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How can people like this? - Wind Waker

The title is like that because I'm going to write at least two of these posts where I talk about my hatred toward games that other people like. (Knowing me there could be even more of these coming, but no promises) First on the operating table is the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, for GameCube. I know that not everyone loves it, but it has some really praising reviews on the Internet and the friend I borrowed it from said that it's his favorite Zelda title. (I don't respect his opinions on games anymore.)

For you inpatient people out there, the short version of this post. I dislike Wind Waker and it's easily the worst Zelda game I have played. It's not all horrible though, not at all and I will mention the good points, but I also will tell why the bad weights so much more than good.

I think that I remember back in the day some people criticizing the graphical style of the game. The small round headed cartoony Link and his colorful surroundings. Well that is not one of the things I'm dissing here. Quite the opposite, I really love the style of this game. The graphics have aged a bit, but I'd still say that Wind Waker looks great. The character designs are just awesome, especially Ganondorf. I just loved what they did with Ganondorf at this game he was simply great in this iteration. Big intimidating figure who sprouted cool dialogue and still was as cartoony as everything else. Yup, Wind Waker was one fine looking game.

One of the best things in the game. Ganondorf.

The game also has some good writing carrying the plot. I like it how the usually very blank mute protagonist Link has quite a lot of characterization in this one. He might be mute, but he has an expressive face that usually tells more about his feelings than any words could. The beginning of Wind Waker is a quite a nice story of little boy who is forced to leave his small safe surroundings and face the big world. The ocean filled worldmap really works for that (too bad it doesn't work for gameplay as well).

So gameplay then. It is a big word that means lots of things. At least I have to admit the basics are put in place well in Wind Waker. Controlling Link as he walks and rolls around and occasionally fights is easy and enjoyable. I really liked the dodge-counterattack move that was added to Wind Waker. It has nice little risk – reward thing going on there, when you wait for enemy to attack to make your counterattack, but time it wrong and get hit in the head. Only thing on controls that doesn't receive praise from me is the targeting. Sometimes while fighting a bunch of enemies of a tight spot getting the right one on lock-on was harder than it should have been. Also although I will be bitching about the sailing later the actual controls of the boat, sailing around, worked quite well.

Now before you all forgot that I'm here to bitch about Wind Waker let's talk about that sailing. The world of Wind Waker is big and it feels big and it takes time to get anywhere as a big worlds tends to do. I appreciate how the sailing makes the world seem big and the adventure epic, but after a while when you have seen the sea already sailing becomes a boring chore. Even epic big things are epic only for a while, after that they are just big. When moving from an island A to an island B there might be some enemy encounters or treasures on the way, but it's not enough to make sailing interesting, especially when best way of dealing with enemies while on sea is running (or sailing) away. Also the need to chance the direction of the wind now and then can get quite annoying. Even when, on its own, it is pretty small thing, short waiving of the wand and short animation of Link going “WTF wind changed direction” it doesn't take long, but when you do it again and again while playing the game that little bit of time gets multiplied by hundreds. The game could have had some kind of sail upgrade that lets you sail anywhere full speed no matter the wind. So now that we have established that I have short attention span and I can't stand things that even seem boring let's talk about something else.

You will be doing this until you get bored of it and then more

What about the dungeons. Dungeons (or castles or temples) have always been an important piece of any Zelda game. Stereotypical Zelda game in the nutshell is collection of dungeons spread over the map of overworld. That said, I find the lack of dungeons disturbing in Wind Waker. Yes there are dungeons and they are variable in quality, but there should and could have been even more even better. But dungeons weren't really the problem in Wind Waker, but what we got after them was.

Imagine this, you are playing a game, eager to get to the end of it, to see the ending to the epic adventure you have played. Then when you have finally finished the final dungeon before the lair of final boss game goes. “Oh yea, remember that you have to find all the pieces of the Triforce first. For that you have to do tedious, boring sailing around the world looking for every corner of the map for hours and hours.” That is somewhat the feeling I got, but instead of the game telling me that finding the Triforce pieces are tedious and boring and time taking job I had to find it out the hard way, by doing it and getting bored.

First there was the finding of the charts that tell where the triforce pieces are. That on its own took forever and at some point I gave up and started using walkthrough. Then after I had found every chart I got the chart that would have told me where those triforce charts were, that came little too late. Then there was moneycollecting to that greedy, annoying, wannabe fairy, Tingle. After that once again slow, boring sailing over the map, this time to pick up the Triforce pieces. It all felt like a padding to lengthen the game. The Triforce which is supposed to be the most important thing in the world of the game was reduced to boring treasure hunt. It left so bad taste to my mouth that now whenever I think of Wind Waker I can only think of that and how much I hated it.

I hate you, please die!

Now when I think about it Wind Wakers biggest problem might be its unbalance. First dungeons were quite fine and I don't remember being that annoyed at early game to anything (on the other hand it took time to get bored of sailing). Then the dungeons with the shamans or elders or whatever they were, were less so. Well to be exact, Wind Temple and flying around as the winged girl was alright, but Earth Temple wasn't that great, at all. And then came the treasure hunt, said enough about it already. The end of the game, what happened after finding the Triforce piece was good, but it was too little, too late, my hatred had taken its place already in my soul, the game couldn't have done nothing to redeem itself at that point. Also overall the game felt slow, in a bad scene. It was already mentioned that I have short attention span and get bored easily so when game feels slow, it loses points in my eyes.

So now when I look what I have written there really is two big things I disliked and some positive points on the beginning. So if it has some good, some bad why I'm so against Wind Waker then? Simply because those negatives were too big on my eyes to just go and say “Well every game has it's downsides and nothing it perfect”. That thing with the trifocre pieces is unacceptable in my mind, some people might say that it's not that big of a deal, but seriously that thing basically ruined the whole game for me, I can't just call it a little flaw. That added with the annoyances of sailing during the “good” part of the game makes a quite bad combo. Maybe I should change the title to “How can people love this?” On the other hand that title is just fine for now.

Once again I admit that I don't think that Wind Waker is totally shitty game that should never been played, but I just can't understand when people say it's their favorite Zelda game or among their favorite games of all time. It has it's good parts, but it also has some huge bad parts that I couldn’t ignore. Actually I'm interested of hearing how people can and will defend this game. I'd like to be proven wrong on my opinions and I like to see comments on this. I promise to respect you opinions, except if I don't like them.
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About Apsupone of us since 3:48 PM on 07.01.2010

Finnish student and a gamer since the 8-bit days of childhood.

Lover of retro, but also appreciates the appeal of newer games.