Casual Reviews – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

I never played Nintendo. I started on PC, got an Xbox, 360, PS3, and finally, PS4. It’s as if I never had a gamer childhood. My gaming memories revolve around my dad explaining how I would never be allowed to play a video game if I didn’t first learn how to build a computer…or my mother allowing only a few new games a year. If I was going to do this…I couldn’t waste time with games I would outgrow. Console/game choices were made like a parent buying clothes for a child during a growth spurt. One poor choice would result in almost a yearlong drought of metaphorical gaming underwear.

With my wife came the one console she has ever owned (which she won in a raffle). The GameCube. I welcomed it into our family, gave it a place among my own consoles, and, last weekend, I finally played her favorite game.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Environment

You play as a boy, afflicted by mutism, whose sister is kidnapped. That may seem straightforward to most, but it took me a few minutes to wrap my brain around the fact that you are not in fact a girl, dressed as Robin Hood, named Zelda. Despite the ridicule this brought forth from my wife, I still hold to the fact that Link could have been a girl. Nothing about his stature indicates he is wielding a penis.

Link must find his sister alone as his grandmother apparently can’t keep it together in his moment of need. Instead, Grandma places the burden on her disabled grandson to care for her as well as find his sister. Talk about a dysfunctional family. G’ma can cook, though. Boy can she cook. Walter White’s “Blue Sky” ain’t got nothin’ on G’ma’s “Elixir Soup.” That $#!& is 99.1% chemically pure Chuck Norris in a bottle.

There are pirates, murderous pigs, a talking ship, bird people, and a woman who believes giving a child his own private island is a good idea. This game transports you back to thinking like a kid. I had wandered into a small child’s imagination, and was playing his/her occipital lobe rather than a console video game.

Wind Waker was released 13 years ago…the console, 14 years ago. Let’s all keep that in mind. These graphics are different.  Honestly, it stands up to time surprisingly well. Unlike presidential candidate Donald Trump, Wind Waker understands and embraces its visual limitations, creating a style that is attractive and soothing instead of shallow and abrasive…the route some games, and Trump, blunder down in an attempt to compensate.

The music will crawl through your ear canal and plant itself deep inside your brain. Heading to work in the morning, I catch myself humming a song played during long voyages across the map. I can’t even tell if I like it or not anymore…it’s just a fact of life.

Gameplay

Unfortunately, in order to play this game, you must use a GameCube controller. The monstrosity my wife presented me, and I can’t believe I’m about to say this, was more horrific than the original Xbox brick. To make matters worse, the right thumb stick was inverted and no power on earth could change that fact.

But those problems, which caused most of my frustrations, are the GameCube’s, not this specific game’s. Separating those frustrations from the game itself, Wind Waker played exceptionally well, with only two main issues:

1.) Items…there is nothing like the whiplash caused when a game must be paused in the middle of battle or puzzle-solving in order to equip an item you need to use once…then pause and re-equip what you just had.

2.) The targeting system for combat was an abomination. Countless times during the heat of combat I would attempt to target an enemy, only to have Link turn and look at the wall. What Link does not grasp is that enemies are like chlamydia…if you ignore them, they will not go away…they will kick your ovaries/nuts off leaving you barren/sterile and humiliated.

Combat was still fun when the elements came together. Hearing each musical note as your sword slashed an opponent was addicting. Wandering the world, sailing seamlessly from one location to the other was simple and smooth, encouraging more exploration. No loading screens from a game this old is an achievement. The story was paced well, and you could chose when to continue main quests or meander through villages, finding trouble.

And speaking of trouble…let’s talk about pigs. Early in the game I collected three pigs for a neighbor as her pets. I then decided it was time to have bacon. After several stabs and slashes that should have carved up some pork tenderloins, the pigs trapped me in a corner and ate me…Hannibal style.

Leave the pigs alone.

Replay Value

My wife played through this game many times as a child. However, I played Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb many times as a child and that didn’t make it a good game…that just meant my metaphorical gamer underwear didn’t fit.

But in this case, there is replay value. For a game so old, it has decent length, and I certainly didn’t do everything I could have done. In fact, I’m hoping that some week this winter, we can once again lock ourselves in our home and tag team through it while sitting under blankets, drinking hot cocoa (peppermint schnapps required). Wind Waker holds a charm that is hard to explain. Like popping bubble wrap. You know it’s childish, and you can’t necessarily explain why you’re doing it…you just want more.

Online

…It’s on a GameCube…

Conclusion

While it will never become a treasured favorite of mine…I believe it would have been had I played it when I was younger. But let’s see…December 2002 I was deep in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast on my first and last home-built PC. Unknown to me, five miles away, on the other side of the highway, my wife was making childhood memories with Wind Waker.

Wind Waker made me wish I hadn’t tried to become a gaming adult so fast. It gave me a little glimpse of the gaming boyhood I missed, and while the experience is not perfect, it fills a gap that seems to be growing ever prominent in contemporary gaming as Nintendo seems to have lost its identity. While I was never in the Nintendo crowd, I miss its presence.

