The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)
Nintendo's mainline franchises don't change very much. Mario and Link are always wearing the same clothes and rocking the same basic moves jump, slash, fireball, hookshot on a mission to save some kind of princess from some kind of Bowser/Ganondorf. But the deceptively simple gameplay at the core of Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda belies the games' strength they are easy to play but difficult to master. What sets The Wind Waker apart, 10 years after its release, is its eccentric, eerily beautiful cel-shading aesthetic. It's Nintendo's last great visual experiment, a remnant from a bygone age before the iconic game company shifted its focus toward redefining The Controller. Set in a gorgeous world halfway between Hayao Miyazaki and Calvin & Hobbes, Wind Waker also looks ahead of its time now: At a moment when videogames were shifting toward cinematic realism, Wind Waker found a raw beauty in cartoonish primitivism.