The Wind Waker


The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the tenth game to be released in the Legend of Zelda series, and is the starting point of The Hero of Winds and A New World timeline branch, otherwise known as the Adult Timeline. Like other games at the start of the timeline’s three branches, The Wind Waker is an indirect sequel to Ocarina of Time.

Released in Japan on December 13, 2002, it was the first Zelda game for the GameCube. The Wind Waker is also remembered as the first cel-shaded Zelda game, with other games in the subsequent timeline following suit. A pre-order bonus disc that featured Ocarina of Time and its counterpart Master Quest helped The Wind Waker to become the fourth best-selling GameCube game at roughly 3.07 million units sold worldwide. A Wii U HD remaster, which featured improved sailing mechanics, a revamped Triforce quest structure, and HD graphics, added another 1.5 million sales when it released eleven years later.

Development and Release

<img class=”alignleft wp-image-1115 size-wcsmall” src=”” alt=”Space World Tech Demo” width=”250” height=”180” />The Wind Waker was not the game fans expected to come first to the GameCube. The peculiar console, with its box-like structure and small discs, was revealed a day before the Space World 2000 exposition. Along with it was a collection of software demonstrations designed to showcase the GameCube’s improved power over the N64. A Legend of Zelda demo was among those featured. It showed a fight between Link and Ganondorf reminiscent of the final battle in Ocarina of Time, with improved graphics and realistic movement. The demo sparked speculation and excitement that this was the next Zelda game.

<img class=”alignright wp-image-1114 size-wcsmall” src=”” alt=”Wind Waker 2001” width=”250” height=”144” />A year later, at Space World 2001, The Wind Waker was shown to the public for the first time, although it would remain nameless for more than another year. The brighter, cel-shaded graphics had replaced the darker look of the tech demo in an effort to “extend Zelda’s reach to all ages,” according to series’ producer Shigeru Miyamoto. Backlash was almost immediate, with the term “Celda” coined in mockery of the game’s cartoon-like graphical style. Fans and media alike were convinced Nintendo was shifting its focus to a younger audience.

Another year passed with little information revealed about The Wind Waker in the wake of the negative feedback. It wasn’t until E3 2002 that a playable demo was showcased, and the general opinion towards The Wind Waker shifted. The Game Critics Awards gave the Best Console Game award to The Wind Waker, and most fans walked away feeling satisfied that this was as much a Zelda game as any other.

<img class=”alignright wp-image-1113 size-medium” src=”” alt=”The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition” width=”211” height=”300” />The Wind Waker’s subtitle, Kaze no Takuto (Wind Baton) was revealed a few months later on October 15, 2002, with the official translation finalized as The Wind Waker in December of the same year along with national and international release dates. A pre-order bonus disc was included with the game, bringing Ocarina of Time and the previously unreleased Ura Zelda (known as Master Quest outside Japan) to the GameCube. In November of 2003, a new GameCube bundle was announced that included the Collector’s Edition disc, containing a demo of The Wind Waker alongside re-releases of the original Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask.

Due to time constraints, elements of The Wind Waker were changed before the game’s release. Notably, two full dungeons were omitted from the final game. Additionally, minor changes were made in the months between the Japanese and international releases, such as treasure chest contents switched out and an adjustment made to the Triforce piece quest.


The Wind Waker’s basic control scheme remains largely unchanged from its predecessors Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Along with mainstays of walking, running, auto-jump, and lock-on targeting, The Wind Waker introduced not only a free-motion camera but also a parrying mechanic. Before an enemy’s attack, a prompt may flash on the bottom of the screen. Pressing the A Button at such a time allows Link to dodge the attack while simultaneously moving behind an enemy to strike from behind, or leaping up to strike at the head. This mechanic is crucial when facing enemies such as the heavily-armored Darknuts, and it culminates in the game’s final battle to create one of the most memorable scenes in the series’ history.

