Salt Water touches your lips. Wind blows through your hair. You might be on a beach or you might be playing The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker. As with many Legend of Zelda games, they start with the story of The Hero of Time. A couple of things are different with this Zelda tale. Cartoon graphics, Link has a family, and you are stuck on an island. It’s these things that set Wind Waker apart from any other Zelda game before or after it.
Life is good. It’s your birthday. You talk to your grandma and she gives you the legendary hero’s clothing to wear. Then, your sister gives you her telescope. While using the telescope, you see a giant bird and someone is in its claw. Some cannon fire from a ship hits the bird and it drops the person into a forest in the distance. You decide to go help but first you need to get a sword and shield. After that, you climb up a mountain and rescue the girl. Apparently she is the leader of a pirate ship. The bird comes back but grabs your sister instead. You join the pirates to save her after hearing she has been taken to the Forsaken Fortress.
Once you get to the Forsaken Fortress, you get thrown behind the walls. You get separated from your sword and cannot fight. You must sneak past enemies, find your sword, and rescue your sister. When you find your sister, the bird grabs you before you rescue her. The bird takes you to his master, and master of everything in the Forsaken Fortress, Ganon. He knows you are too weak and has you ejected from his Fortress. That is when the King of Red Lions finds you. Then you truly start your adventure.
The story is one of the best-crafted Zelda stories of all time. It sticks to the original recipe for a Zelda game, but still brings in enough to keep it fresh. Sailing is the biggest gameplay changer. No longer are you jumping on a horse and riding to your next target. Now you set sail and find your own path. If you are a fan of side missions, there a plenty of those, but if you just want to get through the story, you can do that too.
The music and sounds are as amazing as any other Zelda. All the sounds and music are inspired by the older Zelda games but enhanced or changed to fit this new adventure. It is what you expect from a Zelda game but also something that surprises you. The graphics are cell shaded but it works well with the comedy. Familiar faces look different, not just because of the new graphics, but because of the story and what has happened to their race. It might take time to get used to it, but it is worth it for an experience like this.
The new gadgets, and some of the old, bring new views on puzzle solving. The most important of which is the Wind Waker. Controlling the wind is a big deal and it’s even impossible to complete some puzzles without the wind blowing in the right direction. Another new item is the Deku Leaf. This lets you shoot gusts of wind at enemies or glide through the air for short distances. Using the Wind Waker and Deku Leaf together efficiently will help you get far. Everything else about the gameplay is just as you remember it from all other Zelda games. Slice and dice with your sword, block incoming attacks with your shield, and even the hook shot comes back.
What makes this Zelda such a different game than the rest is the size. Giant landscapes to explore, huge dungeons to conquer, and a big mystery to uncover. The sailing is a wonderful mechanic. You just have to be patient with it. The audio will make you want to stop and just take it all in every now and again. The weapons and items are used in such a way you never knew possible. This is the closest to a “perfect” game I have ever seen but I don’t believe in a perfect game. So this is an A, the highest grade I can give it. I want to thank Nintendo for making such an amazing game.