The Wind Waker – Withered Tree Sidequest

Bunch of Koroks by Squish Squash

On the last page of his book Death by Video Game, Simon Parkin writes:

Video games are truly a metaphor for a vision of life that can be ordered, understood, and conquered. They may start off as broken places, full of conflict and violence, but they are utopias too, in that the things that are broken can be put right. Hour by hour, in most video games, our work is to restore, rescue, and perfect these virtual worlds.

Interestingly enough, this is not the case in The Wind Waker. The player’s job is to preserve the status quo, and the status quo is that the world is terrible.

Let’s consider the fact that Link can only swim for twenty seconds. The boy has lived on an island his entire life, and he can swim, but he dies if he doesn’t get out of the water quickly. Moreover, he is unable to dive. Within the context of the Zelda series, this is very strange. Swimming and diving are major components of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, and mechanics for swimming and diving were present in A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening as well. Why, in a world covered in water, would Link not be able to swim for an extended length of time?

Even more curious is the fact that the winged Rito tribe used to be the aquatic Zora race, who could survive in both fresh and salt water. Medli says that the gods “saved” the Rito by giving them feathers, but what was it that they needed to be saved from, exactly?

In addition, no other character is shown swimming, and there is an uncanny lack of fish and fish-related design motifs in the game. What’s wrong with the water? Why is it so inhospitable to everything that isn’t a god or a monster?

Regardless of whether the Great Sea is poisonous or not, it’s clear that it’s extremely dangerous. Moreover, the sparse population of the towns and the lack of other boats on the sea would seem to indicate that the ocean has been dangerous for generations.

And yet it’s Ganondorf, who wants to restore Hyrule, who is cast as the villain of the game. Why? If the player’s job is to put right the things that have been broken, doesn’t this goal align with Ganondorf’s intentions? Why is Ganondorf “evil” for wanting to fix things?

Ganondorf is searching for the reincarnation of Princess Zelda, knowing that a hero will come for her if she is in peril. By uniting the hero, the princess, and himself, he will be able to assemble the complete Triforce and wish for the Great Sea to recede from Hyrule. Link has been set on his quest because his sister Aryll was kidnapped by the Helmaroc King, which Ganondorf had sent out with orders to retrieve girls with pointed Hylian ears. As much sympathy as I feel for Ganondorf, the abduction of young women (or anyone, for that matter) is inexcusable. Ganondorf’s actions are directed toward a drastic change, and he doesn’t seem to care about the individual lives affected. In other words, Ganondorf privileges grand narratives over small narratives.

Link, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with small narratives, and his larger quest is composed of helping individual people achieve concrete and practical goals, which only occasionally happen to be in line with his own. A good example of this is the “Withered Tree Sidequest,” which is best undertaken after Link acquires the Hero’s Bow.

After Link rescued Makar from the Forbidden Woods, the Koroks conducted the yearly ceremony meant to mark the start of their journeys out onto the Great Sea. Each of them was given a seed to plant, and each of these seeds has since sprouted into a sapling. Unfortunately, these saplings are dying. In order to nourish them back to health, Link must water them with special Forest Water, which is only found in the Forest Haven. The catch is that Forest Water loses its efficacy after twenty minutes, and there are eight withered trees scattered across the Great Sea. If the player doesn’t water all eight trees by the time the clock reaches zero, then she has to start all over again.

This is extremely difficult, even with a map and walkthrough. The Swift Sail that Link can purchase in Wind Waker HD renders the sidequest somewhat more manageable, as does a swift travel technique that the player can gain access to by making use of the Hero’s Bow in another sidequest, but it’s still not easy. The only tangible reward the player receives at the end is a heart piece. It takes four heart pieces to receive a health upgrade, and there are dozens of them in the game. Collecting heart pieces is not mandatory, and even an unskilled player can make it through the game without the benefit they provide. One could therefore argue that only a completionist would go through the trouble of undertaking this sidequest.

The successful player’s real reward, however, is watching the withered saplings grow into huge and healthy trees. Outside of the Forest Haven and Link’s home on Outset Island, there are almost no trees on the Great Sea, so it’s a rare and wonderful sight to see one spring up from nothing. The Great Deku Tree has explained to Link that the purpose of the Koroks’ mission is to bring the forest back to what remains of Hyrule, and it is up to the player to decide what this means. My own interpretation is that these trees will help to drain or purify the Great Sea while fostering biodiversity by providing shelter for other plants and animals. This method of restoration will take many years, and it is nowhere near as drastic as what Ganondorf intends to do. What makes Link a hero within the value system of The Wind Waker is that he facilitates small transformations that minimize the potential negative impacts of change.

Still, I can’t help but feel that Ganondorf’s motivations are not entirely evil. If something like the Triforce exists, then there will always be someone who feels compelled to use it. Perhaps the blame lies not with the person who wants to change the world for the better, but rather with the deities who created the Triforce in the first place.

