The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Reviewed: 04/19/2005


The Legend of Zelda series has one of the longest histories in gaming. It is also one of the cornerstones of Nintendo’s franchise collection. All this gives The Wind Waker a heck of a lot to live up to, but does it make the cut?

The story starts off quite a bit different from your normal Zelda game. Apparently all the work Link did in Ocarina of Time went to waste because Ganon reared his ugly head after he went on vacation and basically went unopposed. The powers that be could have none of this, however, so they decided to flood him out. That’s why the whole world is basically a big ocean. Hundreds of years pass and a tradition on the appropriately named Outset Island holds that whenever a young boy reaches the age that the “Hero of Time” was when he defeated Ganon he should be clothed in green and learn courage. This is where the new Link comes in, only instead of just dreaming of adventure he gets a full dose of it when a gigantic bird comes to the island to cause trouble. Apparently, girls with long ears from all over the Great Sea are being abducted by said bird. Too bad for Link that his sister, Aryll, is next on the list. After the bird flies off with Aryll, Link joins up with a band of pirates to go to the Forsaken Fortress to rescue her. However, the rescue attempt doesn’t go too well and Link ends up coming face to face with a certain evil bad guy who just won’t die. From there the real journey begins… Overall the story is a bit less cliche than past Zelda games and the dialogue is fresh and well written.

Screen Shot
Grandma always said Link played too many video games…

The gameplay is the heart of Zelda‘s success and this game is no different. It’s the familiar series formula with improvements. The controls are very simple: The B button swings your weapon, the A button speaks and does various things, the X, Y, and Z buttons can be set to various items, the L button targets things, and the control stick moves you around. The combat is a bit deeper than in past games because it requires you to sometimes destroy enemies in creative ways. One of the main things that accomplishes this is the new “Parry” function. When you have an enemy targeted you can quickly hit the A button just before they attack to pull off a special move that may slice off their armor or one of many other effects. Using this and Link’s large arsenal the gameplay never gets boring. There are just so many places to go and things to do that getting bored in this game is hardly a possibility. If you ever get stuck in a dungeon and can’t figure something out, all you have to do is go for a relaxing cruise on the Great Sea and maybe look for treasure or take out a enemy outpost. There are quite a few fun mini-games as well, including a version of battleship. The absolute freedom of sailing on the sea is probably the best part of the game. It really is a joy to play.

The graphics are perhaps the most debated topic of Wind Waker. The move to make the game entirely cel-shaded has caused many a fan of Ocarina of Time to turn in horror. It’s a hard issue to address objectively, however the mere fact that it is cel-shaded can’t be taken as any indication that the graphics are bad. That being said, it’s some awesome cel-shading. The locations are beutifully detailed and textured and everything fits in the visual style of the game. The day/night cycles and the weather are all wonderfully rendered. Enemies have complex animation and just about everything in the world seems alive. If you don’t mind cel-shading, these are the best graphics you’re going to find on the GameCube.

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Grandma always said Link played too many video games…

The music fits the mood very well and is full of variety. The theme that plays while sailing the Great Sea is a remix of the “Zelda Main Theme” and just reeks of adventure. It’s the perfect music to go off sailing to. The music really does fit with the game incredibly well. Even the footsteps of enemies seem to go right in time with the beat of the dungeon music. During combat the music changes slightly depending on how you are fighting, so it adds a very nice interactive aspect to the soundtrack. However, many of the sounds are still being reused from the NES days. This adds a bit of nostalgia quality to the game, but some new sounds probably wouldn’t have hurt either.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has proven itself to be on the the best Zelda experiences in existence, and definitely one of the best gaming experiences on the GameCube. There shouldn’t be a single shelf without this classic resting on it. This game is just pure joy packaged in a little tiny disc.

-Orie House

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Legendary
Story Excellent
Graphics Legendary
Sound/Music Great
Replay Value Excellent
The Verdict: 10