Backlogging It! Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube)

Review_Legend of Zelda Wind Waker

Set sail for high-sea adventures that are more than just legendary.

There’s always a twinge of excitement in the air whenever one thinks of a Zelda game. And there was a lot in the air with this one. Many folks loved it and many folks hated it. So it was time for me to take a look at why this game was so polarizing. Here it is: Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Legend of Zelda Wind Waker - boxThe Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Genre: Action / Adventure

Developer/ Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: GameCube (can be played on Wii)

Original Release Date: March 24, 2003

ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

Reason for Rating: Violence

In this world surrounded by oceans, a legend is passed down. It’s the story of a boy dressed in green known as the Hero of Time who would always appear when darkness threatened the world. A boy named Link has come of age, and geez, a lot of weird things are starting to happen (besides him having to wear the Green Tunic of the Hero as a sign of his newly-achieved manliness). His sister gets kidnapped by some giant bird, and through a series of events, finds himself with a talking boat named King and a weird conductor’s baton known as the Wind Waker. King tells Link that an ancient evil is on the rise and that he’s the one that can put a stop to it. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a kid on his birthday! Can he pull it off and make it home to get a helping of his Grandma’s Chicken Soup?

Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker - Ganon

Cel-shaded, no-shaded, lamp-shaded. It doesn’t matter what it is, Ganon will always be 10 shades of evil.

Good Lord, It’s Like A Cartoon!

A lot of the commotion around the game centred around the visuals. Lots of people hated them because they were too cutesy, lots of people loved them. I fall into the latter camp.

Wind Waker uses a technique called cel-shading, which makes computer graphics look hand drawn. And they’re done exceptionally well. The graphics are big and colourful, the animation is silky smooth. At times I felt like I was watching (and controlling) a cartoon. The expressions on characters’ faces are fantastic, enemies look threatening in a cutesy sort of way, landscapes are amazing. I could go on, but suffice it to say that visually speaking, the game’s terrific. Then there’s the little touches like the day/night cycles, the stars you can see in the sky at night, the random weather changes. They all help to breathe life into the world. It looks like a whimsical, magical land and fits this particular Zelda adventure very well.

A Magical Orchestra

Music has always been a strong-point in the Zelda series, and this instalment certainly delivers. From the cheering music that plays at home on Onset Island to the eerie music that plays when you find a hidden cave, it adds a level of atmosphere that truly helps you feel immersed in your surroundings. If that wasn’t enough, they even re-worked some of the classic Zelda tunes, which will give you goosebumps not only because it’ll take you back, but because of how well-done they are.

 

Time To Swing That Sword

For action/adventure games like Legend of Zelda, controls are king, and the game has no problem living up to those high expectations.

You control Link with the Left analog stick, while the right stick moves the camera. It’s all quite fluid and responsive, no unnecessary fighting with the controller to get Link or the camera to move where you want them to, when you want them to.

The B button unsheathes your sword and lets you use it, and the A button is an Action button allowing you to do things such as talk to people and put items away. L button lets you target people, objects and enemies, the R button blocks attacks with your shield (or crouch if you don’t have your sword out). You have other items you can use such as bombs and arrows, which you can assign to the Z,Y or Z buttons.

All this talk about buttons… how about the fightin’?

The targeting feature will come in handy when you’re fighting enemies. Not only will it keep your foe in your line of sight, but when prompted, you can press the A button to dodge an incoming melee attack and counter with one of your own. If you’re fighting a lot of dudes, you can switch between targets, but it can get a little crazy with all those critters on the screen, so try your best not to get surrounded, yea?

Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker - Combat

Z-Targeting is quite the handy lil’ feature

All that said, I must admit: crazy as fighting can get with multiple enemies, they’re not that hard. After playing Zelda games several times, you know what to expect and you can play them without trouble. With Wind Waker… I didn’t die a single time. Not once. Out of all the Zelda games, this was the easiest one.

 

To Explore Strange, New Worlds… Er, Islands

There are lots of islands that need to be checked out in the Great Sea. Some are part of the main storyline, others have some hidden treasure that you’ll find useful in your journey. And like any sea adventure, you’ll find Treasure Maps that’ll lead you to some fabulous buried booty.

As much fun as it is sailing around in King, it isn’t exactly a pleasure cruise, as you’ll run into a lot of scurvy dogs trying to send you to Davy Jones’s locker, be them evil pirates or sea monsters as big as mountains. You even have the obligatory ghost ship haunting the waters. What secrets do they hold? You’ll have to find out.

 

The Tune Got Carried Into The Wind

Besides the lovely music that you hear throughout the game, you have to play Maestro yourself. The Wind Waker is an important part of the story and you’ll use it for a variety of different purposes, like warping to different parts of the Great Sea, controlling the wind, and… wait for it… MIND CONTROL!

 

Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker - Using the Wind Waker

The wind is at your beck and call with the Wind Waker.

Ya know what would’ve been cool? If you conducted your own orchestra. In the Game Boy game Link’s Awakening, you collected 8 instruments and when you played your Ocarina to open the last dungeon, all the instruments start to play (as if you were conducting an orchestra). I sorta wish you could do something similar in Wind Waker (though I guess that would be a bit too obvious…?).

I Want My Name In The History… Again

When you’re all done, you can start a Second Quest, where you’ll start with a couple of goodies, mainly a special camera that you’ll need to complete one of the side quests. Besides that, there are plenty of hidden loot that’ll keep you busy and will make you want to play through the game again.

Anything else besides the hidden loot that would make you go back and play again?

It’s fun.

I really enjoyed this new spin in the Zelda legacy. There are a lot of nods to the previous games: the updated tunes, mentions of the ‘Hero of Time’ storyline, callbacks to some of the things you did in previous Zelda games. Wind Waker does a wonderful job at capturing the charm and spirit that has made this one of the more memorable series in the industry.

 

A Game Worthy Of A Legend

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a wonderful addition to the franchise. It’s fun, it’s cute, full of memorable tunes and an epic quest that’ll span many hours and keep ya busy. Despite being a bit on the easy side, it’s still worth your time. Check it out.

Score: 9 / 10

 

Pros

  • + Beautiful cel-shaded graphics lends itself well to this whimsical tale
  • + Music is superb and catchy, with some lovely callbacks to Zelda classic tunes
  • + Great story that’s a tip of the hat to the ‘Hero of Time’ arch

Cons

  • It’s easier than past Zelda games, so some veterans of the series might not find it at all challenging

 

Pick up your copy of Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca:

 

 

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Have you played Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker? What did you think of it? Share your thoughts in the Comments Section!