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Audience of The Wind Waker


Lord of the Flies
Site Staff
Oct 14, 2007
West Dundee, IL
One thing that always boggled my mind was... who exactly is the audience of The Wind Waker? I know at the time of its announcement and eventually at its release, a lot of self described 'Hardcore Zelda Fans' were very angry with the direction Zelda was going. Many believed that the new cel-shaded style of graphics were tending towards the younger audience and in particular... little kids.

After having played through the game, I think 'most' Zelda fans would agree that... it feels and plays EXACTLY like all the great Zelda games that we came to love over the years.

Back 3 years ago, I purchased the game for Christmas for my little cousin, who was then just 7 years old. He put it in his Gamecube at the time and started a new record. Given he is just 7 years old... he had absolutely no interest in the extremely long opening story/scene. Of which right off the bat, he lost some interest. Finally... after getting through the story and everything, he was able to move around, but because of the nature of how the game was setup, you are a bit limited as to what you can do and where you can go to start the game. So the most fun he had... was sneaking up on the pigs and then tossing them in the water... of which he did that over and over, never bother trying to jump into the quest/story of the game. After a short wihle, he eventually gave up on the game.

I was one of the many that was skeptical of this... and while I don't think I'd buy Twilight Princess for a 7 year old, I WOULD buy Wind Waker for a 7 year old. However, after this instance several years back and now looking back on it. I can't say that there is much of a difference. I really don't think the audience of Wind Waker is much (if anything at all) different from Twilight Princess. I think the same Zelda fans that are attracted to the great gameplay and storyline are the same Zelda fans that would purchase both of these titles. I think the graphical differences are very deceiving and that while one looks more 'kid-friendly' it really is not.

What do you guys think of this story of my cousin and I, and who do you think Wind Waker was really tended towards?


Sage of Tales
I remember one of my good online friends once contending that she thought Wind Waker was the darkest Zelda title there is. (I respectfully disagree, holding up Majora's Mask), but I see her point. Hyrule is flooded/gone... Sages get murdered (the fact is outright stated for Laruto and Fado)...

I've been borrowing WW from my fiance's nephew, along with several other games. My fiance, himself, doesn't have much interest in playing through Zelda quests, but sometimes likes to sneak into my files and play for a bit without saving. I woke up to him doing this with WW one morning and he exclaimed: "This game looks like it was made for little kids, but it's too HARD for them!"

Then I showed him how to hookshot targets in the Wind Temple and said "It's not so hard if you know what you're doing."

I remember the time my guy's sister came for a visit and we got onto the topic of Zelda. The only Zelda title she's ever played was WW, I believe, and she really liked it. This is a woman in her fifties, mind you.

I think that maybe the game was made for a young audience in mind, originally, but it's probably even more enjoyable to adults. I mean, I'm older than dirt at most places in the Zelda community (being 30) and I had a lot of fun with WW and found it quite enchanting. What it felt to me was like "playing a wonderfully-illustrated storybook." It's funny, it's got a neat look to it, and a beautiful story. So, even if adult players are an unintended secondary audience, I'm sure Nintendo thinks it's all cool.


Dec 3, 2008
I completely agree Mases. It seems as though Nintendo tried to aim that game at a younger audience.. Maybe hoping to to bring in more money from the struggling Gamecube. But really after all of the skepticism, I know more "hardcore" Zelda fans that think the "childish" story and graphics of Wind Waker are much better then the so called "dark" story and graphics of Twilight Princess.

I don't own the game either. (Yet) So I borrow it from a friend when I want to play it. Just like Shadsie. I've played through the game countless times, and the I never get tired of the rich gameplay. And the beautiful Cel-Shaded graphics never cease to amaze me every time I look out over the water.

But really, I think that Wind Waker was more aimed at children, trying to bring in more money. Because you can see from the tech demo that Nintendo wanted to make a more mature Zelda, such as the did after with TP. But that's just my thoughts.


