The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD Review
This review might be completely bias, admittedly this is the case, as The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is my favourite game of all time. Regardless, I will do my best to be critical and objective as possible.
Despite all the controversy surrounding the cel-shaded art design, critics and gamers alike, all agree that the legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is a timeless experience. The beautiful presentation, unique charm and sublime gameplay lifted the game into classic status and one that will not be forgotten so easily.
Now ten years down the track since the GameCube release, Nintendo has once again decided to voyage the rough seas of the Great Ocean in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. With a plethora of changes and new addition, Wind Waker HD has been touted as the definitive experience. Now that the game is out – the verdict is in! Has Nintendo managed to make a timeless game more timeless? Does Wind Waker HD have the same magic that made the original so memorable? For familiar fans, is The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD worth another go? I have all the answers for you.
To be blatantly blunt –if you have not played the original Wind Waker back, then get your ass of the couch and get Wind Waker HD. THIS IS A GAME YOU NEED TO PLAY. Even without mentioning the plethora of new additions, it is quite obvious Wind Waker is an phenomenal game from head to toe and I have no problem recommending the game to anyone. Everything from the superb original is here – from the wonderfully crafted dungeons, to the thoughtful puzzles and the best enemy designs the series has ever seen – as a standalone game, Wind Waker is as good as they get.
The highlight for any Zelda game is clearly the dungeons. In my opinion, until Skyward Sword, Wind Waker held the best dungeons the series has seen. Nintendo’s creative will have you thoroughly impressed throughout the game. Designs elements such as throwing water on molten lava to create platform, using the rising tide to create a bridge and light bending puzzle solving elements prove Nintendo are will always be masters of game design. My favourite is easily the Wind Temple, which cleverly uses physics of the Wind to create an excellent challenge. With 6 dungeons and a ton of side quests, Wind Waker HD is adventure sublime, and it is incredibly difficult to put the controller down once you boot up the game.
Complimenting, the magnificent dungeons are the varied arsenal of equipment link has in his disposal. Zelda staples like the bow, boomerang and the hookshot make a welcome return. Perhaps, most attention will be drawn at the unique Deku Leaf, and Grapple hook both are new weapons to the series. My favourite is the Deku Leaf which is a multipurpose tool suitable for many occasions. For example, you can aim at turbines or flying enemies to fan a strong gush of air, best of all you can use the Deku Leaf as a parachute to traverse across long distance. Replacing the Tingle Tuner is the tingle bottle, of which player can write miiverse messages and send them a drift into the ocean. Of course, you can collect drifting bottles and read all the funny messages mii-gamers left.
Nintendo has taken advantage of the unique capabilities of the gamepad. For starters, like in Ocarina of Time, aiming can be done through gyroscope. However, aiming with the gamepad felt clunky and awkward, perhaps it was the bulkier gamepad or the fact that you could not look through the second screen to aim. Nevertheless, I found myself using the analogue sticks. The benefits of the gamepad become more apparent with the UI. The item inventory can be viewed and managed on the second screen without the need to pause. Best of all, you can have the map in the palm your hands ready when needed.
Clearly, the Wii U is much more capable than the now obsolete Nintendo GameCube. As one would expect, there is massive upgrade in the visual department in Wind Waker HD. Admittedly, I was worried about the visual upgrade when Nintendo first revealed the game back in January. The character models in the first images had a clayish doll look; in fact, it looked nothing like the cartoon style on the original (in my opinion that it is). Fears can be rested; Wind Waker HD has a strange sense of familiarity. While the game is absolutely gorgeous with the inclusion of modern shaders, advance lightning and a crisp resolution, it still looks feels and looks like the original on the GameCube. What I find funny, is that The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD puts 95% of last gen games to shame despite being a remake of a GameCube game and being developed for only 6 months.
The technical aspects alone are not what make Wind Waker memorable – it is, in fact, the charm. Wind Waker’s charm is a combination of three: Art design, sublime music and quirky writing – as such when all three pillars interact Nintendo creates this unforgettable experience. I always find it difficult to describe the magic behind The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, it is perhaps a game that needs to be played to understand the appeal.
I would classify The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD as a remake as oppose to a remaster. Unlike the typical HD remakes we have seen lately with the lazy “upscale the resolution then call it a day” ethos, Nintendo wasn’t on contempt on only upgrading the visuals. In fact, there are some serious alteration and new addition in the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD.
The new addition, I appreciated the most is the Swift Sail. To say the Swift Sail is a game changer is a gross understatement. I would go far as to say the Swift Sail makes The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD a whole different beast, one that is superior to the original. All the tedium of sailing across the great ocean is no more. The slow speed is gone! No need to regularly change the direction of the Wind! Unfortunately, the Swift sail is not available from the get go, nor is the items existence made obvious in the game.
Old fans can remember the dreaded Triforce Quest. For those unfamiliar, before you could reach the end game, players were required to collect 8 Triforce charts, and then pay a fortune to get them deciphered. After all that, players had to use the deciphered charts to locate the 8 Triforce shards. Sounds boring right? Tell me about it. In the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Aonuma has streamlined the quest, reducing the chore significantly. You can check the differences here. The new quest easily saves you from 2-3 hours of boredom.
Familiar fans can delve into the difficult Hero Mode. In this mode, hearts will never appear in the game and enemies will double damage. It is the similar to the Master Quest in Ocarina of Time 3D and Hero Mode in Skyward Sword. I myself finished Hero Mode and I must say, I found the experience quite refreshing. The double damage and the lack of health recovery especially at the beginning brought a welcome challenge to a familiar experience.
So far I only have applauded the game. But there are some small issues that at times will hamper your experiences. Frame rates will drop on occasion especially in battle against giant octoroks at sea. I found ergonomics issues with holding an arrow and aiming with the right stick. Disappointingly, there is no new content in Wind Waker HD. I was expecting at least a boss battle mode or maybe the inclusion of Tetra’s Tracker from the GameCube – alas it wasn’t to be.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD is a paradox. Can a timeless game become more timeless? If anything Wind Waker HD proves that a game can and it will certainly be relevant 10 years down the road. With all the new features and improvements– regardless whether you have played the original or not – The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD is a game that you need to play.
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