The Wind Waker vs Twilight Princess vs Skyward Sword

The best Zelda game of these three releases was...

  • The Wind Waker

    Votes: 856 60.4%
  • Twilight Princess

    Votes: 417 29.4%
  • Skyward Sword

    Votes: 144 10.2%

  • Total voters
    1,417
  • This poll will close: .

T002 Tyrant

Member
Nov 8, 2018
1,052
No contest - Wind Waker.

TP was drab visually but okay in other respects (Imp Midna was the best character). I can happily play Twilight Princess.

Skyward Sword looked alright (still felt blah compared to Wind Waker), but was tedious as fuck to play. I'd struggle to play this again (I might be able to if they removed motion control).
 

Kazooie

Member
Jul 17, 2019
275
Two excellent ones and one that looks amazing but is actually a turd. Skyward Sword > Twilight Princess >> Wind Waker. I cannot even begin to understand how the incomplete, empty, easy game that is Wind Waker can be winning this poll.
 

hideousarmor

Member
May 9, 2019
249
Wind Waker is boring. It lacks any sort of creative item, ability, or dungeon.
I'd say those last two companion dungeons in WW (earth and wind temple) are pretty unique and better done that other companion dungeons that came prior to it.
Tower of the gods is also cool with the mix of weight and water puzzles plus that final boss
Forsaken fortress as a stealth dungeon too.
Not taking away from twilight princess, it too had some creative section with the magnetic boots, double hooks, the snowpeak mansion...problem is they all look samey, visually speaking
 

PucePikmin

Member
Apr 26, 2018
305
Good question -- they all kind of sit at the same "ambitious, quality games, with some undeniable flaws" camp for me.

100 percent objectively, Twilight Princess was probably the best, but it's world/story leave me flat. Wind Waker has the most heart, but it's probably the weakest of the three in terms of actual game design. Soooo...I might go with Skyward Sword as my favorite? Of the three, I'd say it's a solid second best in terms of both story and gameplay for me, while the other two are first in one category, but a distant third in the other.
 

DJ_Lae

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,150
Edmonton
Back when each game released I'd probably have gone with Wind Waker, although having replayed them all recently I'd have to go with Twilight Princess. Yes, the intro is awful, yes, there is a tad too much padding between dungeons, but the characters are fantastic(ally grotesque) and it has by far the best dungeons of the three.

Wind Waker has the most charm. It's adorable and that aspect of it more than holds up today.

Skyward Sword...well, it has Groose. Shame he's not in a good game.
 

ZiZ

Member
Oct 27, 2017
823
Wind Waker by far.

They are all good games. But by Zelda standards I'd say TP and SS are subpar. WW is definitely one of the top 5.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,378
They all have their strengths and weaknesses, so it's really hard to choose.

WW is beautiful, and I think that sways a lot of opinions. But the dungeons are lacking, the openness of the ocean doesn't really accomplish anything other than making travel tedious. It was an illusion of freedom that they later corrected with Botw. The story is pretty straightforward, but presented well.

TP's presentation has aged quite a bit. Though the visuals are lacking, the tone is really incredible. The dungeons are some of the best in the series, along with the bosses and items. The story is a bit more ambitious this time around, but execution is hit and miss.

SS has the most missed potential of them all. I love the gameplay, the new combat system was really fun. Motion haters don't at me. Most of the dungeons are fantastic, with a few low points. While bringing more puzzles and structure into the overworld, they completely destroyed player agency and exploration. There are very few optional paths, with most areas including a fetch quest leading you around the entire zone right off the bat.
 

DC5remy

Member
Jan 20, 2018
1,105
I never played Skyward, and WW had way to much sailing for my liking (still a great game)
I voted twilight princess.
 

Horns

Member
Dec 7, 2018
806
I could not get into Twilight Princess despite likely previous Zelda titles. Could of been related to the intentional delay of the Gamecube version in order to release the Wii version. That really pissed me off.
 

