Wind Waker HD Hero Mode playthrough

Just finished this game on Hero mode. I didn't go for 100% completion, but I did all of the major sidequests and stuff without ever opening a walkthrough.

Here's some spoiler-filled screenshots that I took throughout my playthrough

man... my love of this game is totally renewed. I always seem to forget exactly how great this game is until I go and replay it again.

The triforce hunt (or as some call it, "cheese hunting"), is actually my favorite part of the main quest. I don't know why some people complain so much about it. It's the only part of the game where you aren't directed exactly where to go, and you have to explore and figure some stuff out on your own. The ghost ship chart in particular was really hard to figure out. It felt like I was playing Zelda 1 again, with how the game gives you so little direction for it other than cryptic hints...

Other than hunting for triforce shards, the main quest only has 5 real dungeons (not counting the Fortress and Ganon's Castle, which are really just boss battle areas), and they are all pretty easy. Compared to Ocarina, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword, the dungeon content in this game is kind of lackluster.

But the sidequests/optional content are where Wind Waker really shines. Just like with Majora's Mask, Wind Waker manages to make up for its lackluster dungeon content with very fun, extensive sidequests that can take longer than the main game itself. I didn't do 100%, but I did about as much as I could manage without ever opening a walkthrough. I thought I was being VERY thorough with talking to all the characters and clearing out every island/reef/platform/submarine/octo/etc, but I STILL managed to miss about 8 treasure charts and 7 heart pieces, and some other sidequests with just rupees for rewards. I'll probably go for a true 100% playthrough on new game+ when I feel like replaying it again.

After looking at a walkthrough to find out what I missed... turns out a lot of the treasure charts I was missing, were actually from minigames that have multiple prizes if you kept playing them over and over again. Also I completely missed the tingle statue sidequest somehow..

And yeah, Hero mode really helps balance out the game's difficulty. It makes the first half of the game the hardest, because you don't have many bottles or heart containers yet, and potions/fairies are hard to come by. The latter half of the game, when you have 4 bottles and instant unlimited access to fairies and soup, it becomes easy again. The Savage Labyrinth and the rest of the end-game battle trials usually took out a fairy or 2, but still no big deal.

According to Wii U log, this playthrough took 38 hours total.