<img class=”alignleft wp-image-1112 size-full” src=”” alt=”The Wind Waker” width=”200” height=”200” />The game’s namesake, the Wind Waker, is a conductor’s baton that gives Link a bevy of abilities. Using the Wind’s Requiem to change the direction of the wind is not only crucial to navigating the Great Sea, but it also plays a small role in the occasional environmental puzzle. Equally useful is the Ballad of Gales that allows Link to warp to specific islands by calling up cyclones to carry him across the Great Sea; and the Command Melody that allows Link to control specific statues and characters in some of the game’s dungeons. Three other melodies help Link to progress, whether by changing night to day and vice versa, or awakening the memories in important characters.

Exploration in The Wind Waker is divided into land and sea. With the help of his talking boat, known as The King of Red Lions, Link travels from island to island where he comes across a variety of characters and challenges. Some islands are plot-specific, and offer a dungeon or required quest element. Most of the others feature a mini-game or a grotto that can be explored for treasure or sea charts–an element carried over from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Even those islands without dungeons or grottos offer some reward for reaching them, whether it be in the form of rupees or a treasure chest that appears when certain requirements are met.

<img class=”alignright wp-image-1111 size-medium” src=”” alt=”Link and The King of the Red Lions” width=”191” height=”300” />While on the Great Sea, Link’s boat catches the wind in its sail to carry him over the water. In the original GameCube version, the Wind’s Requiem needs to be played whenever a significant change in direction is required; this was later addressed in the HD version with the optional Swift Sail that never requires a redirection of the wind. There are no shortage of dangers on the Great Sea, with Gyorgs and Seahats eager to ram Link’s boat, and Warships and Lookout Platforms equipped with cannons. Near the end of the game’s first part, Link finds bombs and thus is able to equip his own cannon while on the Great Sea. This makes handling the aggressive enemies much easier, and allows him to destroy Lookout Platform cannons for treasure. Submarines hiding valuable rewards can also be explored, and treasure can be salvaged from the bottom of the sea with use of the Grappling Hook.

The Wind Waker brings back many items found in the previous games while introducing new ones, such as the aforementioned Grappling Hook, which can be used to swing from posts and fixtures; and the Deku Leaf, an item that allows Link to glide across expanses at the cost of magic power. The Pictograph Box returns from Majora’s Mask, but plays a much larger role this time around in an optional sidequest to capture colored pictographs of every enemy and character in the game. When brought to the in-game Nintendo Gallery these pictographs are turned into figurines that offer further insight for each individual.

Other older items are made new again in The Wind Waker. The boomerang allows up to five targets to be selected at once, and the Iron Boots combined with the Hookshot anchors Link enough to pull certain heavy objects off of walls. The elemental arrows also return, and can be cycled through with the push of a button rather than going through the submenu to equip each one individually.

Upon successful completion of the main quest, a Second Quest save file can be created. While the same difficulty, there are a few key differences in this quest. The Hero’s new Clothes are rendered invisible, allowing Link to explore in his pyjamas, and Aryll’s dress is the same pirate one she wears at the game’s end. The Hylian spoken by key characters in the game is translated into the game’s native language, and the Deluxe Picto Box is available from the very start, with any progress on the Nintendo Gallery carried over from the original save file. The HD remaster added an additional Hero Mode available from the start that offers a greater challenge.

Trivia and Facts

The Wind Waker has a prevalent Eastern stylization in its characters and locations, which would be abandoned for a more Western look in Twilight Princess in hopes to win back scorned Western fans. Ironically, a modified version of The Wind Waker’s game engine was used to create Twilight Princess, with some cel-shading still present in the latter game.

Tetra’s hair curl was designed to match the appearances of the smoke and wind found in the game.

<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1109” src=”” alt=”Moblin” />The moblins were the first enemy to be designed, and they became the base model that all other enemy designs were drawn from.

In addition to omitted races and dungeons, some islands were imagined but never included. Notably, both a GameCube island as well as an island called Stovepipe Island: “an island of steam and smoke.”

