Review / Test:
Once upon a time, there was a game played and loved by millions. His name was famous all over the world and players awaited with great excitement every new episode. But one day, a dark figure came and cast his shadow on players driving them (even more) dull and stupid. Thus, when the wonderful game showed up with brand new graphics, many people were skeptical, angry and mean. After a year, the game came back; he had grown up and was now a hero, he fought the evil and triumphed. People smiled again and praised the hero who forgave the fool ones who had lost faith in him. But a question remained: was the hero as strong as ever ? And so, today, we are here together to answer this question and finish the tale.
Between the light blue of the sky and the deep blue of the ocean, it begins on an island as early as the presentation unrolls. A very typical Zelda presentation, beautiful in its own simple way. A nice music, an overview of Outset island, the title carried on a breeze, it's well done and will instantly hold you under a love spell. It has a soft poetic feel just like Link riding Epona on Hyrule's plain at dusk had. It does what videos fail to accomplish: to make you feel the game's life and draw you into it. The story is told through motionless pictures with the most admirable music you could think of, it fits perfectly the narration, like the voices humming Mario theme in Super Mario Sunshine. Once again it is simple yet it will raise emotion in true Zelda fans like no other, the story has, so to speak, a link to the past, a beautiful sad link with the Nintendo 64 games, about the work of fate.
Then, it's time to press start. If you've been a hero of time, in other words if you played Ocarina of Time, you will surely feel comfortable with the handy game system which hasn't really changed. And when it did change, it's for the best with some little improvements: the control scheme is well adapted to the GameCube, menus are simplified, there's a wider range of fighting moves and a more flexible camera. The gameplay is not flawless though, a couple of defects weaken what could have been otherwise close to perfection. But we'll talk about them later, let's not scare beginners with these triffles. People who are not familiar with Zelda or who are not full-time gamers will rightfully praise The Wind Waker game system which is simple to use and complex to master. When sailing for instance, there are different techniques to learn by yourself to fight enemies faster and better like not letting the sharks surround you or to come close for shooting at boats.
As the name hints, on Outset Island, players will learn to make their first steps in the adventure. They will learn the controls, meet some crucial characters, fool around and start unfolding the dramatic lines of the story. Don't you dare calling it a tutorial ! It's nothing so straight forward. Outset Island is an important location in your quest and Nintendo worked hard to integrate it as such. Every tutorial element suits perfectly in the world, you will learn to use your sword with Orca not like if you were reading the booklet on the screen but like a student learning swordmanship with a master, and you will learn some gameplay details with his brother, the scientific Sturgeon, like if you were glancing through the great book of life.
The Wind Waker never really feels like if you're playing a video game, it has a life-like logic, often in details which might seem insignificant as those transparent tutorials. Nevertheless it's these details which help to build such a fascinating and addictive world, in some aspects more attractive than in Ocarina of Time. For instance, although it has a larger community, Kokiri Village in the Ocarina of Time is a less interesting and pleasant place to visit than Outset island. Personalities are less strongly underlined. That's another (of the many) assets of The Wind Waker, characters have very different personalities, almost everyone has a specific behavior, or primary psychology, even the simple guard at a door corner of Dragon Roost Island. This diversity gives more cohesion to the world, characters react to each other like the 2 brothers or the secret lovers on Windfall Island. It gives also more pleasure, when talking to each character: you don't feel it's just the same person again and again with a different text like in most RPGs. Also because Nintendo made a use of this feature: many sub-quests highlight the personality of a character and the main storyline plays with them too, like for the tale of the kidnapped girls.
The graphic style is certainly a key element to make The Wind Waker's world so deeply attractive. In most reviews now, we read: "we're not going to debate about the graphics again." In Samurai Nintendo, we like to do thing differently, so yeah, we're going to debate about the graphics again and tell why it's a good choice. First off, in the name of the freedom of creativity, a right which seems to go far beyond the limited understanding of some people, Nintendo just did what makes them valuable as a game company: they followed their imagination. Players should respect this, creativity before the public's lame taste and marketing decisions. If game makers were listening to the crowd we would always be playing the same kind of games. Instead of respecting this choice, people claim they want a realistic Zelda. Gosh... FUCK REALISM ! If you want realism, stop playing video games and go out, live your life instead of wanting imaginative works to be imaginationless. Some say they want realistic graphics like in Square games. Yeah, sure, it's much more realistic some pretty-pretty uniform characters who look like robots dressed as clowns (FFX and Kingdom Hearts). Hey kid, you got the wrong console if what you want is games which treat you like a dummy with soap opera stories, movies and fashionable design: throw your brain away and buy a PS2.
