The Internet’s 2001 Hate For One Of The Most Beautiful Video Games Ever

The Internet’s 2001 Hate For One Of The Most Beautiful Video Games Ever
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The average person over the age of 13 can no longer proudly stand by all the opinions they expressed 12 years ago. In time, a person simply decides that dirt no longer tastes good. Later, one regrets the pants they wore in middle school or, further into life, feels some shame when recalling the thing they said in anger to their spouse.

A dozen years ago, much of the gaming Internet hated the graphics of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Reminder, this is what Zelda looked like back then….

A dozen years later, on the occasion of the release of the game’s HD Wii U remake, let us laugh at how so many of us hated this beautiful thing when they first saw it (the original spelling and grammar of these mournful missives has been left intact)…


This Has Too Be some kind of joke ? maybe its all a dream and when i wake up in the morning it will be all good ?

I can’t beleive what they di dto that Zelda game, just when I was saying that nintendo caters to old school gamers, they go and make zelda look like a frigging puppet show for 5 year olds.

why why why

what have they done i fell so sad now thats not the joy i was wanting why why why.

where is the game that i think is a real world where is my mature zelda this just at right

*craws under a rock and dies*


Dont worry people Heres a list of things that might make you fell better

•Theres plenty of time to change the look of link (which is my major problem)

•Im certain there will be another ‘mature’ zelda (They didnt make those spaceworld 2000 models for no reason- believe me)

•If its Ocarina style that you love then you should now set your eyes apon Dinosaur Planet (cause that games gonna Kick Zelda up the arse)

Im in huge shock over those Zelda pics. Ahhhhhh. im pulling my hair out!!. Why why why why why. I was SO excited over the old footage. it was the number one reason i wanted a gamecube. Im not worried about the graphic quality in a game that much but i hate the design of link. it sucks. sure the gameplay might rule. but but what am i saying. im falling apart – mental breakdown.

i think there will be a few suicides within the next 24 hours. not to mention death threats to that fuck face that designed that game.!!

PS im in a bad stait and may regtret those last statements. bye bye. time to run around outside like a mad man.

I got it.. this thing looks like Monkey Island 3…

OMG!!!! WTF HAPPENED?!?!?!?! Zelda looks like a little weak sissy bitch!! I just saw the movie/pics like 2 mins ago and what a pile of stinking crap! Fvck this.

EDIT: I’m not a xbox fanboy who created a new account to flame GC, my other account “migy” got banned accidentaly.

All of the above comments are from an August 23, 2001 “Official Zelda Bitch Thread” that ran on the message boards for giant gaming site IGN as a forum mod attempted to contain a wildfire of Internet fan rage. Vocal Nintendo fans had just seen screenshots or video of the then-upcoming Zelda that had been piped by outlets like IGN from Nintendo’s Space World showcase in Japan.

What they saw was this:

What they had seen a year before from Space World 2000 was this:

Many Nintendo fans wanted that 2000 Zelda. They wanted it really, really badly. They wanted it, in large part, because they wanted Nintendo to seem cool. That was always the knock on Nintendo, first by Sega, then by Sony and then, in the summer of 2001 with the Xbox and Halo waiting around the bend, by Microsoft. Nintendo just wasn’t as cool as them, or so the anxiety went. Maybe it wasn’t cool to own a Nintendo console anymore.

PlayStation 2 was getting a gritty new Metal Gear Solid and increasingly realistically-modelled Final Fantasy games. And what was the Nintendo GameCube getting? Something called Super Mario Sunshine, for god’s sake. (One IGN user had complained: “I’m deeply reconsidering my purchase of the cube now, considering another bumble of a move on Nintendo’s part, FF 10 is looking better each day.”)

The Xbox was a mean-looking black behemoth of a game console. The GameCube was a purple cube… with a handle.

If you were a certain kind of Nintendo fan back then, the revelation that 2000 Zelda was being replaced by 2001 Cel-Da was about as awesome a development as your mum giving you some new foot-pajamas in front of your prom date.

Vocal online Nintendo fans wanted a grown-up Nintendo. They wanted a Nintendo to brag about. And they sure as hell weren’t all ready to brag that the coolest franchise Nintendo had this side of Metroid was getting revamped to look like a kids’ cartoon.

There were people back then who liked the new Zelda. The mod who started the “bitch” thread, for instance:

How can you people still bitch? Have you not seen the movie?


