I love the Zelda series, like most people. I even liked Zelda II: The Adventures of Link, but it could be because I bought the game with my own money back when I was too young to get a job.
So when I played Wind Waker for the Gamecube, I was a bit put off. After all, I liked Ocarina of Time and expected that the Gamecube version would be very similar. And I’m not complaining about the graphics like a lot of people did when it was first revealed. In fact, I think they look great.
I’m complaining because things aren’t as obvious as I think they should be. Now, I’ve played the original, The Legend of Zelda for the NES, and I remember being confused as to where I was expected to go. I only knew about things because friends of mine had already been there. I played a significant portion of the game on my own, but the experience was kind of ruined for me. And the game never told you where to go really (or if it did, I was too young to understand it), so it was entirely possible to discover the entrance to Level 4 before finding Level 2. But I played through A Link to the Past for the SNES and Link’s Awakening for Game Boy and loved them. Ocarina of Time for the N64 was also an incredibly great experience for me. Everything flowed in these games. I never felt like something was missing or that I was fighting against the game’s programming.
So what happened with Wind Waker? Don’t get me wrong. I think it is fun to play…most of the time. Fighting is incredibly fun, and the puzzles are a staple in Zelda games. But as I go through the game, I periodically find parts of the game that do not seem well done or polished up.
For instance, after you manage to destroy the boulder and allow the spring to flow, you can swim across to the other side. What you see is the entrance to a cavern, but there is lava preventing you from going inside. I see that there are some Bomb Flowers, so I think that maybe I have to throw them at the statues. So I tried. I threw the bombs at the statues. I threw them into the walls. I threw them into the lava. I tried to throw them across the lava. Nothing. And after some time, I decided to give up and stop playing that day.
When I came back to it, I still struggled. Then I threw a bomb at a statue, and apparently it hit it just right, because then it fell over! I later found out that you were supposed to hit the bomb on top of the pot it is holding, but I had thrown it there before, or so I had thought. Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and Flower Bombs (losing hearts because you didn’t stand far enough away is proof), and yet these statues needed precision hits?
There were other inconsistencies and frustrations that I can’t remember at the moment, but the point is that I kept feeling like Wind Waker was not developed with the same care as previous games in the series. While some parts of it were really well done, other parts were sources of confusion and frustration. I still don’t understand the Flower Bomb precision thing.
And then I find that Shigeru Miyamoto admits it. Later parts of the game were being made while working against the clock, with features being approved without enthusiasm. I am kind of shocked because I would think that you would give a person such as Miyamoto as much time as he feels necessary to make the game great.
I still like Wind Waker, but it is pretty sad to find out that the game was made in a way that didn’t even please the creator.