Today, December 13th, 2012, marks the tenth anniversary of the The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’s release in Japan.
When the Wind Waker was first unveiled, fans of the series were (wrongfully) shocked at the game’s drastic change in visual style (I was in the minority who instantly fell in love with the new look). The original trailer for a GameCube Zelda suggested a more “mature” visual style more akin to Ocarina of Time, and this new Zelda was immediately the target of criticism and controversy. Many claimed it looked “too kiddy” and that it looked like the “dumbing down” of the series, with at least one critic going so far as to compare its animation to that of the reviled Zelda CDI games (which is a most absurd comparison).
But when it was finally released, Wind Waker would put its naysayers in their place, delivering a Zelda experience as great as any, with level design that ranks among the series best, a hauntingly beautiful musical score, and a story that might just be the most heartfelt in the series. Oh, and those cel-shaded visuals that were considered so controversial in the beginning, they’ve helped ensure Wind Waker quite the timeless appeal. Ten years later, and The Wind Waker is still one of the most beautiful games ever made.
The game once mockingly referred to as “Celda” now often ranks alongside Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past as one of the legendary series’ finest entries. Not bad for a “kiddy” game.
Happy tenth, Wind Waker!