( Header image from Zelda Dungeon )

The Wind Waker – Tower of the Gods

Tower of the Gods by Matt Rockefeller

When Link places the three Goddess Pearls in the hands of the statues on the Triangle Islands, they shoot beams of light to one another, forming – you guessed it! – a triangle. In the middle of this triangle, an enormous structure resembling a lighthouse slowly rises from the ocean. This is the Tower of the Gods.

Link enters the tower at ocean level on the King of Red Lions, who carries him from platform to platform while the water periodically rises and falls. The high tide allows Link to float above obstacles, although he must wait for the water to recede before he can access the lower doors.

Oddly enough, the rooms surrounding the central chamber are characterized by deep waterless abysses. One of these rooms holds a a stone tablet engraved with the Command Melody, which allows Link to control certain small statues. Although these statues seem to be made of stone, they erupt into glowing neon lines when they are musically activated, suggesting an almost alien level of technology. Link can use his Wind Waker baton to direct these statues to stand on switches for him, thus forming bridges made out of shimmering light over the dark trenches.

The treasure of this dungeon is the Hero’s Bow, a fantastic weapon that can kill almost anything. Link was previously defenseless against many of the monsters on the Great Sea, but now he can dispatch from the comfort of his boat. The Hero’s Bow also allows Link to pick off enemies from a distance without having to wait for them to attack him. Although the game has an auto-targeting feature, the gyroscope in the Wii U gamepad makes manual targeting a joy to use. I love the mechanics of the Hero’s Bow, which is so powerful and so accurate that I only rarely use the sword after I acquire it.

Link’s new weapon is the key to defeating Gohdan, a bodiless floating mask and set of huge hands that calls itself the guardian of the tower. The trick to fighting it is to shoot the palms of its hands with arrows, causing its mask to drop to the ground so that Link can toss a bomb into its mouth. This is an easy fight, and I suppose it’s ironic that such a technologically advanced entity can be brought down by such primitive weapons.

Gohdan seems to be some sort of artificial intelligence, and it’s interesting to speculate on where it came from. Was it indeed created with advanced technology? Or with magic? Or perhaps with a combination of the two? There seem to be a few parallels between the Tower of the Gods in The Wind Waker and the Sheikah Shrine Towers in the upcoming game Breath of the Wild. I suppose we can’t say anything definite about a possible relationship yet, but that certainly hasn’t stopped people from speculating that Breath of the Wild is set in the Wind Waker timeline. Personally, I think that’s unlikely, but who can say?

When Gohdan is defeated, he acknowledges Link’s heroism and agrees to grant him access to the secret path that the Tower of the Gods has been protecting. Link climbs to the top of the structure, where there is an enormous bell suspended on a crumbling platform under the open sky. Link uses his grappling hook to ring it, his tiny body acting as a pendulum. As the bell peals out over the ocean, a circle of light appears on the water in front of the tower.

When Link and the King of Red Lions enter the portal, they sink into the water until Link sees an oddly colorless landscape spread out underneath them. They finally land in a small pond in a garden on a balcony within Hyrule Castle, where time has stopped. The two waterfalls feeding the garden pond have frozen in place, and the monsters patrolling the corridors inside stand as still as statues.

Long before the details of the science fiction inspirations of Breath of the Wild were announced, the Zelda series has been set in postapocalyptic environments. The world of the original 1986 The Legend of Zelda was empty of everything except monsters, the landscape of Twilight Princess was filled with colossal ruins, and the people of Skyward Sword escaped a cataclysm on the surface of the earth by fleeing to the skies. In The Wind Waker, the impact of the apocalypse is much more palpable, as the player can actually walk through a preserved remnant of the proud civilization that flourished before the flood.

This is the big reveal of The Wind Waker – that the Great Sea covers the lost land of Hyrule. To the players who fell in love with the lively and vibrant Hyrule that they thought they saved in A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time, this came as an enormous shock. What could possibly have happened here?

After solving a silly Triforce-shaped spatial puzzle (which the King of Red Lions refers to as “a mighty threshold” – was that really all that was keeping Ganondorf away?), Link descends a secret staircase to find the Master Sword illuminated within a narrow pillar of light. Even though the sword is almost as tall as Link, the child draws it, and sunlight spills into the chamber. The camera then pans out to reveal color and life flooding back into the castle.

All of the Moblins and Darknuts begin moving along the hallways above, and the jagged lines of a magical barrier shoot across the exit. In order to release the barrier, Link needs to kill every last creature in the castle. Presumably this sequence is meant to demonstrate the power of the Master Sword to the player while proving Link’s prowess as a warrior, but it feels brutal. Moblins, which were previously a dangerous challenge, can now be easily slaughtered, so much so that actually fighting them feels superfluous. Meanwhile, the Darknuts that gradually lose their armor as Link attacks them are revealed to be doglike creatures wearing cute little aprons, and their faces are noble instead of frightening. Of course they will kill Link if he doesn’t defend himself, but hitting a dog in the face with a metal stick doesn’t come off as a particularly nice thing to do, even in a heavily stylized video game.

