“Oh , chosen one…
Accept this final challenge…”
-Gohdan, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
“The following is a guest post by The Five More Minutes Mage.”
Just watching the trailer for BotW (I sadly have not played it yet), I noticed a lot of similarities between BotW and Wind Waker. That person with the huge backpack in BotW? His name is Beedle, and he makes his first appearance in Wind Waker where you find him in boats that circle certain islands. Even the paraglider from BotW is in The Wind Waker, as a magical leaf that’s used to glide and create gusts of wind.
Like I said, Wind Waker is an open world Zelda game. But compared to other Zelda games, it is actually very different. The adventure does not take place in Hyrule (or does it?), but in the middle of an ocean that is dotted with islands big and small. Also, the main protagonist is not Link. He dresses as our well-known hero, and uses similar tools, but Link is only mentioned as a hero that the protagonist and his village look up to.
Wind Waker starts in the village where the protagonist (let’s just call him Link) lives. He is coming of age, and the game’s introduction tells players that children coming of age in his island village receive clothes similar to Link’s. Suddenly, a gigantic evil-looking bird soars into view, carrying the limp body of a young girl. The bird gets hit by a stone launched from a catapult of a nearby ship, and the small girl falls into a forest. Link, urged by his sister, gets a sword and ventures into the nearby forest (seen above as the area across the rope bridge). He rescues the girl and heads back out. When Link exits the forest, he sees his sister waving from the other side of the bridge, and she starts running towards him. Suddenly, the giant bird grabs Link’s sister from the bridge and takes her away. And so the adventure begins!
Link collects various items on his way to find his sister. The items include a sword, a shield, a grappling hook, a magical leaf, a boomerang, bombs, a bow, and a hammer. The swords and shields do what swords and shields do. The other tools present opportunities to get to places where you usually couldn’t go, or provide additional help in puzzle solving. For example, the magical leaf lets you glide, and can create gusts of wind to activate switches.
The Wind Waker takes its name from an item in the game. The Wind Waker is a magical conductor’s baton that can control the winds. It can change the direction of the wind, turn day into night, and solve puzzles.
Combat is fun and simple. Link always has his sword and shield equipped, and it’s easy to hack’n’slash or block incoming attacks. Not all enemies are straightforward, though. This is where the ever-present puzzle factor of the Legend of Zelda series seeps in. Some enemies have a weak spot on their back, forcing you to do an evasive roll around them and slash at them quickly. Items that Link picks up along the way help, too. The boomerang and bow can hit enemies from afar. The hammer deals extra damage to enemies, at the cost of a slower attack.
Wind Waker wouldn’t be Wind Waker without exploration. The sea is vast, but that means so is the travel time. Link eventually learns a song on the Wind Waker which allows him to warp to certain locations, but there are still open expanses of water that are painful to travel through. A few times I was tempted to get out a book while I waited for Link to get somewhere. As lengthy as it is, I enjoyed exploring all the islands. You can find submarines with loot in them, a ghost ship, and you can even fish up treasure with the grappling hook!
The 8-bit review:
Wind Waker definitely looks better in HD. Its visuals are better than before, but still lacking. The animation is good, but looks cartoonish compared to other games in the Legend of Zelda series. However, Wind Waker‘s visuals get the job done.
I think that the story is amazing. From the small chunk that I wrote, the story doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, but later in the game the narrative really takes off. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is a story about a brave kid who embarks on a quest to save his sister, but on the way, sees the big picture, and decides to pitch in for the better. Another amazing thing about the narrative is the dialogue of Ganondorf, the main villain. In the last few battles and cut scenes, Ganondorf reveals a sliver of a reason why he is doing what he is doing.
The controls for Wind Waker are easy to use. The sword and shield are always equipped, and the rest of the items are equipped by dragging and dropping them into slot on the Wii U gamepad. A flaw in the system is that you can only equip four specific items at a time, so you have to wisely choose your load for battle. The camera angle can also be a slight problem sometimes.
Family Friendliness: 9/10
It’s a game where you have a sharp object in your hand, and enemies attack you with dangerous objects or in dangerous ways. There is also a certain type of zombie-like enemy that might scare the kids.
Wind Waker is hard. There isn’t a handy little person who tells you what to do (unless you die a lot), and a lot of the time I was scratching my head at some puzzles. Boss fights are always hard, and dungeons are filled to the brim with monsters. At one point you have to fight each boss one after another again! Wind Waker is not for undetermined people.
When you complete Wind Waker, you are actually given the option to create a new save file that has slightly altered dialogue, and Link keeps his clothes from before he got the Link costume. Link’s sister also wears a new dress. Wind Waker is fun but it’s one of those games where you put so much time into your original save file, you don’t want to do it again.
Nintendo took some new steps in the right direction with Wind Waker. Exploration, the key feature in Wind Waker, became a huge factor in later Legend of Zelda games. The part about how you are not in Hyrule (or are you?) and the sailing part of Wind Waker makes it stand out in the Zelda series.
My Personal Grade: 9/10
I really liked Wind Waker. Filling up my map was fun. So was finding an island that seemed straight out of Minecraft. I really liked hearing the sound of bosses being defeated. This was actually my first Legend of Zelda game, so it will always have a certain special value for me. Wind Waker has so much to offer, and it’s a real joy to play.
Aggregated score: 8.6
The Five More Minutes Mage is a writer over at gamegato.wordpress.com whose favorite color is turquoise. Be sure to check out more of his cattish work there!