Title: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Format: Nintendo GameCube
Release date: 2003
Place of purchase: GAME
Price: (Included with hardware)
I guess like a fair few people, Wind Waker was the game I bought a GameCube for. I remember quite vividly going to GAME and purchasing the special silver console hardware bundle. I mainly remember it because, on the way home my second Ford Escort (colour: Pepper Red (burgundy, basically), engine size: 1.6, 0-60 in: geological timescales only) got written off by a guy who was apparently driving to get some insurance at the time, rather coincidentally. This was rendered even more of a crappy day by the fact that, after driving my car to the local garage for a quick assessment, due to the now-misshapen back-end I managed to scrape the side of the car next to me in the car park on the way out. Of course, the car just happened to be owned by the assessor for my insurance company, so really it couldn’t have gone any worse if a hole in the ground had opened up and dragged me into the ninth circle of Hell (reserved for traitors and bad parkers).
The main thing everybody remembers about Wind Waker are the graphics, and the huge controversy they caused. At the time, lots of people were a bit miffed that Nintendo hadn’t gone with the more ‘grown-up’ style of Ocarina of Time that had been previewed when the GameCube was in development. Those people were, of course, wrong as the art style of WW still looks incredible today, oddly much more so than the later Twilight Princess (which did have the more ‘mature’ look). The game is pretty much the interactive cartoon that had been promised to us for years, albeit one with a bit of a dodgy camera that can cause immense frustration at times.
I’ve replayed it over the last couple of weeks as part of a Zelda ‘marathon’ inspired by my recent completion of Skyward Sword, and the older title still stands up. Perhaps the main problems with it nowadays are that it is perhaps a little too easy in parts, albeit with a couple of frustrating difficulty spikes, and that the final section of the game involves a bit too much sailing around and not really doing much of interest. Nintendo really should have abandoned the whole ‘find the eight pieces of the Triforce’ business that forces you to find maps and then go treasure-hunting (once for the rupees to decipher the maps at the hands of the ever-annoying-and-slightly-creepy Tingle, and again to actually find the things. At the least, it would have been better to cut this down to a shorter segment and just add in an extra dungeon or something. Also, the Great Sea is perhaps too much sea and not enough stuff in it; most of the small islands are uninhabited or have little of any interest on them.
These are all minor flaws, though, and the game remains a gem of a title. Shame, really, that my purchase of it is intermingled with memories of my car being smashed up, and my replay of it is meshed with that of my wife moving out. Must be cursed.