It actually really surprises me how the fanbase reacted to the art style of the Wind Waker, but in some ways I could see where they were coming from, however there is other evidence that really surprises me over the explosion of rage over WW.
From the start of the LoZ series, the game's art style did vary quite a bit, from the the very beginning
to the first 3D game of the series
. Fans had become used to the simple, anime/fantasy artwork of the game. So when fans heard about the arrival of a new of a new Zelda game, I'm sure that fans were predicting more of the same, but of course - this wasn't what they were expecting at all.
Which brings me to my above point of why exactly the fans raged.
In a way, they were thrown out of their comfort zone. Their fantastic, mature, fantasy series had been degraded into a game for 'kids'!?
That's what the haters thought, and presumed that the game was going to be terrible just because the art style was changed. Again, this brings me to why in reality, I find their complaints to be quite odd.
There have been quite a few games that have had, like WW, drastic art styles. One in example is Team Fortress, which went from what was originally a serious but entertaining FPS
into a still entertaining game, with a more light - hearted, cartoony take to the game.
The thing is though, is that TF players took the change the right way - the nine years of design they were used to had been suddenly changed, and they were all for it.
Indeed, Wind Waker did bring about a few changes, some good some bad, but most fans didn't go through the first borderline and actually play the game despite it's style and theme; they just rejected it. Wind Waker was made a lot more light - hearted and comical, just like TF2, but the plot was still fantastic, it was much more humorous, and despite it's short length still brought out (in my opinion) cell - shaded justice.
There were a lot who hated the game, but I can only really respect there opinion if they've actually played the game - if anyone is going to dislike the game, please let it be the gameplay along with the graphics.