The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube) Review
Let me start by addressing the “Cel-da” issue. When Nintendo first released the details of its newest installment in the Legend of Zelda series, they were scrutinized by long-time fans of the series, upset with the cartoonish, cel-shaded graphics. The Windwaker was dubbed “Cel-da.” Clever, eh? Honestly, Nintendo made the right decision when they gave the series this controversial “face-lift.” The biggest problem many people had with the N64 Zelda titles, was the lack of personality. They finally put Link in a 3D world, but for a character that never talks, the story was a little dry. Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask were great games in the series, but there was something missing.
The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker reminds us of a time when a hero named Link emerged when the world needed him most. This time is no different. Darkness plagues the land and young girls are disappearing everywhere. Link embarks on a quest across the sea. An evil wind is rising.
Much like Ocarina of Time, Link wields a tool that will change his fate. This time, it is the Wind Waker, a magical conductor’s baton that has the power to control the wind. It’s pretty convenient considering Link must sail across the vast blue sea during his adventure. Link will also get his hands on some more familiar tools, including bombs, a boomerang, and a grappling hook to name a few.
Not too far into The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker, players will notice the old school feel of this game. Sailing aside, Link traverses his share of dungeons, each with a unique theme. I especially liked the first one, which felt a lot like Metal Gear Solid or Sly Cooper, as link must sneak around while avoiding guards. After that, it’s fire, forest, flood, and far across the sea. Plenty of enemies along the way, mean lots of fighting. What I liked about Link’s swordplay was the variety of attacks. Link can thrust, vertical slash, horizontal slash, block, parry-attack, and that classic Link spin-attack. The fighting does not get stale as you must find each enemy’s weakness and exploit it.
Graphically, Windwaker is the best the GameCube has seen. Plenty of colorful environments give each island its own unique feel. The character style is also very memorable. Unlike Ocarina of Time, the characters in Windwaker show a little bit more emotion in their actions and facial expressions. A beautifully orchestrated musical score adds to the overall emotion of the game.
As far as gameplay goes, Windwaker is at the top of its game. For a 3D game, Link has a very old school feel to his attacks and puzzle solving. If there’s anything worth picking on in the gameplay, it’s the camera. Like most 3D games, it takes some getting used to when controlling the camera. However, I won’t fault this game because it’s probably one of the best camera control systems I’ve ever seen.
There is so much to this game; I’m not going to even try to cover it all. An interesting feature is the use of the GBA hookup. Tingle the elf/fairy aids Link through the use of the “Tingle Tuner.” Using this item allows Link to find hidden items. Although this feature is a nice addition, it is only for the most extreme “completionist.” Most players will not want to bother staring at their Gameboy, for all the hidden goodies. Windwaker is also complete with a few mini games and some “special” items (I’ll let you figure out what they are). This game adds literally hours in all the extra things there are to do.
The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker is one of the best reasons to own a GameCube as it moves the world of adventure gaming into a new age.
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