If The Wind Waker is the Zelda game that reflects Miyamoto the most, it’s also a game that represents a change in the direction of the series. Why? Because even though it reflects Miyamoto’s original vision, he actually didn’t know it at first. And not only that, but this game is not only a mirror on Miyamoto, but a mirror on the minds of the fans themselves.

A New Vision

Miyamoto isn’t responsible for the shift from the style and tone of the original Spaceworld demo for GameCube to the style and tone of The Wind Waker. Aonuma is. Ultimately, the shift was Aonuma’s idea. But Miyamoto loved the idea, and understandably so. His original vision, as that child in the cave, was indeed a vision of pure childhood, vibrant and untouched by the cares of the world. As I have said before, The Wind Waker truly reflects that fresh spirit, the spirit of adventure, naiveté, and general light-heartedness. It portrays that dualism between light and dark, good and evil, with stark simplicity (and yet at the same time brings a new gentleness to even Mr. G himself). If the Hero of Time is “cooler” and more confident and mysterious, the Hero of Winds is more childlike than many real children themselves.

But ultimately, we must remember that the style of The Wind Waker is really reflecting Miyamoto’s original vision. Miyamoto’s later vision, after the creation of the first Zelda game, was a bit different. I’m sure that when he had his original idea for the Zelda series, it didn’t begin with picturing how the graphics would look. But when he sat down to design it, the idea evolved from that original, unfettered vision. That’s what happens to all of us when we begin to work through the creative process. Indeed, the games have taken on far more complex layers than would have existed otherwise. Well, back in the days of the 2-D Zelda games, he, being the visionary that he is, was already picturing what the game would look like when and if technology could bring it into the 3-D realm. Way back when the Spaceworld demo was being shown, Miyamoto stated that he had always imagined Zelda as looking like Ocarina of Time. Now they only needed to progress the series more. But there’s the catch. Although the spirit of Miyamoto’s moment of inspiration, the basic concept that started it all, is most captured in The Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time is stylistically what Miyamoto had envisioned in the first place. And so The Wind Waker marks a slight shift in a new direction, a direction that Miyamoto did not instigate but embraced because it was close to his heart.

The Voice of the Fans

The Wind Waker is also a mirror into the minds of another group of individuals. The fans. Again, back when the Spaceworld demo was still being shown, Miyamoto admitted to browsing fan sites. How he might view an English site as this, I’m not sure. But it’s clear that Miyamoto is somehow more connected with the Zelda fan base than before. What does he read on the internet? I’m sure he’s seen the countless speculations, especially the discussion of continuity theories. And I have a sneaking suspicion that The Wind Waker reflects this. Note the greater attention to plot. Note the greater attention to explicit connections with other Zelda games, and especially to how they’re related by time. Pay attention to the explicit delineation of a Link who isn’t the same Link as the one in the previous games. Notice the attempts to smooth out the continuities-for instance, including a massive deluge to deal with the problem of a Hyrulian geography that changes from game to game. Part of this, no doubt, is part of a larger trend in gaming. But although I couldn’t prove it for certain, I think the game shows evidence of influence from the fans in an indirect way.

Conclusion

The Wind Waker is at once traditional and yet at the same time continues the evolution of the series. It’s a mirror of the mind of Miyamoto, in a way he never knew until Aonuma brought the idea to his mind. And it just may well be a mirror of the minds of the fans, reflecting their concerns for such things as continuity between the games. Whatever the case may be, we can expect the future games to keep this trend, at least for a while. That certainly isn’t a bad thing.* We’ll still be able to continue exploring the vibrant, youthful lands of Link’s world. And just think, rather than the sailing the vast expanses of the sea, we’ll get to traverse vast areas of land next time!

* On the other hand, it does mean that we probably won’t see a game that approaches the brilliance of my favorite game of all time, Majora’s Mask.

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This retro article was originally posted September 18th, 2003.
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  • WeeGee

    You post good posts, Wind Waker was kinda too young for me with the graphics but i still enjoyed it and it was the game that got my little bro intrested in the first place. Games like Minecraft and Pac-Man and Pokemon R&B proves that graphics don't kneed to be good for the game itself to be good.

