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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.
Image Credit: Nintendo
January 27 2015 — 4:05 PM EST