A five-part article for The Missing Link series
by Hylian Dan

In this brand new, five-part article series for The Missing Link, renowned Zelda theorist Hylian Dan discusses The Wind Waker’s deepest themes and philosophical connections. Read the entire article below.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. PART ONE: Leaving Paradise
  3. PART TWO: Growing Wings
  4. PART THREE: Chasing Dreams
  5. PART FOUR: Planting Seeds
  6. PART FIVE: Becoming the Champion of Life
    1. Introduction
    2. The Challenge of the Sky
    3. A Matter of Balance
    4. Darkness and Light
    5. Time is Running Out

Introduction

If players visit Sturgeon at the beginning of The Wind Waker, the advice he offers sets the stage for the game that is to follow. Age-old wisdom is passed on to the player as Sturgeon explains some basic gameplay instructions.

“Changing Perspective Leads to Success,” reads one note pinned to the old man’s wall, describing the camera controls. “The young often assume that they can see all that is before them, but oftentimes they are missing out on a grander view.”

“Do Not Underestimate the Sea,” warns another note, ostensibly referring to The Wind Waker‘s swim timer. “It’s easy to get swept up by a little success at swimming, but the sea can be fickle! Swimming for too long will drain one’s energy, and eventually one will sink.”

Sturgeon passes his wisdom to Link.

The lessons continue, reminding players that “A Fool and His Rupees Are Soon Parted,” that to improve one’s relations with one’s fellow beings, “one must be outgoing and press (A) to speak to all people one meets,” and that in order to become stronger, “one must first know oneself. The ♥♥♥ in the upper-left shows one’s current life energy. As one experiences trials and hardships in life, one will naturally gain more ♥s.”

Sturgeon concludes with one final instruction:

Lesson Ten: Becoming the Champion of Life!
Learn all there is to learn in lessons one through nine… And no matter what happens… Do not give up, do not complain, and do NOT stay up all night playing!

This tutorial demonstrates how The Wind Waker goes about creating meaning. Symbolic gameplay mechanics are juxtaposed against dialogue and storylines that illustrate their significance. Players progress through certain dungeons by using companions who fly through the air and plant trees as the storyline delves into the themes of growing wings and scattering seeds. Players quickly understand the necessity of using the wind when sailing, and the game provides numerous examples of characters who fail to apply that lesson to their lives.

In many ways, The Wind Waker is a reflection on life, designed to illuminate the ways to fulfillment while cautioning against paths leading to depression and despair. The game builds a figurative context around its gameplay, characters, and setting to prod players to see the world differently. Sturgeon’s final lesson effectively summarizes the game’s intent, for one who remembers and applies the lessons of The Wind Waker is destined to become a champion of life.

The Challenge of the Sky

If you think you were born to fly, then take the challenge of the sky to win fame and prizes!
—Bird-Man Contest

Past Dragon Roost Island, Willi and Obli have prepared a flight platform for visitors to test their flying skills. The mini-game that takes place here builds upon The Wind Waker’s many metaphors and themes, testing whether players deserve the title of champion.

The rules are simple: “See how far you can fly before you crash into the roiling seas like so much dead-weight driftwood!”
—Willi

The distant goal

A tall red banner stands in the distance. The player begins the challenge by climbing to the launch platform and jumping into the sky. From there, the player must use the Deku Leaf to fly with the wind towards the goal. A number of updrafts drift across the path, and the player uses these to recover altitude. When the player’s Magic Meter runs dry, the Deku Leaf fails and the player falls into the sea.

The mini-game is all about achieving a goal, which fits in nicely with The Wind Waker’s themes regarding destiny. The overarching storyline emphasizes the fact that this game’s Link, the Hero of Winds, is following in the footsteps of the famed Hero of Time. He is working his way towards an ultimate confrontation with Ganondorf, who is again gathering the pieces of the Triforce. In the mini-game, the distant banner represents the destiny of the hero. It is a parallel to the record set by the Hero of Wind’s predecessor, marking “the site where the Great and Talented Champion, who has flown the farthest to date, crashed into the frothy waves in a massive splash of glory!”

Link stands on the flight platform.

The launch platform where the challenge begins is the figurative equivalent of an island: it is safe, supportive, and restrictive. If the player jumps into the sky without planning, Link plummets into the ocean and the game’s managers ridicule him. Once again, The Wind Waker points out that reckless bravery is hasty and foolish.

