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

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wind Waker Part 5: Ancient Ruins Under the Ocean

Here's where the main plot of Wind Waker finally starts to reveal itself. The mystery surrounding the legend of Hyrule lies at the Tower of the Gods. But first Link must complete the trials inside the tower. This dungeon that was built not by the gods of the Great Sea, but by the gods of the ancient world of Hyrule. It's the final test of courage that determines whether someone is capable of wielding the power to repel evil, the Master Sword.

It's a pretty decent dungeon, although for a test of courage there's not really that much here to test your courage. It's more like a test of moving statues onto switches...

It's one of the classic Zelda gimmicks, switches that you need to put something on to keep them active. So it's fitting for a dungeon that's all about going back to the ancient world of classic Zelda games. It's a really neat contrast with the earlier dungeons in this game, which all had new and innovative gameplay designs that were never done before in a Zelda game.

The first floor of the tower has a bunch of variations on the "keep the switch pressed" puzzles. Moving boxes ontop of switches, to get to a statue, to move that statue to another place to put it on another switch, etc... (lol I don't know if I could've described that any worse)

Another classic, torch lighting rooms. You have a lit torch, some hard to reach unlit torches, and some sticks. Hmm I wonder what you're supposed to do?

Soon enough you get the Bow, another classic Zelda staple. The older dungeons had completely new weapons (boomerang with multi-targeting capability is a big enough change to make it new-ish), but there's no new innovative gimmick with the Bow. It shoots arrows like it always does, that's it. Again, it's another obvious reference to the Zelda games of old. The gods modeled this dungeon after the dungeons of old Hyrule, so it makes sense that it would copy stuff from older Zelda games. For someone who's playing this for the first time they might even be able to guess the plot twist that this dungeon is leading up to, because of these references.

The puzzles are a bit trickier after you get the bow, but still nothing that would stump any Zelda fan. It still mostly has to do with moving statues around.

These statues don't look very friendly, though... I wonder who they are supposed to be? Is this what the gods of Hyrule are supposed to look like or what? Once you get up to the 3rd floor, there are statues that follow you around... and you also get the Command Melody, which I think is only used in this dungeon, it can let you control the statues. That's one thing this dungeon has that wasn't in previous Zelda games (at least not that I can remember).

The references don't end there. There's also statues that attack you, and you have to defeat them by throwing bombs in their mouths. Seems like a reference to the classic dodongo fights, while keeping the statue theme of the dungeon. The Darknut from Zelda 1 makes its reappearance in this dungeon, it even has the same weakness in its armor, so that you can only damage it from behind. The Wizzrobe shows up here as well.

There's this one puzzle in this dungeon I always have a lot of trouble with...

Two platforms that weigh each other down, and 4 statues that you can use to add to their weight. This is more like a Layton puzzle than a Link puzzle. It's really simple when you think about it, but for some reason I always get confused in this room...

Once you bring the 3 live statues together into the center room they shoot beams of light at each other, just like the 3 goddess statues on the ocean, and that opens up the path to the top floor of the tower.

There's another trivial switch puzzle, and then you start scaling the outside of the tower. There are a bunch of beamos statues leading up to the boss area, and an amazing view of the ocean...

Then the boss of this dungeon, which, of course, is similar to a few older Zelda bosses. It's a lot tougher than the any other boss in this game so far, even though that isn't saying much. (Hell, there are regular enemies in this game that are tougher than any of the previous bosses).

Of course you know what this dungeon is leading up to (at least I hope so if you're reading this). Once you beat this dungeon's boss, a portal takes you onto the roof of the tower, and then you use the grappling hook to ring the bell at the top to complete the Tower of the Gods. A ring of light will appear that takes you beneath the sea lost and forgotten kingdom of Hyrule.

The King of Red Lions doesn't tell Link what this place is yet, only that he needs to get the Master Sword from here. He reveals the plot in a later scene. Of course for anyone who's played a Zelda game before the plot twist basically reveals itself right here.

Hyrule being buried beneath the ocean... It's not that hard at all to see it coming, but the fact that you actually travel to it in this game and explore Hyrule castle was totally unexpected and awesome.

Although it's meant to seem like an incredibly old, ancient kingdom. The dialogue later in the game states that the flood happened "hundreds of years ago". Normally when you're talking hundreds, people would think like 200, 300... that's not a very long time for an entire country to be buried beneath the ocean AND for that entire event to be forgotten by the country's ancestors. You don't just forget something like that. I think this is a translation issue, and the original Japanese dialogue probably just says something along the lines of "A very long time ago"... closer to a millennium or two... but then again it's the Zelda world, and if there's one thing the Zelda games are bad at, it's keeping a consistent timeline.

Everything here is frozen and in greyscale when you first arrive. Ganon's minions are even still there, storming Hyrule Castle. It's as if the flooding and sealing of Hyrule happened in an instant, and that instant was frozen in time...

The Master Sword's pedestal is hidden beneath the castle, after completing a triforce block puzzle, the statue of Link moves to open up the hidden stairwell.

Toon Link seemed like a helpless little kid at the beginning of the game, but once he pulls out the Master Sword it really shows you how badass he turned out to be.

Once you've pulled out the Master Sword, Hyrule becomes unfrozen, and you have to defeat all of the darknuts and moblins in the castle before you can leave. Then Link can head for the Forsaken Fortress to rescue his sister and take on Ganon! Next post will cover the Forsaken Fortress 2nd visit and more plot revelations!

This game is really an incredible experience. I think I can see now why it got a perfect 10/10/10/10 score in Famitsu (very rare, only a few games ever got perfect 10's from them). Here's some screenshots of the inside of Hyrule Castle just for emphasis on how awesome this scene was.