So, what's so special about Zelda's graphics ? They are in cel-shading but unlike many cel-shading games they are not outlined in black, it gives an unique cartoon style and an important role to the animation. But it's not just cel-shading. Cel-shading has become a trend badly used in most of the games (except Jet Set radio and Auto Modellista) before being a wonderful tool for imagination. That's how Nintendo used it, to make some great ideas come true and to design a world with no boundary to the imagination. Zelda's design is great, it's nothing like you've seen before in a game, it's reminding of some twists and fantaisies of Tim Burton's universe at times. Every object has an unique style like every character has his own personality. A tree, a ladder, the sea in Zelda are singularly different from their counterpart in another game: trees have strange undulating stripes, ladders have discreet ornaments and the sea is opaque but very lively.
In many ways the ideas are well implemented because the design is just so original and brilliant. The game carries many emotions thanks to this close relation between ideas and graphics, it can be humorous (the children, the pigs...) or even hilarious (Salvatore, the pigs again...), the sea and the dungeons give a very strong adventurous feel while villages are very friendly. The first encounter with a knight will give you a thrill of pleasure and so will the encounters with most of the bosses. One particular place in the game is also very beautiful and sad for what it represents, I can't tell where it is without writing a spoiler so I won't say anything more except that there is a sumptuous music. Hopefully people will understand what I'm refering to.
Yet, one of the best thing in the game, if not the best, is Link himself. Link in the Wind Waker is definitely the most succesful Link designed in the series: he's nice, funny, brave, friendly, curious, determined and all this without saying a word. Personally, he is the most enjoyable character I've ever played in a 3D game. Throughout the game he has many expressions and all of them are really good. He looks very funny when he's confused, so concentrated when fighting and, seriously, he has the most wonderful smile that I've ever seen anywhere, games, movies or life ! A beautiful smile of sincere happiness. Thanks to his lively animation, Link is the top character. Then come the enemies who move and act very realistic too. Last are the friendly characters who usually have little animation and are too static, however, it doesn't matter so much as they are not action characters.
The monsters deserve a few words more. Although a large number of them is from some past Zelda games (many come from the first Zelda: the wizards, the dark hands, the 4 edges blade..), they are very original and well designed. Stalfos for instance, the skeleton warrior, is much more complex than in Ocarina of Time. He's big, moves slowly, attacks brutaly with a club, fall into pieces when harmed and regenerate. Knights are even more impressive, they can do amazing actions like breaking columns, using weapons lost by other characters like Link do, fight bare fists and they are protected by superb armors and cloaks. There's a fair amount of monsters in the game and all are very well done, everything about them, even the sound/voice is polished to a high degree of excellence. And so, it's never boring to fight them again. Besides, weapons and items can have multiple effects on them.
Take the game box, what do you see on the front cover ? Link on a boat sailing the sea. You can't write a decent review of The Wind Waker without talking about the sailing which, funnily, is even more important than the wind itself. The sea is a tradition of the adventure genre like the train is for crime stories, it was time that a video game gives it a big part. Zelda did it and did it very well, The Great Sea is all about the sea like you read it in books (The Treasure Island, Mobydick, Moonfleet...) full of dangerous animals, pirates, ghosts, secret islands, deep-hidden trasures, cannons, forsaken fortress and... more. It's the great adventure !
At first though, it might feel confusing, and at length a bit boring. Confusing because you have to get used to check different charts and to make wind blow behind your sail to move. Boring because in the end you'll grow tired to fight the same creatures and to fish the treasures. This is what some people say, that is not necessarily what we think. Sure enough, these two inconvenients show up but the fun of sailing and treasure hunting is always stimulated thanks to a nice diversity and difficulty. Monsters gather more and more to attack, treasures contain a few welcome surprises and finding all of the 49 chests will become an obsession if not a goal. Sea travelling is also eased grandly later in the game. Eventually, there are some sea techniques for pros to discover. In that sense, the gameplay has much to offer and you'll easily notice the difference between an amateur sailor player and an old pirate gamer.