When the Deku Leaf is used to catch the wind, it takes the place of wings and sails as the metaphor for inner strength. Here the Magic Meter plays a role as well, governing how much time the player has to fly before being swallowed by the ocean. The ocean below represents death, or the loss of opportunity. People do not have an infinite amount of time available to chase their dreams, and within the mini-game the Magic Meter represents this fact.

Sturgeon warns Link not to underestimate the ocean, that swimming for too long will drain one’s strength. The lesson can apply to the mechanics of this mini-game: as Link flies, he gradually loses altitude. Without any help, Link falters long before reaching the goal. Inner strength has its limits.

Willi tells Link that the secret to the game is using the wind:

Well, you have some skill—that much is for certain. But let me teach you the secrets to pushing your distance further. First of all, the wind has to be blowing directly toward your goal. That’s the only time you should be flying. Secondly, use the updrafts, and use them well. Keep these two techniques in your head when you fly…
—Willi

Link chases an updraft.

The updrafts function as external sources of support, and in this way they are also akin to islands. They renew the strength of one who is weary, restoring the player’s altitude, but they can also become distractions. Players who direct all their efforts towards chasing the updrafts will likely break their focus on the goal ahead and fall short of it. Players must ignore the updrafts that are too far out of the way.

At all times the camera should be focused on the path ahead – otherwise the updrafts will be out of view. Again the point is made: look to the future, not the past. If players decide to turn around and fly back towards the initial platform, they are scolded.

…You can’t do that! Can’t you see the banner over there by your goal?! Why are you flying in the OPPOSITE direction?!? That makes very little sense!
—Willi

…Why, you don’t even know which direction you’re supposed to fly, do you?
—Obli

The way to find success is to look ahead and focus on the goal, as the mini-game teaches the player. However, the game’s central mechanic is the strategic use of the updrafts. It is a game of balancing inner strength and external support.

A Matter of Balance

Sam sits on a bench on Windfall Island, taking in the scenery. He believes that those who focus only on working and making a profit are missing something important.

People from all over the world seem to gather here on Windfall Island, all hoping to become successful merchants. I suppose you could say that this is the island where people and money come together. But you know what…?
Money is important, sure…but don’t you think people need to open their hearts a little more than their wallets?
—Sam

On Dragon Roost Island, many of the Rito postal workers are entirely preoccupied with the demands of their jobs. When approached by Link, one Rito responds, “It’s a shame that I’m too busy to spend more time with you. You seem to be a nice enough fellow. Sorry.”

Collect the figurine of this Rito named Pashli and the caption reads, “For reasons unknown, Pashli’s always busy.”

Perseverance and dedication are important, but The Wind Waker argues that life should consist of more than just work and hardship.

Running a business is eight-tenths effort, but overworking yourself isn’t healthy. That’s what my father taught me.
—A Traveling Merchant

The Great Sea offers many distractions.

Link’s guide, the King of Red Lions, tells Link again and again that time is short, that he must go directly to the next key destination. However, the Great Sea offers many distractions. On any long journey across the ocean, players can choose to take a break and stop at the islands that cross their paths. Ilari the postal worker is tempted to do the same:

Perhaps I’ll do a little sight-seeing here in town before I go!
…Although I do have other deliveries waiting to be made…
—Ilari

As the flight mini-game demonstrates, a lack of focus can doom a person’s dreams. Recognizing this, the girl Medli keeps herself committed to her practice as she learns to play the harp:

That’s a Golden Feather, isn’t it? Of course I recognize it! All Rito girls idolize those things! You really have one! That’s amazing…
I’d be lying if I told you it held no interest for me, but…
For now, I think mastering this instrument is more important than my fascination with such things. Don’t you think?
—Medli

Islands and oceans both play their roles in life. Comfort and relaxation are just as important as hard work and perseverance. The key to success is learning how to balance the two.

Darkness and Light

The challenge of the sky is one representation of the pursuit of destiny. When the player arrives at Ganon’s Tower, the final stretch of the road to Ganondorf is also portrayed figuratively, dealing with the same theme as the mini-game.

Within this dungeon, the player must first relive four of the game’s boss battles. During each battle, the music is distorted and the color drains from the setting in the same manner as in Hyrule Castle. These aesthetic touches indicate that time is not flowing as it should as the player faces the monsters of the past. The past is the first obstacle on the road to destiny.

