Sometimes, I’m kind of an idiot. No, no, don’t try to defend me…it’s true. I recently got Skyward Sword from Gamefly; and SS is a game that I have been wanting to play for a very long time. Like two years…might as well be two centuries at this point. It arrived in the mail and I eagerly tore into the mailer (Oh frabjous day! Callooh, callay!) and into the Wii it went. I sat down with rapt anticipation and started with the game’s control setup and…then…I got to the Wii Motion Plus set-up screen. Oh. Um. I don’t have a Wii Motion Plus. Wait…? OMFG, for realz? I stared at the screen in full rage/embarrassment mode. I didn’t know that the game absolutely required a Wii Motion Plus. As my anger rose, I faced one of those moments that made me question my very existence. I thought I was pretty good at keeping up with games and their needs. I thought I had paid close enough ATTENTION to all the stuff about Skyward Sword to know EVERYTHING about it. Everything except for the MOST IMPORTANT THING…the goddamnsonofabitch Wii Motion Plus. I don’t think I’ve ever been more angry at myself.
With a deep, stupid, and regretful ALL-CAPS sadness, I took the game out of the Wii, stuck it back in the Gamefly mailer, and sent it back the next day. Oh sure, I could have just gone out and gotten a Wii Motion Plus, but that’s not the point. The point is The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (2003).
Wait…what, what, wha…???
Oh, you didn’t see that ingenious (read: ridiculous) segue now did you? Well neither did I frankly. But after my Skyward Sword incident, I had the sudden urge to play Wind Waker, my personal favorite Zelda game.
I realize this may not resonate well with hardcore Zelda fans, many of whom balked at the game’s cel shaded graphics and Link’s new, disproportionate form. Personally, I simply adored this game on our happy, purple Gamecube; and I played it multiple times. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, but I never really wanted to go back and replay those titles. They were grand moments in my gaming past that I’ll always treasure, but I just didn’t latch onto OoT and MM, both classics, the same way I did Wind Waker.
All the elements of our beloved Zelda games were somewhere, mostly, in Wind Waker: Link and his little green suit, Zelda (eventually), the triforce, exploration, rupees, Hyrule, a form of Ganondorf this time called Ganon, a special sword of sorts, and plenty of enemies to keep Link busy. The story began, on all days, Link’s birthday, with his sister getting kidnapped by a giant bird! (Talk about fodder for therapy…) From there the questing began. The game’s story was, as with most Zelda games, a bit baffling, but it mostly involved Link and a series of tasks/quests/battles to save his sister. Along the way, Link met up with a band of pirates led by a girl named Tetra, spent time with a race of funny looking bird-people called the Rito, had to find a bunch of pearls, fight Ganon and almost save his sister, and then really fight Ganon and really save his sister. And riding on a boat. Yes, there was definitely a boat.
Traveling the “high seas” was whole lots of fun in Wind Waker. And I can’t even really explain why I enjoyed it as much as I did. But I looked forward to discovering a new island almost as much as I liked setting off from them. I guess I hadn’t done much, or really any traveling by boat in games before. I didn’t even mind encountering the occasional enemy boat – they were fun to pick off with Link’s boat canon. Oh! And the treasure hunting! You could upgrade Link’s boat to include a giant claw-link thing that retrieved rupees and other things from the sea floor. I definitely enjoyed the treasure hunting.
When I first played Wind Waker on the Gamecube, I was in the throes of finishing grad school. My stress level was at an all-time high, and my workload seemed insurmountable. Wind Waker provided a true escape from all the madness. I think that’s why it stands out as a favorite — sailing with Link from island to island gave me time to think, to forget, to do something other than worry about which part of my thesis was due next. But after that, and after completing the game, I returned to it several times, and each time turned out more satisfying than the last.
Link and his big eyes, tiny feet, and cartoon-y actions will always be welcome in my world. Well, expect when he’s on a train. That didn’t work out so well; and it’s funny because I like trains even more than I like boats.