Developer: Nintendo EAD
Platform: Wii U
I was almost a year late to the party when Nintendo first released The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on the GameCube just over a decade ago. It wasn’t until Christmas 2003, at the age of 10, that I received Wind Waker as a gift and was able to experience what would go on to be, and still is, my favourite Legend of Zelda title.
Ten years later, Nintendo decided to remake this fantastic game and release it on the Wii U – you can only imagine how excited I was!
If I’m being entirely honest, Wind Waker was the first 3D Zelda game I had played if my memory serves me correctly – until I had received the GameCube, the family had always been Sony-oriented for the home consoles, so Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask had until years later eluded me. Whilst most Zelda fans had split opinions on the game – at the time it had a seemingly love/hate thing going on – I was instantly blown away. I’d played Zelda games previously, but only the 2D entries on the GameBoy and GameBoy Color, so this was an entirely new experience for me.
By now everyone should be familiar with the Legend of Zelda formula. You, as the player, take control of Link in an epic quest to rid the world of an immense evil – in the case of Wind Waker, the evil Ganondorf.
Wind Waker takes place in one of the Zelda timelines in which at the end of Ocarina of Time the Hero of Time was unable to truly defeat Ganon. As a last resort to defeat him, the Gods flooded Hyrule sealing everything and everyone – except a few surviving races – beneath the waves. That is, of course, until Ganondorf is able to escape and begin plotting once again.
10 years ago the graphics were marvelous and the vibrant colours drew me in to the world. A decade on, and they have only gotten better. Prior to the release of this remake, I hadn’t really kept up with screenshots and information; I just simply knew the game was coming out. When I first put the disc in my console and booted it up, I sat back and watch the introduction and was yet again blown away by what I saw.
Everything was smoother, sleeker and more vibrant. Nintendo slightly overdid it a bit with regards to the high levels of bloom, but not in a way that detracts from the games natural feel.
You’ll spend the vast majority of your time playing Wind Waker HD sat in Link’s boat traveling from destination to destination, exploring small islands encountering enemies on the seas and searching for treasure as you go. As a result of the flooding some years prior to the story, boat is pretty much the only way to get around, and as a result it is the main theme of the game.
Whilst initially restricted to where you can sail, it isn’t long until the whole sea is available for searching, and – with a huge map filled with countless enemies and treasures – I recommend you do search every last inch!
Every now and then you will also be faced with a dungeon that, of course, sticks to the main Zelda formula. A few rooms, lots of enemies, a puzzle or two and that shiny new item you need to beat the next boss. The dungeons in Wind Waker aren’t all that challenging however, in my opinion, and actually feel somewhat more linear compared to previous entries, as if the developers just want to get you back to sailing as quickly as possible.
Probably the best feature of Wind Waker HD gameplay is the re-made Triforce Quest. Anyone who played the original Wind Waker knows how annoying that part of the game was. Without trying to spoil too much, it involved finding 8 charts that each had to be translated by Tingle in game, which revealed the location of a Triforce shard. This of course, coupled with how big the map actually is, took a lot of time. In this version, the player needs to only find three charts; the other shard locations being known from the get go.
To make use of MiiVerse integration, Nintendo also included a funky new item called the Tingle Bottle. As you sail the seas, you will come across hundreds of tiny bottles in the sea, each containing a message from another player around the world and you can even send your own! You’ll usually just find these contain a “selfie” of Link, but its still a cool feature nonetheless.
There’s not really much to say about the standard controls here. Nintendo made them identical the original back on the GameCube.
What is worth a mention however, is the use of the GamePad. Nintendo made the GamePad’s second-screen work in a few neat ways. The player can switch between Map mode and Inventory mode and they do pretty much as the name suggest.
When in the Overworld, or when the player has found a dungeons corresponding map, Map mode shows a detailed view of the map you are currently on. Inventory mode allows for quick access of items and equipment without the need for pausing the game, making the gameplay a lot more fluid.
Wind Waker HD is also playable entirely on just the GamePad’s screen, via Off-TV Play.
Overall, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is a worthy remastering of one of my, and many people’s, favourite game. However, whether or not it is worth the purchase is another question.
If you were never lucky enough to experience Wind Waker back in it’s GameCube days, then I couldn’t stress enough how much you need to play this game. If you did play it back on the GameCube however, I wouldn’t say the purchase is quite so essential. It is, bar the Triforce Quest, the exact same game that you already own. Of course, if you loved this game as much as I did, you’ve probably already bought it by now! What with the current drought of Wii U games, this is the perfect thing to tide anybody over.