Fucking fuck, Zelda: The Wind Waker is a wonderful game. Have you played it? Shit, to the shit – if you haven’t please fucking do. I sort of glossed over its completion in the last entry, but just have to tell you that that game is representative of everything Nintendo does well. Not only do they have the innovation to create an exploration system that rather than a walk through Hyrule Park is a jaunt on the horrible sea, but they have the golden triangular balls to defy the safety net of convention and yet somehow in ways more baffling than the suicide of a duck (which can both swim and fly) still stay true to tradition. They must have caught so much shit for making the game in that cel-shaded Disney palette, and I’ll admit I had my doubts, too. People still might not recognize it as a Zelda game, looking so different from any incarnation the series had taken so far, but you play the game and it’s clearly Zelda. It’s SO fucking Zelda I’m going to poop in my pants.
“Nintendo 2002.” During the time we were playing, I realized that this game came out 10 years ago, at that time I must have been preparing to come to Japan. I was able to try out Wind Waker at a friend’s house before I set off. I was dumbfounded. So rosy and cheerful in the towns, but so dank and spooky in the dungeons. The flickering firelight, creeping music of dread and the profane squeaking of those goblins, I was once again reminded that for all of its all-ages ratings and Nintendo friendliness, the Zelda games have the capability of being really fucking dark, touching nerves that are typically only exposed before the light of a bonfire as imagined bears and rapists slink about the fringes of your campsite.
I didn’t have a Gamecube then. No PS2, and certainly not one of those I believe they were called “Hex Boxes?” I didn’t even own a DVD player. That all changed when I got to Japan and with my first paycheck plunked down nearly $400 for a combination Gamecube and DVD player called the Panasonic Game Q. I’m not fucking around, this was a real thing. I had one modded and sent from Hong Kong so that it would play all region games and DVDs, and by the time it arrived, I had already bought the Wind Waker used for $20. It was the best money ever spent. Though the Q eventually died, the same Wind Waker disc and memory card used all those years ago stepped up to represent this most recent romp, reaffirming that it is a crime to throw away or sell any game you ever loved.
Now there is a “special” version of the game you can play that becomes available after you finish it once. For the second quest, you get to wear Link’s dumbass island garb, and become able to read the Hylian script that displayed as gibberish the first time. Here’s what I would have liked to have for the second quest – a little boost of motivation to play that 50 hour game all through again: have the overworld map filled in from the outset. You have to feed a goddamn fish in every space on the grid to have it revealed on your map, and it’s fucking vast, something like 64 spaces that each take three minutes to traverse in good winds. Since I’ve already done that once, there’s no reason to have to do it again. There’s no mystery or spoiler to hide by resetting the whole fuck map. I’m not asking for 20 heart containers, the Master Sword, or a fifth bottle here. I’ve started that second quest before but when I saw that empty map, I was just like “Fuck it, man. I am not feeding that bitch again,” and remained dormant in the vaults until uncovered by the next generation.
And since we are balls deep in Twilight Princess now, it may be a very long time indeed until we raise anchor again, but until then, farewell Hyrule! You were a magical ass nautical super epic.