The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is now 20 years old, and no, we didn’t travel through the Temple of Time to get here; it has really been that long. Let’s take a look back at 20 of the best moments in Zelda: The Wind Waker to celebrate its major anniversary.
The Wind Waker is a game with an incredible cast of characters and an art style that burns these moments into your memory. From its heartfelt and comedic moments to its intense and dramatic scenes, the game will take you through every emotion along the journey. Without further ado, here are 20 of our favorites.
Meeting Zill the Booger Kid
The cast of characters you’ll meet through The Wind Waker is truly phenomenal, but none are quite as endearing as Zill on Outset Island. His key characteristic is the giant booger hanging out of his nose. Why is this moment so special? Look at that thing, it defies every law of video game physics.
Nintendo is no stranger to the snotty child trope at this point, but Zill definitely paved the way for characters such as Daisy Mae in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Gravity-defying boogers just attract so many questions and captivate us as an audience.
Why is it so long? What is it made of? What would happen if we snipped it off with a pair of scissors? Does it affect his balance? While we may never be able to learn the science behind it, Zill’s booger will forever live in our memories.
Carrying the Pigs
These have to be some of the cutest video game pigs ever designed. Can you pet them? No, but you can pick them up and watch them squirm as you carry them from place to place. These stout little cuties come in different colors and different sizes ranging from small to quivering under their weight.
Pigs will typically provide a healthy reward of rupees when captured and delivered for certain side quests. Just be very careful not to attack them though because they will fight back and knock little Link to the ground. They are ruthless.
Aryll Getting Kidnapped
Nintendo managed to tug at your heartstrings in all the right ways with Wind Waker. We are quickly introduced to Link’s younger sister Aryll who lends her most treasured possession, a telescope, to Link for his birthday. Her childlike kindness and love for her brother wins us over immediately.
No sooner after she’s won our hearts is she kidnapped and Link sets off on the entire journey to sail the seas and rescue his beloved younger sister. We encounter pirates, break out of prison, fight off giant birds, and get up close and personal with Ganon himself during this journey. Aryll is the spark that got The Wind Waker moving.
Meeting the King of Red Lions
After a daring attempt to rescue Aryll, Link is thrown off into the ocean. Link wakes to find himself rescued by the King of Red Lions. Though his true identity isn’t known until later in the game, he gives you the ability to sail the ocean while building a bond that makes the King of Red Lions an unforgettable companion.
Sailing through the ocean is a huge aspect of The Wind Waker and none of it is possible without the King of Red Lions. Charting the ocean, following treasure maps, fishing for mysteries, and encountering a wide breadth of action are just the beginning of this character. But there will be more to say about him later in this list.
Battleship just hits differently when it’s recreated in a video game and includes a cardboard cutout a man sticks his face through to reenact the terrifying tale of squids attacking a boat at sea. Seriously, it’s better than the movie Battleship, which is somehow a thing that exists in this world.
The game has you search the seas for the hidden squid and shoot them with the 24 cannons you have available to you. The game is complete with voice-acted sound effects that are too hilarious to mute. It also offers some replayability so you can try to get a perfect score of nine shots.
There are tons of jailbreaks in The Wind Waker. While Link is typically the one breaking out of jail, you do have to help Tingle out of a sticky situation. It’s honestly difficult not to be captivated by this weird little man and his tight green suit.
When you help release him from jail, he rewards you with some Tingle Charts that will lead you to some Great Fairies. But he also leaves you with a tip to check the back of his prison cell where players can find the legendary Pictobox. More on that later.
Smashing the Rich Man’s Pots
Is it really a Zelda game if you don’t smash any pots? I don’t know about you, but when I see a pot, I know it’s only a matter of seconds before I smash it. And no pots look more smashable than the really nice ones locked up in a rich man’s house on Windfall Island.
These pots are under heavy surveillance so you’ll need to be sneaky to make sure they all turn into the shards of porcelain they long to be. Set the pots close together so you can take them out with a single slash. The rich man will charge you 80 rupees for the destruction of private property. Of course, you won’t have to pay a dime if you show up without a rupee to your name.
Continuing on the trend of side quests, this one involves more stealth and some quick thinking. During the rich girl turned poor sidequest, Link has to follow Mila without getting caught in pursuit. If you manage to get close enough but remain hidden, Mila will turn around to ask who’s there, and Link will let out a big meow, so he doesn’t blow his cover.
This moment is sure to take players by surprise when they first encounter it. Link is often a silent protagonist outside of his usual “hyah”s while in combat, but this is one of the few vocalizations we get from him as a character. He does make a convincing cat meow though.
One of the most iconic locations in Zelda: The Wind Waker is Dragon Roost Island. From the harrowing journey to the top of the mountain to the music that plays along the way, it’s an unforgettable section of the game.
When you reach the top, you’ll find Valoo has his tail stuck in a hole and cannot get out. This begs to question, why is his tail in there? How did Valoo get himself into this situation? Link goes in to investigate and help free him from the unbearable pain and embarrassment that comes from sticking your tail where it shouldn’t go.
Meeting the Koroks
The Kokori used to have a human appearance, but following the great flood, they turned into the adorable little Koroks we know today. These little wooden creatures with leaf-masked faces rarely appear to humans, so it’s a special moment when they fly in after an invitation from the Great Deku Tree.
