The last two games that I completed were relatively light – I finished both of them within a week from when I started playing. This time around, I’m playing something heavy, a game that will eat up most of my free time – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker!
After the critical and commercial successes of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask (the Legend of Zelda games to come out on the Nintendo 64), fans were eagerly anticipating the next gen Zelda game, and I was one of them. I can still remember my reaction when my friend told me about the newest Zelda game – “Cel-shaded graphics? Cartoon-style Link? Kid Link again?!” I was disappointed, and didn’t think about the game any further. I never thought that I’d end up owning a Gamecube, and then a Wii, several years later.
The Wind Waker plays how you’d expect a Legend of Zelda game to play – it’s an action-adventure RPG game where you take on the role of Link as he tries to save the world from the evil wizard known as Ganondorf. In this version of the legend, you get to control another young incarnation of Link who is forced to go on this long quest to save his sister, who was kidnapped by Ganondorf.
The Windwaker uses the Ocarina of Time gameplay engine where you get to explore this huge three dimensional world with several areas that are only accessible once you find the right item. A Legend of Zelda staple, this game also requires you to collect and use several different items.
Most of the items are classic items that originated from the older Zelda games, like the Boomerang, the Bow and Arrow, and the Hookshot. These items are necessary for completing the game – Bombs will break apart rocks that block certain paths, the Bow and Arrow will allow you to hit switches that are otherwise unreachable, and so on. There are several new items as well, that bring a totally new way to play the game, such as the Deku Leaf that allows you to glide through the air.
And of course, the Wind Waker, the item that the game is named after. The Wind Waker is a magical baton that has different powers; to use each power, you’d need to know the motions for certain songs. The first song that you’ll learn allows you to change the wind direction, which will help you a lot when you start sailing across the Great Sea.
Yes, I said sailing. The world in The Wind Waker is mostly covered in water, with only a certain number of islands to explore. While you might think that smaller land area means less exploration, you’ll actually spend a lot of time exploring the Great Sea. First of all, the game starts you off with a blank sea chart, in order to know where each island is you’ll have to explore the area.
And as you’ll soon discover when you play the game, you’re not always looking to get from one island to another when you sail, but you’ll also be looking for treasures beneath the ocean. Some of these treasures appear randomly, but there are special treasures that you can find via Treasure Charts that you’ll get as you play through the game.
As with all other Legend of Zelda games, The Wind Waker also features well-designed dungeons that are filled to the brim with puzzles to solve. The boss battles maintain the same grand scale as before, although I have to admit, none of the bosses I’ve encountered so far have been as challenging as some of the bosses in Ocarina of Time or even A Link to the Past. Aside from the main quest, you also have a ton of side quests that you can complete, most of which will have a Piece of Heart as a reward.
While this is an excellent game, what really hooked me was Link’s personality. He doesn’t speak, he doesn’t have any lines of dialogue, but The Wind Waker‘s Link is so expressive that I can’t help but become emotionally invested in the character.
Seeing how relieved your character was after surviving a tough battle, how curious he is upon opening a treasure chest, his dread upon facing a frightening monster, or even his dismay at having to wear this green-colored tunic for his birthday – can you help but not feel the same way?
I’ve enjoyed almost all of the games that I’ve been playing and completing recently, but The Wind Waker is totally on a higher level. The depth, the gameplay, the look and feel, everything just works. This is definitely one of the best games in my collection and I can’t wait to finally finish playing this.