Sage of Tales
I read something somewhere... the almighty Wiki, I believe, that stated that Twilight Princess actually began, in early development, as a sequel to Wind Waker, then they completely overhauled it and gave it realistic graphics and the "mature" storyline. Given this, I find it interesting to see similiarities between the two - little things (like Link's love of soup in both).

I am a Twilight Princess fan. I make no secret of that, and resent being "put on the outs" in tihs fandom for my tastes, but I like to let it be known that it is possible to enjoy both TP and WW. I do. And it's possible to enjoy those titles and still enjoy OoT... Some of the fighting over title loyalty in this fandom annoys me. Can't someone love them all?

I tend to think that there's a "Zelda for everybody," and that "kid" titles like WW aren't/shouldn't be limited to children, in that case.
Oct 18, 2008
In my coffin
I personally believe that Wind Waker was meant for a large audience.

There are things in the game that can appeal to both kids and adults.
The games graphics I think help the story have more of an inpact, because you would not expect a game with WW's graphics to have a serious story to it.

As I said earlier, I think that the game has things that appeal to both kids and adults.
Kids will probably like the game for it's graphics, and silly characters.
And for adults there's the story.
Wind Waker has a deep story with Hyrule being flooded.
In fact I remember when I first saw Hyrule frozen in time at the bottom of the ocean.
That scene had a big inpact on me.

I think there's things for everyone, but I think that some adults won't look past the graphics, which is sad since they are missing out on a great game.
Oct 26, 2008
What I believe Nintendo tried to do with Wind Waker was aim it at pretty much anyone, Going from 4-5 to 20+.

My reasons being starting with the Graphics, When a company aims a game at a child they tend to make it a have Cartoon like Graphics, This allows them to make everything seem generally happier in terms of enemies so not to scare younger children off. Its more colourful and tends to keep the attention of a younger audience.

The next reason is that they game a good enough story to catch the interests of anyone from around 10 and up. There are many adults that enjoyed the story of this game therefore more adults bought it through friends. Teenagers like myself will like the story as well. I think that Nintendo mixed the two allowing the game to be aimed at any audience, As Mases said I would never buy Twilight Princess for a child but I would buy them Wind Waker.

Master Kokiri 9

The Dungeon Master
Aug 19, 2009
My ship that sailed in the morning
Mases I personally believe that nintendo was trying to entice anime fans that didn't have much or any knowledge of zelda or anime fans that weren't previously enticed by the previous zelda games and finallly the zelda fans that also like anime so yeah the regular zelda fans. and personally i think that the cell-shaded zeldas look much like anime (which was implyed by my previous parts of the post) (i also happen to like anime) however at first most zelda fans thought that it was indeed meant for young kids but i guess zelda fans eventually warmed up to windwaker (however naturally there are still zelda fans that remain to be persuaded like hitler) (hes a youtube joke), nintendo noticed and thus phantom hourglass and spirit tracks were born. so long story short i believe nintendo meant for the regular hardcore zelda fans. they just wanted to attract anime fans at the same time. And really if it wasn't for windwaker i probably wouldn't have done this post as it was and is my very first zelda game.
Dec 14, 2008
Louisiana, USA
You have to remember that the Game Cube was a failure. Hardly any good third party games were created, and most of the first party games were too fanboyish for my liking. I am never going to believe that Nintendo used the graphic change just to do something "fresh". No, I will always believe they knew their home console was failing, so they did what was logical: Appeal to the fan base by just releasing a Zelda game, and make it more kiddish so they could rake in even more cash. They knew all Zelda fans would buy it one way or another, and they didn't seem to care what the fans though of the games at that point. Just look at Mario Sunshine and you'll know what I mean. At the same time though, the created a graphic change to rake in the kid audience.

This is why I think we'll never see another console game in that style. Nintendo has figured out that games like TP is what will keep the series alive on the home console. The kiddish graphics of WW, I think, was just a failed attempt to increase sales. It seems that they've found a good formula though. For those who loved the WW style, you've got PH and ST. For those who like the more grown-up version of Zelda, you've got TP and Zelda Wii.