Link enters the abyss.

When the player overcomes these monsters, a door opens to the next challenge. The player approaches a dark abyss and leaps into it. The darkness leads to a maze comprised of many identical rooms. In each room, the player chooses one of four doors to open. Some doors lead only to more darkness, bringing the player back to the start of the maze. Others lead to small treasure troves or monster dens, and others lead the player forward towards the Light Arrows. Within each room, Phantom Ganon appears and begins attacking.

This maze is the Room of Illusion, according to the game’s soundtrack. It represents another step on the path to destiny. The way forward is unclear; there are many doors to open, but only one is true.

This is life as it may exist when one lets go of an island, confronting the ocean. In the Great Sea, Link sets sail as he begins new quests. In the flight mini-game, he leaps into the sky. Here, he jumps into impenetrable darkness. All represent the same step.

The Room of Illusion

The design of the Room of Illusion is reminiscent of the Great Sea in a way, the doors taking the place of the shadowy islands on the horizon. In both scenarios the player must identify the way forward from a number of possible alternatives.

“As one is often hasty and acts without thinking when young, it’s easy to get lost on one’s way,” Sturgeon tells Link. “It is at confused times such as this that one must refer to his or her Area Map in the lower-left.”

The (arrow) in the top-right portion of the Area Map indicates wind direction. Always remember that the wind blows in the direction of the arrow. Always!
—Lesson Three: The Great Map of Life

While in the Room of Illusion, the player has no map to consult. To find the arrow that will offer some guidance, the player must confront Phantom Ganon in each room. When the great enemy is defeated his sword-hilt falls to the ground, pointing to the true door. Should life take the form of this maze, the way forward may be revealed by overcoming the great obstacle immediately present – Phantom Ganon in whatever form he manifests himself.

The road to Ganondorf

The maze ultimately leads players to the Light Arrows, and then the third challenge begins. There is a long but perfectly linear hall leading to Ganondorf’s chamber. The player runs up a great stairwell riddled with monsters, but the Light Arrows reduce each of them to nothingness.

This last challenge represents yet another way of experiencing life. With the Light Arrows equipped, the surrounding world no longer has the form of a maze. It becomes a vivid path, the remaining obstacles easily conquered with the light the player carries.

This is the path of truth, accessible to those who possess power, wisdom, and courage. Within Ganon’s Tower, Link demonstrates his courage by conquering the demons of the past. He demonstrates his wisdom by making his way through the Room of Illusion, and then the moment of opportunity arrives. All comes into alignment and Link is given the power to face his destiny at last.

At the end of the road, there is a great red door that finally brings the player to Ganondorf. This door, reminiscent of the mini-game’s red banner, signifies that Link has arrived at his place of destiny. His confrontation with Ganondorf then begins.

Link arrives at his goal.

Time is Running Out

When Link returns to Dragon Roost Island after his great adventure there, Medli informs him that Komali is turning into a fine adult. After letting go of his grief and finding confidence, Komali now acts on his own without guidance from his attendant and friend.

Watching Prince Komali grow up fills me with pride…but it makes me a little sad, as well…
I wonder if this is how a mother feels…
—Medli

Soon, destiny summons Medli to a different place and she leaves Komali to make his way on his own. Ignorant of this, Komali picks a flower for Medli, hoping to surprise her. Though he waits patiently, Medli is gone.

Komali holds a wilted flower.

My flower… It wilted…
The joy on Medli’s face when she saw this flower… I really wanted to see that…
—Komali

Opportunity passes away, and Komali must accept his loss. Such is life.

We are all given a sliver of time to use as we desire. This single opportunity is all we have, and it too will one day pass.

“Time is running out, dear friends!” Zunari warns the people of Windfall each night at the auction. “Loosen up those purse strings, good people! Cast caution to the wind and bid away!”

Link stuns the crowd at the auction.

The people of Windfall have one minute to engage in “A Thrilling Night of Money and Desire!” at the auction and win fabulous prizes. Some cling to their riches and let the moment pass away, as others toss aside all their earnings in a fury of excitement. But somewhere in the Great Sea, an old fish advises Link that “the key to winning an auction is to be both patient and bold.” Recklessness is foolishness, yet those who do not take risks will see no returns. Success is a matter of balance.

