GameCube Ruminations: The Celda Controversy

Before the controversy of Twilight Princess being designed for GameCube only to be ported over to the Wii and released for Wii first, the GameCube endured perhaps the biggest controversy in Zelda history: Celda Link. At SpaceWorld 2000, while showing off GameCube tech demos (then known as Dolphin), Nintendo revealed a video of a fight sequence between a realistic, older Link and a dark and evil Gannondorf. Nintendo fans everywhere were ecstatic. After seeing a more mature Link in Ocarina of Time, Nintendo was giving what many of its fans wanted: a truly realistic take on everyone’s favorite hero in a green tunic. At SpaceWorld the following year, Zelda fans could hardly wait to see new footage of the game. That’s when the unthinkable happened. Nintendo revealed new footage showing a cartoony Link with cel-shaded graphics (hence the nickname, Celda). The sound of jaws hitting the floor was only drowned out by the sound of fans typing their dismay on message boards and forums all over the Net (a sound that resembles a woodpecker on speed). The realistic Link shown in 2000 had been shelved and replaced by a doe-eyed kid that Electronic Gaming Monthly once compared to Hermey from the Rankin/Bass version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Yet despite the heated debate that divided many Nintendo fans, Wind Waker went on to become a massive hit for the GameCube when it was released in March of 2003. While some critics faulted the game for being too easy and others called its sailing sections tedious, it received stellar reviews across the board. It was the fourth of only six games to ever earn a perfect score from Famitsu magazine, and it received numerous game of the year nods from multiple gaming publications. In short, the game was a huge success for Nintendo, having the most successful pre-order campaign in Nintendo history (the Ocarina of Time bonus disc included with preorders likely helped) and becoming the 13th highest selling game of the 21st Century.

No matter what you thought of Wind Waker’s graphical style, you have to admit it has some amazing moments that will remain forever engrained in any Nintendo fan’s mind. From the first introduction to Outset Island, to going beneath the ocean to a black and white Hyrule Castle and encountering enemies frozen in time, to the final battle with Gannon at the end, Wind Waker was an epic game that lived up to the prestigious Zelda name. On a personal note, Wind Waker ranks as my favorite GameCube game of all time, and I’m sure many others share this opinion.

With both versions of Twilight Princess only a few months away, that mature, realistic Link so many fans were pining over is almost here. But that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of Celda, as the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass is a direct sequel to The Wind Waker that will bring the cel-shaded look to the DS. Also, in a recent U.K. magazine article, Eiji Aonuma was quoted as saying that he has “no intention to stop producing cel-shaded Link.” It looks like Twilight Princess Link and Wind Waker Link can coexist. Although, I think the perfect way to finally end the debate is by having both versions of Link playable in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Ruminations is an ongoing look at the GameCube as it winds down into the twilight years and we await the launch of the Wii. Do you have any GameCube memories worth remembering? Leave a comment or send a tip to Infendo.