The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
You cannot think of Nintendo without Zelda. A franchise with rich lore, wonderful characters, and timeless games. With 19 main titles, The Legend of Zelda franchise has gained legendary status among most Nintendo gamers, and rightly so. Starting with its first title all the way back in 1986 with “The Legend of Zelda” and continuing on to this day with “Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity”, set to be released in November of this year.
Over the years I have played many different Zelda titles, the oldest and first being “A Link to the Past” released in 1992 in Europe for the Super Nintendo. That game tickled my interest in the franchise, which in turn led me to play other titles such as “Minish Cap”, “Twilight Princess”, “Majora’s Mask” and of course my all-time favourites, “The Wind Waker” and “Ocarina of Time”.
There are many constant elements in every Zelda game that people just fall in love with. You fall in love with our main protagonist Link, with his green tunic, pointy ears and his many grunts and gasps as he battles his way through Hyrule. The magic of the world you get to explore in each game provides the gamer with that sense of adventure especially in the 3D titles, whether that be on horseback, on foot or by boat. You could say that Zelda was ahead of its time with the fact that many of the games have an open world feel to them, especially Ocarina. Even the small things are a big part of why we love these games, breaking jars looking for rupees or using a chicken to give yourself a chance of gliding for a short time.
Whilst I will always maintain that Ocarina of Time is by far the best Zelda game ever created, I would like to focus on its (and Majora’s) sequel, The Wind Waker. The game was released for the GameCube in 2003 in Europe and then re-released in 2013 in high definition for the WII U, which brought about many changes to streamline the game a bit. The game is set on various islands surrounded by a vast sea, a change from the usual adventuring around the Kingdom of Hyrule on foot. Our protagonist Link at first is set a task of rescuing his sister from the sorcerer Ganon and by doing this sets his adventure in motion. Again, the game revolves around the famous Triforce, an ancient relic designed to grant wishes. Link sails the seas in this adventure thanks to a talking boat called “The King of Red Lions”. Zelda appears as an incarnated form in a sassy adventure pirate called Tetra, who along with her pirate allies, accompany you as you make your way to the perilous dungeons and beautiful islands. Replacing the ocarina in this tale is the Wind Waker, which helps you conduct the wind in your favour to easier navigate the seas.
Wind Waker continues the 3D style of the previous games, however, it takes on a different graphic style and feel. Replacing the bulkier, squarer style of Ocarina, the Wind Waker adopts a more cartoonish look with much more colour and brightness. This game is by far the most colourful title and takes on less of a dark tone than most Zelda games. A big change for sure, maybe done to appeal to a younger audience. It’s just a fun filled game to play through, it has a feel-good aspect and makes you happy!
I was only around 10 years old when I played this game for the first time on my GameCube and it’s the first Zelda title I completed. I would say it is much more linear than other titles and a much easier game to play through. However, it’s the perfect game to start with if you are trying to get into the Zelda franchise, then you can move on to harder titles. The game received some criticism due to having to gravel by boat with a lot of gamers saying that doing this was much more tedious and time consuming than it had to be. As an adult I would agree with that, however as a child I thought it was the coolest thing ever, being able to navigate the choppy seas with ever changing weather affects
and enemies to either destroy or avoid. I do understand where a lot of people come from, but with the HD version it does address this and provides you with a faster sail for your boat to quicken things up along with other updates.
You will notice in this game that Link is much more expressive and emotive. This is hugely down to his facial expressions, especially those massive eyes! When we first meet our protagonist, we instantly like him. He’s scruffy, lazy, and just can’t be bothered, and we love him for it, an absolute dorky kid. This Link is by far my favourite. All of this makes you as the gamer relate a bit better with the Link in this tale. The same goes for Tetra, our incarnated Zelda. I like this aspect because it means that our Zelda is much more involved with the adventure, rather than just needing saved all the time. The fact that she starts out as the leader of a pirate ship full of massive men is fabulous and she doesn’t even know who she really is. A wonderful take on a beloved character.
The game was praised for its music and the design of the many islands you get to visit. Even the starting island is just magical, wouldn’t mind if I lived there myself, it’s so pleasant. The musical score is fantastic and encompasses the island lifestyle very well, especially the opening theme song which I still listen to today. The graphics were not well received among many fans, but the game today is much more popular than it was and is definitely one of the greatest Zelda games ever made. I think it took people time to realise that the game was never going to be the same as Ocarina and if you stopped comparing it, then it began to grow on you. It provides us with a different experience and is the perfect game to follow on from Ocarina in my opinion.
Overall, Wind Waker still remains one of my favourite games. Must have played it through over 10 times when I was younger. It sticks to what we love about Zelda games, adventure, dungeons, Ganon, puzzle solving and a fun experience. The new graphics, colours and character expressions are welcome additions to the Zelda franchise and the story adds a new dynamic to the ever-changing lore. I would 110% recommend that if you haven’t played this game then please go and try it out! Just make sure you keep an eye on Links facial expressions, hilarious to say the least.
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