“The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker” Review

In honor of the remake of The Wind Waker due out for the Wii U in the near future, I’d like to take a moment to share my thoughts about the game as a whole.  Upon recently completing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker I found myself in somewhat of a dilemma.  On the one hand I absolutely loved this game, but on the other I found it to be lacking compared to other games within the Zelda franchise.  The originality and the concept of sailing to different islands as well as the connections to the Ocarina of Time are amazing, but the game can often feel recycled and quite sluggish from an adventurers standpoint.  Because of this, I’d like to take a closer look at what I liked and what I didn’t like in this fascinating installment in The Legend of Zelda series.

Overall Score: 7/10 (Read on to find out why)

What I Did Like

I’d like to first take a look at the elements of The Wind Waker that stood out as innovative and unique to the Zelda franchise.  From the beginning of the game it’s easy to see that you’re about to embark on a very different kind of adventure, which is awesome because it breaks away from the typical over-world we see in most other Zelda games.  Similar to Skyward Sword, The Wind Waker is a breath of fresh air.

1. Sailing Your Own Ship

The idea to give Link his very own ship in this game was absolutely genius.  Going one step further, the idea to create a vast over-world that focuses on sailing from place to place was also an awesome idea.  It makes you feel like you’re really going on an adventure to discover new places and meet new people.  I also love the fact that the environment changes depending on your location.  The lighting, the ocean, and the various islands scattered throughout all serve to create a very unique environment, which is accessed explicitly through your ship.

2. Toon Link

I know a lot of people bash on the art style of The Wind Waker, but it fits very well with what Miyamoto was trying to accomplish with this game.  Specifically, this was executed very well with Toon Link himself.  I love the exaggerated facial expression and the shifty eyes of Toon Link because it provokes laughter and serves as a way for him to express emotion.  I found myself laughing at the quirky looks he gives in cutscenes and gameplay, which perpetuated the comedic undertone of the game. I know he isn’t most people’s favorite Link, but I found him to be quite entertaining and a great fit for the game overall.

3. The Combat System

For some reason The Wind Waker’s combat system felt extremely smooth compared to other Zelda games I’ve played.  I don’t know if it was the fluidity of Link’s attacks in this game or what, but I rarely had to complain about attacking or blocking while playing this game.  I also enjoyed the reactionary attacks that prompted you to hit “A” in order to perform a counter attack on larger enemies.  The charged spin attack was also awesome because it added the ability to break up large numbers of enemies at once without being extremely over powered.  In sum, the controls felt very well thought out in this game.

4. Gohma’s Boss Battle

Gohma has been a classic Legend of Zelda enemy for years.  Various forms of Gohma have shown up in a variety of Zelda games including: The original Legend of Zelda, Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of Time, Oracle of Seasons, Four Swords Adventures, and Twilight Princess.  What I love about the boss battle against Gohma in The Wind Waker is the uniqueness of Gohma’s form and the strategy used to defeat it.  Many of the other aforementioned boss battles against Gohma are inclusive of shooting arrows or Deku Seeds at its eye, but Wind Waker’s version utilizes the grappling hook to smash its armored shell.  Personally, I just love seeing a new take on an old enemy and Gohma in The Wind Waker certainly fits the mold.

5. The Deku Leaf

For the most part there aren’t any items that really stand out in The Wind Waker, but the Deku Leaf is an exception for me personally.  I don’t know what it is about flying around on a Leaf that is so exhilarating to me, but it is.  Shooting blasts of air at enemies and jumping off of cliffs only to float down to safety gave me a few good chuckles, but the real reason I like this item is because it is unique to the series.  As an item, it fits well within the story and doesn’t come across as extremely cheesy like the whip in Skyward Sword.  Bottom line, the Deku Leaf rocks.

What I Didn’t Like

As much as I love the unique feel of The Wind Waker, there are a lot of things that I found quite irritating.  Just to clarify, none of the things I disliked had anything to do with the graphics.  Rather, certain parts of the story, various boss battles, and the overall length of the game all served as minor frustrations.

