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Developer: Nintendo Japan
Publisher: Nintendo
Local Distributor: Nintendo Australia
Price: $99.95 | Available: Now
Players: 1
Genre: Roleplaying | Online Support: No

Posted 19th of May, 2003 10:47pm

Nintendo's Zelda series has, over the years, established itself as a name almost more synonymous with Nintendo than Mario himself. On almost every Nintendo platform a Zelda game has appeared, and Nintendo was certain from the time it announced the GameCube that its 128bit console would not be the exception. Now, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is finally here, and perhaps not so surprisingly, it's the best game that's released for the GameCube so far.

There has been plenty of controversy surrounding The Wind Waker - when Nintendo first demonstrated the GameCube hardware they showed an exciting video of a realistic-looking Link and Gannon in the midst of a heated sword fight, so when the company later announced that it's new Zelda game would be cel shaded and bear more resemblance to a cartoon than a real-world setting, many fans felt a little cheated. But now that the game is finally here, we can happily report that all this concern was over nothing, because irrelevant of your preferred visual style (realistic or cartoon-like), there's simply no denying that The Wind Waker is one of the best looking, best playing games that's ever been released.

The game is set long after the events of The Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64 - gamers start playing as a young boy named Link who lives on a peaceful island with the appropriate name of Outset. The game explains that, as luck would have it, it's Link's birthday, and he's reached the age where it's customary for a young boy to don the clothes worn by the fabled 'hero of time' (who is actually Link from The Ocarina of Time).

As you wander about looking like Link and receiving congratulations on your coming of age, you see a large bird carrying a girl being shot at by a pirate ship giving chase. Eventually, the pirates hit the bird with a cannon ball, and the bird drops the girl in a forest atop Outset Island. Going up to see if he can be of any assistance, Link rescues the girl (who happens to be a pirate crew member), but the bird then picks up Link's sister, mistaking her for the pirate girl, and carries her far away from the peaceful island.

Being the adventurous type, Link bargains with the pirates and gets a lift to the Forsaken Fortress, a place long-rumoured to be the prison for the many small girls who are being stolen in Link's world. Here, the story begins - as is the way with these things, you'll start out trying to save your sister and helping other people with their troubles along the way, but you'll slowly discover that a far more serious purpose awaits you, as you uncover a potentially world-threatening plot.

It will come as little surprise to learn that The Wind Waker plays almost exactly like The Ocarina of Time, given that title basically reinvented the 3D video game and spawned countless imitators. But in saying that, it should be noted that The Wind Waker brings new gameplay tweaks to the series, injecting just enough originality to keep things fresh without changing what's already a near perfect formula.

As in the Zelda games for Nintendo 64, you'll move Link about with the analogue stick, talk to characters using the action button and so on. You'll be able to assign various different items to the B, Y, Z and X buttons, so you're afforded easy access to a number of items without constantly going into your inventory. Jumping is all handled for you - simply walk to the edge of a ledge to perform a leap - and combat is based around the same lock-on targeting system featured in the 64 bit games (although the Z trigger targeting in the Nintendo 64 games is replaced with L trigger targeting on the GameCube controller).

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