Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Posted 04 May 2003 at 03:35 by Guest Reviewer
Mwa ha ha ha ha! Foolish fools who mocked this game long ago after seeing screenshots! I laugh at you and your foolish faces!!! Not only is this easily the best GameCube game to date, it is arguably the best Zelda game ever. I guess I can understand why some people think Link seems a little weird, but he's never looked better if you ask me. And, technically, he's not even the same Link as in other Zelda games. The Wind Waker takes place 100 years after Ocarina of Time; since then, Ganon had risen again, but the people's pleas went unanswered, and the legendary Hero of Time did not appear. The land of Hyrule has since disappeared, no one knows to where. Those left live on small islands scattered throughout the sea. On one of these islands, Outset Island, it is custom to clothe young boys in the green garb of the legendary hero for a day once they have come of age. This day has come for a young boy named Link, when suddenly, a gigantic bird being chased by a pirate ship kidnaps Link's sister. The pirates' leader, Tetra, a cunning young girl, reluctantly agrees to help Link save her, and thus his adventure begins. The Wind Waker has a much more subtle version of the "get the Master Sword, the Triforce, and kill Ganon," storyline (and, yes, you do actually collect Link's eight fragments of the Triforce of Courage like in the first Zelda for NES), making it a completely new Zelda experience, especially with all the seafaring.
Despite having cel-shaded graphics, the Wind Waker does not really look very cartoony, like most cel-shaded games. Instead, it has its own unique style, and looks incredible. Even if you don't like the way Link looks, you have to admit most of the other people look fine, and that the background graphics are great. Your range of vision is extremely far, being necessary to spot islands on the horizon. The special effects, such as rain, lightning, smoke, and explosions, all look amazing, and the bosses of dungeons are huge and freakishly terrifying. This game is also very realistic; when Link is wet from recently being in water or rain, his clothes drip. He shows a wide range of facial expressions, especially with his eyes, which will focus on enemies or objects of importance.
Nintendo had better sell the soundtrack to this game in places other than Japan! (Which they probably will, considering they did with the last two console Zelda games) The music is a perfect blend of mostly new Zelda music, of its own style, and some traditional Zelda music, much of which has been slightly changed. The sound effects are similar to those of previous Zelda games, but are more numerous, particularly Link's vocal expressions. He comes with the standard yells as well as a few new screams and short phrases. Dialogue might have been nice but probably would have made what many already consider a weird Zelda game even stranger.
It doesn't get any better than this, my friends. The combat of the Wind Waker is incredible. Much better than that of Star Fox Adventure's (which I had ironically compared to previous Zelda games in my review of SFA). Link can now perform several different combos with the sword, as well as parry - the moment before a targeted enemy strikes, the A button on the display will "spike," your sword will glow, and the controller will rumble. If you press A during this brief moment, you will instantly perform a combination dodge/counterattack, which will most likely leave your enemy reeling with pain. Throughout the game as you collect Swordsman's Crests, usually dropped by a certain kind of enemy, and every ten the sword master on Outset Island will teach you a new sword technique, the first of which being the Cyclone - hold B for longer than a normal spin attack to charge the sword, then release to unleash spinning doom upon a mass of enemies over a wide area (or even just a field of grass, if you want). Your enemies will often drop their weapons, which you can pick up and use as long and you remain in the room. And considering that most of your enemies have weapons bigger than Link is, that's pretty good.
One of the main new focuses of the Wind Waker is on seafaring. With this the game teaches lessons never before touched upon by Zelda games in addition to good old Zelda values; for example, "A bomb that explodes in your face hurts," as well as "You can't sail against the wind." Early in the story you will receive the aid of the King of Red Lions, a talking boat, who is secretly a character from many previous Zelda games, although he has never been shown before (and I won't spoil it any more than that). Once you acquire a sail for him, you can set out for the open ocean, or at least in the direction the wind is blowing. However, once you get the Wind Waker you can direct the wind, and sail to your heart's content. I suppose the one drawback to this game is that sailing can get a little boring, but usually the trips aren't too long and most of the time you'll be busy searching for sunken treasure and battling enemies such as sharks, Octoroks, and warships. And later on you learn to conduct a song that allows you to teleport via cyclone to many different locations across the sea.
A few other points I'd like to touch on: there are at least two, maybe more, "partner dungeons," meaning you are accompanied by another character, which will follow you, you can lift, carry, and throw, and take control of by conducting a song. They are not much of a burden either, seeing as they don't have health and you can control them from anywhere in the room, guiding them out of trouble spots. Using their abilities, such as flying, reflecting light, growing trees, etc., you can overcome some particularly tricky puzzles. Another interesting new aspect of the Wind Waker is the Tingle Tuner - you can hook a GBA into one of the other controller ports and have a friend help. Your friend will receive a map of the area you are in, as well as hints about the area and locations of treasures and other objects of importance. He will also have a cursor visible on the TV screen, and be able to target enemies, get information on them, and for a price of ten rupees, drop a bomb on the enemy from out of nowhere. A couple other points of interest: I can carry 5000 rupees and 99 bombs so far; veterans of previous Zelda games will know that is an absolute boatload of rupees and bombs. Only 30 arrows so far though.
Well, what can I say? It plays pretty much like previous Zelda N64 games. One nice difference is that you can set the L-targeting to target an enemy only as long as you hold L, or the traditional press once then press L again to switch targets. Also, you have A as a primary action and R as a secondary action - you now have different buttons for, say, climbing or grabbing a block, and for throwing or dropping a carried item.
A - primary action / talk / roll / dodge / jump attack / parry / sidle against wall
B - swing sword - combine will control stick for different swings
X - Item Assign
Y - Item Assign
R - Secondary action
Z - Tertiary action
L - Target / center camera behind
C stick - rotate camera
Control stick - move
D pad - map
The Wind Waker is at least as long as Ocarina of Time, if not longer. I have already completed 6 dungeons and still haven't even gotten one of the eight fragments of the Triforce of Courage. I'm not sure if there's a dungeon for each one of those, but there could be. And once I get those, all that does is get me into Hyrule, and who knows how much goes on there. My point is I'm not even done and I know it's plenty long. I guess there's probably not a whole lot of replay value, but you could play it over to find items you missed.
If there is such a thing as a perfect game, then this is it. Metroid Prime is arguably as good, so it really comes down to a matter of personal preference. And who doesn't absolutely love Zelda games? What I can say for sure is that GameCube has another solid game that'll make the PS2 and Xbox fan boys cry themselves to sleep at night (no offense to non-fan boys who like those systems).
N-Europe Final Verdict
Original not only in it's looks yet still maintaing the soul of a true Zelda experience. Excellent.
Sailing long distances