Link has calmed the dragon Valoo, who tells him to head over to the Wind Shrine on the other side of Dragon Roost Island. At the shoreline is a large Shinto torii gate in front of a stone monument marked with triangle glyphs. These glyphs represent directions for how to use the Wind Waker baton that the King of Red Lions gave to Link when he first arrived on the island. If Link follows the directions (up, left, right) he summons Zephos, an amphibious demigod that has power over the wind. Zephos tells Link that, if he conducts the song on the stone monument with the Wind Waker, he too can control the direction of the wind.
This is extremely useful! Link can’t sail against the wind; and, if he sails with the wind, he can move quickly across the water. This essentially opens the world of the game to Link.
Before he heads out onto the Great Sea, however, Link is approached by Prince Komali. At Medli’s urging, Komali passes over Din’s Pearl, one of the magical items that the King of Red Lions has tasked him with collecting. Now that Link has received the first pearl, it’s time to collect the next one in the set!
Although Link can go anywhere he wants at this point, he’s still rather weak, so it’s best simply to sail south for the Forest Haven and the Forbidden Woods, twin rocky islands that have sprouted trees in their otherwise hollow calderas. The island housing the Forbidden Woods is inaccessible from the sea, but Link can scale the other by jumping between the stones emerging above a rapid stream flowing out of its interior. Once he reaches the inside, he encounters the Deku Tree, which is covered in red and green ChuChus, slimy creatures that tend to gang up on Link and aggressively attack him.
Link, being the stalwart hero he is, defeats them without any trouble.
(Interestingly enough, though – if he runs around like a moron, Tetra will contact him via her pendant and tell him to get a move on and help the damn tree.)
Once Link has gotten rid of all the ChuChus, the Deku Tree speaks to Link in Ancient Hylian, which is written with a rune-like syllabary based on Japanese katakana. Link makes an adorable face that conveys a comically pure sense of “Eh, what?” and the tree apologizes, saying that he saw Link’s clothes and “felt a longing for an age gone by.”
So… Is this the same tree that Link helped nurture in Ocarina of Time? But wait… If Wind Waker takes place in a timeline in which Link stayed in the future and never returned to the past… When would the baby Deku Tree have been planted…?
Time travel makes no sense. Moving on.
The Deku Tree quickly figures out that the King of Red Lions sent Link for Farore’s Pearl, saying, “I knew there was a reason the monsters had begun to congregate in the regions around my wood. Now I understand it. He has returned… Ganon has returned…”
I have grown extremely sympathetic toward Ganondorf, and this statement is strange to me. The former Deku Tree in Ocarina of Time told Link that it was cursed by Ganondorf because it wouldn’t relinquish the Kokiri’s Emerald. Because of Ganondorf’s magic, the Deku Tree’s ability to govern the Kokiri Woods had been compromised; and, without its protection, the area became infested with monsters. In Wind Waker, however, it’s Ganondorf’s mere prescence on the Great Sea that is blamed for the appearance of violent creatures. What’s going on here? Is the Deku Tree expressing a prejudice engendered by historical memory, or is there something about Ganondorf that does indeed exert some sort of influence on the natural world?
Regardless, before the Deku Tree will give Farore’s Pearl to Link, he asks that the boy plunge into the Forbidden Woods to rescue Makar, one of the Korok creatures that inhabits the Forest Haven. The Korok are root-like munchkins who wear leaf masks of various shapes and sizes over their faces, and it’s their job to plant trees and spread greenery over the Great Sea. Because they’re so small and light, and because they bear a portion of the magic of the Deku Tree, the Korok can fly by using adorable propellers fashioned from leaves. Once a year, they all return to the Forest Haven for a special ceremony. Makar, who plays a bright blue violin, is supposed to lead the ceremony, but he’s gone missing. Apparently, he flew over the Forbidden Woods on his way home, lost control in the wind currents, and fell. The Deku Tree therefore gives Link one of his leaves so that Link can glide over to the other island.
Or perhaps “gives” is a strong word. Instead of simply shaking his branches so that the leaf falls, the Deku Tree asks that Link climb up into the forest canopy via a series of purple flowers called Baba Bulbs, which will launch the small boy into the air. This process is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it, but it’s not entirely intuitive, and I always end up rage quitting the game at this point because I’m not immediately able to figure out how to aim Link’s trajectory when he bursts out of the flowers. Mastering the process requires a fair amount of trial and error.
Once Link finally gets the Deku Leaf, he is able to glide through the air, but only by expending the magic power that now appears as a bright green bar on the top of the screen. By using the Deku Leaf between Baba Bulbs, Link can climb even higher in the Forest Haven before finally emerging on a high cliff facing the Forbidden Woods. What he then needs to do is leap out over the ocean, timing his jump to that he’ll catch an updraft that will propel him all the way to the opening of a small cave that serves as an entrance into the island’s caldera. Before doing so, he must change the direction of the wind so that it’s blowing in his favor.
I had some trouble getting the timing right, so my Link plunged to his watery death a good three times before I finally got him where he needed to go. I don’t know why the Deku Tree thought it was a good idea to send this kid hang-gliding through tornados hundreds of feet above the ocean, but whatever – adventure awaits!
The Forbidden Woods is a neat little dungeon that expands on the vertical gameplay mechanics of the Forest Haven. Link can also use his Deku Leaf to generate large gusts of wind, stunning enemies and blowing rudimentary carts along hanging tracks. The sound design in this area is especially well done, with various environmental interactions producing wooden clunks and thonks and rattles. There is also the frantic rustling of thorny vines and the eerie chittering of insects. In many ways, the Forbidden Woods recalls the Deku Tree dungeon in Ocarina of Time, but it’s so much more atmospheric, less like “a Zelda dungeon” and more like a miniature world that has existed before Link came and will continue to exist after he departs.
The dungeon’s treasure is the boomerang, which can target multiple objects at once. On the GameCube version, this was a bit difficult to control; but, with the gyroscope in the Wii U controller, the player can just swipe the gamepad from left to right to wreak havoc. The boss fight is with a carnivorous plant called Kalle Demos, which hangs from the ceiling. Link can use the boomerang to knock the creature to the ground so that he can smack it with his sword. Because of all the moving vines, this fight is very busy and visually intense, and I’m impressed that the original GameCube hardware was able to handle it.
After Kalle Demos has been defeated, Makar waddles out and apologizes. Link escorts him back to the Forest Haven, where the yearly Korok ceremony can now be enacted. As Makar plays his violin, which he holds like a cello because he’s tiny and adorable and it’s too big for him, all of the Korok dance and sing. It’s a joyous sequence, and it makes the Deku Tree so happy that it’s able to produce a new batch of seeds, as well as Farore’s Pearl – finally!
The next in the set is Nayru’s Pearl, which involves wind, rain, and a lot of sailing.
( Header image from the French ZeldaWiki )