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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution

Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo
Genre: Third-Person Action Adventure
Players: 2 (via GBA link)
Release Date: March 25, 2003
Written by: Faerieprincessco

A video game series that started back in 1987, The Legend of Zelda has always received tons of recognition. This is because the gameplay seen in Zelda games is so unique. The standard formula of Zelda consists of solving puzzles that use various weapons or items, exploring dungeons, and battling enemies that come in your path. The hero who goes through all this madness goes by the name of Link, and he will travel through the lands with the help of a powerful sword. Link will be challenged with all kinds of trials, in hopes of rescuing the Princess Zelda and saving the land of Hyrule from evil. At first glance, Legend of Zelda may not sound too different from other adventure games. However, it's not long before players realize that it's the overall feeling and presentation of The Legend of Zelda that makes it stand out to gamers.

Once the Nintendo GameCube was released, one of the first things Nintendo fans wondered if there was going to be a new Zelda game to play on Nintendo's new system. To many, it was hard to imagine a game that could beat the greatness of the Nintendo 64 hit, The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. Back in 2000, when a very early demo of The Wind Waker was shown, it received tons of praise from the audience when they were shown a realistic Link battling Ganon in a dark castle hall. Although, as 2003 approached, these praises began to turn into doubts. The style of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker completely changed! Instead of having a more realistic look to it, the final version of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was going to have more of a cartoonish style. This disappointed many fans, as people questioned why there was such a drastic art change. The demo became history, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker became known as a game where Link will travel across a sea, traveling from one island to the next and fighting in battles full of vibrant colors.

The new look of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker disappointed some gamers, but at the same time it made others happy. It boiled down to the point where the art direction of the game came to a personal preference. It's for this reason The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker got known for having a kiddy image, which even some said long before they had gotten a chance to play the game. Kiddy or not, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker proves to be a fun game with a captivating storyline as well as solid gameplay.

The story starts off at Outset Island, Link's home land. It seems to be a beautiful day, as the sun is shining and skies are crystal clear. Link seems to be enjoying such a day by relaxing while he sleeps in a hideout area. Link's sister, Aryll, finds Link and wakes him up immediately. After all, it's Link's birthday so he definitely shouldn't sleep the whole day away. Although, the beauty of the day suddenly changes. All of a sudden, a fierce looking bird has a young girl in its clutches and drops the girl into a nearby forest. As Link and Aryll concern about the safety of this young girl, Link immediately heads to go visit his Grandma. During the visit, his Grandma tells Link of a tale of the Hero of Time who saved a land so long ago. She asks Link to wear the green clothes this past hero wore, since it's a tradition for each boy to wear these garments as they reach a certain age.

Well, that's an odd place to wake up from taking a nap!

Shortly after Link changes his clothes, he heads off to save the young girl that got dropped into the forest. He then finds the girl, who goes by the name of Tetra and doesn't seem too thrilled about being "rescued." As Tetra's friends arrive, it becomes obvious that she is a pirate. Unfortunately, Aryll has slowly been following Link's path and the forest is a dangerous place to be for such a little girl. As Link attempts to go back to Outset Island, the same bird that captured Tetra now kidnaps Aryll! Unfortunately, the bird does not drop Aryll so Link's adventure becomes to find his kidnapped sister.

Determined to find his sister, Link then begs the pirates to help him in his task. The pirates are hesitant at first, since Link is a little boy himself. They think that he is not strong enough to handle such an adventure. After seeing Link's determination, the pirates finally agree to take Link to an area called Forsaken Fortress. While Link needs to rescue his sister, at this fortress Link finds out what danger is taking place in the whole land. It's not too long after that when players realize there's more to the story than just rescuing Links sister, Aryll.

The gameplay of Wind Waker is simply astonishing. It's a perfect blend of the traditional Zelda formula mixed with several new concepts. The first thing players may realize is how The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker uses the same control scheme as the Nintendo 64 titles, The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Even for those who have not played these past titles, the controls are still convenient and very easy to adapt to. Link will be able to assign various items to three buttons; X, Y or Z. To use the item, just press the button the item is assigned to and it's as simple as that. Pressing the L button will target on enemies, which is extremely helpful when Link is battling a swarm of enemies at once. The A button is your basic action command that can perform tasks such as reading and talking while the B button allows Link to swing his sword. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker keeps the familiar controls, but improves on them ever so slightly by giving players excellent camera control and tighter lock-on features.

Many traditional items, including bombs and the boomerang, make a fabulous return that makes Link's adventure even more exciting. Link can use bombs to blow away obstacles in his path; the boomerang to activate multiple switches instantly; or the bow and arrow which makes a good weapon for hard to reach enemies and for those who have good aim. The Iron Boots also make a return, allowing Link to weigh about five more times than usual as well as the Grappling Hook, which lets Link swing on a bar as a means of getting from one platform to the next. The mentioned items are no way a complete list of all the items Link will have at his disposal, but they’re some of the most common ones you'll use besides the standard sword and shield.

