Posted on January 13 2015 by Jeffrey Edelstein
One of the more indisputably disappointing aspects of the original Wind Waker was the ocean travel. While it was somewhat exciting to explore the seas and encounter islands, fight monsters, and even retrieve treasure, it was slow. True, there was an air of excitement when the player first sets out with a brand new sail and his talking boat, but a few islands in and the wonder wears thin. The HD remake did a great job of amending this issue with the Swift Sail, but you were still exploring the same sea, with the same locations and conditions of the original game. Is this all the massive Great Sea will ever have to offer?
Although much criticism and controversy surround this colorful title, it should be remembered that it spurred two sequels: Phantom Hourglass, set soon after the events of The Wind Waker, and Spirit Tracks, set 100 years in the future. Most intriguing, however, is the context of the latter entry as it centers around a “New” Hyrule of sorts. While we know some about how the landmass was discovered, it’s hard to believe that the myriad island of the Great Sea would simply be abandoned entirely. Here is a prime place point of departure for a return to the sea.
Not much is known about the land of New Hyrule, nor the full details surrounding the migration to this continent. Perhaps this great land was inhabited by beings beyond the spirits of good and evil when the Hyruleans of the sea first laid claim to it. Admittedly, that route could get a bit dark for a Zelda title, but I actually have more interest in a title placed even further in the future than Spirit Tracks, after New Hyrule is not quite so new and the sea is not as familiar as it once was. While evil certainly was present on this new continent, who can say for certain that more threats weren’t developing across the big blue expanse? Sailing out into a new and more dangerous unknown, searching for a new evil to defeat would certainly make for an interesting adventure.
An excuse to go back to the high seas is the only thing keeping us from a return. If a return to the Great Sea did occur in a future title, hopefully changes would be made to make the experience feel fresh. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a larger ship, and the ability to explore under the Great Sea (besides for “Old” Hyrule, that is) would greatly increase the number of realms to explore, not to mention the potential for expanded treasure hunting. The most tempting change is, of course, based on the idea of including the Great Sea in a title with a different art style than The Wind Waker. I have no doubts that this would entice players to revisit the waves.
I’m all for hitting the sea again in a future title, although I would hope for some changes to recreate the original wonder of The Wind Waker. Then again, perhaps ocean travel is better left as an exclusive feature to give reason to adventure again with Toon Link. Is ocean travel even a feature worth revamping with the changes being made to travel in Zelda U? Should travel by water return in a more limited way? Join the Daily Debate!