Now, there�s a fair argument in that this bolsters the treasure hunting aspect of the game. That�s true, but why are some of the best �sidequests� used in the plot? The aforementioned 50-level dungeon is a great example. It�s fifty levels of tedium thanks to the boring combat (which, to be fair, is the best I�ve experienced in a 3D Zelda so far, but that�s not saying much) which COULD have been made a little more daunting had I stumbled upon it a few hours into the game, but being a major part of the plot progression, I�m forced to wait until I�m already badass enough to wreck it easily. What�s worse is that you get the Triforce chart after only 30 levels, but exiting the dungeon starts you at the beginning again, so the game�s mild attempt to make part of this sidequest optional is instantly tossed aside when the player realizes they pretty much have to do the extra part right then if they want to do it at all.
Anyway, I�m going to stop ranting quite so much and just sum up my feelings: I like Wind Waker. I had fun with it. The art direction and music are great. It takes the good qualities of Ocarina of Time and Majora�s Mask and attempts to make them into a unique new adventure. However, I think the majority of the plot is forgettable and the game itself is unsatisfyingly easy, with any leftover enjoyment in treasure hunting and sidequesting destroyed by the insistence that you do these things to beat the game.
I�m playing Phantom Hourglass now and it�s fun. It has that 2D Zelda feel that I generally prefer to the 3D games with the world of Wind Waker which I really like. I just hope it doesn�t ruin itself like Wind Waker eventually did.