Yes. We have. And yes, It still sucks the big one.

Naturally, there was an Internet petition:

Dear Miyamoto-san,

We the fans of Zelda plead to you to realise that not all Zelda fans are kids, nor do we all enjoy your new animated/anime designs. Seeing as you have shown both a mature and a cartoon graphical Zelda, we ask that both be made and released worldwide.

The people who have signed this petition are not nessicarily saying that they are not looking forward to the cartoon graphical Zelda game, but we would appreciate a Zelda game resembling the Spaceworld 2000 demo.

It garnered 11,680 signatures.

There was also this letter supposedly sent to Nintendo by a concerned fan, sceencapped for you to preserve the irony of it now being displayed on IGN‘s well-indexed message boards next to an ad running for the 2013 HD remake of the game:

There were distraught e-mails sent to IGN editor Peer Schneider who tried to keep spirits high while penning a recurring Zelda column on the site. A sampling:

I must say I DO NOT like the new look of Zelda at all. It’s not Zelda to me. Of the millions of ways to be innovative/creative Nintendo has to go back to exactly what most of us would do without… If given a choice I think most people would choose the more mature dark Zelda over this evil cartoon thing (Put up a new poll and see what people would rather have. Zelda from Spaceworld 2000 or Cel-da if this has not been done yet…). I watched the video over and over and pondered it and I can say that I do not like it. Zelda was on a fine march to realism, only to be struck down by something called innovative. Well to me being innovative means making something better. This is not better. There are other ways. The past Zeldas have done a good job of mixing kid and mature in a way that offended neither side why can’t this be done again? Mario is best suited for this sort of thing. Zelda is sacred. It has been the least kiddy of all the games! While Mario happily stomps turtles and Kirby sucks up enemies and Yoshi carries a crying Mario, Zelda has remained a bit removed from that sort of silliness. I do not understand this. Maybe that works in Japan but not here, and certainly not with me. I shall be nice and wait for the full review of this game. I will judge it then and decide if I should support this. If I do not support this it sends a statement back to Nintendo saying: “I do not like this! Do NOT do it again!”. We are the consumer, the people that control what stays and what goes. If we support this we may face a future filled with this sort of thing. I do not want to see that. By making a statement now we can maybe change this. I for one would be only too happy to see the old Spaceworld 2000 Zelda. So bear that in mind if you decide to let Nintendo slide with this one… If you are opposed to it, oppose it. By supporting it we may be forced to endure a Cel-da 2 or 3. Judge it when the review comes out. Let’s be fair about it. For now though I am not planning on buying this…

-DarkMage (darkmage2 on the IGN boards)

Peer responds: Of course you will. 😉 We’ll revisit this topic when the next trailer comes out…

It certainly wasn’t just IGN‘s readers who were so upset. IGN is just better tracked by Google and is easier to sift through. Here’s a typical non-IGN message board post:

I dont like the new look of Zelda. He looks like a girl, and it looks really REALLY gay.

But dont get me wrong, the look may be bad, but theres alwasy the gameplay which i have confidence that will be good. If Zelda had a little bit more of an anime look to it (Not this 12yr old kid look) then perhaps it might be better.

Hell the graphics (aside from the first look) does look neat, as the cartoon look really REALLy is a cartoon. No doubt theres gonna be some comedic stuff in this

The past dozen years make it easy to scoff at so much of this. Nintendo may not have ever turned into the coolest company around, but they sure did pretty well for themselves for quite some time.

The cartoony Zelda was released in North America in 2003 as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. It got rave reviews. A couple of direct sequels, made for Nintendo DS, followed.

Nintendo eventually tried making a more realistic Zelda, 2006’s Twilight Princess. That game was cheered by the Nintendo faithful when it was first revealed, and yet now it seems to receive more criticism than Wind Waker. It’s Wind Waker that’s more commonly considered a classic.

What will happen 12 years from now? Which widely-held opinions will flip? Maybe the gamers of 2025 will recognise Aliens: Colonial Marines for the masterpiece we can’t currently see it to be. In 2025, perhaps gamers will finally deduce that The Last of Us was a bad joke.

Let’s not all feel so superior right now. In 2003, there were plenty of people who liked cartoony Zelda. They were less vocal, and it’s less funny to quote them. But they did exist. Let’s celebrate the brave people with foresight and good taste, too. Like this person:

I loved the spaceworld 2000 zelda just because it was a technical masterpiece.


