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Wind Waker HD Review: A Legend Rebord

Wind Waker HD Comes To The Wii U As Another Legend Of Zelda Remake

The venerable Legend of Zelda series marched deeper into the newest generation of gaming recently with a high-definition remastering of the Gamecube’s The Wind Waker. With the improved processing power of the Wii U, Nintendo have been able to present the game in stunning quality and with an updated control scheme.

For those of us who have been gamers for a while, The Wind Waker may feel too recent to class as a title shrouded in nostalgia, needing a remade update. But for the younger generations, this is a chance to be introduced to a Zelda world much richer and much deeper than the recent Skyward Sword.

For a review of the changes from the Gamecube version to the Wii U version, skip to the end of this article. The remainder will discuss The Wind Waker HD as though it were a new game.

wind waker hd

Design

The Wind Waker is unique amongst games in the Legend of Zelda series as the majority of the overworld map is water. The game takes place on various islands darted around the ocean (marked by a 7×7 box grid with each box containing one island) and uses the boat given to Link early in the game to traverse the ocean from island to island.

The narrative is typical of the series and should offer few surprises to seasoned Zelda fans. Travel the world, acquire magical items and allies, defeat the mysterious dark force. It picks up much faster than Ocarina of Time and even Twilight Princess, letting players get into the thick of things more quickly. Though the varied landscapes should allow anyone who is suffering from story burnout to explore new isles for treasure and mini games.

On that note, The Wind Waker provides an absolute plethora of mini games and side quests to amuse yourself with. Most islands offer at least one mini game or side quest with the more important islands (Windfall, Dragon Roost, Forest Haven) housing several quite large missions. This, combined with the expansive nature of the map, can cause players to lose their way in the story, consumed by the world around it.

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Wind Waker HD Gameplay

In usual Zelda fashion, the camera can be rotated around Link, focused behind him and take a first-person perspective for investigating. It can make jumping across narrow platforms tricky for inexperienced gamers but the free movement goes ways to ameliorate this.

The Wii U gamepad is used both for controlling Link and its touch screen components. The touch pad allows players to simply drag and drop items to assign them to buttons as well as view their map in lieu of a pause menu. This feature is appreciated as players no longer have to pause the game to work out which rooms they have yet to visit in a dungeon but can overwhelm some people trying to manage both screens in a particularly monster-heavy area.

Visuals & Sound

The Wind Waker utilises a graphical style different to its predecessors. Cell shaded graphics lends the game a very cartoon look, which belies the serious undertones of the narrative. While it may not convey the gravitas of the story, the bright art style is vibrant and makes each island pop. Exploration is a pure delight with the warm graphics that serve to further immerse the player.

Music has always been an integral part of the Zelda franchise and The Wind Waker is no exception. The score, from the sailing music to the pirates’ theme, further supports the theme of adventure and exploration. Second only to the scope of the game, the musical score of The Wind Waker is what truly embodies the adventure that shaped the entire genre.

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Differences between the Gamecube and Wii U versions

The control scheme is the most noticeable change in the inter-platform move and the switch from the Gamecube controller is not necessarily a kind one. The Gamecube is widely regarded as one of the better designed controllers in gaming and served the purposes of The Wind Waker ably. Although the Wii U gamepad’s button scheme functions similarly, the sheer size of the unit can make it somewhat cumbersome, especially for long sessions – something that is not uncommon in for style of game. In spite of this, the touch screen functionality is a welcome addition that will alleviate the continual pausing for item changes.

Graphically, The Wind Waker does not seem to be one that would benefit as much from a high-definition remake as other titles in the series. To some degree, this is true. One could happily play either iteration of the game and feel very much the same about the art style. It is not, however, until screenshots of the two are placed side-by-side that a demonstrable update makes itself known. Textures and colours have been detailed and made brighter, more vibrant. A definite win for the Wii U’s technology in this regard.

Nintendo have also incorporated Miiverse features into The Wind Waker HD with the Tingle Bottle being introduced as a new item to replace the Gamecube’s Tingle Tuner. The latter was a method of using the Gameboy Advance to play as an ally of sorts, dropping bombs on enemies and flying around. On the other hand, the Wii U offers the ability to send messages and screenshots to a random player by means of a message in a bottle mechanism. Gameboy Advance – Gamecube cables were not exactly popular and so the Tingle Tuner features were limited as a “multiplayer” option but were briefly amusing for those who did have the necessary tools. All in all, the Wii U Miiverse feature would be much stronger if the message’s recipient was not randomly selected. From a conceptual point of view, it makes complete sense; however, it loses the interconnectivity that spawned the feature.

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Wind Waker HD Conclusion

Overall, The Wind Waker is a strong title. It may lack the naturalised graphical style of Twilight Princess or ground-breaking advancements of Ocarina of Time but the exploratory, open-world feel of the Great Sea is incredible in and of itself. The Wind Waker is a lesson in world building and that in-game world is a treat that a player could completely immerse his or herself in.

For any gamer who is keen to delve into the Legend of Zelda series or is a fan of adventure games, The Wind Waker HD would make a good buy. Is the remake different enough from the original to warrant a second purchase from those with access to a Gamecube? Perhaps not.

The Wind Waker HD is available for purchase in stores now and via the Nintendo eShop as a digital download direct to your Wii U.

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