Newbie Plays: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

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By Sam Cooper on February 11th, 2021


Do you remember what it’s like to play your favorite video game for the first time? Do you wish you could go back and revisit it with no memories? Well, while we don’t have the technology to do that yet, unfortunately. 

But you can relive your memories of playing 2003’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker through this video game noob’s first attempts at playing this classic GameCube title.

Video games have always been hard for me -so I never got into them as a kid. Besides, it’s not like my older brother would let me have a chance on his Nintendo 64 or Xbox.  But I  appreciate the stories and visuals a lot of games have to offer, so I thought why not give actually playing them a shot?

Link explores an island in The Windwaker

I managed to get a hold of a GameCube – and went to my cousin, a media connoisseur of all sorts for recommendations. Wind Waker was one of his top recommendations.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the tenth installment in the Legend of Zelda franchise. Set in an ocean filled with lots of islands – Link has to save his little sister from the evil sorcerer Ganon. He is aided by Tetra- this game’s version of Zelda- and a talking boat while he trains and collects the items necessary to defeat Ganon.

It sold 4.6 million copies when it was first released, though at the time it was considered contentious amongst fans for its cel-chaded cartoon styled graphics. As time has gone on however, it is now considered one of the best games in the series. 

Because I was going into the game based on my very little pre-existing knowledge of the Legend of Zelda franchise and the thumbs up from my cousin I had no idea what to expect.

First Impressions

I thought the initial introduction took up way too much time -while I appreciate good story-telling and lore, I didn’t realize how long this could take for a video game. And it left me utterly clueless about what I needed to do when the game began. I was totally lost.

I immediately liked the soundtrack, though. In the past when I did play them, I never played video games with the sound on – feel free to judge me – but I’m glad I left it on for this. I do wish the dialogue was actually spoken though. The gibberish and HEUGHS get tiring after a while. It would be nice not to have to focus on the subtitles all the time.

Most of the controls were fairly intuitive but I admit it took me WAY too long – probably like an hour to figure out where I lived on the island! I couldn’t find the grandma anywhere at first. I thought I had to complete some other quest or mini-game before I found her.

I caught all the pigs that were roaming around, talked to everyone else on the island at least twice, and got a lot of rupees before I found her. In one of the three houses. Just on the top floor. I don’t think it was supposed to take me that long at all.

The thing that threw me off most, though was the art style. I’m still not sure if I like it. It looked overly cartoony which makes it hard for me to take the stakes seriously. This game does not look like it should be an epic quest to defeat a being of pure evil.

Link at the beginning of the game

I didn’t find it very immersive but it did start to grow on me after a while. Something that seems to be in line with what other people thought at the time.

Also being unfamiliar with Legend of Zelda lore – made me think that my character wasn’t supposed to be Link at all. Especially since I named him after myself. Nor did I realize until I did my research that Tetra was supposed to be Zelda. I assumed the real Zelda came later in the game.

But while I found certain aspects confusing or difficult – likely due to my lack of experience with video games, I did find myself having a lot of fun. Even if I kept falling off the bridges whenever I crossed them and nearly killed my character before the adventure even began.

Yep. I nearly died because I kept walking my guy off a bridge.

I still haven’t finished the game yet. That’s going to take me a good long time. But hey, that’s why were talking first impressions, right?

The GAmePlay

I appreciate that games tell you the controls. It’s annoying in Pokemon, cause, of course, EVERYONE knows how to capture Pokemon by this point…but certain parts of Wind Waker are difficult.

I can only remember so many move combinations before my head starts to spin. I just ended up button mashing at some points just to see what would happen. It worked fine when I had to fight that one monster when rescuing Tetra – and so far it is the only one I’ve come across. But button-mashing wasn’t that helpful when capturing the pigs.

I wish my copy had come with an instruction booklet or something – but I got it used off some guy on Facebook and only got the game disc.

But  I now know why people get so engrossed. I couldn’t tell how much time was passing and I was genuinely enjoying myself. I was having a lot of fun – well until I got trapped in that stupid mini-game.

Stuck in the middle

I’m stuck.

I’m on the ridiculous platform mini-game on Tetra’s ship because I still can’t swing past the first one! Part of it is on me because I rushed past the instructions telling me how to do it properly. The other part is that I haven’t figured the best pattern to get across since obviously going in a straight line isn’t going to cut it.

I managed to get to the first platform only a handful of times – but I haven’t managed to land on a second one. I’m definitely not fast enough.

At this point, I don’t know how long I’ve spent on this mini-game. Probably at least an hour. Possibly more. It took me over an hour to figure out where I lived in the game so this shouldn’t be that surprising.

I’ve looked at the Wiki and some Reddit forums but so far there’s nothing that’s helped me out. And it still kind of feels like looking this stuff up is cheating. 

How long is it acceptable to be stuck on this part of the game? Why is it even a thing? What’s the point of this? Is it to extend the gameplay? A challenge? Or is it some sort of practice?

Am I going to need to swing on ropes later on and this is just practice? If that’s it, I’m never going to be able to complete this game. Link’s sister is absolutely doomed. 

Sorry, sis. I hope wherever that giant bird took you is comfortable because that’s where you are going to be staying for the rest of your life. 

Even though this experience has been frustrating – I have had a lot of fun. I do want to continue playing. I want to see how much further I can get. I like the swordplay and fighting monsters bit quite a lot – and smashing pots is always good fun.

It is just this silly little mini-game keeping me from doing that! If I have to spend any more time trying to figure this out, and it turns out I don’t need the skill later on I am going to scream.

Writer, Story Teller and Animation Enthusiast. Runs


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