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Developer:
Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: GameCube
Release Date: March 24, 2003

by Eric Arevalo




THE POWER OF GAMES

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the latest Nintendo masterpiece for the GameCube from the creative genius of Shigeru Miyamoto and the talented Zelda team. Sporting an exquisite cel-shading technique for rendering its graphics, the latest Zelda game will provide gamers with a memorable and exciting experience. You feel as if you are part of some special animated cartoon that you can actually play in and experience. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a rare testament to the power of games to immerse and excite us with beautiful and expressive worlds, and electrifying gameplay!


THE HERO OF TIME VENTURES FORTH

A great evil thought banished has emerged once again to destroy the tranquil calm and peace that had blanketed the world. Link, the valiant hero of time, born during the return of this ancient evil must venture forth against great challenges before it consumes the world. This time the journey is personal, this time the quest more vital than ever, for Link's own sister Aryll has been kidnapped by a huge bird, servant of the dark master. Who is this mysterious figure that has returned from the ashes of times past and what are his plans for Aryll and other girls like her that have been kidnapped? Link must leave Outset Island, the only home he has ever known, take up the master sword and shield bestowed upon the greatest heroes the world has ever known and prove that he is the hero the legends speak of!


A BEAUTIFUL AND EXPRESSIVE WORLD

TWW (The Wind Waker) is bursting with so many details that gamers will often sit and marvel at the creative touches. No longer are we just content on how well a game plays but with the GameCube we expect that our games will look good as well. The power of cel-shading adds to the magic, the wonder and the excitement that is to be found in TWW. Watch as clouds move through the sky above and decrease in size as they fade in the distance. Or marvel as droplets of water fall from Linkís body as he emerges from the ocean.


In one area, Seagulls fly gracefully through the sky, flowers dot the meadows, villagers go about their daily tasks, and then one realizes why cel-shading is perfectly suited for the light-hearted nature of the Zelda games. There are also day and night cycles used in the game and you will delight in seeing the beauty of the sun shining in the day or the moon illuminating the sky at night. I liked how flower petals scattered in the air when Link ran through them or how he left footprints upon the sand when he was wet and walked over it. I especially liked the intro and how they used a mural to depict the legends of the past. All of these details bring the world to vibrant life and immerse the player in a world that they will care about.


You will also care for Link, the character you play as, for the unique way in which he expresses himself in every situation. Feel for Link as his screams and facial expressions exude the loss he feels for his sister as she is kidnapped in front of him and he is helpless. Or laugh as you see Link's weird expression when he is shot out of a cannon and his eyes mirror the fear and insanity of it. Enter a specific room that is unknown and witness Link look all around to discover what lies hidden and then look surprised at what appears suddenly before him. These facial expressions are important in helping us care and appreciate Link in his plight to save his sister. There is no voice acting in TWW, everything is conveyed with written dialogue that complements the game. I actually did not expect that the dialogue would be as good as it was but it surprised me at how humorous and how well written it actually turned out. There are many hilarious scenes in the game. In one of these scenes, a set of Pirates is convincing you that you should not be messing with them because of how cruel they can be.


It is funny because as much as they try to convince you that they are bloodthirsty and savage they actually look more peaceful than anything and would not even hurt a fly. Another hilarious scene that had me laughing aloud involved the comments a character would say after I had attempted tossing this character across a gap but missed. Stars would whirl around the injured character's head and they would respond with witty comments about why they see three of you. Obviously the many injuries the character sustained from falling on the ground one to many times due to my lack of throwing correctly caused the character to say some very silly things. Music also needs to be mentioned because it adds to the atmosphere within the game. You will notice many familiar themes from past Zelda games but in a jazzed up and much better form than before. One of my favorites is the music that plays as you are traversing the sea in the game. This brings us to the heart of the matter, in regards to the gameplay within TWW and the use of elements such as a special boat to traverse the vast and glorious Great Sea of Link's world or using a magical baton that controls the wind.


ELECTRIFYING GAMEPLAY

The gameplay in TWW is so electrifying and magical that I must compliment the Zelda creative team for pouring their heart and soul into giving us an impressive world to play in. There are so many areas to explore, so many puzzles to solve, and so many things that will captivate you. The game allows you to choose between a fixed camera control as you travel and a free form camera control which allows you to control the camera in any way you desire. New elements introduced such as a crouching, and sneaking should prove very useful. When Link crouches, he is able to slide across the ground and go through small gaps that he would not otherwise have been able to. There is a secret under a house in the first island that you begin in, Outset Island, home to our hero Link, where you will find a special orange Rupee worth 100 Rupees (the currency used in the Zelda games) in one area that you must use your crouching ability to get to. You can also lie flat against a wall and tip toe across some very narrow gaps that you could not get across normally.


Many may remember using the horse Epona in the N64 game, The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time to traverse the landscape but now a Great Sea divides the world into many isolated islands that you need to get to if you are to defeat evil and ultimately save your sister. You will eventually meet The King of the Red Lions, a magical boat that is alive and can actually speak the words of men, which will take you where you need to go as well as guide you along the way. The seas hold many surprises if you take the time to explore them. Once you find some treasure charts and locate the grappling hook which is useful for reaching distant areas, you will be able to use these items to find the secret treasures buried within the depths of the sea.


