The first movie that gave me nightmares was Hook. That’s right, the one with Robin Williams as Peter Pan, where Julia Roberts plays Tinkerbell and Dustin Hoffman plays Captain Hook. I don’t actually remember much, save that Dustin Hoffman ended up being a better dad to Peter Pan’s kids than Robin Williams; but what upset me was how dystopian the whole thing was. I was all of eight years old, and I had somehow managed to get my hands on a copy of Lord of the Flies a week or two earlier. The character Rufio (played by a young Dante Basco, bless his heart) reminded me of nothing so much as Jack Merridew.
If you’ve never been exposed to Lord of the Flies, it’s about how two groups of British middle school boys get marooned on an island in the Pacific during some sort of nuclear war. Ralph, the protagonist, becomes the leader of the survivors because of his foresight and tactical acumen, but he gradually cedes this position to Jack Merridew, who just wants to eat and have fun. The only way the boys can create fire is by using the lenses of Ralph’s (sort-of) friend Piggy, who has become an outcast. Piggy doesn’t want to give his glasses to Jack, so Jack kills him and ends up setting fire to the whole island.
The story is supposed to be about how the upper crust of Great Britain in the 1950s was not as civilized as it made itself out to be, but what I took away from it was a healthy fear of Jack Merridew and, by extension, Rufio. In Neverland, you had to choose – either you were a Lost Boy with the sociopathic Rufio or a pirate with the urbane yet murderous Captain Hook. Every location on the island was potentially a battleground.
The Forsaken Fortress reminds me not of any specific scene or place in Hook, but rather the overall atmosphere. This is the sort of place where Captain Hook would lurk, waiting to ambush the Lost Boys, or where the Lost Boys might decide to build their own stronghold, setting up cannons to waylay Captain Hook’s ship.
Of course, in Wind Waker, Tetra and her pirates are the good guys, and they have brought Link to the Forsaken Fortress to save Link’s sister Aryll. Before she puts Link into a barrel and launches him into the fortress walls (no really), Tetra tells him that the island used to be the hangout of a group of pirates that she used to compete with. Where have those pirates gone? If she knows, she’s not saying. It’s all very ominous.
As he was hurtles through the air, Link loses his grip on his sword; so, after he peels himself off the wall, he finds himself floating in the water at the base of the fortress with nothing more than his wits to assist him. Well, that, and a blue stone that Tetra has tucked into his clothing at some point. Communicating through the stone, she tells him that he needs to put out the searchlights scanning the complex if he wants to sneak up to the floor where his sister is being held.
Although Link can ninja his way around the searchlights, it’s actually much easier for the player if he gets caught and put in prison. Link’s cell is at one end of the arc of the dungeon map, a convenient starting position that allows the player to avoid backtracking through several tricky areas. The gimmick for this dungeon is that the player must employ stealth to avoid the attention of the guards, which is much easier said than done, surprisingly so for this early in the game. It’s difficult for Link to die here, but I got caught and put back in jail a good dozen times.
The “guards” patrolling the fortress are of two species.
Moblins are large pig-like creatures that carry lanterns and spears. If Link gets caught by one of them, he doesn’t even try to fight, and they don’t seem interested in hurting him. Moblins are surprisingly observant, with wide vision cones augmented by their sense of smell. Link can wear a barrel over his head to try to move past them, but they’ll still sniff him out if he’s not careful.
Bokoblins are smaller imp-like creatures who are unarmed but who operate the searchlights that scan the fortress. If Link attacks one of them, it will rush over to a pot full of staffs and grab one to defend itself. They’re fairly skilled at fighting but will leave Link alone if he doesn’t bother them, seemingly concerned more with staying at their posts. If they catch him in the beam of a spotlight, though, they’ll yell out to the Moblins.
What we’ve got are two species – or races – of creatures that walk upright, wear clothing, use tools, operate machinery, communicate verbally, and would rather delegate responsibility and put Link in a prison cell than fight him. Several rooms in the fortress serve as their living spaces, which contain objects like bunk beds and ceramic tableware. It’s therefore somewhat difficult to think of Moblins and Bokoblins as “monsters.”
Link manages to work his way to the upper interior of the fortress, where Aryll is being held in an enclosed area with two other girls. Before he can rescue them, the Helmaroc King from Outset Island swoops down. Link acts like he’s going to fight it with his newly recovered sword, but it’s not interested, instead grabbing him up into one of its talons. It flies him even higher, where a man in a dark robe stands looking out over the island. We don’t see the man’s face, but we see the twist of his chin as he indicates that he has no use for Link.
Link is flung into the ocean, and the screen fades to black.
Link’s going to be okay, though. Link is always okay.
( Header image by Luke Joseph Gonet on DeviantArt )