Link swings in hopes of reaching the next platform.

Even though The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker features a lot of items already seen, there are several new items. One of these items being extremely important, the name of the game itself, the Wind Waker. The Wind Waker is a simple baton holding many powers. It allows Link to control the direction of the wind, change the time of day, create cyclones and even communicate with sages. It's quite evident that the Wind Waker item plays a huge role in the game, as it needs to be used to solve a lot of puzzles. It's a similar concept as to why the Ocarina was so important in The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time.

Link conducts a song called the Ballad of Gales.

What really makes The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker so unique from other Zelda titles is how Link spends so much time in the sea. Link will be sailing the immense seas to travel from island to island, in hopes of saving the land from evil. However, Link won't be sailing in just an ordinary boat. It's a special boat, known as the King of Red Lions. The King of Red Lions has a lot of knowledge of the land, and will often give hints to Link on where to head to next and mark important areas on your map. The sea plays a huge role in the game and proves not just to be there for transportation purposes only. For example, Link will be able to find treasures in the sea, and get them by attaching the Grappling Hook onto the boat. These treasures may contain rupees or other treasures! Also, if needed, Link can fight enemies while on the boat. By selecting the bombs item while sailing will cause a canon to appear on the boat. You can fire bombs from this canon, and send enemies sinking to their death in no time. This is just the very beginning of what Link can do out at sea.

Whether Link is on land or sea, exploring is an important factor in the game. There are various islands all over the sea, some of them which are required to explore while others aren't. On these “optional” islands, there may reside a small puzzle to solve or a mini-dungeon, which once solved and/or completed, which will reveal a new treasure for Link. There are so many treasures Link can collect! As already mentioned, an amount of rupees seems to be the most popular treasure. However, Link can also find pieces of heart containers and treasure charts. Treasure charts will actually reveal any hidden treasures that may be in the sea. When you are near such a treasure, players will see a glow in the water, indicating it's time for players to whip out that Grappling Hook and reel that treasure in! Also among all the various islands may lay faeries, who will give you bomb, arrow and or magic expansions, helping you along your quest. The exploration factor in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker alone can keep a gamer quite busy, for those who insist on finding every single thing anyway.

Considering that the sea Link has to explore is huge, it's a good thing that there is a map. This map looks like a grid of some sort, with the current square Link is in flashing with an arrow on it. There are ways to label certain areas on your map, and believe it or not, it requires talking to fishes. By throwing bait in the water, these fishes, who always greet Link with a "Hoy, small fry!” will come up from the water. If the area is not marked on your sea chart already, then the fish will then mark it for you. Not only that, but the fish will also give you hints as to what your purpose for exploring that island is or maybe even what item you need to use to solve a puzzle on that island. These fishes are extremely helpful and without talking to them constantly throughout the game, the player's experience in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker can become a very frustrating one. Just like exploring, talking to everyone and anyone you can is definitely the best way to be successful in The Wind Waker.

Let these fishies become your best friends!

The combat system featured in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is very well-done. With the ability to lock onto enemies, it makes fighting a lot easier to deal with. Link can also perform combo moves by pressing the attack button in succession. The more times Link swings his sword, the more vertical and horizontal slashes he will do to the enemy. Link can also try to dodge attacks, by doing back-flips or side-stepping. Another nice element to the combat system is the introduction of the parry attack. When Link is fighting enemies, or many enemies at once, he can perform a counterattack that not only looks cool, but can do some serious damage!

Even though the gameplay mechanics of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker are designed beautifully, the game itself can definitely come off as being too easy. As Link explores his way through dungeons, some rooms from these dungeons will contain puzzles that this hero will have to solve. The solutions to puzzles could require grabbing a block and moving it, lighting a torch by setting a nearby stick on fire, or just defeating all the enemies in the current room. The puzzles seen in this game are in no way difficult, at least once you take a look at all your surroundings. There are some puzzles that might make stop and think for a few minutes and test a few of your items to see how they can help you out.

Link takes on a couple Moblins to show them who's boss.

Overall, the gameplay of The Legend of Zelda: The wind Waker is rock solid. Regardless of the game seeming to be somewhat too easy, the game's fun factor is extremely high. In the end, it's the fun factor that counts. Also, the extensive time spent out on the sea can be a drag to some. However, since the sea plays such a crucial role into the game, it only makes sense to a lot of sailing involved.

