Game Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker* is a fantastic game in the Zelda series, although controversial because of its cell-shaded design and the fact that the game takes place in an ocean rather than Hyrule.

The ESRB rating is E.

The game starts with a legend passed down generations that follows the events of Ocarina of Time.  As with most of the other Legend of Zelda games, you play Link, this time a young boy living on Outset Island who has just come of age.  While Link, his sister Aryll, and their grandmother are celebrating his birthday, a giant bird ruins the festivities by bringing an abducted girl to the island, with her pirate ship in close pursuit.  Link rescues the girl, Tetra, but the bird mistakes Aryll for Tetra and kidnaps her instead.

Link sets out with Tetra and the pirates to rescue his sister, but becomes part of a bigger adventure when he finds out that Ganondorf, the villain of the legend, has gotten loose from his prison.  Angry at his failure to secure control of Hyrule, Ganon has been combing the seas for Princess Zelda, the holder of the second Triforce, for the chance to make his dreams of power come true.  Since Zelda is in disguise, he has kidnapped any girl with blonde hair and pointed ears– just like Link’s sister Aryll.

With the help of Tetra, a talking boat called the King of Red Lions, and a mysterious conductor’s baton known as the Wind Waker, Link sets out on the seas to find the power to stop Ganon and rescue his sister.

In this installment of The Legend of Zelda series, the setting is a vast ocean with many islands, rather than the standard Hyrule, and instead of Epona the horse, your main mode of travel is sailing.  At first, sailing was fun, as was using the Wind Waker to control the wind, but after a while it was just the same things over and over again.

The game’s cell-shaded graphics had a lot of fans shaking their fists, but I personally found the art beautiful, and the cartoon-y feel refreshing.  The water effects on the ocean were pretty cool, but the best part is how expressive the characters’ faces are.

As usual, there are a lot of side quests and extras, and a cool object in the game is the Pictograph, which can take photos which can be converted into figurines for your gallery, and the Deluxe Pictograph, which takes color photos.  Another neat feature is the Tingle Tuner, which allows you to connect to a GameBoy Advance to help you with maps and finding chests, and includes a store for quick potions and other goodies.  However, the game’s biggest quest, which takes up the second half or so of the game, gets extraordinarily boring pretty quickly.

Quick Tip: When you finish the game, it has an offer for you to create a special save slot.  If you decide to do this and play on that game slot, there will be some changes to the game, including Link being in his island clothes and Aryll in her pirate dress throughout the game.  You also receive the Deluxe Pictograph at the beginning of the game.  Sweet!

My overall rating is a 3.5/5.  This may seem harsh, especially as I loved the game, but the sailing and largest quest definitely detracted from a 5/5 rating.  The Wind Waker has two sequels: Phantom Hourglass* (review here) and Spirit Tracks*.

*Links to Amazon.


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