Castor Archer

Member
Jan 8, 2019
732
Skyward Sword has the better dungeons and zones for me. TP is my least favorite Zelda period, and I see WW's shortcomings but I have a lot of nostalgia for it. Skyward wins for me.
 

bionic77

Member
Oct 25, 2017
11,228
I like Wind Waker the best of the 3. I like TP the least (felt way too boring and by the numbers for what I have come to expect of Nintendo). Though it’s not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination.

Skyward Sword was flawed in that some of the content felt like it was filler. The thing people hated (wrongly) were the motion controls. It’s motion controls were perfect and that game doesn’t get enough credit for how original and well done it was. Still unlike anything before or since. How many games can you say that about?
 

Combo

Member
Jan 8, 2019
172
The poll results were predictable.

For me WW was much too easy and sailing was a chore. Dungeons were also weak.

TP is one of the most beautiful games I have ever played. The atmosphere is stunning.

SS has amazing combat and controls and some good dungeons. But is infuriatingly repetitive and wastes your time in many places. It's the least Zelda of the Zelda games because of the lack of an overworld.

TP >>>>> SS>WW
 

Blackpuppy

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,725
I’ll never understand people’s undying fatuation for Wind Waker.

It’s pretty, ok, but my God, have you actually played the game? It’s the most brain-dead of the 3d Zeldas. You basically push straight and hit A for 30 hours.
 

crimsonlink

Member
Oct 29, 2017
649
This is a cycle like always. WW is on top this time but ask a few months later. Suddenly all the answers will change to TP or WW again. (Who the hell can like SS anyways?!?)
 

VDenter

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,519
All of them have serious problems that weren't addressed until BOTW but Skyward Sword is the worst one by far.

Twilight Princess i guess is the best one but Wind Waker does beat it in some areas, Twilight Princess is just so dull at times and it's a shameless rehash of OOT. It makes it really hard to enjoy the game or even say that it's the best 3D Zelda pre BOTW, even if it should be.

That said both Wind Waker and Twilight were better than Majora's Mask.

Also before anyone says anything the dungeons in Twilight Princess weren't actually any better than the previous 3D Zelda games. They were just longer but they were every bit as linnear, easy and just a slog to complete. The only dungeon in that game that came close to quality was the waterbed temple and even that was worse than some OOT dungeons, and especially some dungeous found in the 2D Zelda games.
 
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kjtc1979

Member
Nov 27, 2017
272
Twilight Princess is my favorite of the three. Wind Waker is charming, and the Wii U remaster made it much more user friendly, but it always feels incomplete to me. Skyward Sword is in the same boat as Zelda II and Spirit Tracks for me, in that I lost interest in them all early on.

Twilight Princess is a refinement of Ocarina of Time and takes too long to get going, but its darker storyline and engaging characters make it the most replayable of the three for me. It’s in the upper half of my favorites of the series, but not in the top tier.
 

Combo

Member
Jan 8, 2019
172
I’ll never understand people’s undying fatuation for Wind Waker.

It’s pretty, ok, but my God, have you actually played the game? It’s the most brain-dead of the 3d Zeldas. You basically push straight and hit A for 30 hours.
I agree with you about the excessive simplicity, however I think the popularity is down to how it looks and sounds. It's got nothing to do with the gameplay.
 

Asbsand

Member
Oct 30, 2017
6,186
Denmark
Wind Waker easily. Zelda has been on a steady decline since then, both Handheld and home console releases. For what it's worth Skyward Sword I found to have at least a more consistent approach to design than TP does. TP doesn't know what it wants to be, but at least SS is very straightforward about wanting its overworld maps to be levels by themselves, more like dungeons or even a Mario game. TP has a first quarter where everything is all Twilight with rinse and repeat Tear Collection bullshit, then the twilight disappears from Hyrule the rest of the whole game and Wolf Link becomes a complete afterthought. Terrible game if the primary dungeons weren't so good.

