Ask anyone to name their favorite The Legend of Zelda title and there's a large chance that they'll say The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. No, the Nintendo 64 release isn't the number one rank on literally every Zelda fans list, but it's hard to ignore how much attention and accolade the title has received over the years.
For one, it was the first 3D The Legend of Zelda title to ever release, giving us an entirely new way to play and experience the franchise. The quest itself felt epic and legendary, spanning across multiple time periods, with many dungeons and enemies to conquer along the way. In true The Legend of Zelda fashion, it featured an abundance of places to explore, but also gave us access to an open world teeming with side quests and hidden secrets. Ocarina of Time will forever live on as one of the pinnacles of gaming history, and it's immortalized as one of Nintendo's best releases ever.
That doesn't mean that first is always best. Many gamers instantly fell in love with The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, while others touted that Ocarina of Time was superior to the gritty "sequel." It's no surprise that the same thing would happen to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Even though it released on an entirely new system, in a different "console generation" altogether, there were many that were still fixated on the idea that Ocarina of Time was superior in every way.
The cold, hard truth, is that it's not. We're expecting an incoming wave of hate-filled rants and expletive-laced claims on this one, but we strongly believe that The Wind Waker is a superior title to Ocarina of Time in many ways. Here are 15 Reasons The Wind Waker Is Better Than Ocarina of Time.
Which title is your favorite and why? Let us know!
15 King Of Red Lions > Navi
This one is a bit of a gimme. It's no secret that every Ocarina of Time fan found Link's chatty fairy friend to be a bit of an annoyance. The constant "Hey, Listen!," paired with the abundance of "Hey, Look!," was enough to make anyone's ears bleed. Thankfully, Navi vanished after the conclusion of Ocarina of Time and we didn't have to suffer through her monotonous ramblings in future releases.
In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, we are introduced to a new companion, The King of Red Lions. This sassy talking boat saves The Hero of Winds from a watery grave, then proceeds to tote him through the dangerous currents of the high sea. His hearty laugh and entertaining rhetoric make him a beloved companion.
14 Hard Rock Takes A Band
We all know about the Ocarina of Time. The glistening blue instrument allowed The Hero of Time to venture effortlessly between past, future, and present. The docile tones and catchy songs captured many a heart, while simultaneously filling YouTube with tons of beautiful covers and remixes. The ocarina has featured in a few The Legend of Zelda titles and many players have become accustomed to its haunting melodies.
The Hero of Winds prefers something with a little more grace. The Wind Waker isn't an instrument proper, but rather, a conductor's baton. When Toon Link needs to call forth the winds, he doesn't beckon them from the bellows of a woodwind. Instead, our hero gracefully leads the breeze through a poetic waltz.
To open certain dungeons, you'll need to teach companions how to play a clarion call on their specified instrument. Any hero can learn some notes, but it takes a true musical master to lead an orchestra.
13 In A League Of His Own
We've seen many incantations of Link throughout the years. This plucky young lad has come a long way from his 8-bit origins. Whether you believe the "one Link theory" or not, we can all agree that some Link's are more entertaining than others. The Link found in Ocarina of Time is the strong, silent type, only opening his mouth to utter battle cries and winces of pain.
The Hero of Winds is very much the same, opting for a non-existent rhetoric and a series of Kung Fu-like utterances. That being said, Toon Link is aware of the importance of body language. This half-pint hero has more emotion packed into his miniature form than most entertainers. His shifty eyes and often hilarious facial expressions have been the subject of many memes.
Ocarina of Time Link may have transformed into a hunky Adult variant, but Toon Link will always steal the show.
12 A Mighty Sea Indeed
The Legend of Zelda franchise is well known for its elaborate overworlds and exciting dungeon structures. Each release features an array of locations, usually spanning different biomes. The map for Ocarina of Time was a massive "open world" that saw Link conquering mountains, trudging through sand, navigating dense woods, and solving a labyrinth beneath cold waters.
The world of The Wind Waker is larger and a bit more open than its predecessors. The Great Flood paved way for an expansive seascape, teeming with both beauty and danger. You aren't simply spanning the countryside when you travel through this Legend of Zelda release, and it helps to create an experience that feels like a truly epic quest. Each island has something unique to offer and there are many hidden secrets to discover.
The world of The Wind Waker is simply bigger and better, as it should be considering the age difference.
