This week, Zero Punctuation reviews The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker HD.
I suppose the biggest release of the week would've been Pokémon X and Y, and while I'd've loved to use the phrase "I opted for Pokémon Y because that was the question I kept asking myself", I think we've pretty much covered all this with Pokémon White. Pokémon is like anti-psychotic medication: designed for use by mad people and for some reason it just doesn't work on me. And while it might be momentarily amusing, seeking my opinion on Pokémon is, at this point, like seeking the opinion of Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes: "'God damn us all to hell,' you say? That's exactly the kind of outside-the-box perspective we need on this planning committee!"
Fortunately, Nintendo always have something for everyone, as long as they're under the age of 9, and also recently put out an HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker for Wii U, which just so happens to be one of my favourite Zeldas so fuck it; it's been a while since I did the retro-review thing, and the only mon I'm willing to poke is the mons pubis, if you see what I mean.
Wind Waker was, of course, originally for the GameCube, the last console Nintendo made for normal people, albeit with a controller envisioned by someone looking through a kaleidoscope. Wind Waker pioneered a cartoony cel-shaded aesthetic that, at the time, garnered a mixed response from the neophobic cretins of the world, who have all since cracked their skulls open on their vintage tin lunchboxes to the delight of a grateful nation. While most attempts at realistic graphics from the GameCube era now look like SkyNet's ill-fated attempts at Play-Doh-based Terminators, Wind Waker's exaggerated characters and flat colours looked fine and still looks fine. It's still pretty much the only Zelda game in which Link has the ability to actually convey any emotion, besides "doped up by tranquilizer dart" or "momentarily surprised from being hit by a tranquilizer dart."
I can only imagine the panic at Nintendo's HD remake department when they were given this job:
- "It still looks fine!! What can HD possibly add? Make the GUI smaller so that we can fill even more of the screen with featureless blue ocean?"
- "Calm down! We'll do what we usually do: keep adding bloom 'til it looks like your glasses need cleaning."
What I like about Wind Waker over, say, Twilight Princess, is that it doesn't take itself so fucking seriously! Link is dripping with visual personality entirely distinct from the player's actions; he's profoundly thick, almost to the edge of the special school spectrum, but earnest and endearing with it. He doesn't put on the green uniform because he was destined to by the will of the Force or whatever it is, but because his nan was forcing him to take part in Ocarina of Time cosplay. And you can wear lobster-patterned jim-jams instead after the formality of the first playthrough. I couldn't picture Twilight Princess Link rocking the lobster-patterned jim-jams, unless they'd been soaked overnight in a grimy pond.
The point is, Wind Waker Link doesn't march about with self-righteousness jammed up his arse like a frozen tentpole 'cause he's naturally destined to be oh-so-bloody-great at everything; he's a character, with flaws and goals: rescue sister, drink soup, take photos of everything for some reason; that's engaging! A cardboard mute predetermined by fate to absentmindedly bumble his way to success is not! Admittedly, that sort of thing does start seeping its way into Wind Waker later on when Princess Zelda shows up and starts blandly puppy-dogging her way through every scene, but by then I'm invested!
I can see why the sailing turns people off Wind Waker, which is like saying "I can see why internal hemorrhaging turns people off having sex with Godzilla;" sailing's a pretty major fucking part of it. You have to make lengthy journeys across open sea to get absolutely anywhere, occasionally being harassed by what look like juggalo helicopters; every time you want to make a turn, you have to stop and do 2/3 of the YMCA dance to make the wind change direction; and, if you want to map the ocean, you have to find the one fish in every single sector who will update your map if you feed him crumbs, and let him talk your ear off for five minutes like a mother you never call, Link having gone out of his way to bring a shield he barely uses, but didn't think to pack a fucking biro.
But I like it, because the huge ocean unbroken by loading screens lends the game that eternally-misused adjective, "epic", and all kinds of adventures could ambush you on the way from A to B: maybe a giant squid will attack; maybe you'll stumble upon the island of topless cucumber farmers. And, from a certain point onwards, you can just warp around if you're the kind of person who fast-forwards through the titty shots in Shannon Tweed films; but in the remake, there's a faster sail you can find that automatically changes the wind for you, which is like fast-forwarding through everything but the titty shots, so well done there, but no sign of an unlockable ball gag for the fucking fish!
The remake is weirdly selective about improvements: previously, for example, towards the end of the game you needed to find seven charts marking the locations of the Triforce shards, at a point when the sailing back-and-forth is finally wearing thinner than a cheap dress shirt crossing an event horizon. But now there's only three charts, and the other four shards are just where the charts used to be. I'd've said to go whole-hog or not-at-all; Mr. Fun should push Mr. Boring out the window and start a meringue-fucking party, not strain to meet him halfway. Does the remake fix Link's tendency to target everything but what you actually want him to target, which mires an otherwise-perfectly-fine combat system like an angry duck in a bubble bath? Does it BOLLOCKS! Instead, you have a new ability to take selfies and put them in a bottle for other players to find, like the oceanic equivalent of Instagram. Moving with the times I suppose; moving into a roadside ditch full of self-satisfied cum.
And one last unfixed thing worth noting is that Wind Waker's economy is fucked. You get thirty bombs and thirty arrows right off the bat, and every other enemy drops item-refill piñatas, so you never run low on anything. And then there's potions! If you bring a bunch of snot dribbles harvested from dead slimes to the potion man, you can get a potion that restores health, or magic, or health and magic if you hunt the very rare blue slimes because you're mad. OR... you could go to your nan, who will give you two potions that will restore your health and magic, and double your damage, for free, and you needn't so much as exchange nods with the slime forest. "Naaan, your hearty soup is flooding the potion market! Fuck Ganondorf, we need to save you from getting your kneecaps broke by the fucking potion teamsters union!"
OR-OR... fuck potions, and get by on heart pickups that constantly rain from the enemies like the organ donor van exploded! So that's not fixed, but then I suppose there's a limit to what the remake can fix before it stops feeling like Wind Waker. And for what it's worth, this is Wind Waker; same game, same recessive potion industry, same repetitive fucking music, and it's good! 'Cause it's Wind Waker and Wind Waker was good. That's about the final word. Except for this one: "MINGEGURGLE".
- Getting his sea legs: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- People complained about the cartoonish anatomy but then island communities are known for being rampantly incestuous
- Would the consequences be so grave if maybe we didn't catch 'em all