I think creatively speaking BotW is another step down the slope of the Zelda decline. I think it's being pulled up again thanks to the entirely new approach, which is a breath of fresh air for the series (you're always so tempted to say that when it's called Breath of the Wild) but underneath that rapidly new approach is a continuation of the declining dungeon quality that started with Skyward, then ALBW and finally BotW.

I go back and forth on it I admit.

As for Wind Waker, I do think main dungeons were better in TP but that being said, the combat was also worse, and Wind Waker wins me over there. The main mechanics for the tools you use, including swordfighting simply feel slicker and helps the flow of the game inside of dungeons. The dungeon layouts are pretty diminishing return, borring way too many things that had become tropes since Ocarina of Time, but it's still very functional and fun to figure out. The story is amazing and it has the second-best side-content (minus all the fetch optional stuff like Korok sprouts) to Majora's Mask. It just had some really peculiar NPC moments that I still remember. There's a guy who wants to see a snapshot of the moon but doesn't wanna outright say it. There's a tower on Windfall that can be lit up by fire arrows. There's a rich family that becomes poor after the Forsaken Island kidnappings and their roles have become reversed upon return. A poor girl can be found in the streets but it's completely up to the player to bump into it.

In fact, a lot of the better things about BotW aren't exactly new, they were always within the DNA of earlier games, only, that level of systematization had never been so much at the forefront back in games like Wind Waker, but it is there. A scripted event isn't so scripted that the game will lock you into place and make you watch what it wants you to see. It's still up to you to discover all the additional storytelling there is to find, and it's all so wonderfully simple (as opposed to basic) and relatable that it sticks with you after it ends.

And lastly, that main quest is just fucking brilliantly written. This is Nintendo's best story of all time, ngl. The more you reflect on the story, and revisit the game, the whole conclusion the game leads to seems all the more inevitable. They take the exact same tropes as established by ALttP with the opening lore dump but perform it in a way that primes the story for its true thesis, which is critical look at the entire Zelda mythos and what it would actually mean to be born as a pre-destined hero. Ocarina of Time touched on similar notes, with Link being granted childhood as his reward for defeating the world's greatest threat, but in this game you're triumphantly being brought into the shoes of a former hero only for it to be revealed at the end that it's a selfish wants of adults imposing their world views on their successors. The reward is freedom from all that, and the crux of the whole thing is that it isn't only the proclaimed "Evil" villain who is to blame. It's actually also the person who wished to defeat it who refused to let go of their old and now irrelevant traditions.

Twilight Princess is about "EPICNESS" about being absorbed into a world of darkness, then you're free again, then Ganondorf is apparently back, and then the evil ruler who was thought to be the bad guy is actually just a weakling AND NOW GANON IS BACK, AND HE WANTS TO SIT ON THE THRONE AND LOOK EVIL... While nobody gives a fuck, apparently. But let's just beat him for old time's sake. Fucking, atrocious story. It doesn't even hold itself together by the ending. Oh and yeah, tragic mid-credits stinger that is completely unmotivated and nonsensical, here you go, THE FEELS.

Skyward Sword is more of a teeny story. It's sappy as hell, and it's also Naruto as hell, but it has its moments. I loved the rivalry with Ghirahim even though I wish he was a more substantial character. The story mostly holds up thanks to heavy emphasis on individual supporting characters like Groose, Zelda and Impa (Not Fi!), but the ultimate showdown with Demise is as Diabolus Ex Machina as it gets. (When an all-new bad guy abruptly steps in to be defeated at the 11th hour to force a resolution of the plot). The attempt at truly canonizing a timeline by telling this as an "origin" story fails because well... it's a fucking boring story, ultimately. Not nonsense like TP, but it also doesn't have an edge whatsoever.

And then they made ALBW where they take nothing serious and everything is facetious. Then they made BotW where the story is a complete afterthought. You go, Zelda. Now please make BotW2 the game it needs to be.
 

