Title:The Legend of Zelda
Platforms:Nintendough BoxCube
ESRB Rating:'E' for Everyelf
Game Rating:10.0.1
Review by:Ken Gagne

In every generation, a hero is born.

It is a period of civil war. The elven people of Hyrule, long at peace, have split asunder in a conflict that threatens to engulf the entire world. The terrorist faction Khee'bler has intercepted Imperial communications, exposing militant groups and spy networks. What little security remains must be preserved.

Now is found a new hope. The forgotten language of the Sahn'ta elves becomes the unbreakable code of the Imperial Army. A young boy garbed in green rises to the challenge. His name is Link; he is a Windtalker.

"The Legend of Zelda: Windtalker" continues Nintendough's move to darker, more realistic entertainment, begun last year with the psychological thriller and shrink sim, "Internal Darkness". In Windtalker, players are challenged with guiding Link to safety through the mysterious Lost Woods, over the perilous Death Mountain, and across the depths of Lake Hylia. Dangers present themselves in the forms of not only napalm traps, mortar shells, and bouncing betties, but monstrous Octoroks, spidery Gohmas, grunge elves, dark elves, and irritating fairies. Link's Watcher companion, Navi, is ready to eliminate any threat, foreign or domestic, to national security. If gamers encourage Link to disobey a direct order, they may soon find him on the wrong end of "friendly" fire.

As young Link traverses the embattled land, he will probe the depths of eight mysterious dungeons of the Underdark, seeking the communications relay on each final floor. Gamers must master a variety of control schemes, exploiting the environment whenever possible. Discretion is often the better part of valor, such as when Link performs a split jump to literally get the drop on the enemy. Well-placed bait can lead grumbling enemy dogs off-track. And blowing the whistle proves useful on more than the tobacco industry, allowing Link to shrink some enemies to a more manageable size.

Not all threats are so easily overcome, no matter what tools Link adds to his inventory. When the outcome appears set, Link will become the Hero of Time, travelling to a futuristic world where the war was lost. Only this unique hindsight will give him the knowledge and power necessary to move through time and set right what once went wrong, hoping each time that the next leap will be the leap home.

Enhancing the experience is connectivity between the BoxCube and the Neo-Game Boy. Using this added visual medium, players can know what evil lurks in the hearts of men with Link's Second Sight: the Neo makes known the inner thoughts of everyone Link meets. In this time of civil unrest, these thoughts can be… most disturbing. (again, a fine follow-up to "Internal Darkness")

This 3D action-adventure game incorporates fine aspects from many other games. It brings to the living room the brutal reality of war, yet the pretty colors and childish metaphors make it entertaining for the whole family, justifying the "E" for Everyone rating. This new Zelda will blow you away.

This article is copyright (c) 2003, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission. Original publication: Tech News, 01-Apr-03