If you’re excited about all the remakes this year, don’t look too far; The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is the only remake you will need. The game was already one of the favorites amongst the fans; with the upgrade to high definition and the revamp on aspects of the game, it became an amazing experience. I have to say, though, that I never played the original version of The Wind Waker, so I’m approaching this review with a fresh perspective.
First off, let me mention the high definition upgrade; with it, the game is stunning. The quality of the work is extraordinary – you will love sailing around and being able to see everything on the horizon. The art style can take some time getting used to if you are not familiar with it, but it will grow on you. It’s vivid, colorful, and magical; you will want more of it by the time you are done playing. Once you start paying attention to other things, you’ll also notice the great enhancements that were made to the game’s music. It will remind you of a few other titles in the series. You’ll be taken back to some joyful memories while you listen to the modified renditions of well-known songs. I couldn’t resist standing in one spot sometimes and just listening to some of the songs specific to certain islands or dungeons.
That being said, while the graphics and the music were enhanced, the story remains the same. You will still love it though; it’s a good story (like all the The Legend of Zelda games), but don’t expect added parts to it or anything new since the GameCube version of the game. You are a young boy who just became the same age as the legendary Hero of Time. Following the tradition of your island, you get to wear the iconic green clothes for your birthday. As you are going about your day, a gigantic bird appears in the sky, followed closely in the sea by pirates. The bird is holding someone, but drops that person in a forest on top of a mountain on your island when it gets hit by cannon balls. Showing courage, you decide to go rescue the person. You receive a sword from a villager to help you out, and you valiantly find and rescue the bird’s unfortunate ex-passenger. As you come back with the person you rescued (who is a girl), you see your sister coming to meet you; unfortunately, she gets kidnapped by the bird before she reaches you. This starts you on the path that will eventually lead you to become the Hero of Wind, the Wind Waker. You can’t go wrong with pirates and rescuing girls.
As you embark in your adventure, you will be met with the same iconic gameplay from the series. You control a boat that can talk, the King of Red Lions. The Wind Waker, the maestro stick, will help you control the wind to help you move faster. To use this item, you will have to learn a few songs. It’s actually quite easy to do, with the Wii U Gamepad helping you along on the touch screen. This screen also has your inventory, from which you can swipe the items to buttons directly, and maps to explore both the open world and dungeons. Everything is accessible without putting the game on pause, and it’s a great way to play seamlessly. You could decide to go with a more classic approach and use the Wii U Pro Controller (or even the Wii Classic Controller) to play, but you would miss having the Wind Waker assigned to a permanent button and not having to switch it in and out every time. Another thing to mention is that if you can’t use your television for some reason, you can play on the Gamepad screen directly. Holding the Gamepad for hours at end is not recommended; it gets painful for your hands, particularly the left one as you go through the game. Your Gamepad battery will die regularly, so just take the time it takes to recharge to relax and give your hands a break. You’ll also notice a new thing: while you can still aim using just the thumbsticks, you will also be able to do so with the Gamepad gyroscope, allowing faster and more precise targeting. Particularly useful with the Boomerang, the boss fights involving said item are easier due to that too. The same is true for all boss fights where you need to target. Another change is the addition of the Tingle Bottle (which replaces the Tingle Tuner) that allows you to send messages through Miiverse, to which you can add the pictures (including selfies of Link) you’ve taken with your Picto Box. You’ll also find the Swift Sail, an amazingly useful item letting you always have wind in your sails wherever you turn without using the Wind Waker. The only hitch is that you need to get it from the auction house, and the only way you’ll learn about that would be from one of the fish that update your Sea Chart. The good thing about the Swift Sail is that you are not obligated to use it at all time; you can switch between the normal and swift sails at any point.
For those out there that want a harder challenge, rejoice! The game also features Hero Mode. This mode removes all heart drops from the game, and monsters will do twice the damage. The only way you’ll recover hearts is with potions, fairies, or by getting the Heart Containers. Unfortunately, while what was added and changed is amazing, there are a few bugs that I encountered during my time playing. Monsters disappeared outside the boundaries of the dungeons, and sometimes you could see through a floor or a wall. While the animation was fluid and things seem to be fast, the game itself was too easy. The game still feels incomplete as well; there are some parts that could have used a dungeon, and the end-of-game Triforce quest can be quite boring and repetitive despite the much-publicised changes. You also have a lot of side-quests in the game that you might not want to complete, some of which are necessary to progress. Overall, it is still a great experience.
The game has been available since September 20th, 2013 on the Wii U e-Shop for $49.99. It may sound a bit steep for a remake, but it is actually worth it seeing as they remade not only the graphics but the controls and a few other things in the game that were in need of work in the GameCube version as well. You will have hours upon hours to spend exploring all the different islands and finding all sorts of treasures. You have the iconic trading quest that will make you discover a lot of characters as well as the collection quests and all the rest.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD will most likely end up being the best remake done this year despite the bugs. I hope that Nintendo will continue bringing more of these high-quality remakes to their fans on the Wii U.
This review is based on the digital version of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD downloaded from the e-Shop on Wii U. The game will also be released in disk form on October 4th 2013.