Palazzo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
506
All three of these games probably are the nadir of mainline Zelda. Wind Waker is for sure the worst though; sailing is not actually interesting and even the dungeons are pretty lame up until the final ones. It's a shame that the best visuals in the series were blown on such a weak game.
 
Nov 17, 2017
7,375
I knew Wind Waker would win in the votes but it honestly doesn't deserve it. I jest but I do think Twilight Princess is a better game in every way and I feel that WW gets a lot of praise simply for its art style because it lacks in many areas like the dungeons and exploration while also being clearly unfinished.

Twilight Princess is the best to me because although people often cite this as a knock against the game, it is quintessentially Zelda and that's what makes it great. It's a love letter to Zelda and OoT in particular while still having its own identity. The mix of high fantasy, anime, wild west and techno-alien aesthetics makes it highly unique and though the limitation of the Gamecube certainly did not help in the graphics department, I think the art style itself is extremely beautiful and I don't think people acknowledge that enough. Personally, I don't think a graphical style aging more necessarily makes it worse than one that is more timeless. At the end of the day, I think TP's designs are just more appealing and interesting than WW's. Besides I think the HD port of TP fixes almost all of those graphical problems.

It's often said but the dungeons in TP are great. The dungeons all feel like settings in the actual world instead of just being elemental temple levels and they all have unique twists and themes that make them memorable and fun. Snowpeak Ruins is the... peak of this but they're all great and there's a lot of them! I don't know what the deal is with Zelda games that have barely any dungeons. It's over before you even get into the swing of things. Dungeons are great.

The combat is also really fun in TP and I think it's the pinnacle of the OoT style of Z-targeting combat. It's mainly because of the swordplay. Link has never been as versatile with a sword and shield as he is in TP and though some of the dungeon items get called out for not having a lot of use, a surprising amount of them have battle applications that can mix things up. It's really apparent how TP's battle gauntlet dungeon is really entertaining to go through whereas Wind Wake's equivalent is a drag.

I also think TP has some of the most underrated characters and story moments. Yeah, Midna is one of the best Zelda characters but the supporting cast is great too. Colin, Rusl, Telma, Renado, etc. I don't know why they're overlooked as there are great side characters in the game. Even Ilia has more time and story dedicated to her than most Zelda side characters that are compared favorably to her for some reason. The story is also really entertaining. It often get misrepresented as a grimdark, edge fest of a story but it's got a very epic adventure feel with a lot of Zelda charm. It's also told in a very cinematic way. I love how the game isn't just dragging Link from dungeon to dungeon but you also get to involve yourself in dynamic scenarios like learning the art of sumo to fight gorons of Death Mountain or having a huge mount battle on Hyrule Field. The music also makes a lot of the moments. I don't think I've heard anyone say bad things about TP's soundtrack but it's just great. The only thing that holds it back is the midi but it still manages to sound great.
 

Juryvicious

Member
Oct 28, 2017
705
Twilight Princess for me, and it isn't even close. I've tried several times, including the remaster, and couldn't get into WW.
 

cyba89

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,722
wind waker and anyone claiming otherwise has lost their marbles.
Wind Waker has the best presentation but lacks in pretty much every other aspect. The dungeons are the worst in any pre-BOTW 3D Zelda. And it's literally an unfinished game and it shows.

I don't get anyone would pick this game. It's easily the worst 3D Zelda. (Still a good game)
 

Papercuts

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,372
Twilight Princess for me, but I like both WW and TP even if they both have pretty big issues.

SS is easily my least favorite Zelda.
 

Shion

Member
Nov 8, 2017
150
Twilight Princess.

But that doesn't really say much because I was very disappointed by all three games.
 

PKrockin

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,118
It's very hard to choose which 3D Zelda game is my favorite. I think the most I can say is that I like all three better than Breath of the Wild. Wind Waker is charming to me despite its relatively pedestrian, almost boring design at times. Twilight Princess has great dungeons and combat but everything with the twilight and wolf sections totally fell flat for me. Skyward Sword's motion controls worked fabulously and was a breath of fresh air but ... well, I guess the pacing probably suffers if you don't have a cheat code to give you instant text? Hard to think of a significant con to Skyward Sword. I guess that's my favorite of the three then? I really want to replay the game before saying for sure though.

