The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Game Info
Platform(s)
GameCube
Publisher
Nintendo
Developer
Nintendo
Genre
Adventure
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Awesome graphics package
• Great dungeons to explore
• Lots of techniques and equipment to use
• Tingle Tuner is a nice addition to game

The Bad

• In-game camera can use some work
• A little on the easy side

 
Grade
A

The newest installment in the Legend of Zelda series, the first for the Gamecube, has already had a long and contentious history, well before its release here in the states. When screenshots of the game's new cartoony design surfaced, many staunch fans rose up in arms over the stylistic change. Given time, many learned to accept the change. No matter how the game looks, though, it is still, at its core, a Legend of Zelda game, and that alone carries a level of expected quality that Nintendo has managed to deliver.

The game begins on Outset Island, where the young boy, Link, celebrates his coming of age. As is tradition, he gains a green outfit that celebrates the legendary Hero of Time, who saved the world many years ago. When Link's sister is kidnapped by a large bird, he goes to free her, only to discover that she's not the only girl kidnapped and that once again, the world is in danger. At that point, he must travel around the world to gain magical pearls to aid in his quest.

The core gameplay behind The Wind Waker is much like previous Legend of Zelda titles. Link has both sword and shield and a wide range of abilities to aid him in fighting enemies. The L-Button allows you to lock onto targets, the B-Button serves as an attack button and the R-Button allows you to block with your shield. During a fight you can use both the A and B-Buttons to perform a variety of techniques, allowing for some in-depth strategy to combat. The further you get into the game, the more challenging enemies become. You'll find yourself needing to figure out each enemy's weakness and exploiting it to win. Along with Link's fighting techniques, he has the ability to crouch and crawl and even has a limited ability to swim. He can also pick up many items throughout each area, like pots, sticks, bombs and even the weapons of fallen foes. Throw in some stealth elements that don't seem to get used too much after the first dungeon and Link has more than enough moves to get through the game.

Along the way, you will find a number of items and equipment essential in moving on. Each new item, like the grappling hook, Deku Leaf or boomerang, has multiple uses and proves to be necessary in defeating enemies, passing through the dungeon and even defeating nearby bosses. Players will need to equip the items on either the X, Y or Z-Buttons and during gameplay, press the corresponding button to use them. Two of the more interesting items you gain through the game are the Wind Waker and the Tingle Tuner. The Wind Waker is a magical baton that allows you to change the flow of the wind by performing the notes of a song with the C-stick. You can also change the tempo and volume of the song with the analog stick. Using the Wind Waker is essential in traveling on the open see and even gaining access to certain locations with the use of the Deku Leaf. On the other hand, the Tingle Tuner, which requires you connect your Gameboy Advance to use, is not essential to the game, but is still nice to play with. When using the device, you can have Tingle use items, locate secrets in the game or even look at the dungeon map even if you don't have one. You can even play a limited two-player with the aid of a friend using Tingle.

Probably the biggest strength of the game is the dungeons and your ability just to explore the immense world at hand. The dungeons are magnificently laid out and require a good bit of thought to successfully complete. Unlike most games, the solution is not always easy and straightforward. Once you realize that you have to use your equipment and even your head, you'll grow to love each and every dungeon your visit. When not in dungeons, you can visit a variety of locations, where you'll be able to do small tasks or even mini-games for prizes. On the open sea, you'll use the wind and a sail to move from island to island and once you find Treasure Charts, you can even use the grappling hook to dredge up treasure from the bottom of the sea.

Graphically, the game is gorgeously realized. You can not fault the level of quality packed into the game visually. The world of The Wind Waker is built in what Shigeru Miyamoto termed as "Toon Shading", which is not unlike cel-shading, but without the harsh outline. Fully realized and superbly animated, this graphic style makes the game feel like you're playing a cartoon rather than a videogame. The design of every location and character are done well and fit perfectly into The Wind Waker's world. Throw in some excellent draw distance (you can basically go anywhere you can see), and a lot of great visual effects and you have a great package. The star of the graphics is Link himself, who shows a wide range of facial expressions, giving his character a lot of life. Whether you appreciate the graphics is largely hinged on each player's personal taste when it comes to the style of the graphics. While you may not like the style itself, you can not deny the quality of the product.

The audio portion of the game is well crafted. The soundtrack by Koji Kondo is largely a mixture of new and old themes that manage to work well together in setting a tone perfect for each locale throughout the adventure. Sound effects, for the most part, are well done and accurate. There are a number of familiar effects from previous Zeldas and I even noted a few sound effects that felt like they came from the same library as Super Mario Sunshine and Animal Crossing.

With so much going for The Wind Waker, there are a few minor drawbacks that hold the game back. First and foremost, the in-game camera, which is controlled with the C-Stick, is fairly decent, but there are times where it goes haywire or just refuses to give you a good view of the area. If you're caught in a fight near a wall, expect the camera to fly about uselessly. Also, the sailing portion of the game can grow a little tiresome after a while, especially since that's your means of travel throughout most of the game. For those who've experienced previous Zelda titles, the game does tend to be on the easy side.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a finely crafted title that most should enjoy. The adventure is told and realized well, giving gamers a wonderful experience that builds on previous Legend of Zelda titles. Except for those rare few who just can't accept the change in visual style, this title is a must-buy.

- - Kinderfeld

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