The section of The Wind Waker where the player pursues the finding of Nayru’s Pearl — the third and final Goddess Pearl — is one of my personal highlights of the game. Dark clouds and furious storms reign above Link upon his arrival to Greatfish Isle, contrasting with the game’s earlier precedent of sunny skies and cheery islands.
The tone then shifts from sinister to mysterious when you meet the intimidating Jabun, a massive, talking fish who has found refuge in Link’s home of Outset Island. With the exchange so brief and no dungeon to clear in order to earn the last pearl, however, it felt as though Jabun could have had a larger presence in the game, especially after his brush with death at the hands of Ganondorf.
Unused sound effects found in The Wind Waker’s code seem to point to the untold story of Jabun, which I’ve always wanted to see.
There are two unused sound clips for Jabun. The first sounds like a general cry, followed by what sounds like laughter. This sounds like what the player may have originally heard upon meeting Jabun; after all, as the Water Spirit and protector of Nayru’s Pearl, it would be appropriate for him to have a robust entrance to establish his mighty presence.
The second sound effect is more disturbing. It’s a long, howling scream that sounds like Jabun is in pain. This is interesting when combined with the knowledge that, in the final game, Ganondorf attacks Jabun’s home, Greatfish Isle, with the intention of killing Jabun and stealing the pearl.
This makes me think that events were originally going to play out a bit differently. Perhaps at one stage in development, there were plans for the player to witness Ganondorf hurting (or even killing) Jabun when the player arrives at Greatfish Isle, during Ganondorf’s assault on the island.
Interestingly, this second sound effect can still be heard in a playthrough of the game. While it is never used in connection to Jabun, a sped-up version plays after Link obtains the Triforce Chart on the Ghost Ship.
This results in a more high-pitched wail, which is effective in the context of the Ghost Ship’s haunted atmosphere. This isn’t the first time Nintendo have proven resourceful with their audio clips, as this repurposed sound effect in Wind Waker reminds me of a similar outcome from the development of another Nintendo game, Super Mario 64. The sounds that Boos make in the game are in fact Bowser’s laugh sped up, again to serve a high-pitched, ghostly sound.
You can listen to the Jabun sounds below in Beta64’s brilliant Wind Waker episode, starting at the 4:20 mark.
Listening to these have only heightened my curiosity to know more about Jabun. It seems unfair that the other Goddess Pearl guardians, Valoo and The Great Deku Tree, have so much more screen time and influence on the game’s story than that of their fishy friend. This sound clip paints a clear picture in my mind of Jabun in anguish, making me wonder about his fight against evil, and the determination in his role to aid the Hero of Winds.
Long-term Wind Waker fans will likely know that two dungeons were cut from the original game. I’ve long speculated that one of these removed dungeons would have taken place at the point in the game where the player meets Jabun. Again, this whole section feels far too short, and unlike acquiring the first two Goddess Pearls, it doesn’t feel as though you “earn” Nayru’s Pearl. After all, removing a dungeon would likely mean cutting out the padding and story leading up to and surrounding it, which could explain why these sound effects were never used.
Perhaps the dungeon would have been Jabun himself, with Link venturing inside the great Water Spirit’s mouth (in a throwback to Ocarina of Time’s Jabu-Jabu’s Belly) to vanquish the curse inside of him. Whatever the case, I’m grateful that these audio clips were found. Although our time with this fascinating character is brief, these small remnants in the code open up an ocean of imaginative possibilities.