The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is one of the more controversial entries in the Legend of Zelda series. Its cartoonish graphics and maritime setting represeted massive departures for the series, especially compared to the hyper-realistic Gamecube demo shown at Spaceworld 2000. Players who had come to expect a darker, more mature style resented the bait-and-switch, and players who were willing to give the game a chance found the game-defining sailing mechanic to be tedious and slow. However, those who were able to set aside their expectations and look past the game’s mechanical issues found colorful graphics, upbeat music, and a tightly-focused story that used its simplicity to its advantage.
As a narrative, The Wind Waker is an overall success with a few glaring misses. It hits all the major beats within the Three-Act Structure, but there are two sections where it struggles: the sudden acquisition of Nayru’s Pearl before the Midpoint, and the much-maligned Triforce fetch quest after. Where the game’s story excels is in the connection to its artistic design. Detailed animations imbue the characters with rich personalities, compensating for their relatively flat characterizations. These animations fit the youthful, positive tone of the story, which also supports the games’ theme of generational change. The music ties into the narrative as well, as many of the games’ tracks utilize both the instruments and the melodies used within the game itself. For all its problems, The Wind Waker is a game that knows what it wants to be, both narratively and thematically, and it’s at its best when its following its unique vision.