Throughout our Realm of Memories series, we have always examined our very favourite moments in Zelda. We’d be lying, however, if we were to say that there have been no occasional disappointments along the away. Even our most beloved games have their low points, and it’s about time I admitted to one of my lesser fond memories.

Wind Waker is one of my favorite Zelda games, but I often visit areas in the game that could have more depth. To me, Greatfish Isle is a good example of one of the game’s biggest disappointments. When Link visits the island, he finds it completely destroyed by a storm that Ganon conjured. Only the wreckage of a once-interesting location remains on the island.

According to a theory, Greatfish Isle was supposed to have a third dungeon for Nayru’s Pearl, but the idea was scrapped by the developers. Unfortunately, the island remains as nothing more than a missed opportunity for either a dungeon or a small town. Even a secret grotto would be better than nothing.

While Greatfish Isle bothers me somewhat, though, Islet of Steel is a whole other story.

Islet of Steel just outright annoys me. It would have been an excellent spot for a great naval battle, and the inside could have been heavily guarded with Moblins, Darknuts, and Bokoblins. Instead, the island, while looking like a great fortress, is surprisingly easy to enter. Sink the ship blocking the front entrance, and you can ignore everything else. The inside of the fortress is even more disappointing. No battle, no nothing — just a lone chest sits inside the fortress.

On the top of the Isle of Steel sits an area guarded by three Kargarocs and three Bokoblins. In the past, I always wondered what they were guarding. Why can’t Link climb up there, and why were the monsters there? Recently, I returned to the island with several Hyoi Pears to investigate this upper part. For those yet to play this Zelda title, Hyoi Pears are used to bait nearby seagulls, which allow Link to control them. The seagulls are useful for investigating spots on certain islands that Link can’t explore himself.

After using a Hyoi Pear to gain control of a seagull, I saw the Bokoblins and Kargarocs on the top of the island, but no chest. I regained control of Link and checked to see if I could climb up the island, but couldn’t find any way to get him up to the top. I decided to kill all the enemies to see if a chest or ladder would appear. I just wanted to see something that would justify the existence of the Bokoblins.

After bombing the Bokoblins, Kargarocs, cannons, and ships with The King of Red Lions’ cannon, nothing happened. I pulled out another Hyoi Pear and checked the top of the island. No ladder, no chest, no reward. Nothing appeared to justify the time I put into figuring out this mystery.

I feel safe in saying that the Islet of Steel is the worst conceived island in The Wind Waker.

  • Linebyline

    My understanding is that WW, like a lot of Gamecube games, had a really rushed development schedule, so a lot of things had to be cut. That’s why there are only two dungeons beween the Master Sword and Ganon’s Tower instead of the traditional six, you can’t explore Hyrule itself except for the castle and the path to Ganon’s Tower, and the game is padded out with that Triforce fishing quest. Pretty sure that’s also why there’s no dungeon at Greatfish Isle. I’m afraid I don’t have a solid source for that; it’s just something I remember reading on a blog or two.

    My guess is that Islet of Steel is another victim of these deadline-induced cuts. It was probably supposed to be more impressive, but what’s there is all they had time to implement. Either there was supposed to be something additional on top that they didn’t have time to implement, or the developers plopped those monsters up there to make the islet look more impressive than it really is.

    This is, of course, pure guesswork on my part.

    • I’m having the same guess because if you think about it. EVERY developer, would want every square in the windwaker to be great. Only deadlines could make it the way it currently is.
      And it’s fine, because in my first playthrough, i did not find every island there is, and not even close to finding all treasure maps etc. or 20 hearts which is a bigger challenge in tWW because of the vast ocean.
      I bet even now after at least 6 full playthroughs and multiple savegames inbetween, there’s probably still a secret or 2 left in that game..
      in that regard, the game is big enough. it’s just the triforce quest and hyrule that really felt rushed, but it’s at the same time already the endgame content. it could have finished after the tower of the gods like many other franchises probably would have done.

      • Linebyline

        At the end of the day, the padding and small number of dungeons are flaws in the game, but it’s still got enough going for it to be a good game in spite of its flaws. (Besides, it still has more dungeons than Majora’s Mask, and that game was just fine.)

        (Though if I could make one change, I’d replace the Triforce charts with the actual Triforce pieces, eliminating the fishing and the rupee grinding. I’d prefer a shorter game over one that’s watered down to make it go farther. Plus, maybe people would hate Tingle less if we get rid of the whole extortion thing.)

  • Int’l J

    Just make wind waker 2… Nevermind the Damn 🐎

    • As long as the overworld isn’t a big water dungeon connected to all the regular dungeons… that would be a nightmare.

      • Int’l J

        That’s an interesting concept though. I actually line it, however it wouldn’t work because that world of Hyrule is tiny with small islands, it would have to be a different land or a prequel before Hyrule was flooded