The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD was announced with quite a bit of curiosity. In a Nintendo Direct published a while back, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata mentioned that two new Zelda games were in the works–one for the 3DS and another for the Wii U. While some information for the 3DS iteration was unveiled, nothing was known about the new Wii U game. Instead, in order to ease the excitement for the new Zelda title, Iwata-san also announced that The Wind Waker would receive an HD remake. Quite curious considering a lot of Zelda fans will claim that the game itself was visually timeless.
What Is It?
The original Wind Waker game was released in 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube with people criticizing the game for its toon-shaded visuals. This was a new thing at the time, and because the game featured Link as a youth again, it didn’t impress fans of Ocarina of Time who wanted the mature and darker Zelda shown in demo footage at Spaceworld 2000.
After getting over that little non-issue, the game went on to be critically acclaimed and won of a lot of publications’ game of the year awards, praising the game for its visuals, tight gameplay, and what was probably the strongest narrative in the long-running franchise.
The Wind Waker‘s visual timelessness is sort of the reason why it was rather alarming to find out Nintendo was remaking the title in the first place. But after experiencing the game in full HD and noting its improvements, this HD remake definitely makes itself out to be the definitive way of enjoying this great title.
Why Should I Care?
The main improvement in gameplay is thanks to the Wii U’s GamePad. Now players can switch and equip items and weapons on the fly just by dragging them to the appropriate place on the GamePad’s touch screen, eliminating the need to ever pause the game. The only times this is ever reverted back to the original pausing method is when playing on the Wii U’s now traditional “Off TV” play or when playing the game with the Wii U Pro Controller–which doesn’t even compare to the way you can play it now.
Veterans of The Wind Waker also might be concerned about the Tingle Tuner, an item in the original game that made use of the GameCube and Game Boy Advance’s connectivity features to play minigames and complete Tingle’s island in the Great Sea. Obviously, the GBA and Wii U have no connectivity features, so the Tingle Tuner was replaced with the Tingle Bottle. It doesn’t do the same thing, but it does away with the gimmicky minigames to allow players to send each other messages in the shores of various islands over Miiverse much like the messages left for other players to discover in the Demons Souls games. In the end, it’s trading a gimmick for a gimmick, but it’s something fans of Miiverse might value.
It may have been nitpicking back then, but the main issues people had with The Wind Waker was how dull sailing was and how easy the game seemed to be. Both these issues were addressed, but they weren’t really “fixed.”
In response to the sailing issue, to be honest, it’s still as long as it was in the original game. The only difference is it’s not dull anymore. To make the sailing more involved, more obstacles and rupees come out from under the sea to give players more of something to do. In addition, a little later in the game, Link will also have access to a bigger sail that he can use to sail twice as fast, without the need to manipulate the wind. Of course, this is all before players unlock the ability to warp into all the important areas in the game. In the end, the sailing still takes a bit of time, but it’s a whole lot easier to deal with.
Also in regards to sailing, it’s worth noting that the Triforce quest near the end of the game is a lot less tedious. For the sake of spoiler hate, I won’t deluvge exactly what it is you do. It’s still a tad annoying, but it’s not the chore it used to be. But for those of you wondering, no, there are no new dungeons in this game. That includes those “unfinished dungeons” Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma hinted about.
As for the game’s difficulty, the developers also included a “Hero’s Mode” that you can play right off the bat. Hero’s Mode doubles the damage Link takes and also makes recovery hearts impossible to find. This means that in order to regain health in the game, players either have to drink a potion, use a fairy, pick up a heart container after a boss fight, or reset the game. When I played the game ten years ago, I never died. I’ve died around three times in my playthrough of HD, mostly due to moving to fast and rolling into lava, but it’s definitely harder than I remember it being, and that’s what counts.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Those unfortunate enough to not own a GameCube 10 years ago missed out on what was and probably still is the best story in the entire Zelda franchise. The Wind Waker starts off as a rescue mission not unlike previous titles in the series, but it also makes itself out to be a game with plenty of emotion, flawlessly blending the detail put in each character’s facial expressions along with background music complementing each situation.
This makes itself quite evident when first booting the game up. If you turn the sound on the GamePad on, it complements the sound of your TV or home theater in such a way where it really immerses the player in the experience. The soundtrack is about as timeless as the game’s visuals, and quite a few of the songs were actually remastered, making this folktale even more modern.
While it may not have needed a remake, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD has successfully made a great game even greater. Top-notch presentation values, more streamlined gameplay, and an added difficulty makes The Wind Waker HD one of the best games available on the Wii U’s slowly growing library and is an experience well worth having for both newcomers and the most diehard of Zelda veterans.