Once Link has tracked down and gotten rid of every single Moblin and Darknut, he can finally go back outside, where the King of Red Lions tells him that “The time has come to save your sister from her prison in the Forsaken Fortress.” In other words, Link has to fight Ganondorf.

The murderfest in Hyrule Castle has got me dispirited, so first I’m going to go rescue some trees. Next up is the Withered Tree sidequest!

( Header imagine from Matt Rockefeller on Tumblr )

The Wind Waker – Sailing on the Great Sea

The Great Sea by Joltick

I’ve been slowly working my way deeper into the rabbit hole of what the internet has had to say about The Wind Waker, and I’m surprised at just how gendered reactions to the game’s sailing mechanics are. It seems that, in male-gendered spaces (like IGN message boards), people unequivocally hate it. Meanwhile, in female-gendered spaces (like Tumblr), people tentatively confess that they might actually kind of love it.

During my current playthrough of the game, I’ve gone from being annoyed by the sailing to becoming almost addicted to it. There’s just something about the creaking of the mast and the tiller combined with the sounds of the waves against the wooden boat and the cawing of gulls that I find incredibly soothing. The color of the sky and the quality of the light change as the sun rises and sets and the moon shifts through its phases. Link can see the wind as it rushes alongside him, and the Great Sea can go from balmy to stormy in an instant, with the surface of the ocean transformed accordingly. Between secret caves and strange ruins and sunken treasure and Link’s fellow travelers, there are all manner of weird things that the player can discover, and even wandering around aimlessly is a joy.

It’s this sense of exploration and discovery that I find most appealing about the Zelda series.

The original The Legend of Zelda was the first video game I ever played. The office of the one dentist in my hometown had an old Nintendo in the waiting room, and my mom would take me with her while she got orthodontic work done. I was a tiny creature, and I didn’t really understand what the game was or what I was supposed to do with it. Still, I knew I was experiencing something special. Between visits to the dentist, I would think about the game and try to draw maps from memory as I came up with strategies for where to go the next time I got a chance to play. Since I didn’t have a lot of time to spend getting good at the game, I died something like every five minutes, but every time I discovered something it was a major victory. When I stumbled into the first dungeon almost by accident, my mind was blown by the concept that there was a smaller gameworld within the larger gameworld.

The first Zelda game I played as an actual sentient being was A Link to the Past, which is much less punishing. Game critics (and specifically Tevis Thompson in his essay Saving Zelda) have pointed to A Link to the Past as the point at which the Zelda series started to turn away from its potential as an open-world exploration simulator, but I think what these critics are missing (aside from the obvious reality that different people enjoy different things) is that there are a lot of little kids playing the Zelda games. Whereas an adult would see an irregularity in a wall and think “Oh, I should try to bomb this spot,” a child who hasn’t been alive long enough to play that many video games is going to have to figure out the mechanics of the game environment for herself. If there are no hints at all, then the lauded exploration elements might as well be nonexistent to many (if not most) players.

My own experience as a baby gamer cutting her teeth on A Link to the Past was nothing short of transformative. Every time I played through the game I uncovered something new, and I felt that Hyrule contained infinite secrets and endless possibilities. Like any good Zelda game, A Link to the Past trains the player to look and read closely, to pay careful attention to the world, to navigate by memory, and to keep trying various solutions to puzzles until something works. In other words, the Zelda games train players to become Sherlock Holmes style geniuses within their self-contained universes.

I should clarify that I don’t think of The Wind Waker as being “an open world Zelda,” because it most certainly is not. To begin with, the game isn’t very large, and it feels empty and unfinished (probably because its production was rushed and it was, in fact, empty and unfinished). Moreover, there is a clear order to the dungeons and story events, and the player is strongly discouraged from or flat-out not allowed to veer off the rails at certain points. The gameworld isn’t procedurally generated, so there’s only so much that the player can do, and exploration is often dependent on plot advancement. Regardless, Wind Waker contains all manner of strange and interesting things waiting to be uncovered by an adventurous player.

I’ve therefore been occupying myself with various sidequests.

On Horseshoe Island, so named because of its distinct curve, Link can win treasure by using his Deku Leaf to blow a series of large seeds into holes in the ground. Because he is prevented from approaching the seeds by aggressive thorny vines, it’s important that Link get the angle exactly right, almost if he were playing a fantasy version of golf.

On Needle Rock Isle, Link can win a heart piece perched at the top of the eponymous rock spire by taking control of a seagull by means of a Hyoi Pear, which causes him to enter a trance when he places one on his head. Flying a seagull is not difficult (at least not when compared to the Loftwings in Skyward Sword), but it takes time to get the hang of the mechanics, especially since the seagull is chased by a flock of Kargaroks defending their nests. Thankfully, Hyoi Pears are cheap and easy to obtain, and it’s a lot of fun to play aerial cat-and-mouse games while swooping around the island.

All across the Great Sea are Lookout Platforms occupied by Bokoblins and Submarines manned by Moblins. Most of these structures contain treasure, usually in the form of sea charts that reveal the location of sunken chests that can be salvaged for heart pieces or large caches of rupees.

