My Nintendo Gamecube was the first console I ever really owned. I spent hours, days, maybe even weeks gaming away, and almost no game gave me more hours of fun than The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. "But Melissa," you might say, "Why THAT one, when there are so many other incredible Zelda games?" True enough, Wind Waker was made only for Gamecube and Wii U (although emulators do exist), and so didn't hit the bigger crowds of Zelda fans on other consoles. And it's still true that fans seem to adore Ocarina of Time over all other later games, perhaps with the exception of the more modern Breath of the Wild. But Wind Waker will always have a special place in my heart.
First of all, who can resist the adorable art style? Cel shading isn't exactly the most popular way to render video games, but the popularly dubbed 'toon Link' has captured the hearts of gamers everywhere, and has even inspired memes galore in social media circles. It was even so popular that Toon Link became a character in Super Smash Brothers. His facial expressions might be my favorite part of the whole game!
The game is also as interactive as I want it to be. The Legend of Zelda series has always been great with this concept, but in Wind Waker, I can choose to fly on a Deku leaf over the town, cut every blade of grass on every island, and shoot an arrow at anyone I like. The game is full of side quests that keep island hopping fun. Combat is very easy to pick up, and there are a variety of ways that enemies can be defeated with Link's complete arsenal of tools. Will you kill a Boku Baba with the sword alone? You can, or you can shoot it with an arrow, bomb it, blow it over with a Deku leaf and chop it up, or use a boomerang to kill it in one strike. There are so many ways to interact with other characters, enemies, and the environment itself, that it's really difficult to ever run out of things to do.
As long as you're willing to set sail for a long time (no, really: a LONG time), you too will find yourself totally immersed in this adventure.