Author Topic: RetroActive 52: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker  (Read 2516 times)

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Offline Crimm

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RetroActive 52: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
« on: March 12, 2023, 09:51:20 PM »
RetroActive 52 is Wind Waker on Wii U...or GameCube, but that didn't rhyme.

We're going to do it on...a date. IN MARCH.
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Offline TOPHATANT123

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Re: RetroActive 52: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2023, 09:21:03 PM »
This was my second time playing Wind Waker HD, so I opted to play on Hero Mode. My original Wind Waker take was that the game was a well crafted game made by professionals, not my cup of tea, but a decent adventure with good puzzles and annoying combat.

With the benefit of hero mode I was forced to learn that the combat can be less annoying if you use the boomerang, but it's still not a strength of the game.

I don't think the Forbidden Fortress is a good opening dungeon, the layout and map is too confusing and even on my 2nd trip I had no idea where I was going. It's a cliche at this point to say that the stealth is bad, but I'd say the reason it's bad is that there's no creativity. Metal Gear Solid is a sandbox, you probe for weak points in the enemies defences, wait for the right moment and go for it. In Wind Waker stealth is sitting in a barrel and waiting for slow enemies to allow you to pass down a hallway.

The next few dungeons are fun and come at a good pace. They feel more linear and puzzle oriented compared to the more exploration oriented dungeons of the N64 games. I'd say I prefer exploration, but Wind Waker's dungeons are still enjoyable.

The game peaks in my opinion with the Medli dungeon. You're introduced to  brand new mechanics and having the two characters allows for some interesting puzzles.

The Makar dungeon is okay, but it's tricky to tell where you're supposed to be going because it's so big. Controlling Makar is more fiddly than Medli and you will often have to take multiple trips, once with Makar and then with Link. Since it's not as easy to just pick them up and carry them to the next room.

It's at this point the pacing is slowed to a crawl. The idea of a treasure hunt is good, but it's implementation brings out the worst in Zelda. Obtuse critical path puzzles. Long kill room sequences with the same damn enemies over and over. Trial and error mazes. Watching the chest opening animation yet again to be rewarded with rupees to fill your already full wallet, or if you're lucky an almost equally pointless joy pendant.

I don't like when a game makes me reach for GameFAQs. Other than searching every square on the map and talking to every NPC, I don't see how you could complete the Triforce Hunt without a guide.

After that there's a dull boss rush, though the final area is saved by some pretty cool new bosses.

I don't mind the sailing sections. I think it's okay for a game to have boring parts where you take in the world. I had fun just using the jump button to try and launch off the top of cresting waves. I don't want to be that miiverse guy, but the water physics are really fantastic in this game.

Final thoughts? I think I enjoyed it more the 2nd time around. In this playthrough I was able to ignore a lot of the NPCs, side quests and heart piece islands that bog down the main quest. I was able to have a better time by focusing on the core experience.

I'll end on a few musings and possible questions for the retroactive.

Why does Tetra's skin colour change when she becomes Zelda?

Is it right to put fairies in bottles when they look so sad?

How is it possible for Link to fail to articulate the capital letter at the start of the pirate password?

Is there any hint that you need to talk to the teacher to get into the Cabana?

Why does the dungeon warp take you to the 1st checkpoint, rather than the one next to the boss room?

Does the game ever teach you that you can climb up ropes using the ZR button?

If the game gets ported to Switch will the miiverse features get a chance to live again?

What is the "dorf" part of Ganondorf supposed to represent?

Offline DoomsDayDonut

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Re: RetroActive 52: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2023, 11:42:27 AM »
This game is significant. Especially for me, since it was the first Zelda experience that really clicked with me when I played it as a kid (I was around 10 years old). Link to the Past had an allure of mystery and fantasy, and futzing around on Lon Lon (Jindemann) Ranch in Ocarina of Time was fun and all, but it was the inviting tones, colourful artwork, and warm sea breeze of Wind Waker that truly captured my heart when I played it on GameCube almost 20 years ago. For added nostalgia for this RetroActive, I prepared myself with the following: I pulled my original CIB copy of Wind Waker for the GameCube off the shelf and skimmed through the manual; I grabbed my GBA and my “Nintendo GameCube™ Game Boy® Advance Cable” so I could use the Tingle Tuner; and finally, I dragged my Nintendo Wii out of retirement by defiling it with the large Wavebird GameCube controller adapter before hooking it up to my 65” 4K TV via composite inputs. As you can probably imagine, the picture quality left something to be desired.

In a sentence, Wind Waker is easy, breezy, beautiful, Covergirl. The enemies and bosses are facile, as are 97% of the puzzles and challenges. Not once did I lose all of my hearts, even though I consistently had 2-3 bottled fairies on reserve should such an occasion arise. However, I found the ease of play here to be very relaxing, and aside from some regular frustrations with fumbling the camera around (since it is forced inverted) and general bullshittery with trying to lock on to the right enemy, this game does almost everything right. The quick pace at which you complete dungeons may signal to some that this is a shallow game; however, I would argue that this game is near perfect in this regard, given that it offers a wide breadth of locations to explore which keeps gameplay exciting for the player. You are continually pushing onwards and covering new ground without getting bogged down in monotonous exploration in a single dungeon.