1. Sailing Your Own Ship… A Lot

I know I said I loved being able to sail your own ship, but there’s almost too much sailing in this game.  Fortunately, you do learn Ballad of the Gales, which remedies the repetitive sailing element of the game by allowing you to travel via cyclones, but there are times where you are forced to sail great distances to reach certain locations.  This can become extremely repetitive.

2. Recycled Bosses 

For those of you who have played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you know exactly what I’m talking about regarding Wind Waker bosses.  Although there are some slight variances between bosses when comparing Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker, there are at least four bosses that feel heavily recycled from what most people consider “the greatest game of all time.”  Kalle Demos mirrors Barinade from Jabu-Jabu’s Belly very heavily, Gohdan is almost an exact copy of Bongo from Ocarina of Time’s Shadow Temple, Molgera resembles Twinmold from Majora’s Mask to some extent, and Phantom Ganon is a carbon copy of Ganondorf from Ocarina of Time.  It all seems really lazy and rushed doesn’t it?  Well, the developers themselves even admitted that they rushed the release of Wind Waker, which makes sense when you observe the recycled elements of previous Zelda games.

To perpetuate the problem of recycled bosses in Wind Waker the developers took things a step further by forcing you to re-fight bosses from the beginning of the game once you reach Ganondorf’s tower.  To me, this is simply unacceptable.  Placing a black and white filter over an old boss battle and calling it a “trial” is just embarrassing.  It just feels so amateurish compared to other games in the series.  Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed when I realized I was fighting the same bosses over again at the end of the game.

3. The Triforce Fetch Quest

Up until this point in the game I had very few complaints, but the repetitiveness of this particular quest is nearly unbearable.  I had heard about the search for the pieces of the Triforce from my brother when he played through this game, but nothing he said could have prepared me for the immense halt it put on my sense of adventure while playing The Wind Waker.  For a game series that prides itself of adventure and heroics, this is unacceptable.  Not only do you have to find the eight pieces of the Triforce within varous parts of the ocean, you also must find the eight Triforce charts that are then used to find those pieces of the Triforce.  Sounds terrible right?  Well, it gets worse.  To collect the Triforce charts you must prove yourself in repetitive mini dungeons.  Finally, you must have the Triforce Charts deciphered by Tingle in order to see where each piece of the Triforce actually is.  But, it’s going to cost you around 398 rupees per chart, so you better get loaded before you decide to see Tingle.  To complicate things further you’ll also have to make sure that you’ve filled in a lot of places on your sea chart because you won’t be able to use Ballad of the Gales to fast travel unless you have designated areas filled in.  This is key because you’ll find yourself sailing from point A to point B over and over again, which takes hours if you can’t fast travel.  When I was forced to sail at certain points in the game I literally found myself setting the ship on course and then placing my gamecube controller down for up to 10 minutes at times.  In sum, I hated this part of the game more than you could possibly imagine.

4. Leaving Out The Water Temple

If you’re not convinced that The Wind Waker was rushed from a developmental point of view, then check this out.  An entire temple was omitted from the final game simply due to time constraints.  I find it quite ironic that the temple that was left out of a game focused entirely on the ocean ended up being the Water Temple.  I’m sorry, but there is absolutely no excuse for something like this in a Zelda game.  You actually end up being directed directly to Nayru’s Pearl in the game rather than going through a temple to find it like the other pearls in the game.  If they don’t fix this in the remake for the Wii U I’m going to be furious.  I can let things like bosses go, but to leave out an entire temple is embarrassing.

Final Remarks

As much as I wanted to give this game an 8/10 I simply couldn’t bring myself to give an incomplete game such a high rating.  I really do love a lot of things about The Wind Waker and it certainly is a unique addition to the Zelda franchise, but it feels rushed and the use of bosses is entirely lazy.  It’s a solid game but it fails to really impress compared to some of its better siblings within the Zelda universe.  I generously give this game a 7/10.

-Ocarina of Time Nerd

About Joel

Live, love, play video games.
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