11 Untapped Potential
It's not hard to see why The Wind Waker looked and felt larger than Ocarina of Time. There was a four year period of time spanning the development of each game. It may not seem like an exceedingly long time, but those particular years saw a substantial hardware upgrade for Nintendo. In 2001, the tech giant unveiled the Nintendo GameCube, giving developers access to upgraded system specs and the ability to use compact discs instead of cartridges.
This allowed creators to implement bigger and better ideas for The Legend of Zelda franchise. In fact, developers may have gone a little too wild with the production of The Wind Waker. There is a ton of unused information simply lying around within the game. This information includes things like test rooms and placeholder items. There are also unused concept sketches, as well as some scrapped dungeons.
It's hard to imagine how much bigger The Wind Waker could have been, had developers had the time to implement all of their original ideas.
10 A Thousand Words
Ocarina of Time featured some beautiful visuals, with unique character designs and expansive locations. There was so much to see and do across the land of Hyrule. Unfortunately, most of the journey feels like a blur. You'll interact with many NPCs, battle many enemies, and conquer many dungeons. It can be downright difficult to retain a mental image of all you'll see and do.
The Wind Waker remedied this with its unique and entertaining Picto Box. This item allowed Link to take photographs throughout his journey. If you snap a photo of a certain individual, they can be molded into a figurine for display in the Nintendo Gallery. Later in his journey, Toon Link can obtain the Deluxe Picto Box, which takes photographs in color.
The Wind Waker HD introduced a selfie mechanic, allowing Link to capture all of his hilarious facial expressions all across Hyrule.
9 Soar Like A Seagull
Much of Link's Ocarina of Time quest was spent with his feet planted firmly on the ground. You're never given the opportunity to soar like an eagle, but you'll have plenty of time to sink like a stone (curse that horrible Water Temple). The Wind Waker gives you the opportunity to careen through the sky.
The Deku Leaf will grant you a temporary gliding ability, but the real aerial treat comes from the Hyoi Pear. This item can be purchased from Beedle and stored in the Bait Bag. At first, the spooky looking pear seems like nothing more than a cheap, useless fruit. However, if positioned atop Toon Link's head, it will attract nearby seagulls.
You'll then gain access to the pear hungry seagull and can use it to fly Link to otherwise inaccessible areas. It may not be soaring like an eagle, but it's close enough.
8 The Story Is Better
Cue the incessant screams of a thousand irate The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time fans. Don't get us wrong, the storyline for Ocarina of Time was spectacular in its own right. The threat of Ganondorf was an evil so imposing that it transcended past and future. Link had to travel great distances, uniting numerous races and solving an abundance of problems along the way. It was a story truly worth telling.
That being said, we propose that The Wind Waker actually features a more entertaining story arc. The prospect of The Great Flood is interesting and unique in its delivery. The fact that the powers at be were willing to flood Hyrule to "save it" speaks volumes about the evil that Toon Link faced.
There were many interesting sub-headings, including the "evolution of the Zora." Ocarina of Time felt like a legendary quest, but The Wind Waker story plays out like a truly elaborate adventure across a great sea.
7 The Soundtrack Is Better
We already proposed that the storyline is better, so why not attack the soundtracks while we're at it? Ocarina of Time features some of the most timeless (pun intended) musical scores in all of gaming. There have been thousands of Gerudo Valley covers, an abundance of Song of Storms instrumentals, and almost every facet of the original soundtrack has been redone in some fashion.
The Wind Waker may not receive as much attention, but its soundtrack is beautifully composed. Each piece maintains a sense of wonder, bullet pointing the title's adventurous vibe. It's hard to imagine any song from The Wind Waker ever being as popular as Bolero of Fire, The Song of Time, or even Nocturne of Shadow. For us, Dragon Roost Island will always hold a special place in our hearts. There's something for everyone on The Wind Waker soundtrack and it's upbeat instrumentals are unrivaled.
6 Sailing Away
You'll spend a large chunk of your Ocarina of Time journey galloping across the countryside. Link's faithful steed, Epona, is always nearby to offer The Hero of Time a burst of speed. There is something outwardly heroic about racing a horse through mountainous valleys and wide open plains.
Horses are great, but sailing across deep blue waters is a grandiose affair. A four-legged friend wouldn't last very long in treacherous waters, so Toon Link was gifted with The King of Red Lions. This chatty sailboat is the perfect vessel to navigate the Great Flood. This isn't simply an "extra speed" type of transportation either.