A word of warning…if you do not like puzzle games where the solution is found by blundering around for hours until you happen to hit the right thing or use the correct item, this game will give you PTSD. I was spared much blundering because I had watched my wife play as well as had her aid in a few dark moments of hopelessness. Keep that in mind if you are going to give this game a try.

Tingle is a price gouging turd.

Wind Waker

This review is thanks to my wife and I locking ourselves in our home for the weekend…with stipulations written on an old Best Western notepad…see below. To any gaming couples out there, I strongly recommend these spontaneous events.

Wind Waker Contract123 copy

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84 thoughts on “Casual Reviews – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

  1. It’s a fun and colorful game but certainly not my favorite Zelda. The gamecube controller is a piece of shit, I’m not sure why everyone was so hyped about using it in the new Smash Bros on WiiU.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I was never a Nintendo player either as a kid, and I kind of regret never having played a Zelda game. From the sounds of it (controller, I’m looking at you!) picking up a Game Cube might not be the best investment? :’)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Since you enjoyed this game, I seriously recommend that you perhaps consider checking out Twilight Princess. It’s a much, much different game than Wind Waker, but it’s also on the GameCube for relatively cheap.

    Also, Wind Waker is probably my second favorite Zelda game, but it’s the one I still have the most raw fun with to this day. My absolute favorite Zelda game (Majora’s Mask) may, in my opinion, have better puzzles, dungeons, and items, but nothing is as fun as sailing off to a new island one day, just for fun, and finding that you can get a quick heart piece by solving a little puzzle that may take anywhere from 2-20 minutes to do. The sense of almost unhindered personal exploration is what I love about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve seen a recommendation for Twilight Princess, but I think something to check out from Zelda is Majora’s Mask. The graphics don’t quite hold up as well as Wind Waker’s cartoon approach, but the world is a lot more developed and I would call it one of the best open worlds from that era of games.

    Personally speaking, Wind Waker was one of my favorite Zelda games. It was one of the first I got to play as it was released and the somewhat childish air worked perfectly for the game. Although the boat sections were a little daunting for some reason. A weird mental block to have for a kid raised on an island…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Given the fact that you were reviewing the GameCube copy of the game (which I actually still have sitting around) the score you gave is fair. Just a little fun fact for anyone who was intrigued by your review: if you want to play the game and all you have is a Wii U, there is an HD re-release that I believe came out last year, although it may have been the year before. Game release dates just flow together for me at this point.

    I can also agree with your comments on the combat system. I’ve been playing LoZ games my entire life and I honestly can’t remember ever “loving” the combat system–although I will admit that in general I have a very love-hate relationship with these games. Can’t say I’ve ever beaten one, although to be fair I can’t say that I have ever tried THAT hard. One of these days…one of these days.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s awesome you still have one around. I’m always impressed my wife still has the gamecube running and every single game still plays. Memory cards work too. I baby mine and my consoles and my original xbox still got the orange ring around the power.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve also played Zelda games since they were released on SNES and had never beaten one… decided to finish the story on Link Between Worlds (3DS) and despite the best intentions only got maybe 2/3 of the way through before calling quits. As always…

      And I totally agree with the ‘swap through all your items until you stumble upon the right one’ thing. Zelda’s ‘puzzles’ are what made me love The Secret Of Mana so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never played the game either and when my Xbox-addicted boyfriend bought me both a Wii U and the HD re-release of this game, I was ecstatic! I have always wanted to play it but never had the cash to buy the game, nor the amount of hours it takes to beat it. I played it briefly before going on a vacation with my mom and when I came back my boyfriend had been playing over my last save. He apparently got really far in the game and he started apologising to me. He turned it on excitedly and found out that he forgot to save his own progress because he isn’t used to things that don’t autosave. Karma! 😄

    But no, I love Zelda games so much. I only recently started playing them, but it’s just so much fun to explore the worlds and find secrets.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s such an exciting experience to find a new kind of game that you enjoy. Happened to me big time with Persona 4 Golden and JRPGs.

      Though I’m not in the Nintendo world, I really hope they can keep producing solid iconic experience. I’d miss them even though I don’t play them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I envy people who find one game that extertains them for a long time. Quantity time cannot replace quality time.
        That being said, I happily do have >600 hours in Terraria and totally didn’t expect it. 😀
        But I also totally didn’t expect go get excited about a bunch of girls with hair all over their body and still became a brony, so all I can say is I love to pleasantly surprise myself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I think my favorite memories with games are the ones that keep my attention long after they are released. Even though some games have great moments, if they don’t have the replay value, it’s hard to really remember that experience as fondly as when I spent months in a game.

        Like

  7. This article is a nice reminder that adulthood means the freedom to decide which gaming console to get.

    I also learned that in order to enjoy Wind Waker, I need a custom controller and a wife.