Along with the Bokoblins and Moblins, Link shares the sea with all manner of drifters and travelers, from the sunburned Salvage Corps divers to Beedle the merchant (who sells Hyoi Pears, among other things) to Salvatore, the disaffected man who runs the Sinking Ships minigame on Windfall Island. Salvatore has also set up a minigame on one of the hills of Spectacle Island, from which Link can launch bombs at barrels. As he does on Windfall Island, Salvatore enacts silly frame narratives for his games using painted boards, all the while pretending to not care despite the fact that it’s obvious he’s not-so-secretly enjoying himself.

What I love about The Wind Waker is that its world seems to exist fairly independently of Link’s quest. In most Let’s Play videos (my favorite is the series by Game Grumps, who are far too adorable to live), almost half of the game is left unexplored simply because it’s off the beaten path. A lot of people say that The Wind Waker is strange and random, and it absolutely is – that’s what makes it such a joy to play.

( header image by Joltick on Tumblr )

The Wind Waker – Nayru’s Pearl

The Wind Waker Greatfish Isle

The location of the final pearl that Link needs in order to open the path to the Master Sword has been marked on Link’s map as Greatfish Isle, which is north of Link’s home on Outset Island. At this point in the game, Link is free to go off adventuring, but I prefer to go ahead and get Nayru’s Pearl, as certain events render navigation difficult and unpleasant.

The “great fish” of Greatfish Isle is the guardian of the pearl, an enormous anglerfish named Jabun. As Link approaches the island, the player notices a scary cloud circling above it, and the sky grows dark. Rain starts pouring down as Link pulls the King of Red Lions onto the shore, and Jabun is nowhere to be found. The Rito postman Quill shows up and tells Link that Ganondorf has cursed the island, cleaving it in two with his magic and causing Jabun to flee.

In addition, Ganondorf has invoked a magical storm that fans of the game refer to as “the endless night.” During the endless night, the Great Sea is beset by strong winds and driving rains, and the dawn never comes. The usual upbeat sailing music is replaced by a version of Ganondorf’s theme, and sailing around in these conditions is, as I wrote earlier, difficult and unpleasant.

I have to interject here to say that it makes no sense for Ganondorf to be held responsible for this storm or for the destruction of the island. Although Ganondorf seems to be able to communicate with creatures that the other characters in the game dismiss as monsters, such as the Bokoblins and Moblins, this is hardly magical. Also, it’s later revealed that Ganondorf’s powers have been sealed by the Master Sword, so he’s not able to use strong magic at this point in the game anyway. It makes much more sense for Jabun, who is able to reshape the land and control the sea, to have destroyed his own island and summoned a storm in order to drive Ganondorf away.

In any case, Jabun has apparently sealed himself within a cave, and Link needs to get his hands on some bombs so that he can blast down the earth wall. The only place to get bombs is the Bomb Shop on Windfall Island, so we head north in the dark and the rain.

This is where the player learns that Tetra and her pirate crew are more than a little scary themselves. When Link docks on Windfall Island, the Bomb Shop is locked, so he has to sneak around the back. From an upstairs storage area, he sees that Tetra’s pirate crew has tied up the store owner so that they can steal his bombs for themselves. Tetra prevents them from killing him, but they leave him bound and helpless behind a locked door before heading to the bar. Tetra notices Link and winks at him, signaling that he should board their ship and take some of their ill-acquired bombs for himself. It seems that the pirates are also after the “treasure” in the cave on Outset Island, but for some reason Tetra wants Link to find it first.

Link successfully makes his way onto the ship, where he finds a convenient bag full of bombs. Before he steals his share of stolen goods from the pirate ship (aided once again by a mousy junior pirate Niko), Link can enter Tetra’s private chambers, where he will find three interesting things.

First, she’s posted a large sea chart on one of her walls, and she’s used this chart to mark three points that connect into the shape of a Triforce. These three points are the locations of the three Triangle Islands, which Link will soon learn reveal the location of the sunken Tower of the Gods. Did Tetra already know about this? If so, how did she find out, and why was she looking in the first place?

Second, on the wall above her bed she’s got a large woodblock print poster of the legendary hero, a version of which appears during the game’s opening sequence. This reminds me of A Link Between Worlds, in which Zelda goes to her castle’s portrait gallery alone at night to look at the painting of the hero. I wonder what she and Tetra thought when they first saw Link. Was he like a dream come true to these young women, or were they disappointed? Tetra certainly seems to have been, as she had to be coerced by Quill into allowing Link to board her ship.

Third, on the wall in the antechamber is a framed portrait of a dark-haired woman smartly decked out in an admiral’s coat and holding a spyglass. This is presumably Tetra’s mother, who once commanded the pirate ship. Perhaps because she’s depicted in a more realistic style, Tetra’s mom doesn’t look anything like her. This makes me wonder if the qualities that make the people in their family “Zelda” only manifest in daughters destined to become involved in the legend.

I should probably stop speculating, because there’s no way to answer any of these questions. If nothing else, I wish we got to see more of Tetra – I would love to learn more about her life on the Great Sea.

