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The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

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The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
North American box art
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Eiji Aonuma
Producer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
Takashi Tezuka
Writer(s) Mitsuhiro Takano
Hajime Takahashi
Eiji Aonuma[1]
Composer(s) Kenta Nagata
Hajime Wakai
Toru Minegishi
Koji Kondo
Series The Legend of Zelda
Platform(s) Nintendo GameCube
Release date(s) JP 20021213December 13, 2002
NA 20030324March 24, 2003
EU 20030502May 2, 2003
AU 20030507May 7, 2003
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, released in Japan as The Legend of Zelda: Takt of Wind[2] (ゼルダの伝説 風のタクト Zeruda no Densetsu: Kaze no Takuto?, lit. "The Legend of Zelda: Baton of Wind"), is an action-adventure game and the tenth installment in The Legend of Zelda series. It was released for the Nintendo GameCube in Japan on December 13, 2002, in North America on March 24, 2003, in Europe on May 2, 2003, and in Australia on May 7, 2003. A high-definition remake, titled The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, was released for Wii U starting on September 20, 2013 digitally in North America.

The game is set on a group of islands in a vast sea—a first for the series. The player controls Link, the protagonist of the Zelda series. He struggles against his nemesis, Ganondorf, for control of a sacred relic known as the Triforce. Link spends a large portion of the game sailing, traveling between islands, and traversing dungeons and temples to gain the power necessary to defeat Ganondorf. He also spends time trying to find his little sister Aryll.

The Wind Waker follows in the footsteps of Ocarina of Time, retaining the basic gameplay and control system from the two Nintendo 64 titles. A heavy emphasis is placed on using and controlling wind with a baton called the Wind Waker, which aids sailing and floating in air.[3][4][5][6] Though controversial during development for its use of cel shading graphics and the younger Link character, The Wind Waker was met with critical acclaim. A direct sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, was released in 2007.


The control scheme of The Wind Waker is largely unchanged from that of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Link's basic actions of walking, running, attacking, defending, and automatic jumping at ledges are retained. Link also uses the control system introduced in Ocarina of Time that allows him to "lock-on" to an enemy or other target. An addition to this basic control scheme is the ability to parry. When Link is locked-on to an opponent and not actively defending, certain attacks by the opponent will trigger a visual cue, a vibration of the controller, and a chime. Attacking at that point causes Link to dodge or parry then counter-attack from the rear or while leaping over the foe's head. This tactic becomes crucial for defeating armored enemies or bosses.

The new art style used in The Wind Waker gives Link eyes that are much larger and more expressive than in previous games. This allows Link to focus his gaze on approaching enemies or important items. For example, if Link needs to solve a puzzle by lighting a torch to set a distant object on fire, his eyes might turn to look at a nearby stick, giving a hint to an observant player on how to proceed.

As with all Zelda games, The Wind Waker features several dungeons—large, enclosed areas. Link battles enemies, collects items, and solves puzzles to progress through a dungeon, fighting a boss at the end. To complete a dungeon, Link primarily uses a sword and shield. Other weapons commonly used by Link include a bow and arrow, a boomerang, bombs, and a grappling hook. Certain enemy weapons can be picked up and used, a feature new to the Zelda series.

The Wind Waker, like most Zelda games, includes many side-quests, such as the Nintendo Gallery. When Link is in the Forest Haven, he can use a Deku Leaf to glide to a cylindrical island with a hatch containing the sculptor Carlov and his gallery. Once Link obtains a color camera called the Deluxe Picto Box, he can take pictures of non-player characters and enemies, which Carlov uses to sculpt figurines. There are a total of 134 figurines to collect, but Link can only hold three pictures at a time.

After completing the game, the player can replay it with minor modifications: Link starts with the Deluxe Picto Box, making the Nintendo Gallery side-quest easier to complete; Aryll wears a maroon dress with skulls given to her by pirates; Link can understand the Hylian language; and Link wears his blue crawfish outfit, as in the beginning, throughout the game, instead of the traditional green tunic and cap.