I would prefer playing the new zelda ALOT MORE than the “realisic” looking one.

First, its like Zelda- link to the past on SNES in terms of art and style, which is something that was lacking in the n64 zelda games! Zelda Lttp was the BEST zelda of all times! The new zelda cube looks exactly like it with its art and atmosphere but in 3d !

I love it, i went crazy last night when i saw the shots but when i saw the video this morning, i felt in love with it. Sure, link now looks younger than before, but so what, he’s link, he’s always been young in past games anyway.

Oh and this game has the best cel-shading i’ve ever seen in a video game, its like a freaking cartoon! Anyway, before anyone go nuts over this, go play Zelda on snes, then look at the movie and tell me it wont be fun


  • Considering they were playing Majoras Mask which is deemed as Legend of Zeldas darkest game prior to this release these comments make sense.

    • But I wonder, do we need a Zelda darker than Majora’s Mask? That game was evil (in a good way way). I’m glad that I played it, I have fond memories but I’m not hurting to play something like that again.

  • Ah it feels good that even back then when I was a mostly stupid teenager I was rationally explaining to people why they were being utterly irrational about ‘cartoon Zelda’. So many smug points!
    Y’know I actually think reading Hyper/Nintendo Gamer/whatever it was then magazine was one of my first experiences of being exposed to media which in turn depressed me for how forcibly illogical people intend of being. My young mind geniuinely couldn’t comprehend how people could make the leap from Bright cel shaded art style = bad game.

  • •If its Ocarina style that you love then you should now set your eyes apon Dinosaur Planet (cause that games gonna Kick Zelda up the arse) – I bet it will

  • I think it’s a natural progression from childhood to adulthood. As a child you like bright coloured childish things that are fun and happy.

    Then you become a teenager and want more than anything else to be viewed as no longer being a child. You cling so desperately to the ideals of being a big grown-up adulty type person. You want nothing more than to be taken extremely seriously. You like dark clothing, edgy movies and you wear a thick cape of self seriousness in your desperate attempt to disassociate yourself with anything even remotely childish (que Zelda rage).

    Then you become an adult and life is friggen tough! You have responsibilities and stresses. You realise life is too short to take yourself so seriously. Then you delight in bright coloured childish things that are fun and happy once again.

    This is why I hate seeing things from my childhood made dark and gritty. Ninja Turtles, Mortal Kombat and Superman they all have such personality and charm and making them serious, dark and edgy and ‘cool’ sucks out the very things that made gave them life. I was so pleased with the direction Nintendo took with Wind Waker and I still am. It remains one of my most cherished Zelda experiences.

    • Very true. I remember all the uproar about the cell-shaded look of Wind Waker. I personally liked the look at the time, but I could understand where others were coming from. The expectation was set with the 2000 video. To then completely reverse that look, and then make Link appear much more child-like, well, people generally don’t like big changes in their expectations.

      I believe, had Nintendo not released that 2000 video, the crowd at the time would have been much more accepting of the cell-shaded look.

      In any case, I happily bought Wind Waker, and had a blast playing it. I even replayed it some months back, introducing it to a young cousin of mine. We both loved how it played and looked.

      Unfortunately, many people still view animation as a style only associated with children. I’m fond of saying that it’s not the style which determines its maturity, but the content. I then dare those people to go and watch Grave of the Fireflies, and then come back and say that cartoons are only for kids.

      • True. I distinctly remember drooling over the Spaceworld video that came on a disc on the front of a Nintendo magazine. I imagine a lot of people didn’t like the perceived switch in design.

        Unfortunately, many people still view animation as a style only associated with children.

        Then those people need to watch some Pixar films. They’re one of the few companies producing genuinely brilliant films these days. Pixar is like a beacon in the night creating films that are genuinely engaging for anyone with eyes and ears (I’m not talking about kids movies that throw in adult jokes to throw parents the occasional bone). I’ve sat, watching UP with my son, a movie that creates more emotional investment in the opening minutes than the last 15 super hero movies combined, all without being edgy and brooding. I don’t mind violent or niche animation but it takes truly great artists that create concepts and stories that transcend demographics and age groups and are enjoyable anyone.

    • I bought the Ninja Turtles comics when they first came out, and they were dark, blood soaked and gritty, then they went all colourful saturday-morning-cartoony and I lost interest. They actually started out more serious and got less so as they became popular, rather than the other way around.