Instead of crashing the private pirate party at the bar on Windfall Island, Link dutifully returns to the King of Red Lions, and they sail all the way south to Outset Island. As they circle the island looking for Jabun’s cave, they become trapped in a whirlpool in front of a massive stone wall constructed of boulders. For some reason, the King of Red Lions is equipped with a small canon, and Link can use this canon to launch bombs at the wall until it cracks and shatters. He must do so quickly, however, or he will be sucked into the whirlpool.

When I wrote earlier that Jabun “is able to reshape the land and control the sea,” this is what I meant. There’s some powerful magic at play here. Once Link enters the cave and speaks with Jabun, the endless night ends, once again leading me to believe that it was caused by Jabun and not Ganondorf.

Jabun only speaks in Hylian, and he tells Link to stop Ganon. Or, actually, who knows what he says? The King of Red Lions translates, and who’s to say that he’s not just making things up? Jabun could be complaining about his bowel movements, and the King of Red Lions would still probably translate his words as “you must stop the evil Ganon.”

The King of Red Lions is really fixated on Ganondorf, I’m just saying. It’s like they’re ex-boyfriends or something. Probably they stalk each other on Instagram.

ANYWAY, Jabun gives Link Nayru’s Pearl (where was he keeping it), which means that Link can now go to the Triangle Islands, raise the Tower of the Gods, and draw the Master Sword… but why make tangible progress in the game when you could sail around hunting for treasure and having adventures?

( Header image from The Hidden Triforce )

The Wind Waker – Forest Haven

Wind Waker Koroks

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 )

The Wind Waker – Dragon Roost Island

Komali and Medli by Onisuu

With sail and camera and Tingle Bottle in hand, Link leaves Windfall Island and heads south for Dragon Roost Island, where the King of Red Lions has told him that he can find something called Din’s Pearl. Link doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter, as the King of Red Lions is also his boat. If he tries to go anywhere besides Dragon Roost Island, the King of Red Lions won’t let him, telling him to get his ass back on course.

This is probably for the best, as the sheer size of the Great Sea can be overwhelming. There were open world games before Wind Waker, but they weren’t as common ten years ago as they are now, especially under the banner of such a high-profile franchise. I can therefore understand the developers’ decision to open the world of the game in stages, lest players go off course, get lost and die, and give up altogether.

On the way to Dragon Roost Island, Link can stop off at a small island called Paw Print Isle, which seems to have nothing but grass and a big mound of dirt. It’s easy to pass on by this tiny speck of land, but if Link cuts the grass he’ll expose a small tunnel carved into the base of the mound, which is hollow inside and covering a hole in the ground. Link can fall down the hole into an expansive cavern, which is overgrown with small plants and infested with jelly-like creatures called Chus.

The cave also contains treasure in the form of a heart piece, which will increase Link’s life energy if he collects enough of them. There are two lessons here: the first is that all of the islands on the Great Sea are worth exploring, and the second is that there are all sorts of secrets hiding under the surface of the ocean and its islands. Good to know.

Dragon Roost Island is the cone of an enormous volcano whose shoreside caverns are peopled by a tribe of birdpeople called the Rito. Link has already met a Rito named Quill, the flying postman who emotionally blackmailed Tetra into carrying him to the Forsaken Fortress back on Outset Island. Quill introduces Link to the Rito Chieftain, who says that he will help Link if Link will help him. The Rito’s guardian spirit, a dragon named Valoo, has been acting up lately. This is inconvenient, as Valoo bestows the scales that allow the Rito to develop wings. The chieftain’s son, Prince Komali, can’t complete his coming-of-age ceremony because Valoo has gone crazy, and he’s worried that this reflects poorly on him. The prince has sequestered himself in his room, and he refuses to come out or talk with anyone. His father gives Link a letter to deliver to Komali, hoping that Link’s upbeat nature will inspire the boy.

It doesn’t. Komali is a bit of a brat – but in his defense, he’s also quite young. He misses his mother (who is dead because this is a Zelda game), and he was already nervous about taking responsibility for his tribe even without its patron deity going apeshit immediately before he was set to ceremonially assume the role of the next tribal leader.

When Link leaves disappointed, he is approached by a girl named Medli, who is training to be one of Valoo’s attendants. Medli is a bit older than Komali, and she feels protective of him. She’s also headstrong and an adorable little badass. She therefore hatches a plan to go up the volcano and deal with Valoo herself.

Medli essentially invites Link to tackle the next dungeon; but, before he can start exploring, he needs her help. Valoo’s anger has caused the volcano to spew out lava and rocks, which have destroyed the bridge leading into the Dragon Roost Cavern dungeon.

Enter the game’s first wind-based puzzle! Link needs to pick up Medli, wait until the wind is blowing towards the dungeon entrance, and then toss her over the collapsed bridge. She’ll flap on over and then throw down a bottle. Link can use this bottle to scoop up water from a puddle around a boulder, take that water back up the hill, and use it to revive the dried-out bomb flowers on a cliff. Once they’re back to full health, Link can pick one up and use it to blow up the boulder blocking the water flow. Water fills the pit, and he can swim to the other side.

