>>11774>>11774>Majora's Mask did it by actually making swimming fun instead of slow and awkward.
MM is one of my favorite’s but their solution to the water level angst was to create the zora mask rather than give link a better form of swimming superior to the deep breath dive. Beyond that even with zora flippers the water dungeon was still a tangled mess that was anticlimactic when compared to the espionage of penetrating the beach fortress.
>How exactly does water physics do that?
The key thing to remember in general was how much more realistic and dynamic the effects and visuals of water were for gameplay after the turn of the millennium. It is in this respect that Sunshine stole the spotlight with the ability to slide, dive, and pivot uniquely with even an inch of water on certain surfaces rather than merely getting slowed down. The momentum of the characters in nearly all games with large aquatic zones or oceans had also increased significantly and far more tools were added to change the rate at which you sank, swam, or stroked through the water. Probably the most important thing to remember was that for decades it was not uncommon for water to simply represent the equivalent to an infinite drop, lava, invisible wall, instant return to map, or simply getting slowed down and adding an annoying gravity feature-with potential breath timer-while you walked on the bottom of the area trying to get back to dry land.
Certainly it was the case that there were prior games which had decent swimming features, but due to the reduced input count on most controllers you were functionally limited more harshly in what you could do in an aquatic environment compared to the controllers of postY2K generations with more buttons. Muh waters got much more involved, pleasant to look at and splash in.