Another side-quest present in all Zelda games (except The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks), collecting Pieces of Heart, returns. The Wind Waker also includes Treasure Charts, which are scattered throughout the Great Sea. The player can find these maps and recover them, then search for whatever is charted on the map. Treasures include Rupees, Pieces of Heart, and other various charts such as the "Big Octo Chart" and the "Island Hearts Chart".

If the game is connected to a Game Boy Advance using a link cable, a second player can use it as a "Tingle Tuner" in order to control Tingle.

Wind and travel

The Wind Waker is set on a sea consisting of 49 sections arranged on a seven by seven grid. Each section contains an island or small group of islands. Therefore, a significant portion of the game is spent sailing between islands, allowing the game to mask loading times by accessing data while the player is approaching an island.

To sail between areas quickly, Link uses the Wind Waker, a baton that manipulates wind direction with a series of pieces of music. The Wind Waker also lets Link teleport to certain sections of the map. Additionally, wind is often needed to solve puzzles. The Deku Leaf allows Link to use wind to spin turbines or to glide for short distances. By creating a tailwind, Link can glide farther distances to reach remote areas. An on-screen weather vane displays the current wind direction while the player is traveling by boat.


The game takes place several centuries after Ocarina of Time,[7][8][9][10] on a vast ocean known as the Great Sea, dotted with tiny islands. A legend, passed down among the islands, tells of an ancient kingdom that was attacked by a great evil called Ganon. Ganon was eventually defeated and sealed away by a boy wielding the Blade of Evil's Bane. Some time after the boy left the kingdom, Ganon reappeared and attacked once again, but neither the boy nor the Blade reappeared. The ultimate fate of the kingdom remains a mystery.

The game opens on Outset Island, Link's hometown where he lives with his sister and grandmother. While he is celebrating his birthday, a gigantic bird flies overhead and drops a girl into a wooded area of the island. Link rescues the girl from creatures in the woods, but his younger sister Aryll is taken by the bird. The girl turns out to be a pirate captain named Tetra, who reluctantly agrees to help Link rescue his sister. With Tetra's assistance, Link finds Aryll on an island called the Forsaken Fortress, along with two other kidnapped girls. Before he can rescue her, he is captured by the giant bird and flung far out to sea.

Link is rescued by a talking boat that calls himself the King of Red Lions. The boat tells Link that the giant bird is controlled by Ganon, the same evil from the ancient legend. He also says that Link needs to find the three Pearls of the Goddesses to gain the power he needs to rescue his sister. Once retrieved, the pearls open the way to the Tower of the Gods, where Link must prove his worth to wield the power he needs. Link overcomes the trials and is taken deep underneath the ocean's surface to a castle, suspended in time, where he finds the Master Sword, the legendary Blade of Evil's Bane.

Link returns to the island fortress to rescue his sister. He is soon joined by Tetra, who takes his sister and the other girls to safety while he challenges Ganon. Link defeats the giant bird, but Ganon easily overpowers Link. Tetra returns to help Link, but she is also defeated. Ganon reveals that the Master Sword has lost its power to repel evil. He discovers that the necklace Tetra wears is a piece of the Triforce of Wisdom. Ganon concludes that Tetra is Princess Zelda because she possesses a fragment of the sacred relic. Tetra is unaware of this and denies it, and she and Link are soon swept from Ganon's grasp by the Rito, a race of people Link had helped while looking for the pearls.

Link returns to the underwater castle with Tetra. There, the King of Red Lions reveals himself as the King of Hyrule, and that they stand in Hyrule Castle, the seat of power in the ancient kingdom. The King explains that after Ganon had broken free of his seal, the gods ordered those chosen to take refuge on the mountaintops and subsequently flooded Hyrule, sealing it and Ganon under the Great Sea. The King confirms that Tetra is, indeed, Princess Zelda, the predestined protector of the Triforce of Wisdom.

Zelda is told to remain in the castle while Link and the King return to the surface to investigate why the Master Sword lost its power. They discover that two of the ancient sages that provided power for the Master Sword were killed by Ganon's forces. To restore the Master Sword's power, two new sages must be awakened. Link eventually finds the new sages and restores full power to the Master Sword. Soon after, the King of Red Lions learns that the Forsaken Fortress had been abandoned, and begins to fear the worst. He then urges Link to seek out the eight pieces of the Triforce of Courage left behind by the ancient hero of the legend.

Link accomplishes this task and returns to Hyrule to find that Ganon has found Zelda and kidnapped her. Link follows Ganon to his tower; there, Ganon overpowers Link and takes his Triforce. His own Triforce of Power combines with Link's and Zelda's Triforces to form the complete Triforce, which grants the power to govern all. Before the Triforce can grant Ganon's evil wish, the King appears, lays his hand on the Triforce, and wishes for Ganon and the rest of Hyrule to be washed away, and for Link and Zelda to be returned to the surface. Enraged, Ganon duels with Link as water begins to downpour over Hyrule. The battle ends with Link stabbing Ganon in the forehead with the Master Sword, turning him to stone. Link and Zelda then return to the surface, while the King decides to stay in Hyrule. Zelda returns to her old form as Tetra and Link is reunited with Aryll. After returning to Outset Island, Link and Tetra decide to sail away in search of a new land to call Hyrule.


Nintendo announced on March 3, 1999 that a new video game system, under the project name "Dolphin", was under development. This system, the Nintendo GameCube, was revealed on August 24, 2000, the day before Nintendo's Space World 2000 exposition.[11] Along with the specifications and designs for the console, Nintendo had several software demonstrations on hand to showcase the power of the GameCube, one of which was a realistically styled real-time duel between Ganondorf and Link. This demo was given the name The Legend of Zelda 128, similar to Super Mario 128. Despite being a hastily assembled technical demonstration, fans and the media speculated that the battle might be from a game under development or at least an indication of the direction the next Zelda game would take.[12] Staff at IGN referred to the demo as an "unofficial sequel", calling it "absolutely everything we could have hoped for in a Gamecube Zelda title" and stating that "the future looks very bright for Nintendo loyalists".[12]

Nintendo said nothing more about the possibility of a GameCube Zelda game until one year later at Space World 2001, where a completely new Zelda was shown. Replacing the dark, gritty demo of 2000 was a new cel-shaded look, which resembled an interactive cartoon. Shigeru Miyamoto said the new look was designed to "extend Zelda's reach to all ages".[13] The cel-shaded approach was a radical shift and IGN staff wondered if two separate games might be in concurrent development.[14]

While some at the event enjoyed the new look, there was a backlash from disappointed fans who had been expecting a realistic Zelda game. Many critics referred to the game as "Celda",[15] a portmanteau of "Zelda" and "Cel-shading". Miyamoto was surprised at the reaction to the footage and the media's claim that Nintendo was shifting its focus to a younger audience,[16] and he refused to reveal anything further until a playable demonstration became available. It was hoped that once critics played the game, they would focus on the gameplay, rather than simply reacting to the new graphic style. Miyamoto promised a playable version for E3 2002 and a release later that year.[17] When Nintendo did exhibit a playable demo at E3 2002 it picked up the 2002 Game Critics Awards for Best Console Game at E3. An editor at IGN said the cartoon look "works very nicely" and that "it feels very much like Zelda".[18] The whimsical style was compared to A Link to the Past and promotional artwork from previous Zelda games. E3 also introduced new features, such as the ability to connect to the Game Boy Advance and receive help from Tingle.[19] The script of the game was written by Mitsuhiro Takano and Hajime Takahashi,[20] based on a story idea by Aonuma.[1]

On October 15, 2002, the Japanese subtitle Kaze no Takuto (Wind Baton) was revealed, to emphasize the role of wind in the game.[21] Nintendo announced the official translation, The Wind Waker, on December 2, 2002,[22] and a North American release date of March 24, 2003 was set two days later.[23]


On November 22, 2002, an update to Nintendo's Japanese Kaze no Takuto website revealed that a special bonus disc was being offered to pre-ordering customers.[24] This bonus GameCube disc, given at the time of the pre-order, contained an emulated version of Ocarina of Time and Ura Zelda, an expansion for Ocarina of Time with modified dungeons and other small changes that had never been previously released due to the failure of the Nintendo 64DD. On December 4, 2002 this offer was extended to North American consumers, with Ura Zelda translated to Ocarina of Time: Master Quest.[25] Some retailers made the mistake of giving the bonus discs away then allowing consumers to cancel their pre-orders without returning the disc. As a result, the European bonus disc was included with The Wind Waker in a two-disc case.[26]

On November 17, 2003, Nintendo released a new GameCube bundle that included The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition, a compilation disc containing versions of The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, a twenty-minute playable demo of The Wind Waker, and two short featurettes. The disc was also given to consumers who registered a GameCube and two games at Nintendo's website or subscribed or renewed a subscription to Nintendo Power.[27]

Wal-Mart customers could buy a special Nintendo GameCube bundle, including The Wind Waker, the Ocarina of Time bonus disc (each in the same case), and a Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable for a limited time. In Australia, Collector's Edition was available with the purchase of two GameCube games or a GameCube console; Australians could also purchase a bundle with the console, The Wind Waker and Collector's Edition for a limited time.

Wii U version

Main article: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

In a Nintendo Direct presentation released on January 23, 2013, a high definition re-release of The Wind Waker was announced for the Wii U, slated for release in October 2013. New features include Off-TV Play and Miiverse integration. The remastering came about as the development team experimented with art styles for the next main Zelda title, also in development for Wii U. HD remasterings of the later Zelda games in the series, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, were also tested during the planning stages, but the development team considered The Wind Waker's visuals to be the most improved.[28] The Nintendo Direct also stated that they would be "tuning" the gameplay, which--during E3 2013--was revealed to mean that a faster sailing mode had been added to lessen travel time across the ocean in the later half of the game. IGN noted improved dynamic lighting and shading in the game's graphics engine.[29] In the Wii U version, the "Tingle Tuner" item (which utilized the Game Boy Advance as a peripheral to the GameCube) has been replaced with the "Tingle Bottle" (since the Game Boy Advance is incompatible with Wii U), which is used to send messages to the game's Miiverse community if players are in need of help.

Along with graphical updates, the HD version for Wii U offers various new features from the original GameCube version. The Wii U GamePad's touchscreen serves as an inventory, allowing players to freely assign items to certain buttons. The touchscreen can be used to control certain items, such as Link's Wind Baton, whilst some weapons, like the bow, can be aimed using the GamePad's gyroscope features. The game also supports Off-TV Play on the GamePad. With the new technology allowing for faster loading of the ocean, players can now unlock faster speeds for their ship. There are also tweaks to certain aspects of the original game that were considered tedious, such as cuts to the Wind Baton sequences.[30]


The music in The Wind Waker was composed by Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, Toru Minegishi, and Koji Kondo. The game's soundtrack, Zelda no Densetsu ~Kaze no Takt~ Original Sound Tracks (ゼルダの伝説~風のタクト~オリジナル・サウンド・トラックス, Zeruda no Densetsu ~Kaze no Takuto~ Orijinaru Saundo Torakkusu), was released on March 19, 2003, and comes in a two disc set featuring one hundred and thirty-three tracks. The music has an Irish influence,[31] and some pieces feature uilleann pipes. The theme for Dragon Roost Island, which was composed by Nagata, is more influenced by Andean or Incan music, relying heavily on pan flute and guitar. Several pieces from The Wind Waker are featured in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.[32] The mandolin played in the intro story scene was borrowed from Shigeru Miyamoto.[33]