The Dragon Roost Cavern is a good starter dungeon that turns out to be more straightforward and much easier to navigate than the Forsaken Fortress. It’s fire themed, and many of its puzzles involve lighting sticks with torches and burning various things. This is also where Link comes into possession of the Grappling Hook, which is a cool and useful item that he can use to swing over gaps Tarzan-style. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s exactly what Link needs to scale the outer rim of the volcano.

At the top he encounters Valoo, who is apparently upset because his tail has been caught in the pincers of a giant arachnid called Gohma. Link defeats Gohma by swinging around the room like a monkey and causing Valoo to drop the creature into a pit of lava. Valoo immediately recovers his senses and tells Link to visit something called the Wind Shrine. The dragon speaks in Ancient Hylian, a language that Link can’t understand, but Medli is able to translate.

At this point Komali shows up, apologizes, and finally hands over Din’s Pearl. He fanboys over Link a bit, saying that he wishes he could be so brave. Don’t we all, kid. Don’t we all.

The Wind Shrine is on the other side of Dragon Roost Island, a stone platform that extends over the water. There’s a score carved into a giant rock. Link takes out his Wind Waker baton and conducts the score, causing the god of winds to appear. This god, who takes the form of a cloud-riding frog, informs Link that his name is Zephos and grants him the ability to control the direction of the wind.

Link is now “the Wind Waker,” and his new ability will help him better navigate the Great Sea.

( Header image by Onisuu on DeviantArt )

The Wind Waker – Windfall Island and the Deluxe Picto Box

Wind Waker Tingle by mysticmagix

The town on Windfall Island is built onto the slope of the island’s hill, and underneath the houses is a small prison with a single jail cell. This is the setting of the beginning of the sidequest for the Deluxe Picto Box, an optional item that allows the player to take screenshots of the game.

Crouched in a corner of this jail cell is Tingle, the lovely goateed 35-year-old man in a lycra bodysuit pictured above. Tingle has been imprisoned for petty theft and left unattended, and he asks Link to free him. Link, who has just escaped from his own cell in the Forsaken Fortress, does so, and Tingle thanks him by handing over the Tingle Bottle.

The Tingle Bottle is what the player uses to connect with the Miiverse, Nintendo’s online player network service. You can send short text messages and oekaki drawings, and there are still, even as I’m playing in late 2015, a bunch of talented and funny people fooling around in the Wind Waker HD corner of the Miiverse.

Tingle throws some glitter in the air and waddles off, but he will be back. Oh my goodness, will he ever be back. Tingle is one of the biggest pains in the ass this game has to offer, bless his heart.

Tingle serves as the trope namer for the TV Tropes category Americans Hate Tingle, in which something that’s relatively popular outside of the States is reviled by American fans.

As for Tingle in particular:

Joking aside, the main reason why Tingle is hated so much is that he is basically a Man Child, a character archetype that Western audiences have little sympathy for. In Japan, he’s seen as a symbol of whimsy. To most Western audiences, however, his behavior and appearance just comes off as creepy (especially the speedo).


And then he was made a DLC fighter in Hyrule Warriors, beating out the Skull Kid and any number of other potential Majora’s Mask characters. American fans were not amused. True to form, this was entirely because he was the top rated character that the Japanese audience wanted added in.

I’m a fan of Tingle, but I understand how he is the cilantro of the Zelda universe. I don’t know anyone who seriously hates him; rather, I think people just pretend to hate him to be silly. Or perhaps there are people out there who in all seriousness find the challenges Tingle presents to mainstream constructions of masculinity genuinely upsetting. Who knows?

Anyway, this next part is kind of creepy.

If Link enters the cell and pushes a huge wooden crate away from the wall, he uncovers a small hole. This hole is a tunnel that leads into a small maze of sorts. If Link navigates this maze correctly – and I will admit I always use a guide here – he’ll come to another cell even deeper under the town, one that has no other visible entrances or exits. This small stone room is filled with skulls, and on a dirt mound in the center is a treasure chest.

Inside the treasure chest is a bright red toy camera, because…

…because this is a Zelda game, okay? Strange things happen.

This is the Picto Box, and it can store up to twenty black-and-white pictures.

Back out in the daylight, Link can climb the hill and enter a store with a camera sign. This is Lenzo’s shop. Lenzo is a big man with a bushy brown beard who dresses in a bright yellow Confucian scholar outfit and calls himself the island’s photography master. He sits behind a counter on the first floor, but behind him is a staircase leading up to a gallery of framed photo prints. Should Link examine at least one of the pictures, Lenzo will climb up the stairs behind him and offer to take him on as an apprentice. In practical terms, this means he will upgrade Link’s camera so that it can take color pictures.

