E3 2013 Hands-On: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)

It's a game that Nintendo didn't have to remake.  But just like they did with the title many believe is the best in the Zelda franchise, Ocarina of Time, they did it anyway with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD.  If you didn't appreciate it then, you probably will now.

windwakerhd-3 windwakerhd-4 windwakerhd-5When The Wind Waker was first unveiled through screenshots in 2002, it wasn't exactly met with universal acclaim.  In fact, it was so big of a deal that Nintendo's official gaming magazine Nintendo Power didn't print any issues with screenshots of the game when it was in development. After the game was released, though, many people put it near the top of their list of best Zelda experiences.

The game is considered to be a timeless classic, which begs the question as to why this game is getting an HD remake in the first place.  No other game features its visual style, but this is probably the reason for the HD facelift.  As beautiful as the game already is, it's pretty much perfect in 1080p HD.

Of course, it wasn't just the graphics that received a facelift.  As great as the game was, the main criticism was the fact that sailing took way too long.  When the game was first released on the GameCube, Nintendo's response to that complaint was it was done that way to simulate the feeling of longing when you're actually out sailing on the open sea.  Fast forward to now, and head producer of the Zelda series Eiji Aonuma admitted it was actually the GameCube's way of loading the islands.  Now that the game is being developed on Wii U, all the islands are loaded on the sea from the get-go.  Either way, to solve this problem, players will come across a sail later in the game that makes their boat faster.  It was as simple as that.

The game plays well enough for the Wii U version to be the definitive version of this classic.  Thanks to the Wii U GamePad, players no longer have to cycle through a bunch of menus to equip their items.  Using the tablet, players can just drag and drop whatever items they want to equip onto a button on their screen.  The game also features off-screen play, eliminating the need for a TV if players ever find themselves in that situation.

Again, The Wind Waker is a game that didn't need a remake, and the fact that Nintendo made some big improvements pretty much guarantees an even better experience.  Aside from the graphics and Wii U GamePad features, Aonuma even adjusted the Tingle Tuner system to make the Wii U GamePad replace the Game Boy Advance since… well, the GBA isn't compatible with the Wii U.  He even hinted on a change to the Triforce quest near the climax of the game, which was also a big complaint heard from many of the game's fans.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker will be released this fall.