The Seven Sages from Ocarina of Time, along with Ganon, are depicted in stained glass inside Hyrule Castle. Other references to previous games include masks from Majora’s Mask in the Nintendo Gallery, and an Octorok sprite from the original NES game, The Legend of Zelda, on a bag in the same place.

Pikmin is also referenced in the appearance of the three Goddess Statues. Din’s statue has a nose like a Red Pikmin, Farore’s statue has ears like a Yellow Pikmin, and Nayru’s statue has a mouth like a Blue Pikmin.

Peculiar audio is found everywhere in The Wind Waker. The ChuChus’ sound effects are actually a sped-up argument between two Japanese men; a warped, unused Jabun scream can be heard on the Ghost Ship; and the sound of Link rising out of a grotto or dungeon is based on the Final Hours music from Majora’s Mask. Pieces of classic tracks from Ocarina of Time can also be heard in the game, such as Kakariko Village’s theme within Windfall Island’s theme.

Timeline Information

The Wind Waker is the indirect sequel to Ocarina of Time, marking the start of the third timeline branch: The Hero of Winds and A New World. The Wind Waker also starts what is commonly known as the Adult Timeline. At the game’s end, Link and Tetra embark on a journey to found New Hyrule, with continuing stories in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks.

The Wind Waker Backstory

<img class=”alignright wp-image-1108 size-medium” src=”” alt=”The Wind Waker Prologue” width=”300” height=”140” />With the Hero of Time’s triumph over Ganon in Ocarina of Time, the world of Hyrule was set on the path to a bright new era. Princess Zelda returned Link to his original time so that he may live out his life as it was meant to be lived. Upon his return, the Hero of Time replaced the Master Sword in its pedestal and left both the Triforce of Courage and his deeds as a hero behind to time.

The story of the Hero of Time was passed from generation to generation until it became more legend than fact, and his deeds had passed from common memory. It was then that Ganon crawled out of the depths of the earth, escaping his imprisonment and shrouding Hyrule in darkness once again. The people of Hyrule prayed for the return of the Hero of Time, but he never appeared. Hopeless and with no time left, King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule entrusted his kingdom’s fate to the gods. Their answer was to raise the seas and drown Hyrule in a sleep beneath the waves to await a time when a hero appeared again. Only a select few, chosen by the gods, climbed the highest mountains to escape the flood and make a life on what was now a great sea. Among them were Princess Zelda and her retainers who would go on to carry a piece of the Triforce of Wisdom as well as the Royal Family’s bloodline.

The Wind Waker Events

The deeds of the Hero of Time, and the resurrection of Ganon that threw the kingdom into darkness, were preserved and handed down in the form of a scroll. What happened to the kingdom, no one knows, but on Outset Island it has become tradition for boys coming of age to don the green garb of the legendary hero for a day in hopes that they might know courage like he did.

<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1107” src=”” alt=”Helmaroc King” />But while the hero’s legend is only a tale to some, the danger growing in the north is shown to be real. After being resurrected and eliminating the Sages in the Wind and Earth temples under the Great Sea, Ganondorf and his minions emerge from the water and set up base in an old pirate stronghold known as the Forsaken Fortress. From there, Ganondorf sends out his monstrous bird, the Helmaroc King, in search of girls with long ears. He hopes to find the descendant of Princess Zelda, and thus the Triforce of Wisdom.

The Helmaroc King’s search brings it to Outset Island on the day Link is old enough to wear the Hero’s New Clothes. Having captured Tetra, the leader of a band of pirates, the monstrous bird flees ahead of the pirate ship, but is injured by cannon fire. Tetra is dropped into a thick wood at the top of Outset Island, and Link borrows a sword to go after her. After Link meets Tetra, the two of them emerge from the wood to find Aryll, Link’s sister, waiting for them. She runs across the bridge to her brother, but is plucked up by the returned Helmaroc King and carried off.