Each Korok has a unique leaf mask and they all come in different shapes and sizes making it incredibly difficult to pick a favorite. It’s difficult not to love the troublemaking Makar who also happens to be the only musician amongst the Korok. Watching him shred on that violin is truly worth the rescue mission you only had to go on because he ignores the wise words of the Deku Tree.
Finding Sunken Hyrule
One of the greatest moments in all of Zelda is finding that Hyrule Castle has been resting just beneath the waters you’ve been sailing the entire game. To think the ocean was hiding such an iconic location and the vast history of Hyrule is lost to those left above water.
It’s always special when exploring the castle and seeing the ruins of a past long forgotten. It is also incredibly eerie exploring the castle frozen in time and seeing the battle that had taken place. From the dull colors to the unmoving enemies, walking through the castle is an emotional moment.
Awakening Hyrule after Pulling the Master Sword
After exploring the castle, Link finally manages to pull the Master Sword, but it awakens the entire castle and brings the enemies back to life. All those enemies you passed who were frozen in place are suddenly awake and ready for a fight.
It’s stressful making your big escape from the castle while getting bombarded left and right. While you can try to sneak by, you are bound to get into a scuffle that could heavily deplete your hearts. Personally, I love this segment for the high intensity and action around every corner.
Link makes many attempts throughout the game to save his younger sister Aryll, but it isn’t until after getting the Master Sword that he can finally rescue her from Ganon’s grasp. By this point, Aryll has been gone so long and your grandmother is full of worry for the two of you.
It is a heartwarming sight when the two of them finally reunite and bring a conclusion to the quest that set off this entire adventure. It becomes especially exciting when Tetra shows up with her crew to help Aryll and the other kidnapped girls get back to their homes.
Reaching Ganon’s Bed Chambers
It’s very rare that players get up close and personal with Ganon, but The Wind Waker takes you all the way to his bed chambers. Ganon is always such a mysterious and private villain, it feels odd being able to access this area and converse with him.
His huge and menacing presence is powerful throughout this scene, and it is easy to see that he controls the room. If not for Tetra’s interference, it could have been over for Link. Unfortunately, Ganon finally finds Princess Zelda and makes it his mission to capture her and steal her triforce.
Learning the King of Red Lions’ Identity
To think that boat you’ve been sailing across the ocean the entire game was the King of Hyrule himself. He saw all the time you wasted poorly navigating the ocean and the many, many detours you took instead of attending to more pressing matters.
All that aside, King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule finally reveals himself when you reach the hidden room in Hyrule Castle with Tetra. He also reveals that he has been speaking to Link and Tetra through the Gossip Stones the entire time and leading them along their quest.
Tetra was Zelda the Entire Time?
Ganon was on the search for Princess Zelda and was kidnapping anybody who fit the profile. In fact, that was why Aryll was taken to begin with. Turns out Zelda was hard to find because she was disguised as Tetra and leading a pack of pirates across the ocean.
It isn’t until you reach the sunken Hyrule and meet Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule that Tetra’s true identity is officially confirmed. Seeing Zelda as a pirate continues her trend of taking on badass disguises throughout the Zelda series.
Giving Grandma a Fairy
Link and Aryll’s grandmother is a heartbreakingly sweet character. Her undying love for her grandchildren and the kindness and care she shows for them only magnifies the deep sense of loss she must feel after Aryll is kidnapped.
In her state, she understands that she is much too old to help her children and is torn by the idea of having to see them go through such a heavy burden without her. When you visit her, she is unwell and is having nightmares about the entire situation.
When Link gives her a fairy, it heals her and lifts her spirits immensely. She knows that Link is capable of rescuing Aryll and can even provide support in the form of her Elixir Soup. This soup heals both hearts and magic but also doubles Link’s power until he takes damage.
This is one of the most legendary endings to a Zelda boss battle that there has ever been. Honestly, who knows if Nintendo will ever be able to finish off a boss like this in a Zelda game again? With the help of Princess Zelda, Link is able to strike the final blow on Ganon by stabbing him right through the head with the Master Sword.
It’s surprisingly brutal for a game with such a bright, colorful, and cute art style. It’s a shocking moment for sure, and it’s hard to believe that Nintendo went to these lengths to show how Link would properly vanquish evil. It’s a wonder this game managed to achieve an E rating with this climactic ending.
Playing The Wind Waker in Pajamas
After completing the entire story and starting a new game, players can enjoy the game again in their pajamas. Link’s pajamas, that is. Instead of wearing the classic green tunic and hat, explore the seas with your bright blue lobster print pajamas, because why not?
It’s an extra feature introduced in the new game+ mode that includes some subtle changes to the game. Another cool bonus is that all the ancient Hylian text is translated into English and can be read throughout this playthrough. It’s a nice change of scenery when you decide to revisit this amazing game.
The Pictograph gives players the most important ability in the game, taking selfies. This is a power that must be handled with care and used only when necessary. This feature paired with Toon Link’s wonderful facial expressions has been a source of joy for the community for the past 20 years, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The photo of Link with Ganon during their final showdown will continue to make the rounds through the Internet possibly beyond our death when our children’s children’s children rule the world. It’ll be flooded and they’ll all live on islands and we’ll be long forgotten anyway.