Me, The Wind Waker, and Zelda in general

A few weeks back, Alex posted the story about Nintendo re-releasing The Wind Waker for the Wii U in HD. As someone who claims to love The Legend of Zelda franchise, my first reaction shouldn't have been one of disappointment and frustration, right? It was, and I blurted out some trollish comment about how awful the game was. My comment generated a few lovely PM's from some of you. I took my beating and went back under my bridge, but the feeling didn't go away. After talking my thoughts with an old friend who's a fan of the series, I came to the realization that I've seemingly become disenchanted with the series, and it all started with The Wind Waker.

For me, it doesn't get better than this.

Let me rewind and put this in perspective. I'm 28 and as long as I can remember, haven't hesitated to tell anyone that asks that my favorite gaming franchise is The Legend of Zelda. It's been my comfort food of games. I have so many fond memories of watching my cousin play the original Legend of Zelda, not even knowing how to ride a bike and trying to fumble through The Adventure of Link, and spending hours every night with my mom playing through A Link to the Past. Playing through and experiencing Ocarina of Time when it was first released was unlike anything I'd experienced at the time. Then there's Majora's Mask, which represents the pinnacle of Zelda for me and is easily my favorite game ever.

Then...The Wind Waker happened.

Coming off the heels of the darkest and most unique Zelda game to date, there was certainly a contingency of people such as myself who hoped to see Zelda continue in that direction. The details are sketchy now, but I want to say there were some screenshots or a video of a more realistic looking Zelda game floating around the internet which got a lot of hopes up, mine included. When the first screenshots of The Wind Waker hit with cel shading, I was incensed. I felt like Nintendo had turned their back on me. I was shallow and since it took a step backwards from what I wanted, being 18 at the time made it wrong. When I read Alex's article, I was 18 again and that same sense of being incensed and betrayed by Nintendo came over me ever so briefly.

Needless to say, The Wind Waker never clicked for me. I couldn't look past the graphics. The stealth was off-putting. The sailing was boring. The stupid wind stick was no ocarina! By the end of the summer, I'd given the game to a friend. From that point on, Zelda kind of fell off the map for me. I played a few of the handhelds, but never got around to playing any of the grander large scale console games. There was always an excuse. The motion control in Twilight Princess felt awful. Not really having the time to sink into Skyward Sword. The Wind Waker was still The Wind Waker. You name it and I probably thought it.

Talking boat, you are the bane of my Zelda fandom!

For me as a fan of the series, it's time for me to shit or get off the pot. My wife and I are currently in the baby planning stages and accept and understand that once the baby comes, my available time to play games gets dramatically cut. I've decided with The Wind Waker HD coming fall, it's time to get the weight off my back and play the games I claim to be my favorites. I recently overpaid for purchased a copy of Twilight Princess for the GameCube. Skyward Sword is on deck. I don't intend on rushing myself or burning myself out, but With any luck, I'll be done in time for The Wind Waker HD... a game that still seems to resonate feelings of disappointment, frustration, and betrayal some 10 years later. As much as I don't want to it to, I'm prepared to accept that for me, maybe Zelda ends at Majora's Mask. I hope not though.

27 Comments
28 Comments
Posted by C0V3RT

A few weeks back, Alex posted the story about Nintendo re-releasing The Wind Waker for the Wii U in HD. As someone who claims to love The Legend of Zelda franchise, my first reaction shouldn't have been one of disappointment and frustration, right? It was, and I blurted out some trollish comment about how awful the game was. My comment generated a few lovely PM's from some of you. I took my beating and went back under my bridge, but the feeling didn't go away. After talking my thoughts with an old friend who's a fan of the series, I came to the realization that I've seemingly become disenchanted with the series, and it all started with The Wind Waker.

For me, it doesn't get better than this.

Let me rewind and put this in perspective. I'm 28 and as long as I can remember, haven't hesitated to tell anyone that asks that my favorite gaming franchise is The Legend of Zelda. It's been my comfort food of games. I have so many fond memories of watching my cousin play the original Legend of Zelda, not even knowing how to ride a bike and trying to fumble through The Adventure of Link, and spending hours every night with my mom playing through A Link to the Past. Playing through and experiencing Ocarina of Time when it was first released was unlike anything I'd experienced at the time. Then there's Majora's Mask, which represents the pinnacle of Zelda for me and is easily my favorite game ever.

Then...The Wind Waker happened.

