“Ow! My eye!” Those were my first words upon receiving The Wind Waker from EB Games. As I slid into my car, I glanced at the new game. I was about to drive home, but I couldn’t resist, and promptly opened the package. Since the car was parked in a sunny spot, I was blinded by the bright, shiny gold disc. “Wow, I like this game already,” I thought.
A Brief Word about the Graphics
Having played The Wind Waker, I now can certainly see why most reviewers claim that the graphics are one of the best aspects of the game, but I don’t agree with them. I have now come to love the stylized look. I generally enjoyed the graphics early in the game, but it wasn’t until I saw the insect enemies in the second dungeon that I was quite convinced that I preferred the cel-shaded look. I was even more convinced when I saw the wonderful sequence of events that play out after ringing the bell on the Tower. However, I still stand by those who do not like the new graphics. Most reviewers seem to imply that anyone who doesn’t like the graphics is some kind of idiot. I very much disagree, for reasons outlined in this earlier article.
Due to a busy schedule, I was unfortunately only able to play the wonderful game on three days last week. Keep in mind that usually I like to go through a game much slower and more carefully than many Zelda fans. When I played Majora’s Mask, I spent the first week doing nothing but probing the secrets and possible situations in Clock Town. In any case, here is a rather informal list of some of my observations from my adventuring thus far (nothing here should be a real spoiler to you, even if you have not played the game yet):
1. The introduction was wonderful.
2. Link’s voice doesn’t sound quite right, but I acclimated to it after a while.
3. The presence of a sister and grandmother actually works out quite wonderfully.
4. Yes! There’s bait!
5. Controlling gulls: Most. Awesome. Gameplay. Ever. (I’m a birder.)
6. Crikey, you can push off the dinnerware and make the vessels wobble and then crash?!
7. I must say, Link has some great moves!
8. Tetra, the pirate girl, is a funny little girl. She has been endowed with wonderful depth of personality. As a whole, the game has great characters, from the snot-nosed kid on Outset Island to the teacher of Windfall Island! And as with Majora’s Mask, the characters can have complex relationships with one another.
9. The Wind Waker continues the tradition of its predecessors with well poised drama. So far, it has not brought me to tears, but the emotional arc of the story is fantastic nonetheless.
10. When the first enemy died with a flourish of purple smoke, the friend watching me play said, “Oooh, pretty!” Beautiful.
11. The whole staging with grandma and the Hero’s Shield was well executed.
12. There is too much comedy to mention!
13. There are so many marvelous details to the world, as we should hope. For instance, I like how the vases in one of the houses of Windfall Island sparkle as a warning to those who would shatter them.
14. Imagine my delightful surprise when I accidentally found that you could swipe jewelry from enemies with the grappling hook!
15. The Great Sea is incredible, especially when you first set sail and then again when you first begin to explore. There is so much character, with the vast spaces, the islands, the wobbling mailboxes, the fishmen, the sea monsters, the mysterious lights, the outposts, and even treasure-hunting crews.
16. The music is beautiful, especially that which you hear as you sail the Great Sea.
17. At the risk of being redundant, there are fantastic characters and locales! Think of everything from Zephos (related to ZefuroV, Greek god of the west or benevolent wind, perhaps?) to Makar.
18. There are some clever references to previous games. In the pictograph building, there was a funny moment that I simply must mention. When you visit the upper room for the first time, you can enjoy an amusing reference to the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time.
19. The letter sorting game is more addictive than you might imagine.
20. The puzzles are new and interesting, and often employ wonderful bits of real world mechanics.
21. The Deku Leaf feels quite new, with its powers of blasting wind, gliding, and mid-air combat. Speaking of items, I love how mysterious some of them are, and even more how some of them are acquired in the most surprising ways.
22. I’ve said it before, but I will say it again: the game shines with polish! Think of Link’s anger at seeing the enemies ooze out over the face of one of the characters.
23. The game is finally beginning to explain some of the franchise’s best mysteries.
24. I am glad they used part of the “chilling music” from Majora’s Mask at various points, such as immediately after defeating a boss.
25. The moth looks fantastic!
26. Holy smokes! The boomerang is absolutely incredible. I targeted two items, and then an item above it, and it swept through two things and then curved up to get the baddy and then back to me, slashing a vine in the process. I also like how it bounces off of surfaces.
27. On the second day of playing, after I rescued Makar, many mysteries began to appear as I began to wander from the main course and encounter countless places, figures, and conversations that left me scratching my head in puzzlement. There were so many mysteries that I couldn’t keep track of them all.
28. Rupees actually mean something rather consistently. I appreciate that.
29. The Bunny Hood is wall decoration in one room.
30. Aha! So that’s what the “Golden Triumph Forks” are! *wink*
31. I’m glad they used the moon from Majora’s Mask as an emblem in one dungeon. By the way, part of the music for that dungeon is the same as a major musical theme in the film The Patriot.
32. The scenes with the pirates in the village are a masterpiece. And of course, it was quite interesting going into Tetra’s room. I won’t say any more about that, however. *wink*
33. The redesign of the old enemies is usually quite good and interesting.
34. The Wind Waker has maintained one of the hallmarks of the series-the clever and sometimes creepy eye design in the art of dungeons and enemies.
35. The sequence immediately after defeating the boss I like to call “Andross” is truly phenomenal. I won’t say more, lest I spoil anything. Early on, I decided that the game was certainly better (to me) than Ocarina of Time. The game is overall so much more highly evolved and refined than any of its predecessors, but up until that point, I was debating as to whether The Wind Waker or Majora’s Mask provided a better “initial experience” for me. When I witnessed that sequence I just mentioned, I decided that The Wind Waker was at least equal to my first time experience through Majora’s Mask.
I would say that the game is most certainly worth buying. I certainly had to leave out so many marvelous details out of my impressions. As for general impressions, there are numerous things that jump out at me. Most of these things, however, are articles in and of themselves. For now, suffice it to say this: The Wind Waker is truly the next step of the series. Nearly every aspect of the previous games has been improved in some form. There are simply too many improved aspects to list here. They include both insignificant aspects and significant aspects. For instance, interactivity with the environment has been increased. As Link rolls, tufts of grass fly up. When Link pushes tableware, they wobble and crash. (Remember how incredible it was originally when you could smash the pots?) As for significant aspects, think of how there are now two context sensitive buttons, and how one of them enables Link to shift along a flat wall or cliff, or even crawl on the ground. The boomerang can now be used with even more precision than the bow and arrow. When Link swims in the Great Sea, there is now an “exhaustion meter.” There are now lunar cycles. The music reacts to each sword strike. I could go on and on. I do have some gripes with the game, but they are quite minor. You can expect my full review of the game in the near future. (I remind you, I play methodically and do not have as much time for it as I would like, since I am taking 21 credits and hold 4 volunteer jobs.) In the meantime, however, I have played enough of it to begin to write articles of a more objective nature dealing with the wonderful world of The Wind Waker.
Until next time, may the way of the Hero lead to those oh-so-powerful utensils, the Golden Triumph Forks!