Be both patient and bold, and when opportunity arrives you will be ready to seize it.

For you lucky ones out there, and yes, yes, also for you not so lucky ones… Let me say thank you for your participation! I must bring tonight’s auction to an end.
Dear me, such excitement…
—Zunari

One moment in this world is all we are given, one chance to place our bids. In that moment, some become champions while others wonder where the time has gone.

The ocean swallows the King of Hyrule.

“If only I could do things over again…”

So the King of Hyrule says. His life slips away as he spends his days gazing at the past. But before the ocean swallows him, he shares his message with the world in the hope that the living will listen. “I want you to live for the future,” he says.

“There may be nothing left for you…
But despite that, you must look forward and walk a path of hope, trusting that it will sustain you when darkness comes.”

The Wind Waker carries the wisdom that the king finds at the end of too many years spent in vain. Through a game, this wisdom has been handed down to us and given new life.

About the Author

Dan Merrill, aka Hylian Dan, attends Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, where he is majoring in electronic game design. His portfolio can be found at www.danvmerrill.com.

E-mail: hyliandan [at] zeldauniverse.net

Special thanks to J.N., B.G., and C.M. for their criticism and support. Thanks to ZeldaLegends.net as well for their textual resources.

Previous part – Planting Seeds

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  • Mayo Defender

    Oh wow. I have never thought of all this like that. This entire series astounds me. I wish there was more.

  • that guy

    This isn't the way people are supposed to think of the game so just stop making it that way. your going TOO deep and when you go TOO deep sometimes things just don't really make sense anymore.

    • Rohan

      I do not think it's "TOO deep". He is just making parallels between different quotes and ideas in the game and analyzing what they have to do with the game's theme. All philosophy essays are like this, so I don't really know what you were expecting.

      • that guy

        I don't really know what I was expecting I just don't think that it's right that he's just kinda making up what he's saying because it wasn't intended to be thought that in the game

        • Rohan

          I agree that this section had less quote evidence to back up what he was saying, but he still draws some interesting conclusions. After all, this article was supposed to show you something that you hadn't seen or realized when you played the game.

          • that guy

            Yeah I guess you can say that

    • Anonomous

      Dude, just because it doesn't make much sense doesn't mean you can't leave your island and try to understand it.

    • Vonter

      Haven't seen Inception. The only way to make something cooler is making it more complex. SO WE NEED TO DEEPER.

    • Latoan

      Dude, this is clearly a very wise person who has found a deeper meaning to an amazing game. Listen to its message and you'll learn something about life

  • This is a very interesting way to look at the game, and really makes me smile that I'm not the only one who gains life lessons from Video Games. The only thing I'm truly curious about now is how much of this Nintendo actually meant to put in the game.

    Excellent article, keep on writing.

    • that guy

      I don't think that Nintendo ment to put ANY of it in the game he was just looking it in a different way.

      • Tsubasa_Z

        But you don't know that. And even if they didn't..so what. Sometimes, you get something extra in the proces.

  • Garrett

    Let me just quote Freud on this one, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar".

    I commend you on your efforts of trying to find the hidden meaning of this game. But some of the examples you chose are as empty as the actual actions in the game. I could take anything in life like an apple I am eating, and I could say that this apple isnt perfect but I will eat it any way. I could take the "metaphorical" look on it and say that "Its just like life, you cant always have something perfect, you have to work with what you have."

    You're digging into imaginary dirt here.

    • Sahittam

      Whether the dirt is imaginary or not, doesn't matter that much, I think.
      It is possible to see the messages Hylian Dan pointed out, so we can learn from it.
      Most likely some meanings weren't intentionally put into the game by Nintendo, but it turned out, that many of them fit together (very well, I think), so for those who want to see it that way, the game has instructions how to live a happy and fulfilled life.
      Like you said, you could say something like that about almost everything, but this doesn't make it less true in my opinion.

      Personally, I think this is a very great, and also very true article, and I agree with it completely.

      • GIOH

        I totally agree with you garret

        • HIC

          WEON TONTO

  • Thareous33

    This takes me back to a comment I submitted recently in a different article (I believe it was Chasing Dreams). In it, I said that life was about making choices. That every action, response, facial expression, whatever, is a choice. The way I can relate this idea to Becoming a Champion of Life is by being sure your decisions help not harm you. Ascertain they hone a moral character so sharp that they can cut the people around you and bleed the impure things from them. Remember, the choices you make can affect those around you.

