The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker tells the story of a boy who is growing up on Outset Island. It turns out that today is your birthday. You learn about the legend of the “hero of time”, which was Link from The Ocarina of Time, and how he saved the world. It is customary for boys who reach the age of the Link to wear green clothing on their birthday. After a short amount of time, a huge bird shows up carrying a young pirate girl it apparently kidnapped. After saving the girl, the massive bird grabs your sister and flies away. So you have to set off to try to get your sister back.
At first, the story seems pretty much unrelated to The Ocarina of Time, but as the game progresses, it ties itself in to the storyline of The Ocarina of Time pretty well. The world of Wind Waker is comprised of a bunch of islands connected by lots and lots of water. You get a talking boat, called the King of Red Lions, pretty early on in the game to travel between the islands. There are a few main islands on your map when you first start the game, but exploring the waters and finding new islands to add to your map is a big part of the game. The game map is pretty much a grid of squares, and every square on the map has some sort of island there for you to visit. However, it is not necessary to visit a lot of the smaller islands.
As for the main islands, there are a lot of things to see and do. They are all inhabited by a lot of people that you can talk to, buildings to go into, and puzzles to solve. You will find yourself constantly be traveling back and forward between them during your quests. Unfortunately, this is where the game starts to have some problems. Traveling between islands, especially early on in the game is pretty boring. It can take a whole lot of work (changing the direction of the wind) and time just to get from one place to another. The fact that there isn’t much to do out on the open water pretty much means you just point your ship in the direction of the island that you want to go to and wait until you get there. This is helped somewhat when you gain the ability to teleport to various places in the world, but you will still find yourself traveling the seas for extended periods of time.
In many ways, Wind Waker is almost a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time. Many of the gameplay mechanics that were present in The Ocarina of Time remain unchanged here, which is fine considering that The Ocarina of Time played very well. The targeting system remains pretty much the same as it has been. Targeting enemies locks you on to them, which allows you to easily maneuver around them during a battle. The combat and the inventory system also remain largely unchanged. You still go into the inventory menu, and assign various items to one of three buttons that you can then press to use that item. The only real significant change to the combat system is a button you can press to dodge an enemy attack and strike them in the back if timed correctly. So if you are familiar with the previous two Zelda games, you should be able to instantly pick up and play this one.
The combat feels pretty good. Targeting and attacking enemies is smooth and feels natural. There is a pretty good variety of enemies that you will get introduced to throughout the game. Some are easier then others and many of them require very specific strategies to defeat. The game also likes to throw a lot of enemies at you at once, which can make for some pretty intense battles. As for the enemy design, they all look pretty good.
Most of the items in the game are straight out of the previous games. You will see familiar items like the boomerang, bow, bombs and the master sword. There are a few new items as well such as a grappling hook that allows you to swing on stuff or a deku leaf that you can use as parachute when falling. The Wind Waker is basically the Ocarina of the previous game. You can use it to conduct music, which all have magical effects. For example, you will be able to change the direction of the wind, or warp around to various parts of the world.
Ocarina of Time had some extremely memorable dungeons in the game such as the Water Temple. The dungeons in Wind Waker pretty much follow the Zelda formula. Unfortunately the dungeons are not as strong as those found in previous games. None of the dungeons are very difficult. The dungeons do have puzzles, but they are all pretty straight forward, so what you need to do to move on is usually obvious. However, the dungeons are still fun to go through despite not posing much of a challenge.
The same can be said for the boss battles which take place at the end of the dungeons. While in the dungeon, you usually find a new item that you must use later on in some way to defeat the boss. While many of the bosses look pretty cool, none of them are particularly challenging. This is mostly due to the fact that it is pretty easy to dodge everything they throw at you, but they can still be a lot of fun to fight.
The graphics in the game are surprisingly good. When the first screenshots of the game surfaced years ago, many fans were upset with the game’s new cell-shaded art direction. But as it turns out, the game looks great. The artistic style just looks fantastic and maintains a high quality throughout the entire game. The characters have a lot of expression in their faces and all of the animation is pretty fluid. There are also a few cool looking effects in the game, such as the puff of smoke when enemies are killed. The game also runs at a pretty smooth frame rate.
Overall, Wind Waker is a pretty good game. It sticks close to the Zelda formula, so fans of the series should know exactly what they are getting into. It follows the gameplay set back in Ocarina of Time so closely that it pretty much feels like a slightly easier and not quite as deep version of Ocarina. So if you have been dying for more of that great Ocarina of Time gameplay, Wind Waker delivers pretty nicely.