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Wind Waker Overview

The Wind Waker is the latest incarnation in the Zelda series, this time on the Gamecube. Since the debut of Ocarina of Time, and to a lesser extent Majora's Mask, people have anxiously awaited the next chapter in the Zelda saga. When the Gamecube was first announced, speculation about the new Zelda game was rampant, and the rumors varied wildly depending on which "source" you listened to. In late 2000, fans were treated to a small demo video showing off the capabilities of the Gamecube. One of the scenes was a spectacular fight between Link and Ganondorf. For a long time afterward, people began to speculate about the new Zelda game and what it would look like. Everyone assumed that the demo shown in 2000 would be similar to the final version of the game. People assumed that the new Zelda would have realistic and detailed characters like in Super Smash Bros Melee.

The original impression of Gamecube Zelda

The first look at "Cel-da"

However, people were shocked the next year when a video of the real Gamecube Zelda debuted. Instead of the amazing, more realistic look of the previous demo, a radically new look was introduced. The new look used a cel-shading technique that gave the game a cartoonish appearance. People quickly nicknamed the new game "Cel-da". Needless to say, many people were fiercely opposed to the new look, some even starting petitions to change the new look. But as time passed, the new appearance of the game became less important than the game itself. Little by little, more and more information leaked out until people finally got an idea of what the game was about.

There was a special pre-order campaign beginning with Ocarina of Time. Those who pre-ordered the game were treated to a special edition gold cartridge and box instead of the normal dull gray. For Majora's Mask, all cartridges were gold, but the pre-orders had special holographic labels. For the Japanese pre-orders for the Wind Waker (Kaze no Takuto in Japan), a special bonus disk was included featuring Ocarina of Time and the never-before-seen "Ura Zelda". Ura-Zelda was a special version of Ocarina of Time that had new and rearranged levels. It was meant to be used with the failed N64 DD project, an N64 peripheral that never made it into production. In 2001, Nintendo announced that Ura-Zelda had been completed, but gave no word on its release. Now we know that it is actually included in the pre-order versions of the game. When news of the pre-order campaign in Japan hit America, many people started asking Nintendo to do the same thing for the US and Europe, which they may or may not have been already planning to do (I personally believe that they were going to release it anyways). In the US and Euopean pre-orders, the "Ura-Zelda" will be known as "Master Quest". Now, the remastered Ocarina of Time is not going to be a complete overhaul of graphics as some people originally speculated. It has simply been sharpened a little bit and converted to 480-line progressive mode for display on HDTVs. According to the sources I've read as of the writing of this article, the actual framerate of the game hasn't been changed. So the game will most likely play like it did on the N64, except it may be a little clearer on a digital TV. There won't be much of a change in the look. The Ura-Zelda, or Master Quest, is not a new game. It is more like a slight change of the original Ocarina of time. The overworld is the same, but the dungeons and puzzles inside them have been rearranged or changed to make the game more challenging. There will also be many more enemies to fight off at one time.

As far as the game itself goes, the Japanese version has gotten rave reviews. The gaming publication Famitsu gave Kaze no Takuto perfect scores in all categories, including gameplay and music. While the original public reaction to Cel-da was negative, that changed once the game was seen in action. Although it has a cartoonish look, it was truly mastered and the game design made it fit perfectly. Game testers also showed that the Wind Waker will have considerably more gameplay time than Ocarina of Time, almost twice as much. There are also about 30 side-quest (according to sources at the writing of this article) which will make for plenty of things to do. The Wind Waker has even been voted the most-anticipated game of 2003, which doesn't surprise me at all.

Now what about the game itself? Like all of the previous ones, it's one big adventure filled with puzzles and peril. The Wind Waker takes place about centuries after Ocarina of Time. The storyline talks about a hero named Link who dressed in green and battled the evil Ganondorf for the Triforce. The story also reveals that a new Link is born every time a new Ganon appears. This little tidbit kind of shoots their "official" timeline to hell, because now it acknowledges the long-held multiple-Link theory and dismisses the one-Link-does-all theory. The game starts with Link on his 12th birthday. A giant bird drops a girl and then takes off with Link's little sister. He then gets his trademark green clothes and goes off on an epic journey to find this bird and rescue his sister.

A significant part of the game is sailing between many small islands on your ship. Because the game is much more advanced, the sailing is not just a cut-scene. There are weather-patterns that change all the time, and you are initially a slave to the wind. Eventually Link gets an item known as the Wind Waker, which will allow him to control the wind and steer his boat anywhere. The Wind Waker works like the Ocarina of Time; certain songs do certain things. As the game progresses, Link learns more things and comes closer to his final goal.

There is also a special feature available to owners of a Game Boy Advance. You can hook up the GBA to the Gamecube to get a little extra help. The person who hooks in the GBA becomes Tingle, the scary-weird guy from Majora's Mask. Tingle sort of acts as a replacement for Navi; tips and tricks appear on the GBA during certain parts of the game. Tingle can also buy some items to either help or harass Link.

There is one more interesting item added to the game and storyline. The writers decided to actually create a new alphabet for the Hylians, as is shown in the screenshot below. To all those who know of my long-term project to create a Hylian language, this is kind of a little kick in the butt. But Nintendo didn't actually create a real language, the "Hylian" is simply a code to replace the characters in the Japanese syllabary (and the English alphabet). It was most likely added to make things a little more interesting. However, in the English version of the game, there is no special code for the Hylian letters. Although they are occasionally shown in the game, there is no table in the instruction manual like in the Japanese game. The Hylian in the English game is just there to look pretty. If you want to know more about the alphabet Nintendo created, along with a special creation made by me, check out the Wind Waker Font page.

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