‘The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’

By Andrew Duff

The hero in green returns again, this time to “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker,” a world of islands, pirates and really annoying giant birds.

When “Wind Waker” first was announced with its pre-order bonus of both “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” and its never-before-released extra, “Master Quest,” sales skyrocketed.

When “Wind Waker” finally went on sale, the game was sold out all over the country, even to people who pre-ordered but hadn’t been quick enough on their feet for the first day.

Visually, “Wind Waker” is cel-shaded, which gives the game a very cartoony appearance. When screen shots of the game were first seen, fans were divided on whether the new look was a good thing. Firsthand experience tells many that it isn’t a good thing, it’s a great thing. The game’s characters are hugely vibrant with the change, with each facial gesture and body movement brilliantly exaggerated. Link’s eyes are drawn naturally to any objects of interest to him, which leads to a clever new play system. Instead of blindly searching rooms, players simply can stop and wait for Link to show the way.

The environment of “Wind Waker” is, quite simply, alive. The wind and waves have their own currents, sea gulls and sand crabs move about lazily and people go about their daily business with charming irregularity. Very little in the game can’t be tinkered with, like this player found out when he accidentally rolled into a wall and pots came crashing down all around Link.

Gameplay basically is the same as most “Zelda” games: collect useful items that help you navigate the world and talk to townspeople to gain clues and new quests. However, in “Wind Waker,” it’s taken to the next level, with a truly massive world, literally hundreds of things to do and most of these independent of the story. Luckily, Link befriends some pirates early on to help him get around, and eventually, his very own talking ship. If you’ve played any “Zelda” for Nintendo 64, you’ll be right at home with the mechanics of “Wind Waker.” Exploring the islands is a treat, since the items you find let you slash through tall grass, catch animals, swim, look around with a telescope and a few dozen other interesting things to have fun with.

No “Zelda” game has ever been story-intensive, with the main quest usually being to overthrow the evil lord Gannon and save Princess Zelda. While “Wind Waker” offers some interesting twists to this idea, players will enjoy the huge variety of islands and things to do over the rather simplistic main plot.

Musically, “Wind Waker” reuses some tracks from previous games, remixes a couple more and then adds a few new ones, resulting in a pleasing flow of melodies from beginning to end. Players often will find themselves humming along to their favorite tunes, and it’s hard not to consider that many people have been playing “Zelda” games since the original Nintendo. These songs are embedded into many people’s hearts forever.

If anything bad can be said about “Zelda,” it’s that the tried-and-true game style and story leaves very few surprises in this otherwise excellently made game. This is pretty nit-picky though, so I’ll extend the invitation to anyone who has yet to pick up “Wind Waker,” that as soon as you can, rush over and pick yourself up a copy. This is a must-have for any gamer.