    Liked by 1 person

    • These days I wonder how much differently (if at all) my life would have gone had I gotten my NES with Zelda instead of Ice Climber. I got the Mario stuff later, but never Zelda games. And it feels as if people who grew up with Zelda might have an easier time getting into LARP fandom and such. The whole adventurer theme seems almost like a different spirit.
      Dunno, hard to describe. I guess it’s the old pain of missed experiences. I might try some newer Zelda games one day, but the timing doesn’t feel right.
      I tried the original Zelda on NES but realized that nostalgia is all that could keep me playing such old games.
      Megaman was a big thing for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • But had you gone down the Zelda path you might wonder what would have happened had you played different games as well.

        Just enjoy the gamer you have become and have fun with the games you like.

        Like

  8. I love this game. Honestly, it is a part of my favorite game series of all time. I would buy Nintendo consoles just for that game series alone. In fact, I have. (I will not utter the shameful fact that I have yet to finish Skyward Sword… this is a dark mark in my history of Zelda and will hopefully be righted soon… after I finish my PS3 games… and that isn’t until after I finish Dragon Age:Inquisition.)

    I aimed and explored every bit of Wind Waker. Got on Every Island and made sure the darn things were mapped!
    …. I am one of those. I admit.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. only Zelda I haven’t played, and I certainly would like to 😦 nice review, though. if you ever want another dose of childhood gaming you should check out A Link to the Past and Skyward Sword (the latter’s not unanimously considered good like pretty much every other Zelda game, but I thought the controls were brilliant)

    Liked by 1 person

      • I traded my 360 for a Wii and some games by the end of last generation and didn’t regret it.. you definitely have to like their ips to enjoy the console, though. Metroid Prime, played with the wiimote, is an experience every gamer should have

        Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t kept up with the WiiU’s games, but being a PC gamer I always felt the Nintendo console was the most complimentary, because of their exclusives. If it’s backwards compatible and you can play Wii games on it, I’d definitely suggest you buy it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I think you’re not really into Zelda-style games. Wind Waker is my favorite Zelda game, and I pretty have much played and beaten almost every Zelda game that there is (aka I’m a huge fan of the series). Maybe you should give Twilight Princess a try, just for the sake of comparison.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I started Twilight Princess once and haven’t finished it yet. I may need to sit back down and start it over.

      Over all I was actually impressed I enjoyed it as much as I did considering I have never played the series before. My wife agrees it is the best Zelda game.

      Like

  11. This was a lot of fun to read! I’m a massive Zelda fan, but haven’t yet been able to play Wind Waker. However, I just figured out that my Wii is backwards compatible, so I can play Gamecube games without actual dropping hundreds of dollars on a new console. It’s the one Gamecube game I’m determined to get.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. While it doesn’t justify the purchase of a Wii U, the HD remaster solves a lot of the problems that seem to be in the original (except Link accidentally looking at walls – I’m coming to learn that that’s a series staple). Also found this much later in my gaming life, cool to know someone else also can’t explain exactly why it’s so charming 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Interesting thoughts on Wind Waker. While I have yet to finish that game (to my shame) I still have some of my favourite gaming memories with this one. I spent absurd amount of time just travelling across the sea, battling enemies and slicing up pigs. I think I’m the only one here who actually likes the Gamecube controller. For certain games, the controller is pretty impracticle and isn’t a simple and slick as your stand PS2 or 360 controller, but there are certain games that do feel right with a NGC controller, just ask most veteran Smash Bros. fans (me included) and they’ll say there’s no better way to play.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and my wife both! When she plays the game, she spends HOURS just sailing around. No goal in mind, just aimlessly traveling the sea trying to happen upon anything. And she also agrees with you about the controller. It was just such a sharp turn from what I was used to, that I had a really hard time with it. Maybe I’m just getting too old. I totally can see how this game would be an absolute classic to someone who grew up in a Nintendo environment.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. “I never played Nintendo. I started on PC, got an Xbox, 360, PS3, and finally, PS4. It’s as if I never had a gamer childhood.”

    I…I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without Nintendo. I looked forward to buying my one game a year for Christmas every year and played countless hours of it when I was allowed to on weekends while growing up. Every Nintendo game I play now is like a revival of that kid-like excitement waiting for Christmas day to finally arrive. What games did you grow up on?

    Liked by 1 person

    • My first was air warrior II. then Madden 99. From there I played European air war and il2 as well as finally getting my hands on a console. Xbox. NFL fever and then………….halo. Need I say more? Hahaha

      Like

  15. I played this when I was a kid, but I never cared enough to beat it (I’ve seen at least one of my brothers beat it though). After recently playing through Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask (which I highly recommend if you’re ever able to play them), I’m willing to give this one another shot.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dang, loved how you compared the gamecube to the xbox lol. I can see why you chose not to go for a game that you might outgrow because you wanted to understand the computer first. I think that’s pretty impressive! Have you considered other Nintendo games? Maybe Xenoblade? That one certainly surprised me.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hilarious review. I got the HD release with my Wii U and I still love the game after all these years. A lot of the trials you faced are easier with years of Zelda experience to back you up. I don’t meet a lot of people who haven’t played Zelda, so I’m glad you gave it a fair try. ^^

    Liked by 1 person

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