In order to prove himself worthy, Link must complete three trials. All three involve spying on people and waiting until the right moment to take a candid shot, which Lenzo will then use to emotionally blackmail the people in question. This is problematic, of course, but it’s also a cool way to get to know the people on the island. Just as in Majora’s Mask, in which everyone in Clock Town goes about their daily business regardless of what Link does or doesn’t do, the people of Windfall Island have their own small dramas playing out in a world in which the “Legend of Zelda” is entirely meaningless.

A middle-aged man mails anonymous letters to a woman who doesn’t return his affections, a young man has a reciprocated crush on a young woman but is too shy to say anything to her, and an old man sits in a bar drinking tea and cringing at every loud noise. Using Lenzo’s vague clues, Link is supposed to catch them in the act of revealing their innermost selves and deepest secrets, sort of like a photojournalist. This activity serves to highlight Link’s youth. Even if he’s standing right there with his camera out, no one notices him because he’s just a kid.

The game developers have waffled on this issue, but Link is either nine or twelve years old; which, if you think about it, is really young for someone to be tasked with saving the world. To make matters even worse, the King of Red Lions isn’t even asking Link to save the world, but only to kill Ganondorf. He’s like, “Go forth, you small child, and murder this person I hate beyond all reason.” One might argue that Link is a good candidate for the job precisely because he’s young and therefore unlikely to be noticed, but still.

Lenzo’s sidequest is a more contained version of the larger quest given to Link by the King of Red Lions. It’s also a kinder and gentler version, almost like a window into a parallel universe in which Link didn’t get sucked into a crazy epic murderquest by a talking boat.

More than any other title in the Zelda series, Link’s actions mean almost nothing to the common people who live in the world of The Wind Waker. If he completes his quest successfully, nothing will happen. I intend to return to this topic later in my playthrough, but for now let me say that it’s an interesting premise for Nintendo to apply to one of its flagship franchises.

After Link finishes up this sidequest, he can take color pictures. Yay! Although these pictures have several uses in the game, the player can also send them out into the Miiverse using the Tingle Bottle, attaching written or drawn messages. I’ve been taking a long time to write up this playthrough partially because I’ve been playing around with this feature, but I think it’s high time for Link to set out onto the Great Sea.

And away we go!

( Header image by mysticmagix on Tumblr )

The Wind Waker – Windfall Island and the Killer Bees

Windfall Island Concept Art from Hyrule Historia

The King of Red Lions tells Link that, if he wants to venture out with him into the Great Sea, first he’s going to need a sail. This makes me wonder how he managed to rescue Link from the ocean in the first place, but let’s not worry about that. He’s brought the boy to Windfall Island, which is dominated by a town that serves as the central hub of activity in the game.

Acquiring a sail is easy. All Link needs to do is go through the town gate and walk up the main road, where he’ll be hailed by a diminutive man in a huge blue coat with a fur-lined hood. This is Zunari, who tells Link that he “hails from a cold land” and has come south to Windfall Island to try his luck as a merchant. This is interesting, as it implies a larger world beyond the area of the Great Sea. In any case, since Zunari has decided to settle down on this island, and he sells Link his sail for sixty rupees. Sweet!

At this point, Link could go back to the King of Red Lions and get started on his adventure, but why do that when there are so many sidequests to enjoy?

I want to take a moment to explain how wonderful this freedom is. At this point, the player is barely two hours into the game, but she has already explored one island, made her way through a fairly challenging dungeon, gotten to the main city, been given her quest objectives, and now has the option to undertake a number of sidequests.

Compare this to Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, whose opening sequences take hours to complete. In Wind Waker, Link gets his sword within the first fifteen minutes of the game, and then he’s off. The player will eventually be introduced to any number of interesting game mechanics (sailing the boat, for instance), but she gets the basics right away without needing to worry about learning how to fish or fly a hawk or wrestle a goat or glide with a parachute or ride around on a giant bird in order to proceed. Now that I’ve played the more recent games in the series, this streamlined simplicity feels so refreshing to me.

So, sidequests.

The first sidequest involves a group of kids who have formed a cute little gang that they call “the Killer Bees.” The four of them hang around in the dirt yard at the tallest point on the island. If Link tries to talk to them, they are rude and obnoxious, telling him that he looks like a hick. One of the buildings facing the yard is a classroom run by a magenta-haired woman named Marie, who asks Link to do something about these hooligans. After Link agrees to help her, the Killer Bees approach him and say that they know the teacher asked him to talk to them. Their leader says that they’ll listen to him if he can win a game of hide and seek.

This is a cool little minigame that encourages Link to explore more of the island. It’s fairly easy to find and catch the kids, who promise to stop being such nerds and reveal the location of their secret treasure. This treasure turns out to be a butterfly pendant, which Marie has expressed a strong interest in. When Link gives it to her, she says that the Killer Bees knew it was her birthday and must have put Link up to this because they were too embarrassed to give it to her themselves. D’awww.

