Originally released in 2002 for the Nintendo GameCube, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the 10th mainline installment in the Zelda series and the first for 6th generation hardware. Following its immediate predecessors Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, the reveal of Wind Waker was responsible for generating controversy surrounding the game’s cartoonish appearance and art direction thanks to an earlier E3 presentation of the GameCube showing off a Zelda tech demo with a more mature, adult-looking Link and darker take on the franchise.
Although divisive among fans thanks to its surprising art direction, the game stands as a massive hit with critics, garnering an incredibly strong aggregate review score and winning Game of the Year for 2002 from several different publications. In the years since the game’s original release, fan perception of the title continues to shift more toward the positive, with many coming around to now appreciate the art style collectively known as “Toon Link” to be more timeless and having aged better than other early 3D titles in the Zelda series.
Thanks in large part to the divisive nature of the game’s art style, The Wind Waker would sell significantly less than Ocarina of Time, which is partly responsible for the next game in the series (Twilight Princess) featuring a much darker take on Hyrule, Link, and Princess Zelda. Compared to Ocarina of Time, which had a total sales of 7.6 million copies at the time of Wind Waker‘s release, the 4.6 million copies sold for the GameCube release of The Wind Waker proved to be a major disappointment for Nintendo.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Premise
The Wind Waker sees players take control of Link as he navigates around Hyrule, occasionally entering dungeons and defeating bosses as he gradually accumulates more power and skill on a journey to eventually face off against Ganon. However, The Wind Waker is unique among mainline Zelda games for the way that it handles both the setting of Hyrule and Link’s traversal around it. Not only is the world of Hyrule replaced with the Great Sea, but most of the game entails Link sailing across the ocean and island hopping rather than exploring a massive interconnected landmass.
The story at the heart of The Wind Waker helps to explain the differences in the game’s seafaring setting, establishing that the kingdom of Hyrule now lies underneath a vast ocean thanks to the inability to stop an encroaching corruption. With nowhere to turn, the King of Hyrule pleads to the gods for help, who decide that the only way to stop Ganon from obtaining the Triforce is to flood the land and submerge the evil underwater. Hundreds of years later, Ganon returns and begins to kidnap young girls in hopes of finding Princess Zelda, and Link’s younger sister is one of the girls taken, prompting him to set off on his adventure.
Combat and dungeon exploration are still taking place from a third-person perspective and the game controls similarly to Ocarina of Time. Wind Waker borrows heavily from Ocarina of Time‘s template in most areas with the exception of its art direction and traversal, and players can expect to spend plenty of time at sea with Link and The King of Red Lions. Still, the act of sailing around Hyrule is a meditative experience that still looks beautiful more than 20 years later.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Main Characters
As one would expect, series regulars Link, Zelda, and Ganon all make appearances in The Wind Waker, as do several other noteworthy characters that play an important role in Link’s journey across the Great Sea. The Wind Waker introduces the Rito race to The Legend of Zelda for the first time, even establishing that they evolved from the remnants of the Zora civilization. “Love him or hate him” NPC Tingle also makes a special appearance in The Wind Waker, one of the last in the series. The main characters of Wind Waker include:
- Link: The continually recurring “Hero of Time”, Link is a young resident of Outset Island who embarks on adventure after a giant Helmaroc King kidnaps his younger sister Aryll.
- Aryll: Link’s younger sister, she is kidnapped by the Helmaroc King after being mistaken for being Princess Zelda.
- Tetra: A young pirate captain that decides to help Link get to the Forsaken Fortress, she is a formidable sailor and commands absolute loyalty from her crew.
- King of Red Lions: Link’s boat and main mode of transportation throughout The Wind Waker, the King of Red Lions contains the spirit of the former King of Hyrule.
- Princess Zelda: Tetra eventually reveals herself to be none other than Princess Zelda, assuming a secret identity to keep herself safe from Ganondorf’s evil designs.
