Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Mar 28th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under nintendo, gamecube, wii u, adventure, action

Nintendo is easily among the best when it comes to long support for some of their game series. Plenty of characters that got their start during the NES days, or even older, are still alive and kicking. The Legend of Zelda series is one such franchise, having seen continual development and new games released for every Nintendo console and handheld, except the Virtual Boy, since the original Famicom Disk System release of The Legend of Zelda in 1986.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was first released on the Gamecube in 2002. It would spend most of the console's life as the only single player Zelda experience for the console, as the follow up, Twilight Princess, was released alongside the Wii's console launch. A Hi Definition remaster of the game was released in 2013 on the Wii U, which also got a similar HD re-release for Twilight Princess.

The game begins with Link wandering around Outset Island, hanging out with his sister just as he's coming of age. Link meets up with a group of pirates who stop by the island and saves a young girl named Tetra. The same beast that brought Tetra to Outset Island then abducts his sister. The pirates agree to help Link, since they lead the beast to the island in the first place. The pirates take Link to Ganon's Forsaken Fortress, where Link is able to reunite with his sister, but he fails to save her. Link is thrown from the Forsaken Fortress and into the sea, where a strange, talking boat called The King of Red Lions picks Link up and takes him to Windfall Island. From here, Link's journey across the vast waves begins.

The main feature of the game is its open water travel. The map is filled with various island locations which feature quests, towns, puzzles, and shops. The overall map is separated into segments, so the map is an exact square grid. Each segment of the map has its own island or land formation, which can get tangled into the web of quests started from other islands. At these different locations, Link is tasked with solving one or a series of puzzles, which may include fighting enemies, lighting up torches, shooting targets, using wind, playing songs on the Wind Waker, and even unique mini-games. Like most Zelda games, combat is fairly basic. Most enemies are easy enough to dispatch by just attacking them, others are puzzles in and of themselves. Link has to move, block, dodge, counter, and attack openings on these harder enemies.

There are differences in the versions between the original Gamecube release and the Wii U HD remaster. The Wii U gamepad has touch controls to move items around the inventory. The gamepad also uses the gyroscope for aiming purposes. One major design difference is the Tingle Tuner from the original Gamecube release being changed to the Tingle Bottle. The Tingle Bottle made use of the Wii U's Miiverse feature, which has been turned off since late 2017. The original Tingle Tuner feature from the Gamecube release does not involve internet services, just a Game Boy Advance with a cable to link it to the Gamecube. The Gamecube wins with this feature, however the Wii U release has some new items which help round out some quality of life problems from the original release. The biggest feature the Wii U has over the Gamecube is the Swift Sail. The Swift Sail controls the wind of the ocean for the player, whereas the player must manually change the wind direction every single time they turn in the Gamecube release. The Swift Sail alone makes the Wii U version much easier and more relaxing to play during oceanic exploration.

Early development of Wind Waker's graphics was slow. The developers felt like they should move away from the more realistic visual style of the two Zelda games released for Nintendo 64. They eventually decided on a cartoony, cel-shaded art style. Critical reception to the changes were positive overall. However, fans at the time were upset. This cartoony artstyle starting in Wind Waker is now called the Toon style, with this version of Link being called Toon Link. The Toon visual style would also be kept for the the Game Boy Advance Zelda games of Four Swords Adventures and the Minish Cap, as well as later Nintendo DS games Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. Over time Zelda fans have warmed up to this cartoony art style, and Wind Waker is now highly regarded as one of the best games in the franchise.

The music and audio design is stellar, Koji Kondo and other Nintendo composers certainly deserve their legendary status as video game composers. The sound effects fit with the actions going on-screen. For example, dropping items on different flooring surfaces causes the sounds to match the surface. This attention to detail just adds to the quality of the game.

Wind Waker is a great game, bordering on an all time classic. The gameplay and exploration were a critical and fan hit. The initial negative reception to its art style from fans ended up costing the game potentially millions in sales, as Wind Waker sold roughly 60% of the number of copies that the earlier Ocarina of Time sold on the Nintendo 64. The negative opinion over the art style has changed over the years. Many games from that era just do not look good today, but the more stylized and cartoony games always seem to age much better in comparison to the endless pursuit of photorealism. Wind Waker easily deserves to be mentioned when talking about Zelda's long lineage of classics. For those who do not own the game and are still interested, there are thankfully a few options to buy the game. A used copy of the original Gamecube release sells for $35-40. Those that own a Wii U have the cheaper option, as a used copy of the HD remaster sells for $20-25.

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I really need to fire up Wind Waker HD at some point. I've had it for quite a while, and just haven't done so. But I'm hopelessly addicted to Breath of the Wild Tongue

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