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Following up from their critically acclaimed Zelda: Majora's Mask and Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64, the Gamecube version caused a stir with its new cartoon visual style. Apart from this the game continues along their well known themes - again aimed towards their fans who had followed the Zelda franchise from its roots on their console in the 80's, the NES.
Action adventure games are enjoyed for two reasons. They provide a variety of fast action encounters where you are fighting, fleeing or evading some enemy. They also provide a large world in which to explore and adventure. This exploration is usually driven by some particular plot-tension introduced early in the game that you must resolve.
As you adventure through the world, you encounter the action sequences through encounters with enemies and general hazards. Success in these encounters opens up more of the world to explore and provide new equipment.
The move to cartoon graphics enables Zelda: The Wind Waker to evoke a wider range of emotions from their protagonist link. They manage this while (to the contrary of many fan's disdain) staying true to the series' unique musical and graphical grammar that it has become famous for.
As with the other Zelda games, the genius is in the restraint of its structure - you slowly discover a series of dungeons that represent the main challenge of the game. A new weapon or gadget is discovered close to the entrance of each is then put through its paces as you battle your way through.
Travelling between locations involves sea journeys that may be too close to real life for some - they take a long time. There are moments in the game when you feel that all you have been doing is sailing from one place to another.
Although cartoony in style, The Wind Waker is successful at making you care about the characters you meet. It has become famous for re-visiting old locations at different times to create a sense of awe and connection to the world. The paired down style actually adds to this by making noticeable every little blink, smile and grimace from the various characters.
No other game has the attention to detail lavished over so large and interactive an environment. This results in all sorts of incidental enjoyment. Using a barrel to sneak, Looney Tunes like, past the watching guards is a moment full of understated comedy that has stayed with me ever since.
The Wind Waker starts a little easier than other Zelda games (baring the excellent Phantom Hourglass). A few dungeons in and you feel like you are progressing well. However, as with the other games this is the point when the map opens up and you realise there is a much larger task on your hands.
Because of this you should allow a good hour for each session and expect to put in a good 30 hours to see the experience through to the very end.
Although it has a cartoony art style the depiction of troll like monsters may alarm more sensitive children. The sword, boomerang and explosive weapons are by their nature a little violent, although this is always in context - fighting on the side of good verses evil.
Wind Waker's look and feel make it more accessible than earlier games in the series, and certainly the difficulty is toned down at the beginning. As you progress however, difficulty does quickly increase. This means that more experience players are likely to get more value from the game. That said anyone with a degree of inquisitiveness and determination should be able to get a lot out of it.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: