A workers state with executive dysfunction

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Scurra
    June 28, 2017 @ 10:08 am

    The Wind Waker was my first Zelda game, which makes me feel something of an outlier, and, whilst I had heard of OoT, I didn’t really know much about it. (When I finally got to play OoT, it naturally didn’t have anything like the same effect because it felt inferior to Wind Waker in almost every way.)

    But it was clear from the first few minutes that Wind Waker was at the very least a sequel, if not actively the third part of a trilogy. There were too many moments that felt as though they were meant to evoke something whilst providing a spin on them; I, of course, didn’t know what they were meant to be. It is to the credit of the fundamental design, however, that they still worked even when shorn of context.

    I do recall feeling betrayed by the imprisonment of Tetra though. I understood entirely why this was considered necessary from a story and a gameplay pov, but up to that point the game had done such a good job of redeeming her initial introduction and making her feel like a rival protagonist (the hero of her own story) that I was genuinely expecting more of a contest of wills. Once she was removed from the story, it became a lengthy plod along a very linear path. Don’t get me wrong – it was a fabulously enjoyable lengthy plod; I still have some of my original notes and maps. But it was a plod, nevertheless.

    Having said that, Wind Waker is the one Zelda game I replay, perhaps because it was my first, but perhaps because the open sea always seems full of promise; that there are still new secrets to find.


  2. Froborr
    June 29, 2017 @ 3:01 am

    Lovely piece, and it has given me much to think about–I played them at very different times in my life, so I don’t think I ever really thought about OoT, MM, and WW as a set. To be honest, other than Oracles and the OoT-MM dualogy, I tend to think of each Zelda game fairly atomically. (And tbh I tend to think of MM atomically as well, because it’s just so much more interesting than OoT.)

    I largely agree with you that most of the fanboy criticisms of WW are nonsense, but I kind of agree with the criticism that sailing is boring. However, making the boat faster is absolutely the wrong way to fix it–they should have made more stuff happen while you’re sailing! Part of the fun of a good Zelda game is discovering stuff while you’re traveling around, whether it’s rupees in the bushes or an out-of-the-way NPC or a hidden cave, and there was just too much space (and more importantly, too much time) between those in WW.

    The gold standard for that sort of thing, IMO, is Skies of Arcadia, with its Discoveries and the brilliant way they implemented the world map. (The first time you fly off the edge of the map is one of my fondest gaming memories.) The only real flaw is the random encounters, because random encounters are a vile plague of the JRPG genre and anyone who suggests using them in a big-budget game after about 1994 should be set on fire.


  3. TheMagister
    June 29, 2017 @ 9:39 pm

    Do you not really have anything extensive to say on the games you skipped or is it that just never got around to playing them? If the former, I’d love a small article that summarizes them all!


    • Josh Marsfelder
      June 30, 2017 @ 12:44 am

      Here’s the thing.

      Hyrule Haeresis, though it is consciously not written as such, is still informed by my personal history with the Zelda series. There is no way it couldn’t be. All art is by definition shaped by positionality, and anyone who tries to argue otherwise is either wrong or even more wrong. I have not played every single game in this series. I do not want to play every single game in this series. I don’t even like this series very much.

      Furthermore, this is not an authoritative chronological critical history of The Legend of Zelda. It never has been, and was never intended to be. I have a story I’m trying to tell here, and certain games play into that narrative better than others. In fact, when I started this a year and a half ago I wasn’t even planning on covering very many games at all. The whole thing even started as a redemptive reading of just one Zelda game I was kicking around for fun on an old Tumblr blog. It slowly accumulated more and more threads and content as I realised I additional context would add a lot to the point I wanted to make…But the original point is still this project’s raison d’etre.

      It’s now gotten to the point I’ve ended up at least touching on almost every game in the series, not to mention a boatload of ROM hacks, which, while I didn’t set out to do that, seems somewhat fitting. But since that’s not what this project is ultimately about and it’s explicitly not doing 1 post for 1 work in chronological order like most EP projects, I haven’t felt compelled to be super diligent about accommodating the stuff I wasn’t planning to accommodate to begin with.

      This does not mean, however, that I can’t accommodate it. Although, for example, the Oracle games and Minish Cap aren’t really part of the story I wanted to tell, I could perhaps still yet find a way to work them into the remaining two planned entries (additionally, I am fairly confidant in saying anyone who thinks they know what said entries will be about is wrong). I haven’t decided yet, and it will likely be awhile before I do. Do please note this essay was entitled “Hyrule Haeresis 7”, not “Hyrule Haeresis 7/9: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker“. I suggest anyone who’s confused go back and re-read previous entries with that in mind:


      And if I don’t this time, there is always the chance a revised version of Hyrule Haeresis might show up on Amazon someday if enough people think they might want something like that. And certainly said hypothetical print version would have expanded and additional content.

      Do not ever expect me to have a great deal to say about the Phillips CD-i games, however.


  4. Luca
    June 30, 2017 @ 12:59 am

    I never actually played the whole Wind Waker, but I think it was the first one I ever started. I must have been about 8 or 9 and didn’t have a console yet, but I had a friend who had a GameCube, and everytime I went to her house we started a new save file for either this or Twilight Princess. It was this friend that taught me that Zelda is actually the girl, and that’s probably one of the reasons I didn’t buy into the whole fake geek girl thing too much. Anyway, even if I played the same part over and over, it never got boring, as playing a video game when you don’t have access to one whenever you want is always a bit like magic. It made me appreciate that slow start, when you have nothing to do but walk around town, and now I am very sceptical of Breath Of The Wild reviews praising it for cutting right to the point.
    Anyway, later I got a Wii, and Twilight Princess was my first actual Zelda game. Can’t wait for your take on it, even though I suspect you’ll be far less positive about it than I am.


  5. Alaki
    July 3, 2017 @ 8:51 am

    …reading this, it strikes me that The Wind Waker is essentially The Legend of Zelda’s equivalent of Metal Gear Solid 2.

    I’m honestly surprised I didn’t notice sooner. Then again, it’s been a while since I last played the game…


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