  • Wow, I loved this whole series! As an amateur philosopher myself, you have given me a lot to think about. If everyone had thought of the events in the game like that, the world would be a much better place. I thank you for taking your time to write an amazing series, and I look forward to seeing more of your writing in the future!

  • DSP

    Thanks, I've got the message.

  • GIOH

    Look, it's good that you're thinking this way, but this wasn't intended. I know it's telling you how to live a happy life, but are you seriously gonna learn that from a video game? Video games are for fun, not for learning life lessons, unless you think learning life lessons is fun.

    • Tsubasa_Z

      Video games were intended for fun?
      Video games are the present form of gaming. In the past, everyone played board games, like chess. And chess origins were from war strategies. And you (should) know war isn't fun. Playing a war game is fun, but shooting a person in the head shouldn't be fun.
      And many things in life were not intended the way we live it now. Every teenager loves to drive in there car, but a car was made to transport you from A to B, not for fun.
      So the intention of things are not always important…..the result is what matters. And the result is a good article.

      • TrustMe101

        That was awesome!! 😀

  • the examples in this one were a bit weaker than those of the others. but there's still some prettty good points here.

    • that guy

      you do know that he was kinda making his own things up there right? Everyone does that if there isn't a big obvious moral in it.

      • OF COURSE I KNOW THAT.

        don't be annoying.

        i highly doubt that any of these things were actually intended by the creators of the game, but you can still make people believe they were.

        • that guy

          Thats what I don't like!

  • Taha Soysal

    After reading this whole series, I still remain impressed. The startling fact is that even though I remember playing all those mini-games and reading all those quotes featured in these 5 articles, I never managed to see them linked together in a coherent philosophical whole that you laid out here. And to think all of this was right in front of my face!

    Even though I still have some qualms regarding drawing significant life lessons from an entertainment medium, I'm amazed at how you managed to pull this much from Wind Waker. Are you going to dissect any other Zelda games in the future?

  • scottwalker

    geez people, imaginary or not this is a heartfelt peace of work here, and I think Hylian Dan deserves some credit

  • Hylian Dan

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I wanted to add some of my own in response to what a number of people are writing.

    This part certainly does involve more of my own speculation and less reliance on direct quotes to prove my points. What I wanted to emphasize in this part was how meaning is created through some of the gameplay in TWW. If all I'm doing in these articles is just examining the writing, then that isn't really all that special. It's just your standard literary analysis, and there are plenty of more complex written works out there to scrutinize.

    The reason I put so much time into these articles is because I am interested in gaming as an artistic medium – particularly when it comes to ways games can communicate meaning where other media like film or literature cannot. Overworld and level design come into play here – think of how effective the sailing metaphor is as a result of the hours you've spent experiencing those mechanics. Could the symbolism I attribute to Ganon's Tower and its level design be accomplished as well by another form of media? I doubt it, which is why it captures my interest.

    I began this part by referring to Sturgeon's lessons to show that The Wind Waker is making a deliberate attempt to associate meaning with the gameplay itself, not just the dialogue and characters. Because the game makes such an effort, I feel I have the license to interpret what sequences like the flight mini-game or Ganon's Tower are trying to say. I've written this part following all the others so that everyone will be familiar with the themes at work and will hopefully be more willing to consider these connections.

    To be more specific: the maze in Ganon's Tower is a bit of a staple in Zelda games, whether it appears in the Lost Woods or the Wind Fish's egg. I don't expect I would devote pages and pages to contemplating the maze which appears in the Oracles, for instance. The reason I perceive such meaning in this particular maze is because of the context of the game it is in. The contrast that exists between the maze and the stairwell caught my attention, and when I considered how that contrast related to the larger themes I was examining, I found meaning. Something about life was communicated to me through the level design. Of course I have no way of knowing whether that communication was deliberate, but it is something that arose from the gameplay and I would like to pass it along.

    • I really loved this whole series Dan. I've wanted to do something similar with a number of games because after playing them for awhile it becomes apparent that great personal meaning can be derived from their stories, and even gameplay. I don't think it's spinning something from nothing, a lot of artists channeling creativity into whatever medium they pursue aren't entirely conscious of subconscious wisdom they may be imparting in the process. It takes a very self-reflective soul to interpret the meaning and you've done an excellent job. Congratulations on completing this wonderful series.

