TV Game

The Mundanity of Travel

TV Game

I recently begun trying to fill in the gaps of my gaming knowledge. By that, I mean playing games that I missed out on the first time around; did you know that I’ve never played a Kingdom Hearts game? Well, I still haven’t, because I’ve spent this past week playing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The thing about Wind Waker is that I still have not finished Wind Waker, and I didn’t want to try and review a game when I’m not sure how much progress I’ve actually made in it (I just got the Master Sword). But I will say that what I have played through so far has shot Wind Waker right up there with Link’s Awakening and Majora’s Mask as my favorite Zelda games.

Instead, I wanted to talk about something in Wind Waker that has managed to captivate me. Something that a lot of people hated about the game. Something that a couple friends of mine said they hated when I brought up the game a few days ago: the travel.

See, if you’re like me, and haven’t played Wind Waker until now, the land of Hyrule is broken up into a series of small islands separated by a large ocean. After finishing the first dungeon, Link gets access to a sentient raft named The King of Red Lions, which serves as the primary mode of transportation. So the focus of the game is sailing. Sailing from dungeon to dungeon. Sailing to the few towns that exist. Sailing to every hidden, out of the way curiosity. Sailing to find hidden treasure. Lots and lots of sailing. Lots of long periods of sailing on the open waters, only occasionally dealing with danger. A lot of players found this to be boring; long periods of inactivity between all the things that make up a Zelda game.

“incredible girth,” you say???

Now, because I am fucked up little weirdo, I do not share this mindset. I love sailing from place to place. As far as I’m concerned, this is what makes Wind Waker for me. It’s the quiet moments floating in the ocean with The King of Red Lions. I want to veer off for a moment and talk about a different game, one that I’ve already written about: Noctis. Yes, exploring new planets in Noctis was fun and rewarding, but it was the time floating from planet to planet that stuck with me the most. Just me, my ship, and my thoughts on a lonely journey. I kept thinking about Noctis as I played Wind Waker. The King of Red Lions never talks to you while you sail, and Link never talks at all, so this is another game with a quiet stretch of loneliness, and not just a method of going from Point A to Point B. Going on lengthy trips across the ocean is as important to this game as Link is. If anything, this mundanity does a better job of showing Link as being a player cypher than any other Zelda game had or would. Link really is all alone on this journey.

Well, okay, it’s not completely quiet. There’s a great song that plays once you take off on your raft (though only during the day time), and you still have to deal with Octoroks and Moblin Pirates (because this is a Zelda game after all), but the spirit is the same. That trip in solitude. Sailing across a great body of water for several minutes at a time, stopping to check out every bit of dry land, staring back out at the horizon from that bit of land. Maybe I’ll get to see one of those beautiful sunsets the Gamecube did so well. A gorgeous video game that stands the test of time.

Link and the King represent the sense of fun and fulfillment that exploration should have. Finding new things, discovering new places, meeting new people, broadening your horizons are things we should always strive to do. At least, finding something new to you. Hell, that’s kind of the whole point of this site: I’m playing a first-party Nintendo game twenty years after everyone else did, but it’s still something new to me and for me to discover for myself. Taking a personal journey. Bounding from point to point, endlessly traveling through a void, a void that is sometimes more of a reward than wherever you land. Maybe this could convince some people to take a second trip with Link, or set out on a different destination entirely. Everyone should go on that trip, even if it’s only from the comfort of your office chair as you try and navigate what remaining information remains here on the internet. In the meantime, I think I should get back and actually finish this game.


  1. wren says:

    feel really similar affinity for traveling wide open spaces like this. always confused when gamers bemoan an “empty” world when the joy of travel is enough. found playing through the entirety of breath of the wild without fast travel just using a horse really had the same appeal as the wind waker ocean.

  2. Cania says:

    im with you!! i loved the sailing when it released, and i love it now. my favorite part of the game, other than the very end which is definitely the best ending to a zelda game that i’ve played