There are two versions of The Wind Waker typically used for speedrunning: the English version and the Japanese version. Besides using two different languages, there are further differences between these two versions of the game that lend themselves to speedrunning, and determine which version of the game is preferable for different kinds of runs.
Of the most noticeable differences between the Japanese & English versions of the game is the difference in text speeds. Due to the use of fewer characters in most all text boxes in the Japanese version, the speed of the Japanese text is recognized as far faster than the English text (a table of comparisons between the time to "complete" common text boxes can be found below). This makes the Japanese version of the game much preferred for the majority of speedrun categories, including Any% and 100%.
|Comparisons of Common Text Boxes|
|Scene/Text Box||Time (In Seconds)||Notes & Timing Parameters|
|Introduction Story||222||222||0||From hitting "Start" on file to the fade-in of Outset.||Aryll Waking Up Link||93||99||6||From fade-in of Outset Island to first gaining control.|
|Getting Hero's Clothes||47||70||23||From weird fade-in before the cutscene to regaining control. Note that the JPN file used for timing this used NG+ while the English did NG. It is unsure if Link's grandmother says different things depending on what clothes she hands you, so this may still need re-timing.|
|Getting the Telescope||26||41||15||---|
|Watching Helmaroc and Tetra||49||49||0||From losing control with the telescope to regaining it.|
|Hero's Sword Text||15||16||1||From fade-in after Orca battle to regaining control.|
|Tetra Falling Down + Aryll's Kidnapping + Postman Text||173||245||72||From losing control in forest to regaining it back on the beach of Outset Island.|
|Hero's Shield Text||38||43||5||From fade-in to regaining control.|
|Setting Sail on the Pirate Ship||86||90||4||From talking to Tetra with shield to regaining control.|
|Niko's Introduction to the Jumping Game||54||80||26||---|
|Niko's Text after Completing the Jumping Game||16||24||8||---|
|Spoils Bag Text and Tetra's Text Afterwards||13||19||6||From opening chest to regaining control.|
|Tetra's Speech before FF1||120||140||20||From losing control in crow's nest to regaining control in FF.|
|Gossip Stone Text||14||28||14||---|
|Text for Getting the Hero's Sword Back||3||3||0||JPN is really about a quarter-second faster here.|
|Intro to Ganon and the KoRL||236||296||60||From opening door in FF to regaining control in Windfall.|
|Text for Freeing Tingle||53||71||18||---|
|KoRL Text when you bring him the Sail||9||16||7||---|
|Intro to DRI + Wind Waker Training||71||94||23||---|
|Learning the Wind God's Requiem||49||67||18||---|
|Long Text with the Chieftan||97||133||36||Includes Delivery Bag Text|
|Meeting Medli and getting Father's Letter||13||19||6||---|
|Talking with Komali||12||12||0||---|
|Talking with Medli before you Throw Her||30||60||30||---|
|Talking with Medli after you Throw Her||24||36||12||Includes bottle text.|
|Talking with Medli after you free her from the Cell||28||43||15||Includes Grappling Hook text.|
|Din's Pearl CS||119||131||12||From entering warp to regaining control. There might be some NG vs. NG+ differences here, because Valoo in NG (used for timing JPN) speaks normally he speaks Hylian in NG+ (used for timing English).|
|KoRL text after Din's Pearl||5||8||3||---|
|Meeting the Deku Tree||121||167||46||Since Deku Tree speaks Hylian, there might be another NG vs. NG+ difference.|
|Deku Leaf Text||12||17||5||---|
|Boomerang Text||11||17||6||From opening chest to regaining control.|
|Makar Text Before Warp||38||46||8||---|
|Farore's Pearl Text||124||143||19||---|
|Triforce Charts||87||96||9||You collect 7 in chests, 1 on ocean floor.|
|Greatfish Isle Text||72||113||41||From losing control to regaining it.|
|KoRL Text at Greatfish||8||14||6||---|
Bombs behave a little bit differently between game versions. On the Japanese/NTSC-J version hitting the button you have bombs equipped to while holding a bomb will make Link place the bomb down as if you hit R. On the English/NTSC-U version (and European/PAL?) of the game the button you have bombs equipped to will cause Link to throw a bomb as if you hit A. On the Japanese version you can not equip and unequip Iron Boots while holding a bomb. On the English and European versions you can.
Also important to recognize in TWW is that the placement of some treasure chests is different in Japanese than in English. This commonly involves moving heart pieces to different locations and replacing the contents of the chests that contained heart pieces on the English version with rupees. Additionally, the denominations of some rupees located in pots, etc. have also been changed:
As mentioned above, Triforce Chart 5 is no longer obtained from the Golden Ship at Needle Rock on Japanese. Instead you pull up Treasure Chart 16, which sends you:
This required moving the locations of these treasure charts from there locations on U, on which:
In the Japanese version, the trigger for the Gossip Stone cutscene in Forsaken Fortress 1 is much smaller, allowing you to simply sidehop over it. A different skip must be performed in order to skip the Gossip Stone on the English version. For more information, go here.
The invisible walls above the railing are much shorter on the Japanese version, allowing you to simply sidehop and leaf in order to get on the railing. This allows you to Skip the Barrier Breaking cutscene. It is still possible to get on the railing on the English version; however, it is much more difficult and would not save time in a speedrun.
In NTSC and PAL, entering Fire Mountain or Ice Ring without shooting a fire or ice arrow to the island will cause you to immediately void-out. This is not the case in the japanese version, which means skipping the Fire and Ice Arrows is Japanese only. See the bow skip page for more information.
In the Japanese Version, the collision for the pirate ship always exists during the Prologue, the pirate ship is invisible before making it appear by watching the cutscene of the pirates coming to Outset or saving Tetra in the forest, but can still be interacted with. In NTSC or PAL, the door to the invisible pirate ship exists for a single frame after loading Outset and then disappears, and the pirate ship can not be interacted with at all when it's invisible.
This has important consequences in 100% speedruns that perform Outset Escape, since this means the requirements to enter the Pirate Ship on Outset are not the same. That pirate ship is usually used to get the Spoils Bag quickly (although there are other ways to get the Spoils Bag).
In Japanese version, the Flight Control Platform minigame puts you in layer 1 after playing it. This can be useful in order to obtain the Skull Hammer after performing the Early Master Sword Sequence Break and leaving Hyrule via the Tower of Gods portal. This layer glitch was patched in both NTSC and PAL, resulting in obtaining the Hammer after doing EMS being impossible with current knowledge (Barrier Skip would change this if discovered).
The collision for the Earth Temple Boss Door is different in JP compared to NTSC/PAL, and as such the boss key skip with chest storage works differently.