I’ll never understand people’s undying fatuation for Wind Waker.

It’s pretty, ok, but my God, have you actually played the game? It’s the most brain-dead of the 3d Zeldas. You basically push straight and hit A for 30 hours.
Well, it has reached that age where most of this board would have played it as a kid rather than other Zelda games. The art style probably helps a ton to keep a rosier picture of the game in people's minds as well.
 

CarlSagan94

Member
Nov 3, 2018
257
Wind Waker. Ganondorf was an actual character this time around, and that ending sequence still breaks my heart. Also the additions to the lore and the connections with Ocarina of Time blew my mind at the time and I still love it. The real weakness of the game imo is the lack of dungeons but otherwise, the game has just so much charm.
 

Battlechili

Member
Oct 26, 2017
240
United States
Twilight Princess
Which I'd argue is not only the best of these three, but the best Zelda game period.

Sailing was tedious in WindWaker, and flying even worse in Skyward Sword, and this makes travel a pain.
In Twilight Princess it was fun just to ride through the fields swinging your sword as you travel the land. The music made it so exciting and adventurous.
Twilight Princess also just puts a lot more time into the story than most Zeldas; Midna your companion plays an active part in the plot, and side characters like Colin and Telma have extensive amounts of time put into them that I really appreciated.
 

Wackamole

Member
Oct 27, 2017
8,984
My fondest memories of those three go to WW.
But i thought TP was amazing as well. Loved the Twilight realm and Midna.
 

LordGorchnik

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,177
One of the few to vote Skyward Sword and not ashamed to admit it.

All three were incredible but I found Skyward Sword more enjoyable in the end.
 

SyndicateWars

Member
Oct 27, 2017
983
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Twilight Princess

It might have some flaws, but the pacing and dungeon design is among one of the best in the series overall. Wind Waker felt like a rushed product, the overworld was empty, repetitive and tedious to navigate, some boring and unnecessary side quests and I'm not really fond of the art style for the franchise. SS was clearly dumbed down to appeal to casuals, like most of Nintendo's Wii titles were.
 

nanskee

Member
Oct 31, 2017
2,642
Skyward sword or twilight princess. Either pick is fine. Wind Waker is a joke

I was so disappointed with what I played in Wind Waker HD; everyone saying it's one of the best Zelda games...lmaoo
 

hotcyder

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,822
If Skyward Sword had the structure of Wind Waker, it'd be that for sure.

However it doesn't, so I have to go with Wind Waker.
 

Illusion

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,056
I hate saying Twilight Princess, but it's just how I feel. I wish the game had a sequel/prequel and or version that expanded on what it set out and made.

I love that cowboy western moment, Midna, being a wolf, the spinner, double hook shot, and just everything so much. The greatest mistake this game has is that all the cool gameplay mechanics are stuck in the dungeons certain items used, and it's already the end of the game.

And Skyward Sword was just a mistake.
 

Big G

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,737
Twilight Princess > Skyward Sword >>>> Wind Waker

All three games have numerous faults, but I think TP and SS are still really good games in spite of them. Wind Waker is probably my most disappointing game of all time. The dungeons and the overworld are both bad, and the game design was really dumbed-down -- an unfortunate pivot from the excellence of the two N64 games. It's presentation, both the visuals and music, are really all the game has going for it though to be fair, those things are timeless. But at the end of the day, that game is style-over-substance and I think it's easily the worst 3D Zelda game.
 

KS93

Member
Oct 26, 2017
681
I loved it, but there's some serious rose-tinted lenses putting Wind Waker in the top spot there.
 

Teeny

Member
Oct 26, 2017
439
UK
My vote goes to Twilight Princess, without hesitation.

I love all three games :)