- Ganondorf: The spirit of Demise continually reincarnated to do battle with Link over the Triforce, Ganondorf seeks to resurrect the sunken Hyrule as a way to enter the Sacred Realm.
Games in The Legend of Zelda Series
With more than 20 games across more than 35 years of history, The Legend of Zelda is one of the most influential and important video game series of all-time. Notable maintaining both a high level of quality throughout the entire franchise as well as continually reinventing itself and innovating what’s possible in the context of interactive media, the Zelda franchise is one of the defining pillars of Nintendo’s success. The main games in The Legend of Zelda series include:
- The Legend of Zelda (1986)
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993)
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages (2001)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003)
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004)
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (2007)
- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009)
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (2013)
- The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (2015)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019)
- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023)
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Cheats and Secrets
While there aren’t any actual cheats for The Wind Waker, there are plenty of secrets for players to discover as well as some exploitable glitches that can make sections easier.
Unlocking the Special Charts
In addition to the regular Treasure Charts, there are several unique charts for Link to collect that reveal important information on Link’s map.
|Beedle mails Link the chart after getting enough bombs in his inventory
|Ghost Ship Chart
|Exploring the cave on Diamond Steppe Island
|Great Fairy Chart
|Defeat cannons at Five-Eye Reef, use Treasure Chart that appears
|Tingle mails Link the chart after obtaining the Master Sword, costs 201 Rupees to get out of the mailbox
|Island Hearts Chart
|Defeat cannons at Four-Eye Reef, use Treasure Chart that appears
|Light Ring Chart
|Defeat cannons at Cyclops Reef, use Treasure Chart that appears
|Defeat cannons at Six-Eye Reef, use Treasure Chart that appears
|Head to the Flight Control Platform and look for a submarine, enter the submarine and defeat all the enemies inside
|Sea Hearts Chart
|Defeat cannons at Three-Eye Reef, use Treasure Chart that appears
|Defeat cannons at Two-Eye Reef, use Treasure Chart that appears
|Explore the Boating Course sector and defeat all enemies there
|Break Tingle out of jail
The following unlockables are available after Link completes certain criteria and are useful in his adventure.
|Aryll’s Alternate Outfit
|Beat the game once and save. Starting a new game will see Aryll don her new outfit.
|Beat the game once and save. After starting a new game, Link will have the DX Camera in his inventory. The DX Camera can take full-color photos.
|Collect 40 Joy Pendants and bring them to the teacher on Windfall Island.
|Defeat 10 of the Knuckle Knights and collect their crests. Deliver the 10 Knight’s Crests to Orca.
|Translate Hylian Language
|Beat the game once and save. All characters that previously spoke Hylian now speak in English.
|Link’s Alternate Outfit
|Beat the game once and save. Starting a new game, Link can wear his normal clothes throughout the entire adventure instead of the Hero’s Tunic.
In the Wind Temple there’s a jar just to the left of the Boss Room. Break the jar to receive an assortment of different color Rupees and then immediately hop into one of the teleportation jars. Keep teleporting until Link is back in front of the Boss Room. Break the jar again to receive another bunch of Rupees. You can repeat this process as many times as necessary to fill Link’s wallet.
Reduce Prices in Tingle’s Shop
Jump into the metal pot on the first floor of the Forsaken Fortress with the Tingle Tuner equipped. Tingle will inform Link that Tingle Things are now half-price.
Free Health During Final Boss Fight
During the final boss fight against Ganondorf, Link can use the Grappling Hook on Princess Zelda to obtain 3 Recovery Hearts. You can repeat this process as necessary to fill up Link’s health as it depletes.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Cheat FAQ
How long does it take to 100% Wind Waker
Though mileage may vary, it typically takes around 40 hours to complete every side quest and the main quest of Wind Waker.
What is Hero Mode in Wind Waker HD?
Hero Mode is similar to another game’s hard difficulty, where enemies deal double damage and not dropping Recovery Hearts after defeat. Turning on Hero Mode makes the game significantly more challenging but does not offer any significant reward for beating it.