As we pointed earlier in this review, The Wind Waker has some drawbacks and several are related to the gameplay. It's nothing big, but it can disturb at times, like the inconvenients when sailing. The camera can be a little irritating and the targeting as well. There's a major flaw in the targeting actually, when two enemies are on different heights, it's difficult to select the upper target. It's obvious when fighting the wizards and some ground enemies at the same time. The final fight is also an issue; though all the scene at this point is superb, the gameplay is really strange. In the first part, the targeting arrow indicates one spot but it's never the place to hit, there's also something inadequate with what you are fighting. Somewhow it doesn't suit. In the second part (this all sounds very messy but I don't want to give away), the gameplay is quite unclear too, you don't really understand what you're supposed to do, neither do you completely understand the cut-scene. It could have been amazing but it's one level under.
Does this apply to the whole game ? Definitely not. Many thing are truly amazing in the Wind Waker. What is not amazing is mostly one level under as for the final fight (not everybody will agree, some think it's just fantastic) and the rest falls into the category of slightly disappointing. The four slight disappointements of the game, which for some abusive people might be emphasized as major shortcomings, are: a certain irregularity in the length of the game, an aspect of the gameplay, the reward system (too many coins, not enough to do with them) and the difficulty not being high enough. The actual problem is that it's too easy to regain energy and there are sometimes too many hints. Nintendo just tries its best to satisfy both amateur and expert players; the latter one should be happy with The Savage Labyrinth. About the length, it's not that it's too short, it's just that you wish for more, more islands to visit, more things to see, more people to meet, more dungeons to explore... It just proves one thing: that the game is fantastically appealing. When playing The Wind Waker, you won't feel like stopping, you'll be absorbed by the game universe like no other game before. And it has nothing to do with realism or normal game addiction, it's thanks to the sole beauty of the imaginary world. It's the perfect place for adventure, the perfect place for becoming a hero and the perfect game to make your fantasy come true.
Samurai Nintendo thinks this game is suitable for everyone (kids over 7, teens and adults)
I think this is an amazing game, and Nintendo have taken a great big leap in terms of graphics, and they have been daring enough to use cel shading. When 'Ocarina' and 'Majora' were all quite realistic, people may have gone against the cel shaded feature of Wind Waker, but I think that it will remain a classic in the zelda series, even though it has alot to live up to, to come to the high level that Ocarina is at!
-- From Puja Raithatha
I think that this Zelda game wasn't better than Ocarina of Time, but it's still pretty amazing. The graphics are nice and I love the music too. Another thing I like about it is all of the islands... they are too cool.
-- From Coco
This Zelda adventure is a little easy but is long. It has nice graphics and cool twists and turns. So if you haven't played this game then pick up that controller and get started on this action-packed Zelda adventure game.
-- From masterx9
Windwaker, the newest installment in the Zelda series, is an instant classic. Loyal Link-fans were at first daunted by the infamous cell-shading, but the graphics are a feast for the eye and imagination, adding brilliance to an already engaging story and a veritable feast of side quests. This one will be played over and over again!
-- From Rachel Bostwick
Ugh. As a die hard Zelda fan since the age of 3 when we got our Nintendo, sixteen years of loyalty were shot down with this incredibly uninviting display. I could handle the, in my opinion, childish looking cell-shading graphics. My qualm was the HUGE shift in storyline. My favorite thing about the other Zeldas was that although the gameplay changed everytime, the general storyline didn't. Whether you were saving Princess Zelda, or fighting Ganon, or playing your Ocarina to Saria, it was always the same Link. You actually PLAYED the legend. In WW, you are subject TO the legend...dressing up in Link garb when you reach that "manly" age. Not to mention the endless ocean sequences. It was short and uninteresting compared to my past experiences with LoZ. There were a few things I did enjoy (before I stopped playing out of disgust and frustration): I liked the parellel to Gerudo Fortress in the Forsaken Fortress, being thrown in jail. That made me happy at least. Maybe it's just a basis of compare and contrast...OoT was quite possibly my favorite game ever in the sixteen years I've been obsessed with them. But in my opinion, WW falls way short of Miyamoto's capabilities and doesn't live up to...well, the legend of the Legend of Zelda.
-- From FairyPix