Zelda, the bare mention of this game sends shivers down spines, toils with emotions, causing fan boys to run screaming down the streets. Zelda is one of the crown jewels of Nintendo, if not the crown jewel, almost every Nintendo owner waits patiently for the day the next Zelda to arrive and for good reason.
This legend begins 100 years after the events of Ocarina of Time. On a small island in the middle of the ocean, a boy named Link is celebrating his birthday, as you do, a tradition on his island is to wear the clothing of the hero of time, something Link does grudgingly, after all this Link goes outside, to see a large bird been shot at from a Pirate Ship, as the bird fly's it is hit by one of the cannon balls, dropping is cargo into the forest at the top of the Island, Link been the hero he is sets out to find the girl the bird dropped. Upon saving the damsel and leaving the forest Link witnesses his little sister Aryll been kidnapped by the bird who mistook her for its original cargo, Tetra. And from there the story unfolds.
The story is more present in this incarnation of the Zelda series than almost all before, you will be pushed along the trail as you go by various things, this may be annoying for the average Zelda player who would rather just plod along at their own pace, although you can still take the game as you want it is far more linear than most Zelda's, this is both a good and a bad thing, it is good that it gives you more focus and new comers to the series will not get lost as soon as they begin.
TWW is nirvana for an adventure fan, the game when looks at first seems devilishly simple, and it is, unless you decide to take it further, at first you are equipped with a sword and shield, but as the game progresses you will gain more items, from boots that increase your weight to the grappling hook.
Puzzles can come in various forms, from pushing a crate into a hole, to defeating all enemies in the room. The puzzles never get tiring and you will almost never find yourself thinking, been there done that, the level of design Nintendo has placed into the game is amazing.
Each temple you come across during the course of the game will generally obtain, one mini-boss and one major boss, also you will get a new items for every temple you beat during the course of completing it, which then unlocks new areas for you to access around the game world.
Also new are the Bait bad, the Delivery Bag and the Spoils bag, these all have their various uses and all will be used a lot during the course of the game. Each bag stores a number of various items, which more than often are used to obtain new things, be it more Rupees or Quest Items.
The wind also plays a large role in the game, mainly used for sailing where you change the direction to get maximum speed, but is also used in the various dungeons, a puzzle that at first may seem complicated can become simple with a simple change of the wind.
People who have played Majora's Mask on N64 will remember a man dressed in Fairies clothing who sold you maps, Tingle now returns in TWW with a more important role, in the form of the Tingle Tuner. The Tingle Tuner is used to unlock various secrets throughout the game, it can also be used to levitate Link for a short amount of time, and use special bombs called, Tingle Bombs, all this is done via the use of a GBA connected into the second controller port of the Gamecube.
Tingle is a nice addition to the game and is extremely important if you wish to get all the secrets that riddle the land.
Using Tingle the player can also purchase items, from potions to heart pieces, this is not generally needed but newcomers who use this function may find it extremely helpful.
It is not recommended to use Tingle on the first time through the game as he drops various hints that would detract from the satisfaction of solving the puzzles yourself.
When in battle you lock onto the enemy in the same manner as Ocarina of Time, you can then attack with in various manners, as the game progresses your arsenal will grow, from a bow that shoots ice arrows to freeze enemies, to a hammer that is bigger than Link.
Also new to this game is the counterattack, which you must use to defeat certain enemies, just before they attack you're sword will flash a green light, pressing the A button allows you do dodge the enemies attack and attack them while they are undefended, this is a great help but at the same time it makes combat simple as once you are used to it the enemy will rarely get hold of you.
Enemies also now drop various items, which can be stored in your Spoils bag for later use. Also when an enemy is defeated they sometimes drop a small ball, that when hit sends loot flying all around, the good thing about these balls, apart from the excess loot is that they stay on the field of a long time, so that if you are facing multiple enemies, collecting the loot wont be on your mind until they are all dispersed.
Also certain enemies cannot be killed by your sword alone, some will have to be exposed to sun light, or shot with arrows, making combat more varied not just simply hack and slash anything that moves.
As you would know, TWW is Cel-shaded, the bear mention of the games look has sent thousands of people screeching to their deaths, or almost, the graphics chosen for this beloved series are a controversy, which thankfully has paid off, in spades. All the characters in TWW look absolutely stunning, from the snot nosed child on Outset to the Queen of the Fairies, all the characters have a beautiful charm about them.
Nintendo have truly managed to tear at the emotions with the amount of expressions the characters display, when Links sister is kidnapped he attempts to jump after the bird, a stricken look on his face, but to little avail, you can almost see his little heart cracking as the bird zooms off into the horizon.
Another moment Link is inside a cannon, when he finally realises where he is his little face screws up and he begins to struggle to get out, I wont say wether or not her does, you'll have to play it to find out.
The look Nintendo have tried for has definitely paid off, giving a very story book feel to the game, all the areas you visit a bustling with life, from crabs on the beach that scatter when you come near, to the seagulls that inhabit the islands. The monsters are a joy to behold, all having their own special characteristics. When hitting the large birds feathers will go flying all over as it reels back, all these little touches just help the game along.
All the locales look wonderful, be it a lava fill mountain to an ice covered cavern, no one location looks the same, so you will not get bored with even just looking at this game.
The only criticism that could be said is the ocean always looks the same, there are no waves thrashing against islands, there are no waves anywhere, the ocean will lift up and flow down but even if storms your boat cannot be capsized because of the smallness of the waves. Also at the bow of the boat, the wave animation never changes, only the colour changes or the size depending on speed, this will get tiresome after the long hours spent sailing the sea.
One thing that is automatically noticeable when playing Zelda is the complete lack of voice actors, to some this is may be a turn off as most games released now are expected to have speaking characters. But Wind Waker does perfectly fine without the voices, when a new person begins to speak the screen goes to them or they make a noise to let the player know who is speaking.
The music is absolutely wonderful, it is on par or even above the musical tunes gamers experienced in pervious Zelda's, a lot of old tracks have returned and have been remixed to suit the new game, with more of a rustic feel to them.
All the sound effects are great, from Links grunts as he attacks, to screeching of giant birds as they swoop down on Link. The sound is amazingly done, with subtle sound affects when Link his an enemy that give the feel that the enemy is solid, or a little squishy.
The Wind Waker is the longest game currently available on the Gamecube, the initial adventure will take roughly 20 hours for a dedicated gamer, and anywhere from 25-30 for everyone else. Once the initial game is completed it doesn't mean the adventure is over, Nintendo have packed in literally hundreds of secrets into the game for the fans to dig out.
One particular extra is the Nintendo Gallery, where once the player has obtained a colour Picto-Box they will be able to take their photos to a sculpture who will create a figurine of the picture, complete with a short summary of the person. This addition is absolutely fantasic, almost everything in the world can be photographed, even the most insignificant person in the game has their own little story behind them, filling the entire Gallery easily adds anther 10-15 hours to the games length, and this is just one of the many things you can do once the main quest is completed.