  • Without the sheer genius Miyamoto-San wields, I doubt Zelda would even reach its apex of greatness, both in stature and in gameplay. He's the one who inspired his developers–Aonuma most of all–to develop the Legends into what they are today. And yes, I believe that Miyamoto himself was influenced by the outcries of the fans, who likely reached(s) him through internal sources that check all sorts of fansites…maybe even ZU. But that's not the case. This is: the president of Nintendo drives his team to work harder, to put feeling and meaning into the stories, and that is what generates the independence and immersion the fans undergo.

  • Zeldo

    wind waker was the shit PERIOD! amazing job Miyamoto..

    • ChainofTermina

      umm, I think people might not know what this Zeldo person means. in today's gangster, rap based pop culture, when something is described as "The Shit" (and it is very important that the word "the" is in front of it) that means that it is good. if someone just uses the s word alone by itself, that means they think it is bad, but if someone describes something as "The…….S word", then that means they think it is awesome. so this Zeldo guy is saying that WW is awesome. confusing, I know, but hey, rapping gangsters pop culture, what are you gonna do.

      • You kidding? I'm not familiar with very much gangster slang so this was a little hard to read. It actually sounded like he was being sarcastic.

        • DoucheMonger

          Are you retarded? Pretty much everybody uses it nowadays. Holy shit, get outside.

          • One can't be considered retarted just for not knowing a term. Besides, it's not used in my social circle or on any media I've seen/heard. I merely didn't know it, if you'll excuse that.

          • Jabun

            Oh, WAH! The itty-bitschy Douchie-Monger got told off and went on'is own wittle babyish wampage 'cause he could not take the discomfiture. And now basturd-bobo seeks to vote everyone down…poor wittle pis-bombso…poor itty-bitty-shty bambino.

            Holy shucks period, get outside you douche!

        • ChainofTermina

          nope. not kidding. if somebody says "This is the shit" that means they are trying to say "this is awesome." as opposed to "this is shit" which means "this is horrible." I don't really like gangster slang either, but this particular example has become quite popular. so I just know about it.

          • WeeGee

            since when did people start using gangster slang?

          • ChainofTermina

            I dunno. that's just what this Zeldo person did.

          • Thanks for clarifying that then. From what I've seen on Zeldo's comments, he hasn't been spiteful toward any game, and this bewildered me. But now that this can be understood, let's just get back on topic.

            (Apologies to Zeldo and anyone else I flustered).

  • Chukazurikyri

    I think very highly of Myamoto. He's My idol. I know that no matter where he decides to go with Skyward Sword it will be pure genious just like his pervious games.

  • Hero of Winds 2

    I just finished Wind Waker (again) a few days ago, and I loved it! Like Ocarina of Time, it truly showed the growth in maturity of the characters. Link goes from a somewhat lazy, over-eager child, to a brave soldier. Tetra goes from a self-centered brat, to a caring princess. And Ganondorf is exposed as a true man, rather than a beast. We find that envy drives him and he almost loves the thrill of the chase.

  • Sanity's_Theif

    I probably read this too quickly or something but it basically seems pretty much the same as the last article with a similar title

    I still hold to my view I think they should stick with making these caves/dungeons look like places someone would need courage to go through taking into account the gamer themselves instead of just the avatar Link

    Teach these kids some courage by putting out places that will scare them like that room from the Woodfall Temple in MM, that really creeped me out as a kid and it's the most connected I've ever felt to a Zelda game

    • Sanity's_Theif

      That room as I'm sure most of you know I'm referring to is the room that's pitch black with the black boes all around and all you can see is these red eyes, just saying it for people who view this and wouldn't know

      • Hero of Winds 2

        The most scary place for me was the Bottom of the Well in Ocarina of Time. Well, pretty much any spot where those Redeads showed up…. (shutter) I even freaked out when we were escaping Ganon's tower!

        • manga ninja

          me too!
          I am also scared of the shadow temple 😮

  • Forgive me for stepping on toes, but the phrase “the shit” is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I hear it all the time, but how is calling something “the excrement” a testimony to its greatness? It’s just retarded.

  • Zelda fan0652

    I like WW Link better,he's funnier than OOT Link