Ahhh freedom, the freedom that comes with sailing the open seas of an unknown world, the freedom to choose where you go and when you go there, the freedom that comes from ‘The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’. Wind Waker happens to be my favorite Legend of Zelda game, and one of my all time favorite games of all time, so when I was asked to participate in a project covering every Legend of Zelda game from a close friend, I immediately accepted. After having so many memories associated with this game it was an easy decision for me.
When I first picked up this game, the aspect about it that got most of my attention was the graphics. Those beautiful chibi Anime style graphics that I admired. An admiration that sadly wasn’t shared by most. When this game was initially released, It didn’t get the wide praise it has now. What it got was a bunch of whiny wanker babies arguing that it wasn’t good realistic enough. I remember having acquaintances borrow the game and state, “What’s this cartoon shit. Give me a real game with guns”. These were the same folks that would easily play ocarina of time. Stating that it had “Real Graphics”. Obviously these people were imbeciles that couldn’t appreciate true art, but for those like me. Wind Waker is one of if not the best looking Zelda game. Simple things like the artistic stroke of the wind passing link, or the beautiful details on the water as you boat sits on the restless waves express that truth so effortlessly. And Wind Waker’s graphical appeal does not end there. All one needs to do to fully understand just how detailed this entry on arguably one of the best franchise is, would be to look at Link’s eyes when something of interest catches his attention. That amount of detail is seldom seen in games, even today. I’ve played triple-A titles where aspects like the character’s perspective wasn’t handled properly, however with Wind Waker it’s implemented as part of the artistic dynamic charm of the game.
Speaking of dynamic, though the game may be one of the most cartoonistic interpretation of the series to date, it is also one of the most atmospheric thanks to the dynamic weather changes in the game. The first time I saw this I was completely awestruck. As day turned to night, or the slow building of a storm into a beast that births out monstrous winds which threaten to destroy our boat. The way this and other facets of the game are handle transcend their generation to the point that when it came time for them to remaster the game. All the had to do was run it at a higher resolution for the most part.
Wind Waker’s story is also one that ties together multiple other entries in this franchise. On the surface it’s a simple coming of age tale about a brother ignoring all risk to save his sister, but underneath all that, literally is the history of Hyrule. At the same this world created In Wind Waker sets the building blocks for the future as well. Wind Waker was and is so instrumental to this franchise that it even got some sort of sequels in the form of Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks. It’s a game that would easily get a 10/ 10 from me if I used ratings in my reviews, and it’s a game that I felt quite close to, not just because of the warm feeling it gives me, but also the sense of familiarity I felt towards this version of Hyrule’s Hero. Being an older brother myself, partnered with my adolescents when playing this game for the first time strengthened my resolve for Link’s cause. I felt like he was me, and his sister was my sister. I wanted to save her, to risk everything just to know that she was safe, and I did, as Link.
In this game he controlled in one of the smoothest ways ever. In fact I referenced this while praising the beautiful game, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. The fluidity with moving my avatar on screen felt natural. Every press of a button collated with an instantaneous response on screen. Swinging the sword, jumping off cliffs, or sailing the boat. It all felt effortless, and natural to me. These controls were so good that I don’t feel comfortable playing Wind Waker with any other control scheme other than the GameCube, even though I know that my modern controllers are far superior. Call it nostalgia, because it is, but Wind Waker is to GameCube, as pineapple is to Pizza. (Pineapple belongs on pizza, right there next to the meat).
So in closing….
For me, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the best Zelda game ever made, while at the same time being the best adventure game I’ve ever played. It’s a game that will forever be a part of my gaming history, and as sure as there is a GameCube copy on the top of my desk, I shall be returning to it’s warm embrace again pretty soon.
If you’ve never played either of the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (or even if you have!), I hope this article gave you a taste of what made it really fantastic game (the GameCube version in particular). This article is part of a larger series explores the history of the series and its major entries. Be sure to check out the hub article at NekoJonez’s Arpegi for links to all the great articles and retrospectives on this epic series.
(Image courtesy of ZoeF on DeviantArt)