There is much to see and do in the waters covering Hyrule. There are treasure chests to be found, enemies to fight, whirlwinds to avoid, and obstacles to overcome. The siren call of adventure beckons to a worthy sailor, making transportation in The Wind Waker a supremely enjoyable mechanic.
5 New Game Plus
No, this isn't a new game plus in the traditional sense. In the modern age, a second playthrough means restarting the journey at strength, with all of your unlockables and weapons at the ready. This is a rather difficult thing to achieve with a Legend of Zelda game, considering how the mechanics of the franchise work. Still, that didn't stop developers from adding a second quest to The Wind Waker.
The second playthrough sees mostly aesthetic changes. Link will be able to wear his starting outfit through the entire journey, while Aryll will feature her ending "pirate outfit." The location of sunken treasures changes a little, usually forcing the locations out a bit further from their initial spot. This makes locating the loot a bit harder than before, offering an increased challenge for any would-be pirates. You'll also gain access to your Deluxe Picto Box right from the start, complete with any pictures you took during the first quest.
Perhaps the biggest and best change is that all spoken Hylian text is translated.
4 Cel Shading Is Beautiful
You probably knew this was coming, considering how we already discussed story and soundtrack. This one is a little different, due primarily to the limitations of the Nintendo 64 in comparison to the Nintendo GameCube. Of course, with increased specs and processing power, the GameCube was able to render and produce much better graphics than its predecessor. We aren't arguing that the visuals looked better overall, but, rather, that The Wind Waker featured a better aesthetic overall.
A lot of the colors felt flat in Ocarina of Time, creating a space in which items, locations, and characters could seem a bit drab at times. The Wind Waker introduced players to a vibrant world, teeming with color and emotion. Each island presented itself like a work of art, and the beautiful blue tone of the sea was eye candy all its own. The cel shading added a child-like wonderment to the release, further underlining the playful and visually stunning attributes of the bright and vivid color schemes.
3 It's Multiplayer! (Kinda)
Ocarina of Time wasn't a multiplayer affair, but The Wind Waker made use of a curious cooperative mechanic. In order to tap into this partner potential, you'd need access to a Game Boy Advance and an add-on device called a Tingle Tuner. Once all of the devices were synced together, it was possible for two players to enjoy The Wind Waker adventure as a team.
The Tingle Tuner could display an in-game map and offer useful items to Toon Link throughout his journey. Special potions could refill your hearts or magic power, while other skills could make you invulnerable for a short period of time, or even allow The Hero of Winds to float in mid-air. All of these tricks required rupees to power.
Perhaps the most useful trick were Tingle bombs, which could be placed down by the Game Boy Advance player, helping to damage enemies or blow up obstacles. It's was limited for its time, but it managed to help bring some semblance of multiplayer to a 3D Legend of Zelda title.
2 A Lovely Bunch Of Korok
The Korok are one of the greatest things to ever grace The Legend of Zelda universe. These tiny little tree folk are direct descendants of the Kokiri from Ocarina of Time, which would explain their childlike demeanor. Korok are adorable little bundles of wood, with large leaves covering their faces and little stub-like protrusions for arms and legs.
Their cute voices and happy-go-lucky attitudes are one of the highpoints of The Wind Waker main storyline. Their purpose is noble and Link is able to witness the Korok Festival first hand. Through the power of music and adorable friendship, these tiny woodlings help The Great Deku Tree produce seeds. Some Korok are tasked with taking these new seeds and traveling all across The Great Flood in hopes of sprouting new forests.
Korok played a prominent part in the newest franchise hit, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
1 Ganondorf Isn't A Pushover
Let's all be honest for a moment, the final fight with Ganon in Ocarina of Time left a lot to be desired. The mechanics were painfully simple, forcing players to simply roll through his legs and slash at his tail. This rinse and repeat element made the final boss battle seem like an afterthought. The fight with Ganondorf (first form, within the castle) was much more challenging by comparison.
Thankfully, the final battles within The Wind Waker are much more challenging and engaging. Before you can face the evil lord himself, you'll need to defeat Puppet Ganon, which is easily one of the harder bosses to grace The Legend of Zelda universe. After slashing through three different puppet forms, you'll have a chance to defeat Ganondorf and stop his evil plans for world domination. This fight, however, isn't nearly as lackadaisical as the Ocarina of Time battle.
Ganondorf will actually pursue you and his dual sword fighting style can be a headache to overcome. You'll need patience, swift reflexes, and good timing, to topple this foe.