I couldn't be happier. Toon Link for the DS, Real Link for the Wii.
May 25, 2008
In my house
This is something that's always confused me with Wind Waker, and I don't think I"ll ever really know the complete truth about it. When I first got the game, I did think of how childish of a game this was, and I think that perspective comes from simply the graphics. You have big bomb explosions and Link's expressions all of the time, but if you actually look at the story line, more specifically near the end, it doesn't seem so much like a kid game anymore. It goes in the beginning from a happy go lucky family living on a small island with all different colored pigs and a watchtower and everybody's happy.

Then we progress through the game, and there's something else that comes a lot more into play, death. I mean, if you've ever watched the ending scene, Ganon 's speech is basically all about death. How his people perished in the wasteland, how the Gods flooded Hyrule, how all the wind has ever brought is death. With that in mind, I don't think it's meant for one audience, I don't really think any zelda ever is. Sure PH seems like a kid game, but a lot of adults play it, and the the what would seemingly be adult games, kids play. So all in all, it's meant for everyone.
May 16, 2008
Kentucky, USA
The only reason I think WW was targeted for kids is because a lot of people believe it was. The cell-shaded, cartoon looking graphics never really made me feel like it was made for a young audience. Perhaps younger kids would think it looked cool, but that doesn't mean they could play it. Its sort of backwards from what everyone believes, which is that it is a game that fools an older audience by its graphics. In my honest opinion, it is a game that fools a younger audience with its gameplay.

WW is one of my favorite titles, and probably will be for a very long time. Its story, gameplay, and even look is something that I think the entire game should have had. If everyone remembers correctly, WW was not the only cell-shaded game to come out on GC. In fact, the cell-shaded look has been used for many games, like the Incredible Hulk game that came out when the first movie remake was released, and Viewtiful Joe. There are many others that copied this relatively new style of video game graphics, and I think that Nintendo just wanted to do the same. In fact, I think they did it perfectly.

I can't say that I know of any particular Zelda title that has been targeted for a younger group. Zelda is a great game, but its difficulty always begins out kinda easy, then picks up and gets harder. It targets an audience that wants a game where they can explore vast areas, have a good amount of completion time, and is so good that it even offers much replay value. Since the original LoZ, I think all Zelda's have offered all three of these things (well, besides PH for me), regardless of how it looks.

I couldn't see Wind Waker any other way than it is. Had it had realistic graphics, and looked like TP, it would have been a great game anyway. But think of how much would have been different. Think of how many scenes and facial expressions of the characters would have been much less appealing. I believe Aonuma himself said that he was actually saddened by the turn out of WW's sales. That just goes to show that times have changed for gaming. People judge a book by its cover. These days, if something isn't real as far as graphics, contains blood and gore, or doesn't allow you to steal someone's ride and shoot them, then they don't want anything to do with it. Those people are not true gamers in my opinion.

Wind Waker's audience turned out to seemingly be kids that couldn't play it and fans of the series. I think Nintendo wanted to appeal to the same audience it always has: Everyone. They just tried to do something special that the un-gamers of today turned their nose up at.


Needz Moar.... Zelda, NAO
Jul 8, 2009
Personally, I think all Zelda games are for me.. Untill they do some kind of, Legend of Zelda, Adventures of Baby Link, Quest for the Chocolate Milk... or something, I will continue to play every Zelda. They are all fun. I don't even think Wind Waker is good for the regular gamer, I let my fiance play it, who is a gamer herself. First Zelda she had any interest in, and she couldn't figure out what to do, because she never had any basic training in the Art of Zelda. Like with ALttP or LoZ, or OoT... Not to mention she was an avid FF player, so using items other than to heal or cast spells or equip for a battle didn't really occur to her. For instance, if there was an unlit torch in FF, you'd probably just have to pull a lever or something, while normally you would use a lantern, or light a deku stick and light the unlit torch.