Besides being an allusion to the Bombers Gang from Majora’s Mask, but I think part of what’s going on with the Killer Bees is that the game is making subtly suggesting that Windfall Island is a vibrant community with lots of children running around. When Link first emerges from the hidden cove where the King of Red Lions has docked, the first people he sees are two young girls playing in a patch of flowers. When compared to Castle Town from Twilight Princess, or even to Skyloft in Skyward Sword, Windfall Island occupies a relatively small (and mostly vertical) area, but the construction of a short minigame and story arc around Marie and the Killer Bees suggests that it’s the sort of place that has enough children to support a school.

There are also enough kids to keep Salvatore’s Sinking Ships carnival-style minigame afloat (LOOK I MADE A PUN), which is a blessing. It would be tedious to describe its mechanics here – it’s basically Battleships with giant squids – but what really makes it work is Salvatore, who pretends to be utterly bored but actually gets really into roleplaying. The sounds he makes are beyond adorable. When the player misses, he goes SPLOOOSH. When the player makes a hit, he goes KA-FOOOOM. If the player wins the game, he breaks out in precious “hooray, hooray” cheers.

If there’s any precedent for Captain Linebeck (from The Phantom Hourglass) in Wind Waker, it’s probably Salvatore, who is the sort of shitty uncle that kids always end up loving.

The other major sidequest available to the player at this point involves the acquisition of the camera and the introduction of Tingle. It turns out that I have a lot to say about this, so I think it should get its own separate post. To be continued!

( Header image from GlitterBerri’s scans of Hyrule Historia )

The Wind Waker – King of Red Lions

The War of the Kings by Skull the Kid

Link is rescued from the open ocean by a small sailboat called “King of Red Lions” (Aka Shishi no Ō), which is appropriately painted red and adorned with the head of a shishi. A shishi is less of a “lion” in the traditional Western sense and more of stylized representation of a mythological creature that is sometimes called a “Foo dog” – which is actually supposed to be a lion but doesn’t much look like one.

Shishi are most often seen in Japan at the gateways to Buddhist temples, with the one on the right having an open mouth (making the sound “ah,” which comes first in the Japanese syllabary) and the one on the left having a closed mouth (making the sound “un,” which comes last). Their manes and fierce faces are modeled on those of the Deva (or Heavenly) Kings, the fierce guardians of the Buddha realms. This is interesting, because Ganondorf also seems to be modeled on a representation of these kings – specifically the two Niō warriors, which often serve the same function as shishi.

The King of Red Lions and Ganondorf have a strange relationship. See, for example, the first speech the King of Red Lions delivers to Link:

Did I startle you? I suppose that is only natural. As wide as the world is, I am the only boat upon it who can speak the words of men. I am the King of Red Lions. Do not fear… I am not your enemy.

I have been watching you since you went to the Forsaken Fortress to rescue your sister. I understand how your desire to protect your sister could give you the courage to fearlessly stand up to anything… But such a bold attempt was foolhardy!

I suppose you saw him… The shadow that commands that monstrous bird…

His name is… Ganon…

…He who obtained the power of the gods, attempted to cover the land in darkness, and was ultimately sealed away by the very power he hoped to command. He is the very same Ganon… The emperor of the dark realm the ancient legends speak of… I do not know why the seal of the gods has failed, but now that Ganon has returned, the world is once again being threatened by evil magic.

Tell me, Link… Do you still wish to save your sister from him? And will you do anything to save her?

…I see. In that case, I shall guide you as we go forward…advising you on what you should do and where you must go. Ganon cannot be defeated by human hands, let alone what little strength you possess. The key to defeating Ganon is locked away in a great power that you can wield only after much toil and hardship. Do you understand?

If you think about it, this speech is somewhat strange:

“Hello, I am a talking boat. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS GUY I HATE.”

Since this game is more than ten years old, I suppose it’s not a spoiler to reveal that the King of Red Lions is actually the physical manifestation of Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, the former king of Hyrule who is responsible for sealing Ganondorf away by covering his entire kingdom in water (as one does).

There are two extremely weird things going on in this speech.

First, Daphnes refers to Ganondorf as “Ganon,” which is not how he refers to himself later in the game. In other words, the king is dehumanizing Ganondorf by calling him by the name of the mythical demon in the mythology of the Zelda games.

Second, Daphnes tells Link that Ganondorf is “the emperor of the dark realm the ancient legends speak of,” which further dehumanizes him. Later on in the game, this is what Ganondorf himself says…

Wind Waker Ganondorf Speech 1
Wind Waker Ganondorf Speech 2

In other words, Ganondorf is an actual person with an actual story, but Daphnes is at pains to demonize him immediately upon meeting Link. Considering that Daphnes and the Hylians are fair-skinned and Ganondorf and the Gerudo are dark-skinned, I’m totally going to pull the race card here.

Daphnes, don’t be racist. Just saying.

I have more thoughts about this, but this is still early in the story, so I’ll refrain for now.

Before Link and the King of Red Lions can set sail onto the Great Sea, they need a sail. Presumably Link can acquire one on Windfall Island, where he now finds himself.

( Header image by Skull the Kid on DeviantArt )

The Wind Waker – Forsaken Fortress

Forsaken Voyage by Luke Joseph Gonet

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 )