The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

my top 10 games of all time Day 10 – No #1

The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Platform: Gamecube
Release: 2003

The Legend Of Zelda series is possibly one of the greatest video game franchises ever, spawning sequels that regularly surpass the previous games. However, after Ocarina Of Time (by this point was already legendary) and the stunning Majora’s Mask, Nintendo would have to pull something really, really special in order to bring fans over from the N64 to their new Gamecube. They showed off a demo of a realistic Link and Ganondorf fighting in 2001. It looked amazing graphically, we might have the realistic gritty Zelda, we’d imagined since OoT. Next year though, Nintendo shocked the world. Link was wandering around in a cel-shaded cartoon like game. Hang on…the fans realised. They were not happy.

The Wind Waker’s graphical style still has it’s haters, 6 years after release, but  that’s what makes it nigh on perfect. The presentation is flawless, Link, now back to being a 12 year old, is more human than ever before, he laughs, he cries, he winces in pain. And not to mention, the story is possibly the most beautiful epic story in the series.

Link lives on Outset Island with his sister and Grandma. When they reach a certain age, kids have to dress in a green tunic to respect the ancient hero of time (Link from OoT) for a day, during this day, Link’s sister is kidnapped by a giant bird and taken to Forsaken Fortress, far far away in the Great Sea. Link, with the help of a pirate called Tetra go off to rescue her (it fails) and Link ends up with a talking boat on another island completely.

What follows is an epic adventure. It’s a ripping sea faring tale of legends, strange tribes, pirates and princess’s and wheny ou find out it’s all related to my no #6 favourite game (Ganondorf shows up about half-way through the game as the main antagonist) and you travel to Hyrule, deep beneath the waves, you feel a part of your childhood playing OoT reborn, you’re hit with nostalgia.

Let’s talk about the sea. The sea is split into squares on your map. On each of these squares is an island, each one unique and containing either a town, a cave or interesting stuff. Each one s essential if you want to complete the game 100% which is an impossibility compared to Ocarina Of Time. Now, being on the sea, you can go treasure hunting if you have the correct sea map, which is a fun little past-time. Be aware of giant Octo’s though…

Obviously, you can only go in the direction the wind faces, but you can’t control the wind, right? Wrong. Link is given The Wind Waker, a baton that controls the winds direction when you play the right tune, in a similar way to the titular Ocarina from it’s spiritual prequel. This obviously make sea-faring a lot faster.

Let’s discuss the isalnds, as you spend a lot of time there. Each Island has their own feel and personality, from the dark and broody Forsaken Fortress, to the homely Outset Island to the spiritual Forest Haven. Each one bursting full of life, and thanks to the graphics, feel like an utter delight. I’ve probably raved about the graphics already, but their just so good, I feel I could discuss them for hours. They are an absolute joy. They really immerse you in the characters and as the game gets darker, they suit it right down to a tee.

Ah yes, darkness. Zelda games are used to this running theme. From the end of Ocarina Of Time, when you climb up Ganon’s castle stairs, whislt his organ music gets louder, to Majora’s Mask’s moon. The end of this game is dark. And set’s up the most epic fight I’ve ever seen. It’s you and Zelda on the roof of Ganon’s castle, fighting Ganondorf sword to sword, whilst Hyrule below fills up with water, finally dying. It’s truly an incredible sight.

The music is also utterly incredible. It’s all celtic themed (until the end of the game) and suits the sea faring well. You never get bored of the Ocean theme and the bouncy Windfall Island theme. Also, when you fight an enemy, the music is timed perfectly when you strike them, it add’s an aura of interactivity. Not to mention the opening theme and the credits theme are perfect pieces of music. In every way.

So, there you go, The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker is my favourite game of all time, why? Because it’s immersive. You fall in love with the world and the graphics, it’s like a living Studio Ghibli cartoon. Each character has a personality and is unique, there’s no duplicates. From the sassy Tetra, (Tetra/Zelda in this game is the best incarnation of the character, bar none) to the rebellious bumblebee gang, you’ll never hate a single character, even Ganondorf, who despite his evilness, is quite possibly insane here. And when the final battle ends, Link is sent back to the surface and Hyrule dies along with it’s king, you feel that it’s the end of the series (I sometimes wish that Phantom Hourglass never happened) and what a fitting end, the best game ever.

10. Super Smash Bros Brawl
9. Earthbound
8. Banjo Kazooie
7. Pokemon Gold And Silver
6. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
5. Super Mario Galaxy
4. Super Mario World
3. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
2. Mother 3
1. The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker

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