Track listing


The Wind Waker is the fourth of twenty-two games to receive a perfect score from Famitsu magazine, despite assertions that it lacks the sense of newness that accompanied Ocarina of Time, the first 3D Zelda game.[35] Reviewers favorably noted the gameplay similarities to Ocarina of Time and praised the cel-shaded art style that had initially met a cold reception. GamePro called the game "a combination of vivid artistry and timeless gameplay";[36] IGN advised gamers to "forget that Wind Waker looks totally different from Ocarina of Time" since "these two games are very much alike".[37] The 2004 Game Developers Choice Awards and the Seventh Annual Interactive Achievement Awards gave The Wind Waker awards for Excellence in Visual Arts[38] and Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction,[39] respectively. In 2007, it was named fourth best GameCube game of all time in IGN's feature reflecting on the GameCube's lifespan.[40] Nintendo Power named The Wind Waker the 2nd best GameCube game of all time, losing only to Resident Evil 4.[41]

The game's most common criticism is the heavy emphasis on sailing. GameSpot noted that the game "starts out in a very brisk manner", but that in the last third of the game, the "focus on sailing (...) is pretty tedious".[42] IGN complained that viewing the animation of using the Wind Waker "hundreds of times" became "a tedious nuisance", and that the lack of an option to skip the animation "is more bothersome still".[37] GameSpot thought that some players would be "a little put off" by the "easy puzzles and boss battles"; IGN called the boss battles "slightly simplistic" and noted that enemies "inflict little damage onto Link". GamePro, on the other hand, felt that the dungeons tended to be "huger and more challenging with new twists", with treasure hunts that would "tax even the most accomplished Zelda gamer".[36]

Despite some negative comments, critics consistently gave The Wind Waker high reviews, with Nintendo Power calling the game the fourth best game to ever appear on a Nintendo console,[43] while Official Nintendo Magazine placed it 12th.[44] Nintendo Power listed its ending as one of the greatest in Nintendo history, due to the final battle's climax.[45] Further praise came from Game Informer, who awarded the game a perfect 10/10 while saying that it "blows every Zelda game out of the water and stands as the video game event of a lifetime."[46] UGO listed The Wind Waker on their list of the "Top 50 Games That Belong On the 3DS", stating "Sailing through the oceans of a submerged Hyrule in 3D shatters the word epic into pieces."[47]

However, sales wise, Nintendo stated that the game did not live up to expectations. Although Wind Waker boosted hardware sales of the GameCube during its first week in Japan,[48] and amounted to the most successful pre-order campaign in Nintendo history at the time,[49] Eiji Aonuma, the game's director, noted that by the time the game "had reached the million mark in sales, [it] had become sluggish in North America, where the market was much healthier than in Japan.[50] The game ultimately "did not fare as well in Japan."[51]

According to the last reported numbers provided by Nintendo, Wind Waker sold only 3.07 million copies worldwide, far below the 7.6 million set by Ocarina of Time.[52] Aonuma would later comment in 2007 that he was "convinced the reason the Wind Waker did not perform well was because of its toon-shaded graphics style. It was something that you either loved or hated, and there was nothing that we could have done about it."[53] As a result of Wind Waker's poor sales, Aonuma decided that "the only thing we could do was to give the healthy North American market the Zelda that they wanted," which led to the creation of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.[54]


The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, a direct sequel with a similar art style, was released for the Nintendo DS in 2007. In it, Link sails the Great Sea with Tetra and the pirates, but is separated after an encounter with a ghost ship. Director Eiji Aonuma was inspired to create the sequel out of his desire to continue The Wind Waker's art style.[55] A modified version of The Wind Waker's engine was used in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,[56] released in 2006. Twilight Princess uses a realistic art style, but some cel-shaded elements remain.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl has a second playable Link character, called "Toon Link", based on the style of The Wind Waker, with all of the various weapons that the regular Link uses.[57] Other content based on The Wind Waker includes trophies,[58] stickers,[59] music,[32] and a partially cel-shaded pirate ship stage.[60] The character will also be returning in the upcoming games, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.[61]


External links

  • official website

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