Now this is a game that needs very little in the way of introductions. Consoles may come and go but our little pal Link (or whatever you choose to name him) stays the same. This is the first Zelda game that I recall to cause any amount of controversy. The cel shaded cartoon style graphics have definitely kicked up a stink on many forums across the net. The big question is, can this new cutesy version continue the phenomenal success of this superb series?
The story behind the game is based around your young character. As he is coming of age it is tradition for him to don the heroes clothes for the day (you know those little pixie type green clothes). Unfortunately, when pirates stumble on to the island of our little birthday boy, his sister gets kidnapped. It is up to you to get her back. I can genuinely say that the story in the game is fantastic, there is the odd cliché but as we all know there is nothing new under the sun. The story remains easy to follow without being patronizing, and has the odd little surprise twist to keep you interested. The scriptwriters definitely worked long and hard on the game, though with a title as critical to Nintendo's success as this, is it any surprise?
The game sets you sailing across the seas to rescue your sister, the game obviously opens in to you saving the world, but that again is no surprise. Once you get your own boat (which is actually quite early on) you can start searching for adventure across the games expansive map. Your travels are limited by the fact that the wind only blows in one direction and that there is a great distance between many of the games locales, overtime you will be able to change the direction of the wind and summon tornados to transport you to various locations. Traveling by sea does have its dangers, areas of the map are populated with a range of sea creatures, and traveling by night is even more dangerous. The use of the sea is a very clever way of getting around, and hiding the games various dungeons and secrets and I'm glad that this was introduced because it is a real departure from previous games. Once in the games dungeons, gameplay is quite similar to the Zelda titles seen on the N64. You have to fight your way through the dungeon, solving puzzles to obtain a new item and fight the dungeons boss. The puzzles in the dungeons can range from the obvious to slightly obscure, but it is rare that you will ever be completely stumped. Many games have tried to recreate this style of play, but none have come close to reaching the level of quality found in this game. Combat is primarily carried out with your trusty sword, though as you progress through the game this is supplemented with other weapons, such as the boomerang and bow and arrow. If your familiar with previous Zelda games you will automatically know which weapons to use against which enemies. The dungeons do take a long time to get through and some do seem to have a lot of backtracking, though this rarely detracts from the games quality.
Controls are satisfying throughout the game, the majority of the time you use the A button to control actions and combat, you can assign three of your objects from your inventory to three of the controllers buttons. Also once you have rescued Tingle from his prison cell you will be able to connect your Game Boy Advance to your Game Cube (cable sold separately of course). This gives you hints and tips if ever your stuck, unfortunately I sold my GBA 2 days before purchasing this game and so I haven't been able to test the feature.
Now to the controversial stuff, the games graphics. When I first fired the game up, I honestly thought that the graphics were a bit too simple and lacking any real detail. Though after a few hours I realized that there is quite a lot of depth to the graphics, and they do work remarkably well. Framerates are rarely an issue, and the games camera puts many other platformers/adventure games to shame. The game does have a very cutesy feel in places, but there is also a very dark side to the game, the games opening dungeon the Forbidden Fortress is far from being for children. The clean feel of the graphics should appeal to most gamers, though some people will never be happy, so they will just have to go without.
The sound also is well done, the music to the introduction put a nostalgic smile on my face, and sound affects are well done throughout. There is a nice sense of atmosphere added by the well written music, and old skool Zelda fans will feel right at home.
In addition to this superb game, the first batch is limited edition as it contains the Ocharina of Time, originally released on the N64 and also the Ocharina of Time Master Quest (Originally planned for Nintendo's ill fated DD). The only difference between OoT and the original is that the graphics have been touched up and smoothed out. This game is definitely worth playing again if you had the N64, if you've never played it then see this as a buy one get one free offer. For those of you lucky enough to get the two disc version, add an extra 1% to the score given below.
Overall this game is fantastic, I didn't really know what to expect as my favorite game from the Zelda series is the SNES version. I can say I was very pleasantly surprised and this game is a must have game. If you rush out now you may be able to get the two disc version, which is fantastic value for money. Very few of you will be disappointed with this well presented title, people of all ages and fans of all genres will appreciate the brilliance of this game.