Welcome to the first ever Beneath the Pixels. If you don't already know what this blog is about you don't have to worry. I've got you covered.
Beneath the Pixels is a new monthly blog series in which 3 people play a game up to a specified point and discuss their experience. The fun isn't limited to just us three, though. Community members are encouraged to play along and move the discussion from the community blog and into the comments.
Those of you that are already aware of this are probably ready to agree with or disapprovingly yell at one of us. Let's get things rolling.
This is big for me. This is the first Zelda I've been excited to play since Ocarina of Time, and so far things are going great.
I was a bit surprised by the game's prologue. I still can't believe they're trying to tie these stories together. I was always under the impression that the only ones concerned with any of that nonsense were the crazy members of Zelda's fan club. I almost wish that it wasn't called Zelda so that they could drop the baggage, though that may change as I continue playing.
I was a bit of confused once I began playing it. I'm so used to having third person games require you to control the camera and this one feels like the designers didn't think it was so important. That's most evident when you try to switch your controls to non-inverted because I couldn't find that option.
I did do a tiny bit of research on Wind Waker after I finished playing through Dragon Roost. I noticed that the game's new visual style did come with its fair share of complainers from both the fans and the critics. I honestly can't understand the literal outrage. As far as I'm concerned this is one of the most gorgeous games I have ever played, and I always thought it was beautiful before we started this series.
Most last generation games look so awful on my sixty-five inch screen (bragging) even if they have an option to run it in HD. I'm playing this in 480i and that didn't cross my mind until I began looking back at my play-through. Wind Waker is just perpetually charming to me. Whether it's through the cel shading, the way Link cutely tip-toes around thin ledges, or seeing his tiny feet under the cover of a wooden barrel, I was smiling throughout.
One of the draws for Zelda fans, if I remember correctly, was that this was the first Zelda that was explicitly linked to any of the others. People had been making ridiculous theories and timelines for years, but I think the official Nintendo stance is that all the other Zeldas are totally unrelated (although *Phantom Hourglass* is a sequel to *Wind Waker*).
I had the exact same problem with the camera this go around, which is funny because I don't think I had it the first time I played it. It's super frustrating though -- three hours in and I still mess up the direction I want the camera to go EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.
The other thing that stood out to me is how Mii-like everyone in the game is. A lot of the facial expressions and eyes in the game you can put on your Mii, and its weird to me. I used to really like the art style, and I guess I still do, but I keep thinking of the characters as Miis and that bothers me.
The other thing that playing through this has reminded me is that, while I like Zelda, every single Zelda from *Ocarina* onward is pretty much exactly the same. I think it's a reason I love the Gameboy Zeldas so much -- I think the game works much better in 2D than 3D. I hold a pretty unpopular opinion in that *Ocarina* and *Majora's Mask* are my least favorite Zelda games, so a lot of the later games just feel like more of the same. That said, I do on the whole enjoy *Wind Waker*, but I feel like it could have been so much more.
One of the things I do really like about *Wind Waker* is that there's a lot of humor in the game -- both kind of physical slapsticky humor and some really clever dialogue. It really gives the game personality, and I think fits well with the game's art style. The art is kind of whimsical and lighthearted, and the tone of the game is as well. I wish more recent Zelda games were like that, but as we've seen with *Twilight Princess* they're trying to make Zelda serious again, and I don't think they're doing that great of a job. (Ooh, save the world from something scary? That's the plot of EVERY Zelda game. Making Link a teenager and putting in a lot of broken scenery doesn't make your game 'dark'.)
So from a point of someone who has played this game before, I can honestly say the controls have never been a problem for me. Probably cause I play enough games that I'm used to bad cameras.
I'm more interested in the dynamic behind Link's relatives. Link lives on Outset Island, with his grandma and his sister Aryll. I think what's particularly interesting about Wind Waker as a whole is that it's one of the few games where link has a direct relative. I think what makes Wind Waker better than most Zelda games is Link actually having a legitimate reason to have people say to him, "hey go here, do this, don't think about it" because he wants to save his sister.
Other than showing that, Outset island is kind of boring. You talk to generic old guy who teaches you sword play, meet Tetra who at this point is just sort of uninteresting. The only other noteworthy thing is the interaction between Link and his grandma when she gives him the shield. It pulls at my heartstrings every time I play.
I see the relative angle as kind of a cop-out. They barely establish any kind of relationship between Link and his grandmother/sister, and before you know it OH NO SHE'S KIDNAPPED GO RESCUE HER. I actually can't remember if they get into it later in the game, but at this point it just seems like they needed a reason for Link to leave the island and went with the standard cliche; 'rescue your family member!' thing. Seriously, what kind of grandmother would let a 12 year old (I think that's how old he's supposed to be) leave an island to hunt down a giant bird monster with a group of crazy pirates no one has ever met because he's playing dressup for a day, and has had 3 minutes of sword training after never having fought before. WTF?