      • Yeah, that happens a lot, it happened with batman. For me personally, I got into turtles when they were colourful cartoons and then I got into the darker, original comics when I got older.

    • Ninja Turtles started off as a gritty and dark comic strip. The happier TV cartoon came after that (albeit it was the way most of us, myself included, first saw the TMNT).

      And a great many adults still like the darker grittier stuff (see also Breaking Bad, Battlestar Galactica, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Deadwood and many other successful and acclaimed TV shows of recent years)

  • I reviewed this on Impulse Gamer in 2003 as a direct response to the massively negative internet mentality was at the time.


    “I am not going to get into the arguments about Zelda’s new look, except to say if you decide not to play this game because of its graphical style, then you should really just find another hobby instead of playing video games. Video games in their best form take you to another place, and really should spark your imagination, whether its through, graphics, audio or interaction. When a game does all of these, and then some, it really is something very special indeed.”

  • Isn’t this a Zelda tradition though?

    New Zelda release – zomg why is it so different from the last game??

    Next Zelda release – zomg the last one was classic, why did they change it again??

  • Wow, the person simultaneously ragging on Hey Arnold and Wind Waker in all caps really nailed it in the terrible statements department.

  • Hahaha! Good see the internet hasn’t become a smarter place in the past 12 years 😉

    It would be interesting to see how this would have been handled in 2013, particularly in light of the similar torrents of nerd tears we saw with the Xbone announcement and the Mass Effect 3 thing.

    I think Nintendo would have held their ground still. They had a vision and went though with what they thought was best despite the concerns of a vocal group of hysterical dorks. The end result was an absolute classic!

    • I think Mass Effect 3 and Lost complaints will stand the test of time. Ten years from now I don’t think anyone is going to play ME1-3, get to the final scene and think ‘wow, that’s a really neat, satisfying and thematically appropriate way to finish this story’ or watch Lost and think ‘yeah, they really spent the last six seasons setting everything up just right for the finale, they clearly had a big picture plan and weren’t making it up week to week, dismissive answers to questions the writers insisted were significant sure are great’.

      As for XBOX One I think ten years from now Microsoft will have succeeded at what they set out to do, so odds are we’ll be thinking the same thing we think today and thought ten years ago, ‘damnit Microsoft, why can’t you just settle for being a jerk and super rich instead of being a total bastard and ultra rich, why do you hate us?’. =P

  • I guess I’m just one of those crazies who didn’t like the art style then, and doesn’t like the art style now. Obviously the comments up there are appalling, but I’m still not a fan of the art style.

    • I really like the art style, and all through the game they played the visuals like an instrument which absolutely made the game for me, but I can understand why people would prefer a different style. I think a lot of people view the ‘it looks childish’ criticism purely as ‘it’s cel-shaded and bright, so I’ll dismiss it as childish at first glance’, but the fact is that for better or worse they really did go with a younger design.
      If it were cel-shaded with more traditional anime designs, something I think Final Fantasy needs to explore, the childish comments wouldn’t be valid but visually Wind Waker really does look like a TV show aimed at really young children. The Hey Arnold comment actually skims on a valid point, they do look like they’d be at home on Nickelodeon.

  • I wanted the Wind Waker (the original) so bad that on the day before it release i went to my local EB games store and asked if they had it, i knew all the staff there and the boss went out the back and grabbed a copy to show me that they had it, but he said he could not sell it to me until tomorrow, so they decided to tease me about it, little did they know that i would drive them crazy to the point where 6 hours later they had sold me the game and i was at home playing it, loved the game too..

    Good times.

  • I remember while I was disappointed, like others, that the Zelda 2000 version was not happening at the time I also didn’t mind the look of Wind Waker. Everyone saw that still of link and was scoffing, then after an E3 there was pictures of bossfights and the sailing and it changed pretty much everybodys minds.

  • I remember being a hater, at the time. The thing that always got me about that trailer was the end of it, with the guards running off the edge and hovering before a cartoon style “Oh no, we’re going to fall!” I always found that a cause of greater worry of an immature Zelda than the graphics.

    I was thirteen at the time, so was quick to make snap judgements. Thankfully, the game still managed to blow me away 🙂

  • Eh, I don’t like the art style then or now. It’s not for everyone, and acting like it should be is a bit insulting.

    Internet comments are what they are- you could find virulent and badly-spelled criticism of ANYTHING.

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