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The Real Reason Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker Was So Controversial

If you scour the internet for reviews of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, you will find near flawless scores from outlets like IGN and Eurogamer. With a reception like that, it's no wonder the title lives on in the hearts of gamers — and received an HD re-release on the Wii U with similarly shining reviews. However, every so often, you might hear a whisper that the game wasn't always as beloved as it is today. In fact, The Wind Waker was once considered controversial.


You might wonder what madness just crossed your eyes. The Wind Waker, controversial? Some have gone so far as to call The Wind Waker the Disney or Hayao Miyazaki film of Zelda games. That is not the kind of praise someone generally heaps on a controversial title, but rest assured The Wind Waker once stirred up quite a storm.

If you are ready to dive into one of the weirdest chapters of The Legend of Zelda's history, keep reading.

Blame the graphics players have grown to love

Love is a fickle mistress, as demonstrated by The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Even though audiences have come to adore the game's cel-shaded graphics and art style, that very choice initially drove gamers away.


During the 2001 Nintendo Space World convention, audiences witnessed the first The Wind Waker trailer, and the backlash was immediate and swift. Gamers rushed to internet boards to voice their opinions, which were almost universally negative. Many thought the art style made Link look far too childish, and the term "Cel-Da" was coined to criticize the cel-shading.

Nintendo may have accidentally sowed the seeds of this controversy one year prior during Space World 2000. To demonstrate the GameCube's graphical capabilities, the company provided a tech demo that featured Ganondorf fighting Link. The graphics cast a spell on viewers, and they fell in love with the video. Audiences also seemed to assume Nintendo would use more realistic graphics to recreate the tech demo's aesthetic in the next Zelda game.


Instead, Nintendo produced the cartoonish The Wind Waker, taking many gamers by surprise. Thankfully, time appears to have tempered the bulk of these opinions, transforming The Wind Waker into one of the most beloved Zelda games available.