    • that guy

      I am trying to be as nice as possible here, and you said yourself that you are doing a literary analysis, compared to examining the writing. Those are the exact same thing and you said that it really isn't all that special if you are just examining the writing. I am glad you made these pieces, but when you truly think about this, I just can't see how this game is teaching you life lessons. In my opinion, I believe that it is just the characters personality and possibly, in this Zelda game, Nintendo did focus more on the development of characters and how they play a role in the game, but that doesn't mean that you have to learn a life lesson from it. Just being a critic for a bit there, but overall, I truly do like the series, but I hope you can be a bit more explanatory in why you think that there are lessons in the game next time.

      • Hylian Dan

        Great, thank you for elaborating.

        The main reason I suspected TWW contained these life lessons came from Daphnes' speech at the end of the game. That moment is, without any real doubt, Nintendo spelling out a specific life lesson for players. There are many aesthetic cues at that point implying "This speech is important!" so it came across to me as a sort of thesis statement for the game's story. I began investigating TWW with the hypothesis that the speech was, in fact, a thesis statement for the game, and if I paid attention as I was playing, I could perceive how the rest of the game is built to support that thesis.

        I began a new file. Five minutes into playing, I read Sturgeon's lessons. As I mentioned in part four, lesson five is identified as "A VERY IMPORTANT LESSON" and the manner in which it is written foreshadows the king's VERY IMPORTANT speech about regret. So there I had some supporting evidence telling me I was on the right track, that the king's message is not restricted to that ending scene but is in fact present throughout much more of the game. Amazingly, Sturgeon's lesson connected this central theme to a completely typical game mechanic – saving, of all things. So maybe this theme is not just restricted to the writing, I thought. Perhaps Nintendo made an effort to reference it in the gameplay and world design as well. As I continued investigating the game more and more pieces of it fell into place remarkably well.

        The themes and evidence just kept piling up, to the point where it became obvious I couldn't fit it all in one article. I wanted to keep the writing focused squarely on TWW to keep the scope of my thesis manageable. Thus, one of the shortcomings of this article series is that I was unable to connect these themes to content in earlier Zelda games and show how they have been evolving over time.

        Fortunately I have written another article, Immortal Childhood, which identifies overlapping themes from Link's Awakening to The Wind Waker. So in that piece I explain how the symbol of a tree is central to the meaning of the Zelda series. But then in part four of this piece I begin discussing the symbolism of trees and seeds in TWW without fully explaining where I'm coming from.

        There are themes that have been evolving throughout much of the history of the Zelda series. Majora's Mask, for instance, builds upon the themes Ocarina of Time grasped at, expressing them much more directly and profoundly. (Eiji Aonuma and Takashi Tezuka have said that they incorporated things from their everyday lives into Majora's Mask – is it plausible to believe that some members of the team embed their thoughts about life into their work?) The Wind Waker builds directly upon the extremely rich themes of Majora's Mask, though the atmosphere is much lighter. And it appears to me that TWW handles these themes very thoroughly.

        If you look at TWW as something that has been evolving since Link's Awakening's story about leaving an island paradise, perhaps even earlier, I think it becomes pretty reasonable to believe that there are in fact lessons and meanings that form much of the fabric of the Zelda series.

        • that guy

          I getcha I getcha

  • just a passer by

    To comment on this fued of whether or not these messages were placed in the game on purpose the answer is this: it doesn't really matter if they were or not. Many people have many great ideas and I believe Hylian Dan saw this series as inspiration and a medium. He's not telling you to agree with it, he's not telling you that nintendo endorsed it, he's simply reiterating his thoughts, which in my opinion are brilliant and applicable to all of us. I can see how some of these things may be a stretch but in my opinion a philosophy shouldn't be subjected to fact checking, it is unique to the individual and I applaud Dan's ability to share and discuss. Keep writing

    • Thareous33

      Amen to both of these. I am in accord with both of these, no doubts attached.

      • that guy

        I just don't really like this because he looks at it in a… well… different light that im not used to and not the way i intended the wind waker to be in. Like, I wanted it to be epic, and not all philosophical or whatever. I just don't really like the article because I don't like the way he's saying to think of the game while youre playing it.