Coming off the heels of the darkest and most unique Zelda game to date, there was certainly a contingency of people such as myself who hoped to see Zelda continue in that direction. The details are sketchy now, but I want to say there were some screenshots or a video of a more realistic looking Zelda game floating around the internet which got a lot of hopes up, mine included. When the first screenshots of The Wind Waker hit with cel shading, I was incensed. I felt like Nintendo had turned their back on me. I was shallow and since it took a step backwards from what I wanted, being 18 at the time made it wrong. When I read Alex's article, I was 18 again and that same sense of being incensed and betrayed by Nintendo came over me ever so briefly.

Needless to say, The Wind Waker never clicked for me. I couldn't look past the graphics. The stealth was off-putting. The sailing was boring. The stupid wind stick was no ocarina! By the end of the summer, I'd given the game to a friend. From that point on, Zelda kind of fell off the map for me. I played a few of the handhelds, but never got around to playing any of the grander large scale console games. There was always an excuse. The motion control in Twilight Princess felt awful. Not really having the time to sink into Skyward Sword. The Wind Waker was still The Wind Waker. You name it and I probably thought it.

Talking boat, you are the bane of my Zelda fandom!

For me as a fan of the series, it's time for me to shit or get off the pot. My wife and I are currently in the baby planning stages and accept and understand that once the baby comes, my available time to play games gets dramatically cut. I've decided with The Wind Waker HD coming fall, it's time to get the weight off my back and play the games I claim to be my favorites. I recently overpaid for purchased a copy of Twilight Princess for the GameCube. Skyward Sword is on deck. I don't intend on rushing myself or burning myself out, but With any luck, I'll be done in time for The Wind Waker HD... a game that still seems to resonate feelings of disappointment, frustration, and betrayal some 10 years later. As much as I don't want to it to, I'm prepared to accept that for me, maybe Zelda ends at Majora's Mask. I hope not though.

Posted by Slag

@C0V3RT said:

Coming off the heels of the darkest and most unique Zelda game to date, there was certainly a contingency of people such as myself who hoped to see Zelda continue in that direction. The details are sketchy now, but I want to say there were some screenshots or a video of a more realistic looking Zelda game floating around the internet which got a lot of hopes up, mine included. When the first screenshots of The Wind Waker hit with cel shading, I was incensed. I felt like Nintendo had turned their back on me. I was shallow and since it took a step backwards from what I wanted, being 18 at the time made it wrong. When I read Alex's article, I was 18 again and that same sense of being incensed and betrayed by Nintendo came over me ever so briefly.

Needless to say, The Wind Waker never clicked for me. I couldn't look past the graphics. The stealth was off-putting. The sailing was boring. The stupid wind stick was no ocarina! By the end of the summer, I'd given the game to a friend. From that point on, Zelda kind of fell off the map for me. I played a few of the handhelds, but never got around to playing any of the grander large scale console games. There was always an excuse. The motion control in Twilight Princess felt awful. Not really having the time to sink into Skyward Sword. The Wind Waker was still The Wind Waker. You name it and I probably thought it.

Dude don't force yourself to play these games. Then it definitely won't be fun. It's ok to no longer like Zelda if you don't.

Have you played Darksiders? maybe that would be a better way to go about it for you. It's a bit Zela-esque with a much darker tone.

That being said I think Wind Waker is great if you can give it a fair shake. In fairness I think a lot your problems with the game is about your preconceived notion of what it should have been in your mind, which doesn't allow you to see it for what it is.

I remember those screenshots too (Link attacking a Stalfos if memory serves) of the game that was never made that got me very excited, and I remember being dubious when I saw the cel-shading. But you know what, It took about 4-5 hours but then I Started feeling the old school game play and it had me back.

The Stealth was a such a minor point of the game, probably else than 5% of the time you spend in the game. It'd be a shame if it bothered you that much that ruined the whole game for you. The sailing I could see being hit or miss for people, but personally I found it neat and novel way to explore, which for me is the big hook in Zelda. I love mapping, I like exploring worlds. Obviously if you don't it's still going to give you a lot of problems, since you do that a huge % of the game.

But perhaps what I liked best about Wind Waker was that it had the best ending in the entire series imo. It's worth the great payoff if nothing else.

Not a perfect Zelda (felt a dungeon or two short) but its' a pretty darn good one.

I hear you on the motion controls in TP but It certainly had the darkest aesthetic of the whole series. My guess is you will like it sans motion controls.

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Posted by darkvare

i never liked wind waker everything about it rubs me the wrong way is the only zelda game i've only finished once every other i finish them at least once a year

Posted by GrantHeaslip

This may be presumptuous, but it sounds like you may have been starting to grow away from the series, and Wind Waker just happened to be the game that came out when you were no longer on board. I mean, if Twilight Princess didn’t do it for you either, I doubt it would have mattered if Wind Waker looked different.