In your travels you will acquire many items, such as a telescope given by your sister for viewing distant objects as well as a special item known as a deku leaf which allows you to blow gusts of air towards your enemies or to help you glide across to areas that the grappling hook will not help you with. The deku leaf uses your magical power so you must take this into consideration when using it. You will experience many unique and interesting puzzles as you explore the seas, the dungeons and many other locations. In one area, you must avoid the searchlights for if you are discovered you will be thrown into a jail cell. In that same area, you have temporarily lost your sword, and must sneak by your enemies by hiding in barrels. Some puzzles have you lighting certain torches to proceed forward while another puzzle involves cutting all the ropes that are holding the base of a cage together but you must cut all of them at the same time. Many puzzles will be closely tied to your mastery of the wind.


You will be able to control the wind with a magical baton. By playing a sequence of notes you will be able to control the direction of the wind. For example, if you are trying to reach a location to the South and the wind is blowing to the North, your travel on the seas will be very difficult because the wind will be blowing against you unless you turn the wind in the right direction and allow it to fill your sail and move you swiftly along. Be careful as you traverse the seas you may find yourself getting caught in the path of a storm that brings torrential rains and lightning.


Combat against your enemies is easy and like in the last Zelda game you can lock on and attack them with your sword or other items such as bombs or the boomerang. Your sword can also build up power and attack in a wide powerful arc for use in battling groups of enemies. You can use your shield to defend against your enemiesí attacks. Health is shown on the screen as red hearts. You start with three and increase their amount as you explore deeper in the game. Magic is shown as a green bar below your hearts.


You can attack with the weapons that enemies drop, as well as use them to solve many of the puzzles. Boss battles are complex and exciting and one of these has you battling against a huge crustacean-like creature with massive claws. At first you think it is impossible to destroy this creature because when you first attack it you canít do any damage. Eventually when you explore the area enough you will discover a way to weaken the creature sufficiently to the point that attacks will damage and finally destroy it. There are also several fun mini-games that you will come across such as one in which you must sort a specific amount of letters into their appropriate boxes. I just loved that in almost every room, every area, and every boss battle, you had to explore carefully because there was some type of puzzle that forced you to think of the right solution to the challenge. This and much more await you in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. So what are you doing reading, go and buy this game and explore it to your heart's content!


THE TINGLE TUNER

An excellent item you can find in the game is the Tingle Tuner but you can only use it if you have a Game Boy Advance (GBA) and the appropriate cable. You are given this device on Windfall Island by the funny Tingle who thinks you are a fairy creature. In order to use this item you must attach a GBA to one of the controller ports on your GameCube using the appropriate cable that allows you to do this. Once you select this item for use in TWW and the GBA is on, Tingle will appear on the GBA and give you advice on your enemies, or on the area that you are in, and help you uncover secrets. There are some items that you can only get by using the Tingle Tuner and special powers that only Tingle can use. He has special abilities that can restore your health or that can protect you for a limited amount of time. There is also the Tingle Balloon which allows you to hover in the air for a short amount of time or you can also have Tingle drop bombs on your enemies. Of course all of these abilities come at the cost of your Rupees when you select to use them. Although you do not need to use the Tingle Tuner item at all to successfully complete the game, it is a unique way to use the GBA system with the GameCube and worth using if you are able to do so!


ONE TO REMEMBER

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has surpassed all of my expectations and has become one of my most cherished games. A game like this is among the rare few that we never forget, but fondly remember for the memorable experiences that it gave us. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker will easily provide gamers 30+ hours of gameplay if one desires to search for everything in the game and uses the Tingle Tuner as well. While this game is not perfect as it could have provided slightly more challenging gameplay and a larger quest, it still manages to come close.


While some may argue that other types of graphics could have been used, it is quite clear that cel-shading has given this game a charm and grace lacking in other games. You would do yourself a grave injustice if you dismissed this game because of the use of cel-shading. As long as the graphics in any game immerse the player enough to care about the world they are playing in or the character they are playing as, it never truly matters what form of graphics a game uses. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a masterful achievement in gaming and will always have a special place in gamerís hearts!


Pros

  • Beautiful graphics through impressive cel-shading
  • Little details that bring the world to life
  • Well written dialogue which is often very humorous
  • Link is able to convey many exquisite facial expressions
  • Interesting mini-games, puzzles and diverse gameplay
  • Traveling the Great Sea and controlling the wind
  • Use of stealth tactics to sneak by enemies
  • Exciting weapons to use: a powerful sword, bombs, boomerang
  • Excellent boss battles
  • Using Tingle Tuner with the GBA and so much more!


Cons

  • As with all good things, the game eventually ends
  • Slightly more challenging gameplay and a larger quest would have been nice


Official Zelda Website


Final Grade: 98%

Just RPG Award of Excellence!




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