        • Hylian Dan

          I don't think many people think much about these themes the first time they play the game. Then it simply serves the function of being entertaining, which is fine. But I think the presence of thematic material like this is one of the things that helps give the game lasting value when people revisit it years afterwards.

  • Caelestis

    "Truth is One; the sages call it by many names." – The Vedas

    Did Nintendo consciously put in ALL these things when designing TWW? Of course not – but they do seem to be bothering a lot to put a lot more depth to it than what seems at first glance. All the background characters, such as Komali but also Anton and many others, contain extremely obvious lessons for a person's life. And the way Nintendo phrased Sturgeon's lessons is also very curious.

    Like I said, I highly doubt they put all this depth into it consciously – but isn't that true of every work? Doesn't every work derive it's meanings from the things that people analyse in them later on? Do writers sit down and think "Hmmm, what lessons shall I impart to humanity today" ? Of course they don't! Very often, these kinds of things are only a result of happenstance, of coincidence – but does that make the lesson itself any less valid?

    I don't think it does. There ARE themes within TWW that clearly speak of what Hylian Dan has managed to point out, much like he has in his other articles. I thank and applaud him for another awesome work and I'm lucking forward to the next.

    Once again, he has managed to draw important lessons from a Zelda game: lessons that, I think, very few would disagree with.

    • I totally agree with what you are saying. Do you think Nintendo even realized they stuffed multiple life lessons and refferences to the real world in this game? Do they have their own Philosopher help plan the story and gameplay? Who knows, but it's still a good game.

      • that guy

        he's analyzing it in his own way it doesn't necessarily mean it's true and I don't believe it is.
        Look, you're all looking at it in a light that, all these characters had an important life lesson in them that you were supposed to learn when really, and quite obviously, nintendo didn't intend to put them in there and if you think about it, if TWW has a message through all of its people, then EVERYTHING has a message in it! I really and truly don't believe that, so why should this one game out of everything else have meanings in it?

      • Hylian Dan

        I might devote another article to this topic, but consider how The Wind Waker's themes relate to Nintendo's philosophy as a company. Does Windfall Island express how Nintendo views Microsoft and Sony and their consoles? Were The Wind Waker and its themes being developed as Nintendo began developing ideas for the Wii?

        "Inside Nintendo, we call our strategy “Blue Ocean.” This is in contrast to a “Red Ocean.” Seeing a Blue Ocean is the notion of creating a market where there initially was none–going out where nobody has yet gone. Red Ocean is what our competitors do–heated competition where sales are finite and the product is fairly predictable." – Perrin Kaplan, 2006.

  • This entire series has blown me away. Even I, as a master of Wind Waker, never thought about the game this deeply. Only if there were more of theese.

  • party

    other zeldqa games also taught real life lessos and we can all learn these lessons in video games.

    • that guy

      'No they don't and this one didn't either hes just making it up hes looking at it his way and you should look at it your way

  • Unknown

    message received! Great theories cant wait to read more of your work!

  • Dominus

    I have to agree that I don't really think it matters if Nintendo deliberately intended to have these themes present in the game.

    I read an article a while ago talking about the history of Marvel vs Capcom, in relation to the announcement of the third game in the series. Apparently, a lot of the things that make marvel so great for so many people, the reasons why people have been playing it for over a decade, involve gameplay mechanics, glitches, and other mishaps that Capcom never intended to function in they way they did.

    That in no way changes the fact that the game is what it is, and that people find ways to enjoy it outside of what the creators probably intended. Similarly, who cares if Nintendo didn't think about all this when they made WW? At the end of the day, the game can be analyzed and perfectly logical metaphors, parables, examples, and what else have you can be drawn to support the message this article; sure, I guess some of his examples are stretching it a bit (mostly the gameplay ones), but on the whole I think this is a completely legitimate analysis of the game's philosophical subtext (whether nintendo intended for it to have one or not).

  • Derrick Mace

    I agree with many who say that this article is far-fetched. It did depend on a lot of speculation, and making a big deal of no material. I thought the Majora's Mask work was much better done.

    Awaiting something more to your standards, Hylian Dan.

  • Minion

    Whether the gameplay was meant to be analysed or not, I felt what you were saying. The quotes had me convinced, and all in all, you pointed out many important things that I can work on in my life. The fact that you can pull lessons from a medium that many people enjoy and share memories of is amazing. I look forward to your next piece. You just got yourself a new fan.