I’m a big Wind Waker fan, and grew up playing the Zelda 1, Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask (which I remember spending well over $100 CAD for due to the bad exchange rate and expansion pack and). I thought Twilight Princess was okay, but it didn’t meet my (unrealistic) expectations, and I’ve shamefully yet to play Skyward Sword.

Like you, I’m in the process of playing through Twilight Princess again, though I feel much the same way I did about it in 2006. I’m not quite at a point where I can pinpoint what it is about it that isn’t capturing me the way it should, but I hope to write about it when I’m done. Skyward Sword looks to bring a lot of the Wind Waker charm, and will hopefully capture more of the sense of adventure that I love about the series. It may be that no Zelda game, regardless of quality, will capture me the same way Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Wind Waker did when I was an adolescent. I played Ocarina of Time on the 3DS, and I mostly liked it, if not in the same feverish way one does when they’re 10.

One more thing: what I like most about Wind Waker so much (as you might surmise from my avatar) is the sense of adventure. It’s got great graphics and music, and I think it’s got some great dungeons, but it’s the story of a boy leaving the familiar, being forced to grow up, and going on a high adventure that I love. I don’t think I’ve properly explained it — it’s tough to put into words — but it’s the secret ingredient of the series in my mind. If you can’t get on board with that aspect of the games, I think a lot of the rest of the experience is degraded.

Posted by C0V3RT

@Slag: I've been meaning to play them, I've just been giving myself excuses not to. I actually played Darksiders and didn't enjoy the combat at all. I'm just hoping now my gaming palate is more developed and can look past everything that was off putting 10 years ago.

@darkvare: I was with you until I realized your avatar is from Killer Klowns from Outer Space which terrified/terrifies me.

@GrantHeaslip: I don't think it's presumptuous, me growing away from the series is something I realized is happening. I'm familiar with the story arc of the game and was something I was interested in, the motion controls just never clicked for me and couldn't shake the feeling like I'd rather play it sans motion control. It sounds like the way you feel about Wind Waker is the way I feel about Majora's Mask. However when you described why you loved the game and how it's the story of a boy leaving the familiar, I feel applies to most games in the franchise and is part of the draw for me. Link is seemingly an average person that's either thrust or stumbles into an adventure bigger than he is.

Posted by Slag

@C0V3RT said:

@Slag: I've been meaning to play them, I've just been giving myself excuses not to. I actually played Darksiders and didn't enjoy the combat at all. I'm just hoping now my gaming palate is more developed and can look past everything that was off putting 10 years ago.

That's cool.

I just was concerned you are/were setting yourself up to be disappointed based off what you said here

A few weeks back, Alex posted the story about Nintendo re-releasing The Wind Waker for the Wii U in HD. As someone who claims to love The Legend of Zelda franchise, my first reaction shouldn't have been one of disappointment and frustration, right? It was, and I blurted out some trollish comment about how awful the game was. My comment generated a few lovely PM's from some of you. I took my beating and went back under my bridge, but the feeling didn't go away.... When I read Alex's article, I was 18 again and that same sense of being incensed and betrayed by Nintendo came over me ever so briefly.

That's all.

fwiw I find it funny that Majora's mask means so much to you while Wind Waker was a betrayal. For me MM was a pretty big letdown and the one that cooled my interest in Zelda for awhile. It just felt like a retread of OoT, up until then every Zelda seemed like 100% new content. The character models and environments being recycled from OoT was very disappointing to me. I liked MM, but as someone who was used to loving every single Zelda game, merely liking it was a new sensation.

At least with Wind Waker it felt brand new, even if the art style wasn't what I was expecting.

But you know everybody's different, it might be an age thing too. Even on the GB staff, Patrick really likes MM and Jeff doesn't at all.

anyway whatever you do, I hope you have fun!

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Posted by Colourful_Hippie

Meh, I think the artstyle is beautiful and that stealth thing was only in the beginning of the game and it wasn't even that hard, I only got spotted once on my first playthrough. As for the sailing I can see where that would bother people, I actually liked it cuz it was relaxing and even more so when doing all that baked, great music.

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Posted by Superkenon

I think Wind Waker is fantastic and beautiful, and Majora's Mask is one of my favorite Zelda titles of all time.

Never understood why there's not room for both.

Posted by SlashDance

I always thought the sailing was great. Wind Waker was the only Zelda game where I felt compelled to just explore. I never got tired of it, not even when you have to find the triforce fragments.