I'm totally with you on the humor aspect of Wind Waker, Jonathan. One of the first things I noticed when I started playing were the children in Outset Island. If you get within certain proximity of them they'll start to follow you around and will bump into if you stop moving, including this snot nosed kid. If you pay enough attention to him you can see that he tries sucking the mucus in.
I do also lean more to what you're saying about Link's "link"; (pun intended) between him and his relatives, Ross. Though the scene between Link and his Grandmother as the Pirate ship leaves the island was indeed sad, there really wasn't any buildup to establish the relationship. The only thing we had to go by were their admittedly adorable family pictures spread around the house and conversations between them. It was still a welcomed surprise for a Zelda game, but it was kinda sloppily done.
And from what I've played so far Tetra is kind of a douche bag, but so not mean enough to be a real pirate.
I'm not saying he doesn't have a relationship, he obviously does, since she's his sister. My problem with it is that they just jam it in your face. LINK. SISTER. TAKEN. HE'S SAD. GO. The facial expressions kind of make it worse, since they're so exaggerated. GIANT SURPRISE FACE SHE GOT TAKEN BY A BIRD. ANGRY DETERMINED FACE BECAUSE I'M GOING TO RESCUE HER. It really doesn't do much for me -- I would have liked to have seen SOME interaction between them besides "Happy birthday your present is a telescope you get to borrow for one day." How touching.
I don't think it's that way at all. I think facial expressions are really important, and if you pay attention to his face they REALLY wanted to show that he DOES have a relationship, implied or otherwise. I think the catapult scene shows it the best when right before they fire him off he has this disgruntled look on his face that just says to me "I don't like this, but it's for Aryll".
Maybe I'm reading into it too much though. Speaking of the Forsaken Fortress, I want to know when game developers will learn that forced stealth sections are NEVER fun. A lot of people say that twilight princess takes forever to get off the ground, but I think Wind Waker feels longer because of this area. They end up doing something with it later... but at this point in the game, its just really annoying to bother with.
Normally I'd agree with you on stealth, but I only really had two problems with it. The first one were the rats. One of them ran up to me and knocked my barrel off without warning causing me to get spotted. I was still wrestling with the camera at this point too, and that inadvertently landed me in jail as I'd fuck up a jump or get spotted by the lights. Oh, and again, seeing Link's tiny feet under the barrels is really damn adorable. That‘s probably why I‘m no as harsh on it.
However, I was mildly upset by the fact that Ganon is in yet another Zelda. For a game that took risks with its art style, I'm bummed that they were too cowardly to bring something knew with the main antagonist. Though, I guess this also stems from me not liking that this game brings the baggage of previous Zelda games like I mentioned before.
The worst part about Ganon is this game is that they obscure his face at first, as if to say OH MAN I WONDER WHO CAN THIS BE NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK, when it's totally obvious. The more I think about it, the less I think that the Forsaken Fortress is actually a badly designed area, it's just so dull and boring to get through I hate playing through it.
Ganon is pretty much a staple of the series, at least for the console games -- the handhelds are a bit more loose with introducing new antagonists. Majora's Mask I think is the only console one he didn't appear in. Given that Nintendo's plan for Zelda tends to focus on repeating the main themes, he'll be showing up for a while. I still don't have any major ill will against Zelda, but being risky is NOT what the series is known for.
I got frustrated with Forsaken Fortress, and mostly because of camera issues. Technically they were my fault -- I don't think there was any time I got caught where it was 'unfair', but it sure would have been a hell of a lot easier if the camera didn't suck so much. I think I got sent back to the jail about 6 times, and I was over it by the second one. I like stealth games, but I don't think stealth needs to be a part of every game.
Random aside from Dragon Roost -- I always think it's hilarious that a little spider can bump into my leg and take away half a heart, but if I jump off a bridge that's 100ft up into a giant pool of molten lava I just singe my butt and lose 1/4th. Not that the game would be fun if falling into the lava was instant death, but I always found that amusing.
So after the forsaken fortress you come to Windfall Island. A lot happens here, but all of it is secondary to the main game. I'll cover some stuff that's awesome even if you might not have seen it. The dude that you play battleship against is the best Zelda character ever. SPLOOOOSH. The camera guy is neat also. Fuck Tingle. Eskimo guy gives you a sail and then you can actually get into the real game.
Dragon roost is an interesting dungeon because back in the day, when people were still unsure about Wind Waker with the art change, you got to about halfway through this dungeon and it just clicked that YES this is still a freaking Zelda game and it's awesome. The dungeons highlights for me included throw pots of water into lava to make land bridges, the grappling hook is awesome, and the boss is interesting like any other Zelda game. Not sure what else to say about it content wise.
You forgot to mention Wind Waker's version of Falcor; King of the Red Lions!
I think you met a lot more people in Windfall than I did. I don't recall a camera guy, however I do agree that the guy running the Battleship game is hysterical. His faux-celebration after you beat the game is amusing.
I don't know how you guys feel about sailing, but so far it's very uneventful. Hopefully that will pick up. The seagulls flying with you as you're sailing was a nice touch, though.