As already mentioned, the graphics really boil down to a personal opinion. Although, for those who prefer more realistic graphics are obviously going to be somewhat disappointed. Even so, it's still hard to deny the fact the colorful graphics fit so well with the feeling of the game. For example, the bright colors help emphasize that The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker takes place when Link is a young boy. Of course, the unique graphics of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is hard thing to adjust to, especially after being spoiled by a more-realistic graphical approach on both of the Nintendo 64 Zelda titles. While the Nintendo GameCube could definitely support more advanced graphics, the graphics of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker are nothing to heavily complain about. The graphics indeed are still a shining point of the game.

For the most part, cut-scenes, boss battles and enemy fighting flow smoothly. There is the occasional lag that occurs when fighting several enemies at once, but that's a common problem no matter what game it is you are playing. Whether Link is walking, crawling or jumping, the movement of each action runs almost flawlessly, making the game come more alive. What's also nice is Link isn't the only who performs all these kinds of movements. It's very common to see other enemies, such as Moblins and ChuChus, to jump, crawl or lurk around and they perform these moves just as smooth! These movements done by enemies can also bring humor into the game. It's hard not to mention that stabbing a Moblin in the foot causes him to hop around and do funky dances, as tears of pain fly out of his eyes.

Link sails with the King of Red Lions.

From facial expressions to bombs exploding, there is a lot of attention to detail in various parts of the game. It's easy to tell when Link is happy or sad, and even a difference between laughing and frowning. While past Zelda titles have also been able to accomplish this, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker expands on that and makes it that much more effective. After all, since there's no voice acting, sometimes these facial expressions definitely convey the real meaning of the dialogue going on. It's also nice to see that when bombs explode, a puff of swirly smoke arises. When bombs are thrown into the water, a massive splash of water also rises as the bomb explodes. Then there's the effect of a purple outburst of smoke appearing as an enemy is defeated. It's always a blast to see such attention to detail in games.

The graphics of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker are unique, but the most important thing is that they fit with the atmosphere of the game.

As with a lot of Nintendo titles, the voice acting is almost non-existent. That can be taken as a good thing and a bad thing. Voice acting could have really helped share the emotions that take place in many dialogues throughout the game, but the sound effects heard do enough to get the point across. With the face expressions being so detailed, voice acting isn't really needed. In fact, the small grunts and yelps Link make can be pretty humorous and make the player chuckle every now and then.

Other sound effects, mostly heard in dungeons, are quite fitting with the surrounding environment. For example, flapping wings are given off by "swooshing" noise and running water sounds like it is presented with constant dripping sounds. These are the nitty-gritty sound effects, but just like the graphics, it's sometimes the details in a game that stand out the most. The sound effects give the player a sense of being in the world they are currently exploring. Also, there's a nice chime that plays as Link requires an item or solves a puzzle.

Argh! It's a treasure! Losers wheepers, finders keepers!

The music heard in Zelda titles never disappoint and the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is no different. Although, the music heard in this game isn’t nearly as traditional. The over world theme, originally created in the very first Zelda game, doesn't make too much of an appearance in the game. It's not that the music is never heard, it's more the case it isn't heard nearly as often as it usually is. Even so, the music heard in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is extremely enjoyable and fitting in a lot of situations. The music may be less traditional, but that's not the case with every song heard in the game. There a few tunes that have been revamped and make a warm nostalgic feeling overcome the player.

Just like every other element of the game, it's easy to tell a lot of effort went into creating the music heard in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The music that plays while sailing on the King of Red Lions is soothing and very motivating. While sneaking your way around a dungeon, the music is very soft and as Link walks around tip-toed. It's amazing how the sounds can fit the game so well and easily makes the player hum these tunes outside of the game.

One of the best things about The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the many secrets it contains for players to find. The first thing players might do when they beat the game is to complete sidequests and find any missing heart containers. This factor alone adds a ton of replay value to the game, as it is very unlikely that a player collects all the heart containers and completes all the sidequests on their very first playthrough.

Link prepares for a simple boss battle.

Sidequests are a huge reason to replay The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, however, for some players it simply isn't enough. Since there is a lot to uncover in the realm of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, it may not be a bad idea to play through the game another time to stumble across a few surprises that are guaranteed to be enjoyable.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a masterpiece and it's for that reason alone gamers may find themselves replaying this game from time to time. Just like many people replay the original Legend of Zelda regardless of how old the game is, there's no doubt The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker might have the same effect to some.

Final Thoughts
With its deep and distinguished storyline, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker proves to be an astounding fulfillment from Nintendo. Even with its unique art direction, the game is an example of impeccable game design. It's rare to see games of today to be made with such detail and a feeling of accomplishment. After experiencing the uniqueness of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, players themselves might release that a hero's mentality is within everyone.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker may not be as revolutionary as The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, but it definitely brings the Zelda series into a new light. Zelda fan or not, this game has something to offer for everyone.


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