While this game might not appeal to everybody, it definitely deserves recognition for its accomplishments.
Graphics: Since the most popular Legend of Zelda game, Ocarina of Time was realistic, Shigeru Miyamoto took a radical change in the game's style. "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker" is completely cel-shaded. Many were critical of the game's "cartoony" graphics, but the nay-sayers have come to realize that such a change fits the game perfectly.
With features such as Link's big, bulbous head, the graphics add a comical sense to the game and lightens the mood. Link has a variety of faces he makes that reflect his situation. He will get dizzy after doing his spin attack, look at enemies and objects, and even make a face when he gets hit.
The Wind Waker has an artistic sense to its cel-shading and changes the mood of the game entirely. The way the water splits as Link sail through the vast, pretty sea and the way the Non-playable characters are designed are completely remarkable. Among the best of the new consoles, Zelda's graphics have set a whole new meaning to "cel-shading." You see islands from afar in this game, and they look remarkable. Windfall Island is among the best.
Sound: This game completely recreates the classic Zelda themes, while adding new, catchy themes to the series. Ranging from the cheesy "finding an item" music, to the beautifully orchestrated sailing theme, this game's sound is something to be reckoned with. From the adventurous mood you feel while exploring the sea, the upbeat boss music, to the mysterious theme played while exploring the dungeons, "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker" really sets the mood to fit what you are doing.
Gameplay: As with any other Zelda titles, The Wind Waker is definitely more gameplay-based than story-based.
The combat has improved over "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" and "The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask." Indeed, Link has quite a few new moves. From his jumping vertical slash, to his running spin attack (which is quite funny, because he runs around dizzy afterwards), these new moves really add to the experience of the Legend of Zelda series. Link has learned how to counter enemies' attacks as well. However, Link's foes can still do a range of nasty things to our friend Link. Poes can make him run crazily around, confused, Redeads (Legend of Zelda's classic zombies) will scare Link to death, and the other enemies will just try to beat the life out of him. Link can now pick up enemy weapons and use them to his advantage. Our green friend also gets orbs (which carry all kinds of goodies inside them) from enemies. Without spoiling it, I will say that the final battle is easily the best in the series.
The puzzles are cleverly designed and require quite a bit of thinking to solve. The wind plays a major part in the story. In fact, a lot of the puzzles are wind-based. Most of these can be as simple as defeating a lot of enemies in one room, pressing switches at a certain time, making it to your destination before the time runs out, or other kinds of neat things. As for the other puzzles, you will have to figure them out for yourself.
Perhaps the most controversial part about The Wind Waker is the newest addition to the series...the sailing. I, however, found it enjoyable, as I love exploring the vast, mysterious world in this game. You can do a variety of things in your boat; the vessel even talks to you. You can use your grappling hook to search for underwater treasure, get into cannon fights with enemy vessels, and even fight giant squids (which, unfortunately, respawn). A significant downside is that when you reach the bottom of the map, Link doesn't go to the top of the map, which would be most helpful. Eventually, you learn a tune that lets you warp to different parts of the map, the map being broken up into squares. As with any other Zelda title, there is a theme; Link now has the ability to conduct the wind to his advantage. This nifty little trick works to help Link in his quest to solve puzzles and to help him sail this vast ocean in this immense world.
Our hero has a variety of new, neat weapons in his inventory. The grappling hook and the Deku Leaf are among the newest additions to his arsenal. There are plenty of old, classic items too. Link still has the hook-shot, boomerang, and even the iron boots make a comeback. There are plenty of side quests as well, complete with treasure maps, sea charts, and even strangely familiar traveling salesmen. There are also a lot of mini-games in this game, like every Zelda title. You can jump barrels, play a battleship game, and even do a side quest for "a special gift." There is really too much gameplay to actually write a review about, so hopefully you will pick up it for yourself and find out all this game has to offer!
Replay Value: This is my biggest disappointment with the game. There isn't as much replay value as I'd like to see. You do, however, get nice little bonuses for beating the game, but it has a repetitious feeling to it once you beat it. The dungeons are no different and the puzzles are all figured out, so there's no incentive to keep you going. That brings my score down a bit, but it doesn't ruin the game. It is, after all, still somewhat enjoyable to get all the optional items and heart pieces.
Overall: This game is a nice addition to the series. With the redefined graphics, improved gameplay, and excellent sounds, this is not a title to miss!