The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
An adventure with an amazing presentation!
This game blends in so many good things, both old and new, into one great package.
Let's start of with the biggest change; the graphical style. It's totally unlike older games such as the legendary [i]Ocarina of Time[/i]. Instead of the rather realistic look used in that game, this title takes a more cartoonish approach to the graphics to make it look like [i]Four Swords[/i] for the Gameboy Advance but in 3D. But don't be fooled by it's kiddy look! While controversial at first, after seeing it in action it looks amazing. By using a cell-shaded look for characters this game succeeds remarkably well in creating this cartoon style. The characters become much more expressive. Link, the main character, has huge eyes to make his facial expressions much easier to see. This style allows for smooth animation, too. Good examples are clouds of dust or explosions. These look very stylish. While it's totally different it doesn't hurt the series at all, and allows for a style that is simple yet amazingly beautiful at the same time. Kids may find Zelda more enjoyable, too, in this cute, yet cool looking world. The graphics are stunning, just stunning!
The story has Link finding out that his sister has been kidnapped and taken to a fortress in the sea. Since the land of Hyrule has been covered in the sea by the gods to prevent the evil Ganon to threaten the people, most of the map is now water. Once Link arrives at the fortress he finds out Ganon has returned and sets out to find a way to get his sister out of there and defeat Ganon. Although rather simple at first, the story becomes much more complex after playing the game for a few hours. Many characters are new but some fan favorites return, such as Tingle or the Deku Tree. I am not going to spoil it here, but I can say the storyline is great.
Although the graphics are very different from the N64 games, the gameplay remains very similar, but also blends in some new things. As I said before, instead of green fields, there is now a HUGE ocean to explore. There are lots of Islands to see, some big, others tiny but all with their own little secrets. These islands will invite you to explore them and you will often find, in good Zelda fashion, that there's more to them than meets the eye. Since you are out at sea, you travel between them by boat. This boat, the King of Red Lions, can actually talk to you and leads the way by showing where to go on your sea chart. Since it is a sailing boat. You control the sail so if you want to get somewhere, you must have the wind blowing in the right direction. That's where the most important item in the game comes in: the Wind Waker, a magical conductors baton that gives Link the divine power to control the wind, if he knows the right songs. This is much like the Ocarina of Time was in previous games. Besides controlling the wind, other songs have other purposes, which I will not spoil here. There are other elements that are affected by the wind such as parachuting with your Deku Leaf. This item allows you to glide, but if the wind is blowing in the wrong way, you won't get very far. This element has a big and interesting impact on gameplay. While these items are new, most of them are familiar, such as the Boomerang, Hookshot, Rupees, Triforce Shards etc. For the rest of the game, it's all pretty much the same formula as before, but once again done so well that this is not a bad point at all. There are towns to replenish your health and stock up on items, fairy fountains to be found and, off course, the dungeons. These dungeons are once again full of fun puzzles that challenge you but never grow to tough to find out. At the end of each dungeon there is the occasional boss fight. As always, the new items you have found in the dungeon will be vital to defeating the boss, you just have to find out how to use them on it. Other enemies are mostly familiar but require you to use different items to beat them. Although the main quest it not too hard, there are lots of side-quests to do, such as finding the heart pieces, collecting treasure charts and making pictures of characters which will serve an interesting purpose if you look carefully. If you need help finding the treasures there is the Tingle Tuner item, a great GC to GBA connection that will give you hints where to fish up treasures. You can fish these up with your Grappling Hook when aboard your boat. Trying out items aboard your boat will get different results compared to when they are used on land. Bombs will become a cannon, the Grappling Hook becomes a crane etc. This is a very nice touch to the game. All these little touches will make you come back for more. They all add up to one of the greatest gameplay experiences on the GameCube. Amazing, simply amazing!
The sound is great but it doesn't add too much to the game. Although you'll be humming them soon, you may miss some classic tunes if you've played other Zelda games. Sound effects are classic, which I liked.
Sailing across the sea gets boring quickly when you sail long distances, which is often!
Playing the wind song all the time to change the wind's direction gets irritating after a while.
Sometimes there really is no clue where to go next, especially when about halfway through the game.
Some classic tunes are absent.
The Bottom Line
A very stylish adventure with lots of things to do and see. Difficult to put down. It's easily one of the best titles for the GameCube and will amaze you from it's charming visual style to it's excellent gameplay.
by Rensch (203) on April 20th, 2007