The Wind Waker
Full name: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Platforms: GameCube, WiiU
Release date: 2002
The cartoonish graphics may have turned some people off at first, but The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has held up quite well. Graphics are certainly important, but there are plenty of examples of games with simplified visuals that are championed by the gameplay, the story, or other features. Wind Waker is certainly one of those games.
Graphics shouldn’t be a quest for realism. They should be an expression of artistry and passion. They should fit the game they are a part of and complete the visual experience. Any graphics can do this, as long as they complement the right game.
Wind Waker’s bold colors and vast world rewards the curious, childlike wonder of its players, making the cartoonish style just what it needed. Not to mention that centering the game on the exploration of an ocean world and the cel-shaded graphics might have paved the way for one Zelda game that will certainly be near the top of the list.
Full name: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Platforms: Game Boy Advance, Nintendo Switch (remake)
Release date: 1993
Something that unites every game in the Legend of Zelda series is passion and hard work from a dedicated team. There’s no better evidence of this in the series than The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
There has been a remake for the Switch, but the original is where the story really comes from. The game was developed after hours by the Link to the Past development team. The original goal was to make a handheld version of Link to the Past, but that quickly changed. Once the team actually had something worthy of presentation, they finally brought it to Nintendo’s attention.
The result was the first game in The Legend of Zelda series on a handheld device, and one of the best. Link’s Awakening is not a game that sticks to the patterns or follows any rules, and that’s a large part of what makes it stand out in the franchise, and why it was worthy of a remake.