My first and only play through of The Wind Waker was quite the forgettable experience....literally. All I remembered was how I hated this game, and disliked the whole cel-shaded art direction.
Other than that, I can't really say why I hated the game. I believe I never gave it a fair shot and judged it solely on some petty changes. I have been wanting to give it another go with an open mind and what better chance to do so with Nintendo releasing a HD version for its newest console.
The entire kingdom of Hyrule has been flooded as water stretched as far as the eye can see. The blue liquid is everywhere and I quickly regain some of the aggravation this game caused me. Sailing is absolutely the worst. The constant stopping and going, the time spent traversing the sea, and redirecting the wind can certainly make you want to not even bother. You eventually will learn a song that can warp you from one area to another to cut down distance and time but by that time, sailing as run its course and is tiresome. You can also get a Sail that lets the speed of you boat increase but I was never able to find it.
Maybe the sailing wouldn't be so bad if there were actually sights to see. The world is pretty empty and boring. There are a few towns but
Now I mentioned the art direction above and how it turned me off completely during my first playthrough but this time, I didn't mind so much. The game is bright, vibrant and sharp. I definitely enjoy the art design of Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess much more because it offers much more depth and textures giving more life and character to the world. Enemy designs are a bit too cartoonish looking too, which is another reason why I enjoy a more realistic looking world. I did notice some framerate drops when one too many enemies are on the screen, and during Puppet Ganon's fight. Overall, its a pretty good looking game when you're in towns or dungeons.
The gameplay is basically like all the other Legend of Zelda games as you get your dungeons and puzzles, exploration and items. There's a cool counter attack that gives you the chance to maneuver your way around an incoming hit and roll your way to victory. When you're not sailing the game is enjoyable.
You get your well designed 3 temples in the early going as Link tries to collect these spheres that will show the location of possibly the most badass sword in video game history. After that the game goes into its 2nd phase of collecting stuff to progess you to the final fight with Ganon. The boss fights are somewhat challenging but more so on the simple side once you know what to do. The final fight with Ganon however is awesome and the set pieces make it for one epic showdown--ew, I just used the word epic. The Legend of Zelda is remarkable in a sense that he can throw out the same formula every time but it will never get stale (to me at least). Nintendo does a great job to release a new Zelda game every few years so this certainly helps...unlike other franchises that throw out garbage yearly.
There were some annoyances too that hold back the gameplay though. I never noticed this before but the targeting system was a tad bit frustrating. There needs to be an option to toggle bewteen targets. Another one was finding the triforce pieces...8 of them to be exact. It completely dragged on the game and made it difficult to push through. Also, the shops suck. They never sell the same thing and you have to warp around trying to find arrows for about 5 minutes because you don't know where they are sold..yes this happened to me! It would have been nice to have all the shops sell the same items.
Overall The Wind Waker is a good Zelda game even though it hits some rough patches on the open waters. My second playthrough was much more positive this time around and I'm glad I gave it another go. The sound was solid offering tunes that everyone knows but also including some unique ones as well. The core gameplay and the LoZ formula is still as fun. A few tweeks here and there, and excluding a boat, wind, and scattered triforce pieces could have had this game sailing into the sunset.