I too felt that Dragoon Roost clicked right away. I had many "AH-HAH" moments. I don't know if your experience changes if you've played the game and have some memory of the puzzles, but I thought that they were excellently done. They weren't really difficult, though I don't know if Zelda puzzles ever are. They weren't so easy that I had my intelligence insulted, so that's a plus.
I don't know how I feel about the boss fight. I hate going back to this, but if it wasn't for the camera the battle would have been so much more easier to get through. It made it artificially difficult, which in turn made it slightly frustrating when I died. It was the targeting system that annoyed me mostly. I don't know if I was doing anything wrong, but it just wouldn't stay in place. It would slowly trail off as I circled around the monster.
For some reason I have bad memories of Windfall from when I first played the game, but I have no idea why I didn't like it, and probably didn't have a good reason. That said, on this play through I walked in, got the sail, and left. The towns have always been some of my least favorite parts of Zelda games, even though I normally like them in RPGs. I think Zelda to me is more about dungeoning and stabbing things.
Dragon Roost I'm a fan of. As previously mentioned, I thought the water jug puzzles were really clever. I actually got briefly stumped when I ran into the boss, because I thought I remembered what to do. It turns out I did, but the very first time I moved my grappling hook aim over his tail, it didn't turn into the grapple sign, so I thought i was doing it wrong. (Turns out I was just out of range.) Luckily, there are always tons of hearts in the boss room so it wasn't a big deal and I beat him kind of quickly.
That actually is one of the things I like a lot about Zelda. Typically, the bosses tend to be really easy, but only once you figure out what their trick is. Sure, some of the bosses are really obvious and lame, but there are some pretty awesome boss encounters throughout Zelda. Sure, it's not great for replayability, but I like that kind of design. I could see how others wouldn't though.
Overall I think it's one of the better first dungeons in a Zelda game (I'm not counting Fortress in that). I think a lot of times in Zeldas the first dungeon is just a total cakewalk. I think this does a good job of introducing you to dungeoneering concepts while not being too simple. There are a few things you have to think about in order to proceed.
I still have my lava question :)
I'm going to be Tactix and say that It's hard to get burned when you've got a hot ass.
Before we move on to the conclusion I want to know what you guys think of Medli, or the Rito tribe in general. I personally think they're the second coolest race to be in a Zelda game, second to gorons. The character of Medli is interesting, I think you could really tell that Wind Waker was alot of trial and error for Miyamoto and the dev team to make better developed characters, which I personally feel can be seen realized in Twilight Princess. In ocarina of time, I didn't really care about alot of the side characters; they were really boring to me.
Everyone in Wind Waker is interesting and well thought out, except for maybe effing TINGLE. I feel like this added to its charm and character, which really benefitted the game in the end. Any thoughts on this?
I actually like Tingle even if it seems like he's worthless if you don't have the stupid Game Boy Advance connector.
I had a very tough time trying to figure out what the hell the Rito were. I originally assumed they were just people in bird costumes. I think it was their beaks not actually being beaks that threw me off.
I can't really say much about how I feel of Medli specifically because she's on screen for very little. She at least isn't a cunt like Tetra, nor does she have a ridiculously designed ship. The character design for the Rito Tribe is really cool.
Komali was cute despite his cowardliness.
So overall I'd say this is probably my least favorite chunk of the game... other than something else. We'll get to that in a few weeks. While dragon roost is a pretty enjoyable dungeon, later dungeons are much better. The tutorial section is bland and uninteresting save for what I think is interesting characters, and I hate forced stealth sections, especially when its the beginning of the freaking game. Any other thoughts about the game so far overall?
I came in excited to play Wind Waker for the first time, and I still feel the same now. Not very many games manage to effectively turn me on to a series that I've lost interest in. Although Outset Island could have had some more polish and better characterization, the game really began to sink its teeth into me by the middle of Forbidden Fortress.
This is despite all of the negativity -- camera controls included. I don't want it to seem like I thought they broke the game. They were a minor annoyance that sometimes got in the way, but they weren't Too Human bad. I could deal.
Also, Tetra's ship stupid. Build a bridge and use that space for cargo, whore!
I feel like I have a slightly negative view towards *Wind Waker*, and I'm not entirely sure why. I LOVED it when it came out. I think it might just be a disillusionment with the series in general. Even then though, I think *Wind Waker* is a solid game, and the best console Zelda since *Link to the Past*. It may be as we play on I'll remember why I liked it a bit more.
I just want a new, GOOD handheld Zelda, and not this *Phantom Hourglass* bullshit :(
This brings the first of our three part Wind Waker discussion to a close. If you didn't play a long there is still time. Playing on through from beginning to Dragon Roost will probably take you around 3 hour (give or take an hour). You can still catch up!
We're starting part two immediately. We're stopping right after you beat both Temple of Wind and Temple of Shadow. This section will be a bit longer to complete than our first, but there are no rules as to which of the two temples you have to do first. It's all up to you.
We will be posting part two October 24th, and part three will end Wind Waker the night before Halloween. I hope.
I'd like to thank Ryu89 and Jonathan again for helping out, and to any community members that have contributed in any way (this includes playing along).