Probably my favorite Nintendo game of all time to be honest.

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Posted by darkvare

@C0V3RT: you mean the movie or clowns in general?

Posted by JackSukeru

I never had a problem with the artstyle change in Wind Waker, my problem with it was that I, at the time, was really invested into the idea of tying all the Zelda games together as a timeline. Wind Waker encouraged this line of thinking in a few places but failed to meet my expectations in a lot of others. Why didn't the Deku tree look like it did in OoT? Why did the Kokiri have to have a different name and look? Why were there no Zoras or Gorons? (there were, sorta). Why couldn't you ride a horse? Why did Ganon turn into a weird pig puppet instead of a badass pig monster? Why was this different, why was that different? Why was it different!?

I failed to see it as its own thing, a new story set in a new universe, or to appreciate it for its own merits. I only wanted it to be a bigger better version of what I had already played, as well as to more directly continue the story from the mold set by OoT. It stopped me from truly appreciating a lot of the unique things it did.

More recently I've become a bit vary about voicing my opinion on what direction the Zelda series should take, since I've come to realize that I have a just as skewed a perspective as every other long time fan and can't be trusted to know what I really want or what's best for the series. It seems like the series longlevity has created so many different groups of fans, whom are all notalgic for different games and styles, that it's become more of a question of pleasing 'anyone' rather than 'everyone'.

In the end I made my peace with the series while finishing Skyward Sword and figured I don't really care about the story anymore. I have a vague idea of what I would like the next entry to be but if it isn't that I'm not going to complain or be disappointed, I'll just move on as the series simply isn't for me anymore.

Posted by C0V3RT

@darkvare: Both really. I developed a fear of clowns when I was young age and for some reason, my mom thought showing her son "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" was a good idea and would get me over my fear. Opposite effect. I can tolerate the movie now for the most part... but ugh.

@JackSukeru: Very eloquently worded. I can totally respect your point of view on that and, granted that I haven't played through the most recent console releases, agree with the sentiment that Nintendo is more focused on pleasing 'anyone' rather than 'everyone'.

Posted by C0V3RT

@Slag: I don't feel as if there isn't room for both. There absolutely is. For me, it's more for me, Wind Waker was so off putting in so many ways, I let it sour me on anything that's come out since.

Edited by project343

This was a good read, but I can't help but highlight the fact that both Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time had fairly robust stealth sections as well. :P

As a Zelda fan who also prizes Majora's Mask as the best-in-series (mostly for being entirely unconventional and deliciously dark), I'd recommend avoiding later entries. Twilight Princess is purely fan service-y drivel covered in a muddy, gross aesthetic, and has some of the most insultingly boring puzzle design in the entire franchise. On the other hand, Skyward Sword has moments of brilliance, but is ultimately hampered by both its devotion to MotionPlus and the lack of a proper/compelling 'overworld.' I'd actually maybe recommend to grab Skyward Sword, and play until you finish the Ancient Cistern dungeon. It is, bar none, the best dungeon in the entire franchise: artistically gorgeous, entirely organic, and brilliant in every conceivable way.

In comparison to these later two entries, I actually really enjoyed Wind Waker. I'm a die-hard fan of the art direction, but more than that, I really enjoyed the game's more organic puzzle design (it was a lot less 'artificial mirror puzzles' and a lot more 'reasoning ways through natural obstacles').

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@JackSukeru: You’ve hit upon the the impossibility of pleasing everyone in a series that trades (in part) in nostalgia. I’m sure there are kids for whom Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword and Spirit Tracks are my Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, and Link’s Awakening. It’s weird to think about, in part because separating nostalgia from “objective” quality can be so hard.

Posted by ZombiePie

Here's my thing about the Zelda franchise...and I'm warning you it may sound crazy. I've always preferred the Zelda games when they are in 2D versus 3D. In the modern era, before I gave up on handhelds completely, I always had more fun with the GameBoy Color and Gameboy Advanced games than anything Windwaker or Twilight Princess had to offer.
Again, this may be a crazy person talking. 

Moderator
Posted by C0V3RT

@ZombiePie: There's something to be said about the handhelds for sure. Something I neglected to mention in my blog was I went out and purchased Link's Awakening DX and the Oracle games and thought they were immensely satisfying. I don't think that's crazy at all.

Posted by Cold_Wolven

I'm inconsistent with my interest in Legend of Zelda, I like Wind Waker as well as Minish Cap and Oracle of Ages, I liked Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword but not for their controls that Nintendo kept insisting itself upon me. It's the older Zelda games I don't care for even when I tried real hard to such as Ocarina of Time and Link to the Past (turtle rock was why I flat out quit that game).

