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'Waker,' ten years later

By Alex Sferrazza
On February 5, 2013

 

2013 marks the tenth anniversary of some of the most fantastic video games in history.  Back in 2003, we were treated to a slew of classic titles including "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic," "Beyond Good and Evil" and "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," just to name a few.

One title in particular has stood above the rest not only in regards to critical acclaim and praise but also in terms of hype, criticism and controversy.  The impact of "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker," even ten years later, has left the legend of its development and accomplishments permanently etched into our memories a decade later.

When Nintendo first showed off a demo of the Gamecube's power at an event in 2000, Zelda fans began to salivate after a tech demo featuring a fight between the Zelda characters Link and Ganondorf showed off a realistic art style rendered with the impressive graphics of the then-new console.

A year later, these fans awoke to a slap in the face when Nintendo showed off footage of the actual Gamecube "Zelda" game in development.  Rather than a realistic art style, the title featured a stylized look using technology known as cel shading, giving three dimensional graphics the appearance of a hand drawn cartoon.

The floodgates opened and super nerds protested the only way they know how: en masse on internet forums. They assumed that Nintendo was attempting to become more kid friendly and that this "Celda" would be sub par.

They couldn't have been more wrong.

The genius of designer Shigeru Miyamoto prevailed yet again.  Once critics finally played the title at E3 2002 and later upon the release of the game in 2003, they were silenced.  Many felt that the title felt very similar to previous games and that the art style  complimented the gameplay.  Nintendo had truly made a great game that the fans didn't even know they wanted.

Besides the insanely beautiful and incredibly unique art direction of the title, "Wind Waker" was an instant classic for far more reasons.  

For the first time in a "Zelda" game, gone was the familiar field over world.  Rather, "Wind Waker" invited players to sail the massive Great Sea and explore the dozens of islands located within.  A technical marvel, one could travel from island to island seamlessly without any load times at all.

The "Zelda" gameplay was innovated with new unique weapons and by essentially turning Link into Solid Snake via the introduction of major stealth gameplay to the series for the first time.

The music remains some of the franchise's most iconic from the opening and sailing themes, to the background music of Dragon Roost Island and the Molgera boss battle, every piece was iconic.

The touching story was made even more emotional by the incredibly expressive character animation made possible by the cel shaded art style.

The game was not entirely without critisism however.  Some lamented the fact that the title was somewhat shorter than other installments in the franchise.  Others loathed the tedious "Triforce shards" sidequest and subsequent rigorous amounts of sailing involved. 

On the whole however, Wind Waker was wildly praised winning over both fans and critics alike and winning numerous "Game of the Year" honors.

And so ten years later Nintendo has announced that the game will be re released for the Wii U remastered in glorious high definition with "added features." Although said features have not yet been announced, it has long been suspected that some dungeons were cut from the final game due to time constraints, making it very possible that they will appear for the first time in the re-release. Gamers everywhere will be able to return to the Great Sea in 2013.


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