The Wind Waker and Ocarina of Time are two really good Legend of Zelda games and are the most enjoyed by me. They have been remastered on the Wii U and 3DS, respectively, and bring heavy nostalgic feelings. They will always be classics.
So – which is better in comparison?
Graphics: The Wind Waker and Ocarina of Time have substantially different graphical styles. Wind Waker‘s cel-shaded, whereas Ocarina of Time has traditional 3D fantasy graphics, without such shading.
The cartoony graphics in Wind Waker make it even more kid friendly and also lend the game a happier setting. I prefer them.
Setting: Wind Waker is strictly on water and transportation is by boat. Ocarina of Time is on land and features the horse Epona for getting around.
There are scary places in Wind Waker, such as Forsaken Fortress, and the story can be dark, but the brightness of the sea and the scope of the journey across said ocean exudes enough cheerful vibes to counter any scary darkness.
The dungeons take place on islands in Wind Waker and include many extra treasures, which you can find from under the sea with a grappling hook.
Ocarina of Time is primarily on land and has elemental dungeons such as the Forest Temple, Fire Temple, and Water Temple. There’s horror throughout, especially in the Shadow Temple. There aren’t as many treasures, mostly deku nuts or sticks. The feel is not as cheerful as Wind Waker’s, especially in the adult segment of the game.
Ocarina of Time does have an exotic dungeon: Inside Jabu-Jabu’s Belly. I mean, come on, you’re inside of a belly, but aren’t being born.
Music: The key difference between the music in the games is the feel of it, whether happy and upbeat or not.
Wind Waker took a unique approach to Zelda music. Its tunes sound more like a town in the Kanto region from Pokémon. Ocarina of Time is slower and more melodic and fits a Zelda game.
The song you’ll hear the most in Wind Waker is The Great Sea since much game time is spent sailing. The overworld theme does not dominate Ocarina of Time as much. You don’t spend much time on the field – nothing much to do – and night comes early and often, when the music stops.
The songs are a bit more modernized and include catchy beats in Wind Waker. The use of the flute in Wind Waker is also something to consider, especially in Windfall Island’s music. If you want more upbeat music, Wind Waker is the one.
Characters: Ocarina of Time includes Zoras, Gorons, and Gerudos. Wind Waker has these races too, but also the bird-like Rito and charming woodland Korok.
In Wind Waker you play as Toon Link and in Ocarina of Time you play as Young Link and Adult Link. Wind Waker’s Link is more expressive due to the cartoony graphics.
In Wind Waker, there’s a close family to Link, who lives with his grandma and sister. This makes Wind Waker more playable for kids and gives Link a more personal motive in the game. In Ocarina of Time, he begins as one of many Kokiri kids, with no parents or other relatives close by, unless you count Navi as one.
Story: In Wind Waker you are the titular “Wind Waker”, and use the same item to manipulate the direction of the wind as you sail.
In Ocarina of Time, you are the Hero of Time, and play the ocarina of time to transport, among other abilities.
In both games you must defeat Ganon. In Wind Waker you are doing it at first to save your sister, and then – spoilers – doing it to save Zelda. In Ocarina of Time, you are chosen to save Zelda from the start.
Wind Waker is definitely tougher due to the ending when you must find seven Triforce maps and their shards. Ocarina of Time is as standard as the others: defeating eight dungeons leading up to Ganon’s castle, with no pesky Triforce shards to find.
Summary: Wind Waker is a sea-based, cartoony Zelda and Ocarina of Time is a land-locked, standard Zelda that most young adult gamers today grew up on. I think Wind Waker is more of a challenge, though ironically more kid friendly. Ocarina of Time has been the basis of most Zelda games since its release.
For me, Wind Waker is more unique and, never being on the N64, was a game really new for me. It’s definitely a risk, but I’ll say it: Wind Waker is better.
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