<img class=”alignleft wp-image-1106 size-medium” src=”” alt=”Tetra” width=”170” height=”300” />Link is determined to save his sister, and he asks Tetra and her pirates for help. Tetra at first refuses, pointing out that the task would be dangerous and foolish. A Rito postman named Quill, who has witnessed the events, reminds Tetra of the rumors coming from the north. He also points out it was her pirate crew who drew the bird to Outset Island, and thus she is partially responsible for Aryll’s capture. Tetra relents and, after obtaining a shield and his grandmother’s blessing, Link sets out with the pirates to save his sister.

At the Forsaken Fortress, Tetra gives Link a pirate’s charm which allows her to communicate with him. But neither this nor Link’s sword is enough to help him. He reunites with Aryll, but only briefly before the Helmaroc King finds him and takes him to the Forsaken Fortress’s master. The Helmaroc King is ordered to toss Link away, and he is flung into the Great Sea.

Link is rescued by a talking boat called The King of Red Lions. The boat tells him of Ganondorf, who seeks to rule the world, and warns Link that the task of saving his sister won’t be an easy one. Link agrees to try nonetheless, and The King of Red Lions sets Link on a journey to prove his worth as a hero by collecting the three Goddess Pearls.

Link travels to various islands in search of the Pearls. On Dragon Roost Island, home of the Rito, he meets Medli and battles his way through a fiery cavern to calm the island’s guardian, Valoo. In admiration for Link’s courage, the troubled Rito prince Prince Komali hands over Din’s Pearl and vows to climb up to Valoo on his own to earn his wings.

<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1105” src=”” alt=”Great Deku Tree” />At the Forest Haven Link seeks the second of the pearls, Farore’s Pearl. There he meets the Great Deku Tree and the island’s small flying inhabitants, the Koroks. The Great Deku Tree agrees to grant Farore’s Pearl to Link once the Koroks’ annual New Year’s Ceremony is completed. The ceremony is postponed, however, upon the discovery that Makar, one of the Koroks, has fallen into the neighboring Forbidden Woods. The Great Deku Tree asks Link to save Makar, and grants him Farore’s Pearl once the task is complete.

Link learns that Jabun, a descendent of Lord Jabu-Jabu, holds Nayru’s Pearl, and that he makes his home on Greatfish Isle. It is here, however, that Ganondorf first shows he is one step ahead. Link and The King of Red Lions arrive to a ravaged Greatfish Isle, but learn from Quill that Jabun managed to escape and is currently in hiding at Outset Island. To meet Jabun, Link must first find a way to break down the stone door that bars entrance. He obtains bombs on Windfall Island by sneaking onto Tetra’s pirate ship, and he travels across a sea cursed by perpetual night to Outset Island. There he meets with Jabun and obtains Nayru’s Pearl, whose power breaks the sea’s curse.

When all three Pearls are placed at their corresponding Goddess Statue on the Great Sea, the Tower of the Gods rises out of the water and opens to Link. He conquers these proving grounds and their arbiter, Gohdan, to open the way to the bottom of the sea. There, he finds the legendary kingdom of Hyrule asleep beneath the waves. Within Hyrule Castle Link pulls the Master Sword, inadvertently breaking the seal it holds on Ganondorf’s magic.

<img class=”alignleft size-wcsmall wp-image-1104” src=”” alt=”Tower of the Gods” />Link learns of this when he returns to the Forsaken Fortress and challenges Ganondorf. Tetra joins him there, and her crew rescues the young girls captured by the Helmaroc King, Aryll among them. Link continues on to take down the Helmaroc King before coming face to face with Ganondorf. But he learns the Master Sword’s power is no more, and he is easily bested. Tetra attempts to save Link, and in the struggle Ganondorf discovers she is of Princess Zelda’s bloodline. Tetra denies any knowledge until she and Link are saved by Quill, Prince Komali, and Valoo. In the fiery aftermath the group escapes and returns to the Tower of the Gods, and The King of Red Lions takes Link and Tetra to Hyrule Castle.

