Many SPOILERS are contained throughout these posts. You have been warned!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker - Why this Game is a Timeless Classic

With this year being the 25th anniversary of the Zelda series, and the anticipation of Skyward Sword coming out later this year, I've really been in the mode for Zelda games lately. It's amazing how enjoyable these games still are even after playing them dozens of times. Part of the reason I started this blog in the first place is I want to try and express how incredible these games actually are.

I'm currently playing through Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. First of all, this intro scene gives me the chills every damn time...

It puts the story of Ocarina of Time into the perspective of a legend passed down through the ages. It tells of a lost and forgotten kingdom. A kingdom that was saved by a time-travelling hero. This kingdom became so reliant on their faith in the goddesses and the Hero of Time, that when evil once again returned they could do nothing but pray for someone to come and save them... But the hero of time never returned, the kingdom was forever ruled by darkness.

So it begins... in Wind Waker, your surrounded by vast ocean where only little bits and pieces of Hyrules legends are remembered. There's Outset Island, a small island with a tradition of garbing young boys in a green tunic when they turned 10, to try and get them to know courage like the hero of legend... This is where a new hero named Link starts his adventure.

The story and characters are so amazingly well done. There's Link's sister, Aryll, who lets him borrow her telescope as a birthday present, and his grandma who gives him the green tunic and shield to become like the legendary hero... You don't really get a sense that this Link is a hero or courageous at all until the scene where Link spots a giant bird flying by with a girl in its claws. A nearby pirate crew stops the bird by shooting cannonballs at it, and the girl falls into the woods on the island's mountaintop. Link suddenly springs into action to rescue her, and has his first encounter with moblins.

Tetra is another awesome character. She is ungreatful for Link's rescuing her at first, until the giant bird comes back and kidnaps Link's sister... you can really sense the emotion at this part, as Link blindly runs after the bird without even realizing he's on the edge of a cliff. He convices Tetra to let him on the pirate ship so he can go and rescue Aryll.

I like how the bird mailman guy has an explanation for why he knows so much about the world. The majority of the population just stays on their little island oblivious of everything that's happening, but the birds and sailors and pirates are much more involved and know about the evil lurking in forsaken fortress. Also the pirates seem to know a lot about the world, including where that bird came

The scene where he gets the shield from his grandmother really tears me up. She knows what's going on and that Link must set out on a dangerous journey... she's reluctant to give the shield to him. Finally he sets off into the ocean. Waves goodbye to his home and never looks back.

Already you get a sense that Link is a very courageous kid, even though he had never once left the island, he heads straight for the Forsaken Fortress where his sister is held, gets shot out of a catapult, and sneaks around through this heavily guarded base without a sword...

Gameplay-wise it's easier than it looks, but still it looks freaking badass. The Forsaken Fortress is a really fun level. Solid Toon Link FTW. It's pretty straight forward when you pay attention to stuff but it's easy to get lost and not know what to do. This level is much more unique and fun than the usual first dungeon of a Zelda game.

Link found Arryl, as well as a bunch of other girls locked up, but then the giant bird comes down and takes Link away. He takes him to the leader of the fortress, Ganondorf...

This scene is comparable to Ocarina of Time when Link encounters Ganondorf on the black horse. A little powerless kid with tremendous courage faces up against a dark evil king with tremendous power... of course you know who wins in the end. You'd think that Ganondorf would've learned by now not to underestimate kids in green tunics.

The communicator necklace thing kind of makes it seem like Tetra will be the new Navi of this game, telling you what to do every step of the way. But that role is reserved for this guy:

The king of red lions is like both Navi and the owl Kaepora Gaebora combined into one. He tells you everything going on in the entire story and he also gives you hints on puzzles through the communicator necklace. Who needs strategy guides anymore? It would be nice if there was an option to turn these guys off in Zelda games so you can play through the game old-school style.

After this the boat takes Link to Windfall Island. There's ton of stuff to do here but most of it is later on in the game. After you pick up a sail from a shop you get the first of many sailing parts of the game. The sailing is kind of both good and bad, it gives you an amazing sense of adventure and atmosphere unlike any other game, but it's also objectively boring and monotonous. At least there's plenty of hidden treasures and stuff to keep an eye out for while your heading to your next destination...

Dragon Roost Island is the next part of the game... I'll post about that in my next update. There's still a lot of awesome parts to this game before the dreaded... triforce hunt.

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