Remember N64 Link? Running from all those freaky re-deads and turning into a wierd deku sprout? Well all that was thrown out the window for the super-mega-cute animated hero in Windwaker. In this new version our protagonist begins the game – as per every Zelda game ever – fast asleep. He’s awoken rather aggressively by his grandmother, who basically wakes him up to remind him that it’s his birthday. So “Not Link” gets up (he is not the original hero of Hyrule – but rather a direct descendent) and goes to visit his sister. He climbs up a lighthouse where she gives him an awesome telescope….and then is inconveniently stolen by a massive bird. What a shitty birthday for this dude. Not-Link will go after his sister, working with pirates and other companions along the way, which will lead to a much larger quest than originally intended.
Now if you are a Zelda geek you will notice this game’s total mishmash of material from previous games. There are these cool bird people whose theme song sounds just like “Gerudo Valley” from Ocarina of Time, and the young girl who lives there is basically Malon from Lon Lon Ran. The beginning of the game features a “pig collection” challenge for a local woman – just like the chicken coop-lady in OoT. Your boat companion guy is a version of “Navi” the fairy from OoT, plus the weird green elf “Tingle” is back from Majora’s Mask. You can conduct with an instrument to play songs, just like your Ocarina, and you could even say the game’s main town “Windfall Island” is basically “Clock Town” from MM, without the irritating owl save statues. Windwaker definitely draws from past Zelda inspiration, but through a completely new artistic style maintains itself as its own experience.
Combat system in Windwaker is fairly similar to most Zelda games. Basically you have three “c” arrows that you can designate your weapons to for a quick equip menu, with weapons like a bow and arrow, boomerang, bombs, and even a grappling hook. You find these weapons along the way by killing baddies, or solving puzzles – and can often upgrade them through fairy fountains. Not-Link can use his shield by Z targeting, and swing his sword with the green “B” button. You also get this leaf that you can use to hover through the air to travel long distances, along with the instrument the game is named after called the “Wind Waker”, which can change the direction of the wind. This is very important since you will spend about half the game in a tiny red boat, looking for islands and treasure. It also includes the ever so famous “find four bottles” strategy that we’ve become accustomed to, which as per usual can be used to store potions or trap fairies.
The main way to get around in Windwaker is by boat. Now If you have read my Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag review, you’ll know how I feel about sailing components in video games – not so much my thing, I find it gets tedious & repetitive. However if that’s your jam, you’ll love this! You can find treasure maps, and once you sail to the coordinate listed, you can find huge chests. It can be hard to find money in this game whilst on land, so this is a pretty big component later in the game. A thing that annoys me about this is you have to lower your grappling hook in the exact right position to find the chest, which means you end up spinning your boat around in a circle to find the perfect spot. For me, this just adds fuel to the “I hate virtual sailing” fire. However, it is something that has never been in any past Zelda game – the most water action Link got was chillin’ with the zoras in Lake Hylia, or going fishing in OoT. Later in the game, you will learn a song that will allow you to transport to previous locations, which is an absolute godsend as it can take for flippin’ ever to get to some areas.
The music is absolute lovely. Not quite as epic as Ocarina of Time or A Link to the Past in my books, but still overall in the A category. The music is kinda “cute” just like the appearance of the game, but a creepy soundtrack would look fairly out of place in Windwaker.
To conclude, Wind Waker is a beautiful game to look at, and could almost be mistaken for an animated film. Now although it may look childish, the dungeons are still complex and difficult, so don’t let this fool you. Trust me, you will spend hours upon hours on this game – but don’t worry, it’s nothing like the freaking Water Temple from Ocarina of Time – holy time-waster am I right? . The jump from Ocarina & Majora’s Mask is pretty intense, which goes to another extreme later on with Twilight Princess. A lot of different styles in a short amount of time, I guess Nintendo are people pleasers eh?