In the Master Sword’s chamber, the true identity behind The King of Red Lions is shown to be King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule. He tells Link and Tetra of the kingdom’s fate, and reveals Tetra’s true form as Princess Zelda. After apologizing to Link for all the trouble she has caused, Princess Zelda remains behind in the safety of the castle, and Link returns to the Great Sea. There, The King of Red Lions tells Link of the two Sages who should be praying to give power to the Master Sword. He fears they may be dead given the Master Sword’s current state. Link sets off for each temple, which have an entrance above the waves. The way to Hyrule closes behind him and remains sealed until he gathers together the Triforce of Courage’s eight pieces.

Traveling to the entrances of the Wind and Earth Temples proves these fears true. But the spirits of both Fado, the Sage of Wind, and Laruto, the Sage of Earth, assure Link that their blood lives on and needs only to be awakened with the songs he learns at each location. With the images of a violin and a harp as his guides, Link discovers the Sage of Earth’s descendant is Medli, and the Sage of Wind’s descendant is Makar. He journeys with them to their respective temples, and they work together to tackle the temple’s enemies and traps. The prayers of both Sages restore the Master Sword to its former state, and Link sets off to challenge Ganondorf once more.

<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1103” src=”” alt=”Hyrule Castle Underwater” />The Fishman informs The King of Red Lions that the Forsaken Fortress is empty, leaving only Ganon’s Tower beneath the waves as the one place Ganondorf could be. Because the way to Hyrule is now closed, Link must gather together the eight pieces of the Triforce of Courage to open the path once more. He succeeds in this task and returns to Hyrule Castle only to find it ransacked and Princess Zelda, kidnapped. Link continues on to Ganon’s Tower where he breaks the tower’s four seals and obtains the Light Arrows to open the path to Ganondorf. Link finds him with Princess Zelda in the final room. There, Ganondorf challenges Link as three different puppet forms. Link defeats him and, satisfied that the young hero is the Hero of Time reborn, Ganondorf encourages Link to face him one-on-one.

At the top of Ganon’s Tower, Ganondorf reveals his reasons for seeking the Triforce pieces before knocking Link out and taking his Triforce of Courage. With all three pieces now in hand, Ganondorf calls down the Triforce and wishes for Hyrule to be given to him. But King Daphnes intervenes and wishes for a hopeful future for both Princess Zelda and Link, free of fate, and for Hyrule to be drowned out forever.

<img class=”alignleft size-wcsmall wp-image-1102” src=”” alt=”Ganondorf vs. Link and Zelda” />Full of insane rage, Ganondorf attacks Link in retribution. Princess Zelda joins the fight, using Light Arrows to stun Ganondorf long enough for Link to attack, and their joint efforts come together in a final blow that buries the Master Sword in Ganondorf’s head. He turns to stone as a result, and King Daphnes appears for a final time to ask for forgiveness for what has happened. He urges both Link and Princess Zelda to find a new land and make a future for themselves, and he stays behind in his kingdom when the sea closes in.

Link and Princess Zelda escape the incoming sea to find the pirates, Sages, and Aryll waiting for them on the pirate’s ship. It isn’t long before they fulfill King Daphnes’s wish to seek out a new land, and with the wind at their backs they sail into uncharted waters in search of it.

The Wind Waker Legacy

With Ganondorf sealed away and Hyrule drowned, the cyclical fight over the Triforce was finally ended, and the sacred realm of Hyrule was no more. Link and Tetra were able to sail to a new land unburdened by Hyrule’s previous troubles and destinies, but this didn’t mean trouble would never again come to their descendants. A new era of prosperity was upon them, but evil would find ways to disrupt the peace in future generations. However, a hero would always rise to meet and conquer it, ensuring the continued peace of New Hyrule.

This page was written by Alex Aul. Find them on Twitter and on deviantART.