I see/hear people regularly chastising the GameCube version of this game for being “tedious” because there is no Swift Sail, and because the journey to find 8 Triforce charts (and subsequently, the corresponding shards) is cumbersome. To those critics I say, “Bah!” The lack of a Swift Sail brings a welcome reprise; it affords time for one to rest their weary soul among the soft splashes of salty sea and the enchanting tunes which harken back to human’s innate search of adventure. Further, regarding the quest for the 8 Triforce charts, hast thou not spoken to the many fish in this great wide sea? Hast thou not taken their words to heart, for they speaketh only truisms as to the definite locations of each and every Triforce chart (“Triumph Forks chart”) thou profess to have no knowledge of? Dost thou not take notes with parchment and quill to chronicle your future expeditions? Hast thou not laid thine eyes upon the “IN-credible Chart” so lovingly prepared by our comrade, Tingle? My friends, it is true. We live in a society where the common man is unable to reason for himself, and requires a waypoint on a map to dictate the next stop he should take on his journey. If only life were so simple. In my opinion, this game could do without the “IN-credible Chart” (my apologies to Tingle for his hard work), for what is adventure without an accompanying sense of pride and accomplishment for achieving the end goal on your own? I’m unsure why people prefer the WiiU remaster of this game, as it is essentially removing content (there are only 3 Triforce charts to collect) [EDIT: I have since read more about the differences between the two versions and I think I was a bit too foolhardy with my comment here. The WiiU version does have some great improvements, so I can see why people prefer it]. As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoy the GameCube version and I will generally defend its systems.

One thing I cannot defend about any version of this game is the story, which manages to be both extremely thin and very bad. It is full of coincidental happenings and just-in-time good fortune. For instance, the entire plot hinges on the Rito mailman, named Quill, telling Tetra at the beginning of the game that she must help Link, since it is her fault that Aryll (Link’s sister) was taken by the giant bird. Quill coerces Tetra into taking Link along, and had Quill not been there, Tetra would have set sail without Link. On the topic of Tetra, you mean to tell me that a bad-ass pirate captain, who has explored countless islands to pillage for treasure and has engaged in combat with monsters and humans alike, is content with being morphed into a frilly princess and sealed in a musty castle at the bottom of the sea?

Finally, I will end by recounting a funny memory of my time with this game when I played as a 10 year old. I was playing this game the first time my mom heard me curse out loud. I had just arrived at the Forsaken Fortress for the first time with no weapon to defend myself. With the eerie music playing and the guards on high alert, I was tense to say the least. My mom and little brother were watching me play, which did little to ease my tension. I was inside one of the cylindrical turrets of the fortress where the rooms are 2 stories high, with wooden platforms on either side of the second floor separated by a large gap running between them where you can fall down to the first floor. I was standing on one of the wooden platforms on the second floor, mentally preparing myself to jump across to the next platform, knowing that I could not defend myself should I fall down to the first floor and encounter enemies. I mustered the courage to jump the gap, and to my horror I somehow missed and fell down to the first floor. On cue, suddenly I am jumped by 6 or so little bouncing devils, shouting, “Dah-da! Dah-da!”, jabbing me with their tridents. I felt so helpless and frustrated with myself that I instinctively shouted “FUUUUUUUCK!” Immediately I realized what I had done, and I spun my head around to look at my mom and tell her how sorry I was for what I had said. In the end, I got away without punishment and the moment left a lasting memory of Forsaken Fortress in my mind.

Thanks so much for choosing Wind Waker for this RetroActive. I’ve really enjoyed revisiting the game and I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the podcast.

Lots of love,
« Last Edit: March 30, 2023, 02:57:15 PM by DoomsDayDonut »

Offline Morningshark

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Re: RetroActive 52: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2023, 08:15:41 PM »
When I think of Wind Waker, my enjoyment usually comes from the opening hours of this game. The "children's cartoon" approach was very appealing to me as a kid. In fact, The Wind Waker was one of the first games I was exposed to when I got my first console. My GameCube came with that Zelda collector's disc which showed off the game. Sadly, I never got the full game, and didn't actually play it until the HD remaster was released on the Wii U. So, I was never there for the backlash around the game's art style. I was a child, who thought that the vibrant colors, simple designs, and humorous animations were really appealing. I played Toon Link the most in Brawl largely because I liked his design so much. Whenever I am interested in replaying the Wind Waker, I typically will only play the opening few hours; till I hit the rock where I feel there is padding. But, we will get there in part 2. I really enjoy the feeling of leaving your home in a game, and this game nails that. A lot of the islands you experience in the beginning are well populated, dense with objectives for you. Other islands in the game, not so much. But here in the first half, you meet the woodland creatures, the Koroks (from Breath of the Wild... just kidding), an entire new city with other children, a magical boat, and you encounter danger from the "outset". It is interesting to go with a heavy focus on sneaking around at the beginning of a game. Perhaps this was to try and truncate the "Young Link" idea, where you start off very weak but get much stronger later; as you do return to the Forsaken Fortress much stronger. Overall, I think the Wind Waker has one of the stronger openings to the world-building of it's game. But in a game that is teasing the expansive sea, it's interesting to lock you to a linear path for the majority of the opening. I recall playing the opening for the first time and being excited by my quest; the scope and mystery of anything on the horizon waiting for me... and then being a little confused why I "had" to go from points A to B to C, etc. Looking forward to hearing what others think so far!
Xander Morningstar
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