With Wind Waker HD just releasing and the upcoming Link between world on the horizon, I was wondering which Zeldas you feel did each aspect of the franchise better than the rest.
-World: Wind Waker
There is nothing that screams the sense of adventure more than an open sea to me. The thrill I get from sailing a vast open ocean and seeing the silhouette of an island I have yet to explore is unmatched. There is a certain level of mystery, curiosity, and satisfaction that comes with Wind Waker's setting that no other Zelda has been able to capture before or since.
-Visuals: Wind Waker
Wind Waker is gorgeous. Many have said it before. The reason why Wind Waker's visuals hold up so well is because they had such a strong vision that was able to be produced almost perfectly. I've yet to play a cel shaded game that has fully realized that style of visual presentation the way Wind Waker did.
-Dungeons: Wind Waker
I know a lot of people might call me out on this one, but I really feel that the dungeons in Wind Waker felt a lot more natural than the Dungeons in other Zeldas. It felt like the answers to puzzles weren't slapped in your face. Rather you had to logically deduce the solutions to puzzles (sometimes requiring the combination of more than one item). Then there were those three dungeons that allowed mind control puzzles and I feel like these prove to be the best dungeons in the series. The access to a second character just adds a whole new layer of depth.
-Story: Wind Waker
To me, this is without question. Wind Waker's story is not only the best Zelda story hands down, it is one of the best stories I've experienced in this entire medium. It's a story about moving beyond your own comfort zone and not dwelling on the past. It's about taking a risk in order to grow. This is only punctuated by the isolated islands that dot the great sea. You hear NPCs longing to see what that island in the distance holds, but fear and comfort in what they know prevents them from acting. The story was just brilliant and it was emphasized by metaphor and the game's setting. Throw in more grey morality than Zelda has ever had and you've got one heck of a tale.
-Combat: Skyward Sword
If there is one thing to praise Skyward Sword for it's motion controls. No other game has used this control method betteror more precisely than Skyward Sword. Before this game, Zelda was just press a button and you slash. It was about knowinf when to block and dodge. Skyward Sword keeps this but adds new depth by making your slashes matter. It's no longer one move works in all cases. You have to read enemies and deduce which way to slash. This added a great deal more depth to the combat and bosses in Skyward Sword that was not possible in previous Zelda games.
-most content: Wind Waker
This game is absolutely massive and content packed. Sea charts, Platforms, Submarines, 49 islands, sidequests, and the nintendo galery are just some of the things that will keep you busy for a VERY long time.