The Wind Waker
gets a lot of hate, none of which it deserves. We've all heard the back-and-forth dung-flicking about "kiddification" on one side and "uncomfortable with your masculinity" on the other, and I'm not going there. The hate I'm talking about is the hate it gets strictly as a game.
It's been called slow, ugly, weird, a black sheep. I'm here to argue that it's none of those things. It's a spiffy lollipop of a game, one that brings back the most interesting aspects of The Legend Of Zelda franchise as a whole and adds its own, unique brand of flavoring. After Ocarina Of Time
, this is quite possibly the best of the lot.
Remember that thing Shigeru Miyamoto
said about wanting the franchise to be about exploring the world as a young child? The Wind Waker
is probably the purest realization of that dream. A lot of eyebrows have been raised about the animesque
art style, but say what you will about it, it did a bang-up job of presenting the world as disorted through the eyes of a young boy: clashing colors, strange proportions, light and dark as utterly separate entities that never, ever merge. The cartoony look and feel of the game paved the way for things you can't do in the realistic installments. A frightened Link is surrounded by dark, angular, hollow shapes; a place of safety is soft, round, candy-colored.
The sailing is probably the most controversial aspect of it. I have no problem with it. It makes the whole business of moving around a bit more obtuse than it needs to be, but it serves another purpose: it adds a tinge of the foreign
to Link's interaction with both his environment and its inhabitants. Never before has encountering a great fairy felt so much like discovering kindness in an intimidating stranger for the first time; meeting and working with Medli is a little boy's first interaction with the opposite sex; doing the same with Makar allows you to rediscover what it feels like to care for someone younger. And when Link steps off the King of Red Lions and onto a strange new island, he becomes Ulysses,
wondering what strange new threats await him on lands unknown.
The Wind Waker
is far from the low point of the series; it's a fresh approach to an old ballgame.
If you haven't played it, do. If you have, it's time to play it again.