Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Polarizing Effect of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Tempering Expectations

     I remember when the first images of the Wind Waker hit the web. Cel-shanded graphics, cartoonish character models, and a lot of water.

My first thoughts were not, "WTF?!? What's with the graphics? Is this a kid's game?!" or "They've ruined Zelda forever..."

My first thought was, "F*ck yes!! New Zelda game!!!!"

Apparently the Wind Waker, due to be released for the Wii U in HD, divided fans quite a bit. Though my thoughts weren't "this sux" or "i haet Nintendo," there were a great number of people who did adopt that mindset.

Keep in mind, these opinions were formed based on the first images of the final product rather than actual, hands-on experience with the game.

I don't need to tell you why that's bullshit.

It is perfectly understandable to wonder why Nintendo changed the art style of one of their most beloved franchises. It is unreasonable to assume that this change is inherently bad and will taint the legacy of said franchise forever.

Particularly unreasonable when YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED THE GAME YET!!!!

Everyone, it seems, is preoccupied with being able to say "I told you so." They take a premature stance, and either end up on the right side of things, or looking like total assh*les for being so stubbornly, close-mindedly premature.

Wind Waker was a new direction for the Zelda series, without a doubt. But it didn't abandon the roots of the series. It just built upon the gameplay elements, the existing lore, as well as introduced a new element.

Previously, the Legend of Zelda series thrived on land, with unique worlds at every corner, or dotting the map, but it was always on land.

Wind Waker introduced a vast ocean and a number of islands housing dungeons, different races and challenges. With that vast ocean came a sailing mechanic, replacing the horse as the means of transportation.

Aside from the art style and the sailing, it is still a Zelda game, complete with a host of items, tight combat, a memorable world, and overall fun.

As with anything that has ever existed ever, people had their gripes.

The islands were too far apart, dungeons weren't as numerous, the parry attack broke the combat, the story was meh, why does this boat talk, why is it so hard to find the Triforce shards etc.

When you consider the fact that the ocean exists because Hyrule was flooded when Ganondorf was last defeated, the vastness of the ocean and the distance between islands makes sense.

Granted, there aren't any details in the overworld that appear in any way similar to any parts of the old Hyrule, it wouldn't make sense to bring the world closer.

People are too comfortable getting things easily. They want to be able to go from point A to point B, C, D and E quickly, while the point of Wind Waker and sailing is to take in the surrounding world and think, "Why is the world like this? Why do we care about a hero of time from ages ago? Where does the classic Hyrule come into play?"

What do gamers have against thinking? What sense would it make to have a sailing mechanic but close the world in, so each trip takes less than 30 seconds? Then you get complaints about how worthless sailing is, and why was it necessary?

And so what if the Triforce shards are hard to find? They're supposed to be a challenge to find and raise from the depths. Otherwise, it cheapens the fact that this is a piece of the most powerful force in the universe and you found it at the bottom of the damned ocean.

Why is that so difficult to comprehend?

The art style belies the very dark story, maybe not as dark or weird as Majora's Mask, but considering you defeat Ganondorf with a Master Sword in the head, similar to the finish to Ocarina of Time.

Before I get too ranty, the point of this is, expectations are the quickest way to ruin a game.

If you go into a game with the idea that it is going to be terrible, and it turns out it isn't, you're going to find a lot of nits to pick just so you have some ground to stand on, and don't look like a total d*ckhead.

Or you go into a game with the highest of hopes, and when a perfectly enjoyable game doesn't exceed those expectations, you sh*t on it to validate your own problems of praising a game before it comes out.

I foresee this issue with the upcoming Watch Dogs. It looks fantastic, and the information-as-a-weapon approach intrigues me. I just worry that such a grand idea will fall flat... Until Watch Dogs 2, that is...

Yes. I'm ending it on that.

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