Dungeon killer

Dungeon's Shall Fall!
Jul 9, 2009
Destroying Dungeons.
It was just the cel-shaded graphic, I don't think that it was made for little kids it was just the graphics, all zelda games are made for the entire group of children, adults and all in between them. It wasn't made for a specific group or age limit at all.:nerd:
Jan 6, 2009
In your face
Your story, Mases, reminded me much of how I was at that age. I played Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask back then, but I never actually tried to play through the story (although that was, shamefully, mainly because I was too scared of the enemies). And even when I tried, I lacked the attention span to go beyond the first 2 dungeons. Young children probably just lack the necessary attention span required to finish a game like Zelda (but of course, there are always exceptions).

Nintendo was probably just trying something different with regards to its art style. Honestly, if WW didn't have a cel-shaded art style, we wouldn't be discussing this. The only reason it's pegged as a "kiddy" game is because of that. Nintendo has always been about one thing: games for everyone. Everyone can have fun with Nintendo games, because they strike a balance. More casual gamers are drawn in by the simplicity, whilst more dedicated gamers stay for the addictive, well-designed gameplay. So the Wind Waker doesn't have a specific audience. It's meant for everyone.


Poe Catcher
Aug 25, 2008
Georgia, USA
Yeah, I doubt this would be the game for children. For starters, children need a little push to get started and throughout the game. Not just "go to this dungeon next!", but actually guide them to it, like a linear game. Since children lack the attention span, like your story, they wouldn't know where to go, and they wouldn't like the idea of complex storylines. The visuals and cartoonish personalities represented by Link, Tetra, etc. would be the only reason for them to keep playing. Plus, the whole "Ancient Hylian" speaking would make them go "question mark?".

I mean, the plot is a little bit dark. Think about it: little children don't really want to see mostly everyone die simultaneously at the hands of a greedy usurper king wannabe and 3 golden deities. However, they would find it humorous after witnessing Link slam into the Tower of the Gods at quite a high velocity. I'm still impressed Link doesn't take damage from that cinematic.

Still, for something that is supposed to look like a kid's game, it appears nothing like it. I mean, PH and ST (supposedly) are semi-dark games in their own, so perhaps the Cel-shading was only to achieve a feel that the game was supposed to have. I really don't understand why when people look at the visuals, they automatically get in their heads that this is a children's game. Sorry for ranting, but I think the target audience was mainly for Zelda veterans and tweenagers (10-13).

I mean, in this day and age, people like anime stylings, specifically teens, and WW has something similar to it. However, it could also deal with the fact for the darker-loving audience to see delightful cartoon characters faced with difficult situations (sisters being kidnapped, having the life beaten/eaten/slashed out of you, etc.), however, this is my own theory. Of course, little children don't bother reading the long monologues in the first place. ;)


There's a Bazooka in TP!
Feb 28, 2009
Ontario, Canada
I don't think the target audience was any different than any other Zelda title. The assumption is by most that because it comes in a cute package it is therefore not for adults. Animation is not all about children anymore. You can go to any cartoon specialty network after 9pm to witness that this is not the case.

WW gave us a very deep story that was probably the most significant one to date. I mean, flooding the entire kingdom and starting over again? That's some pretty serious stuff going on. Granted, we didn't see that happening first-hand, but it's a grim concept to base an alleged kids game around.

I think maybe people were basing the story off that of MM where it was a bit more doom and gloom based. It was a first-hand experience of the end of the world, so it was a lot darker by nature. Making the style more cartoony and not being as harsh in what you actually see on the screen for the plot details made it seem more light hearted.

I didn't find there was any lack of elements here from previous titles either that I would find a bit more creepy. There were redeads that chewed on your head, ghosts, creepy ghost ships, and to top it all off a sword burried in the forehead of a humanoid character. If anything, some of those elements make it darker than previous titles.

I really honestly wouldn't say it's any more kiddy than the majority of the series, save maybe MM for it's doom-based experiences, and TP for it's sad plot level combined with more realistic visuals.

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