  • LoBlaz

    I never thought this deeply about these things, but what you've pointed out really makes a lot of sense. Regardless of whether these messages were intentional on the game creator's part or not, this was still a wonderful series. It also describes my own life at the moment, and I think reading this may just help me harness the wind and set sail myself. Thanks for the great insight into the hidden philosophy of The Wind Waker.

  • Andreecals

    Hylian Dan, my name is André Kelles, and I read about twice this series of articles about the Wind Waker. It has seriously amazed me, and as I want to share this incredible knowledge with my friends here in Brazil, I´m asking what do you think if I make a translation to portuguese and share with my friends, and maybe send you a copy, just so you can have a portuguese version of your article.
    Just let me know your opinion, my email is andreecals@gmail.com
    Very nicely done, anyway! Congratulations!

  • Olympion

    An amazing series of articles with some really great insights, a wonderful read!

  • KilledbyCuccos

    I knew there had to be a reason why I felt something oddly deep about Wind Waker. Thank you, for you just pulled out everything I was subconsciously thinking about and more in your articles.

    As to the long ago disagreement over the actual placement of such themes in a game, think of it this way. As amazing as some stories in books are, you can't have expected the writer to purposely plant symbolism in every place you find it. Some authors have even denied having intentionally placed parallelism in their books. It doesn't mean you can't read into them, and sometimes it really does help the story. Many books were made to entertain, say…A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. It was made to entertain, and it did so (for the most part, anyways). Yet you can still take a closer look at the themes Dickens emphasizes while enjoying/hating the book. The same goes for this. The Wind Waker was obviously made to entertain, but you can still read further into the story without taking away from the story.

    • KilledbyCuccos

      With that in mind, there is little doubt that some of this is made up. That's how close-reading works. Some symbols are taken further than others, and a deeper meaning can be derived from how ideas are taken. The question is if you can apply and link that meaning to the original story, which this writer manages quite well.

      Apologies for the split and disastrously long comment.

  • TrustMe101

    Regardless if Nintendo intended this symbolism and messages in The Wind Waker or not, this was a beautiful article. Hylian Dan is a true artist because he can take something simple and turn it into something meaningful and full of emotion.

    While playing TWW, I noticed some of his points like "not leaving the island is a type of cage" before I read this article. When I would talk to some of the Windfall citizens, I would think, "Staying here is a cruel way to live your life. Why don't they explore and be free?" Courage to chase dreams and to leave that comfort zone is freedom. Doesn't everybody want to be free?

    These lessons that Hylian Dan points out is why I simply admire his work.

  • GorCoronSumo

    Hylian Dan, have you ever read The Tao of Pooh?
    Your work reminds me a lot of it.

  • frank

    "The mini-game is all about achieving a goal, which fits in nicely with The Wind Waker’s themes regarding destiny."

    That's pretty much what every mini-game in every video game is about, so you're kind of grasping at straws there. Sure, the overall theme of the game is about new life, but analyzing the mini-games is a little over the top.

  • Hunter

    Dunno if this has been brought up, but reading through this, I noticed something small but possibly interesting in the physical symbolism of the destruction of old Hyrule. If the preserved but frozen Hyrule rests at the bottom of the ocean, is it not holding the water level higher? All that water that floods down into it at the end would drain some of the Great Sea, revealing new land. And so the way that the world itself clings to the past literally takes up space that could go to better use making a new, more prosperous kindom.

  • Carlos Eduardo

    Thank you for making a wonderful game even more wonderful.

  • Claire

    I simply happened to stumble across this article yesterday and even though I try not to look to much into the media, I do believe Hylian Dan is right about TWW's meaning. Maybe it was not intended, but that doesn't matter. The fact that he put so much effort into this article and that it has an effect on so many people is what I think really matters.

  • John

    Ever since my best friend talked me into playing the Legend of Zelda i instantly became hooked, and your thesis paper on the philosiphy on windwaker helped me admire this beloved series even more. I never looked at windwaker that way, its hard to find shows or games with morals and lessons today, so kudos to you for this sightful enlightening philosiophical thesis paper. hey hylian dave Naruto is a great show thats full of hidden morals and lessons to if you do not already you should check it out.