Posted by MajorMitch
Coming off the heels of the darkest and most unique Zelda game to date, there was certainly a contingency of people such as myself who hoped to see Zelda continue in that direction.
The stupid wind stick was no ocarina!

I think it's funny how some people talk about how they're tired of Nintendo rehashing the Zelda formula over and over again for 25 years. At the same time, there are Zelda games that people don't like, such as you with Wind Waker, because they did change too much. In your case, Wind Waker got away from what you liked about previous games, especially Ocarina/Majora's Mask. I bet Nintendo is as confused as anyone about such mixed messages from fans!

As for me I really appreciate it when they shake things up, and really liked Wind Waker for that reason. It was still Zelda at its core, but changed just enough to make it fresh again. I also think the visuals are gorgeous, and the Wind Waker soundtrack is probably my favorite in the franchise.

Posted by C2C

Give Twilight Princess a go. It is fashionable to poopoo all over Twilight Princess because of how snubbed Windwaker was and how "bland" the aesthetics look in comparison. The thing is, I hold the unpopular opinion of liking TP over WW exactly because of the aesthetics. I just have the tastes that Nintendo was going for with TP. It also reminded me of the whole light/dark world stuff from link to the past. As "pandering" as TP is, they experimented with the two previous console installments with divisive results. A game giving what the fans have been asking for is not the worst thing ever.

That being said, I would totally recommend playing the 2D games over anything 3D post Majora's Mask any day.

Posted by C0V3RT

@MajorMitch: I think the biggest problem Nintendo finds themselves running into is catering to fans of the series vs making the game accessible to new comers. My problem wasn't necessarily that it changed so much, it was that it wasn't what I personally wanted. To me, the leap between Ocarina and Majora is HUGE in terms of tone and game play. Wind Waker was such a departure from that.

After giving this some thought since I posted the original blog entry, I think had Wind Waker been more in line with I wanted graphically, I wouldn't have been so dismissive. I certainly don't feel that way now and admire cel shading when done right. However my base stance on the game being, "I hate these graphics" probably only amplified my dislike of some of the other mechanics that bothered me.

Posted by prestonhedges

I still think people are crazy when they talk about how dark and gritty Ocarina of Time was. Did they play a different game? Then again, I grew up reading the Nintendo Power comic book adaption of A Link to the Past.

Anyway, for me, Wind Waker's the best Zelda. It's got the best dungeons, the best overworld, and the best combat. Sure, the sailing got a tab tedious, and the opening stealth section is a bummer to sit through, but those are practically its only flaws.

Posted by C0V3RT

@C2C: The original plan was to start playing my GameCube copy of TP this weekend but never got past setting up the GameCube. Soon though. The aesthetics never bothered me and seem to be more in line with what I want out of a Zelda game. The off putting part was the motion control of the Wii that just never clicked for me.

On the 2D, did you ever get around to playing Four Swords Adventures? If so, does it stack up with the other 2D games?

Posted by C0V3RT

@prestonhedges: Majora's Mask is the dark and gritty one, not Ocarina. By modern standards it's not necessary dark or gritty, but in comparison to every other game in the franchise that predicated it, it totally is!

Posted by C2C

@C0V3RT: I never got to playing four swords, so I can't make a fair comparison to the other games. From what I have heard though, four swords is a fine game solo but gets waay better if you can find some friends to play along with you.

Posted by Slag

@C0V3RT said:

@C2C:

On the 2D, did you ever get around to playing Four Swords Adventures? If so, does it stack up with the other 2D games?

I know you didn't ask me, but I have played Four Swords Adventures.

It's a pretty fun game, but it is perhaps the weakest topdown 2d game in the series. It's very short, it's oddly linear for a Zelda title and there isn't a whole lot of collectibles to find.

Really it's optimized for multiplayer. Played that way it's a whole different and far better game.

That being said, the puzzles and boss fights are pretty solid even in single player.

Unless you are a hardcore Zelda fan, I don't think you are missing too much if you need to skip it.

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Posted by TheVideoHustler

I didn't like Wind Waker. At the point where you had to find all those triforce pieces in the ocean I said "fuck it."

Posted by C0V3RT

@Slag: Thanks for the insight! I own it, but sounds like I can skip it.

@TheVideoHustler: Sounds like you made it further than I did. I know how the game ends and it sounds like the final payoff is pretty good. Hopefully I can get there.