will bring you into the game, and make you feel like a part of the adventure. The Wind Waker also boasts a soundtrack reminiscent of the Ocarina of Time. It has many familiar tunes, but they have all been re-mastered, so they sound even better than before. The song you will hear most is a re-mix of the Hyrule theme, and it plays while you’re sailing. Yet, when darkness approaches the music stops, and you are left only with the sound of waves breaking against the hull of your boat. Even though many would complain that this is a negative, it does give you a chance to hear a rare sound effect. Having only the sloshing of water to hear really immerses you into a realistic sailing experience.

For a game to take a tired series and breathe new life into it is no easy feat, and if nothing it should be recognized for that. The Wind Waker’s story may leave you a disappointed by the length, but the pure majesty makes up for it. And although many believe that Ocarina of Time did all of this first, it is arguable that the Wind Waker did it all better. It takes you from the usual “world cast into shadow”, and brings you into a vibrantly colored landscape. The Wind Waker is a true masterpiece in every sense of the word. And even the tiny flaws cannot conflict with the Wind Waker’s overall aesthetic. So whatever adventure our young hero sails into next, it can be certain that he will not disappoint.

Rating: 9/10

shinryu's avatar
Community review by shinryu (July 17, 2006)

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