I recently posed on Facebook the idea that “Wind Waker is to Zelda what gen 3 is to Pokemon.” Those who are not diehard fans of the series might not have fully understood what I meant.
To be unfamiliar with Zelda and Pokemon is to be unfamiliar with video games. Though both are (or in the case of Pokemon, were) Nintendo exclusives, they have made waves in the gaming industry since their creation many years ago. The Legend of Zelda has been the figurehead for adventure games since the first game’s release in 1986, while Pokemon has been a noob-friendly JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) since 1995.
Both series have a long list of games, television shows, and written works, both official canon works and fan-created material. Some of these pieces are great, others are… mediocre or worse. To ask any seasoned fan what their favorite game in each series is elicits a wide variety answers, and often heated debate. Some prefer earlier games, others think newer material is better.
There are 2 particular games in these series (generation, in the case of Pokemon), however, that are absolutely divisive. If you mention either Wind Waker of the Zelda series or Generation 3 of Pokemon, fans of either series will either react with utter glee and adoration, or a whole lot of “meh.”
To elaborate a little on my perspective, I’ll openly admit I’m part of the “meh” crowd for both. Gen 2 is my favorite Pokemon generation for the fact that it contains some of my favorite pokemon, and the double region gameplay has never been replicated in any other Pokemon game. I played Ruby and Sapphire of gen 3, as well as the OmegaRuby remake, and none of them particularly wowed me. My favorite Zelda game is A Link to the Past, hands down. Wind Waker wasn’t bad, but it’s not a game I feel belongs in the upper echelon of Zelda games.
I will concede that both games contributed to the overall improvement of their respective series. Gen 3 was the first GBA Pokemon, and introduced the Battle Tower to Pokemon, probably my favorite thing in the more modern games. Wind Waker polished up some of the issues with previous Zelda games, and it was the first Zelda game on the GameCube. These are all big strides, but I can’t applaud them as anything more than a natural evolution of a series.
While I never hear any compelling argument as to why people consider these games the best, other than personal preference, I do have a theory on the matter. For many people, in far more outlets than just video games, the first instance of something they encounter is often their favorite. This seems to persist even after being exposed to far more instances of the field in question. My first Zelda game was A Link to the Past. Gen 2 wasn’t my first Pokemon game, but I have other reasons for preferring that generation.
This theory persists in that *most* people I know of who prefer WW and/or gen 3 are somewhere between 5 and 10 years younger than me. An age at which those games could’ve easily been the first they encountered in their respective series. Obviously, this logic doesn’t apply across the board, but it does shed light on a possible reason.
Everybody is welcome to like or hate what they want. Some of my favorites are generally considered bad or mediocre, and some games I hate are heralded as prime examples of their genres. However, few games are as iconic and controversial as The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and Ruby and Sapphire of the 3rd generation of Pokemon games.
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