I have not seen a better SD to HD transition than that of The Wind Waker. On top of the beautiful way this game looks in high resolution, Nintendo has tweaked an already brilliant game just a little to make it even better. The fabled Legend of Zelda series is nothing if not able to stand the test of time, and if you have never played The Wind Waker you owe it to yourself to try.
What You Need to Know
Classic 3D Zelda gameplay: explore the world (this time on a boat), find the dungeon, explore the dungeon, defeat the boss, explore the world. Now in gloriously smooth full HD.
For our review of the original game, please head over here.
Nintendo have tweaked the game a little, mainly to improve pacing, since The Wind Waker is a game where you do a lot of travelling. They couldn’t completely remove that without changing the soul of the game, but they did find ways to make it a bit more efficient so you don’t have to spend quite so much time just getting from one place to another. I would go so far as to say that the changes they made were so subtle that they are almost imperceptible.
For example, there is a faster sail available, a huge win for world sailing, but to get it you have to speak to a very specific fish (one of 49 different fishes in the 7 by 7 grid of ocean “squares”) who tells you to attend a certain event at a certain person’s house on a certain island at night. So you attend the event, only to find the sail was not there. In fact, you must attend a number of times before the sail makes its appearance. Such is the way of Zelda games…tiny little offhand comments can be paid attention to or ignored, but ignore them to your eternal detriment: you really want that fast sail!
What’s the Same?
Pretty much everything is the same as it was in the original. Which is to say, if you slow down your expectations and enjoy the beauty of the art and effects then you will be transported most effectively. The Wind Waker is a relaxing game, even for a Zelda game it is slow-paced. But sometimes a largo is just what you feel like experiencing, and The Wind Waker is perfectly expressed.
You’ll Enjoy The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD if You Liked…
…The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The Wind Waker references events in Ocarina of Time, so you will appreciate the story more if you’ve played that game. It follows the same basic narrative and gameplay structure too, although in execution is quite different because of the more open world and the sea-dominated scenario.
…For those who have not played Zelda games, think something along the lines of Darksiders, Beyond Good and Evil or Okami in structure and pace – games where adventure, exploration and puzzle-solving is emphasised over action and RPG elements.
What I Liked
- 6) The use of the GamePad. For mapping, inventory, messages and general decluttering of the main screen, the GamePad works incredibly well for this game. The option to turn the HUD completely off is great too.
- 5.) The opening music. Ever since I first heard it that theme tune has stuck in my head, and I find it hauntingly evocative of a sadness I don’t remember.
- 4.) Sailing the seas. I love the feel of setting off from one place into the wild blue with the wind at my back and adventure ahead. Each time it’s a thrill, and every island you explore could have secrets unknown. I got sidetracked for hours at a time doing things like watering trees or taking pictures, finding fairy hideaways or just dredging for treasure on the sea floor so I could buy another empty bottle (why are empty bottles so hard to get hold anyway?!)
- 3.) Boss fights. If you’re going to have boss fights they better be a highlight. Of course, they are. The fighting system is the most satisfying I’ve played in a 3D Zelda game.
- 2.) Level design and puzzles. The dungeons are superb, but so is every little island you come across – some clever twist on things will be presented as a throwaway bit that you can choose to ignore or engage in.
- 1.) The Wind Waker HD is the most attractive game I have played. The way the colours change slowly as dawn arrives, the oversaturation of the noon-day sun, the arrival of dusk with its not-quite-dark gloaming and then the onset of true night. The HD version takes what was a triumph of art style on the GameCube and shows its true vision – a cel-shaded animated film come to life.
The moment when a certain place changes from being frozen in time and without colour to coming alive with movement and colour. The transformation is wonderful.
What I Didn’t Like
- 3.) The Forsaken Fortress is as annoying as ever. There does seem to be a slight improvement in direction provided, but this place which you go back to a number of times over the course of the game is just frustrating to navigate.
- 2.) The still arbitrary money limit. Fortunately Nintendo raised your starting wallet to 500 rupees in size, and you can quite quickly get it upgraded, but having such a hard, low limit to how much money you can collect is just irritating.
- 1.) No Tingle by my side. In the original I could attach a GameBoy Advance to the GameCube and Tingle would give me hints as I played. I loved the concept, but it’s been removed as a feature (obviously).
Least favourite moment
I had saved up my points at Beedle’s shop, enough to become a Silver Member. I was hoping as a free gift he might give me an empty bottle (I was keeping my hopes low so that I wouldn’t be disappointed). He didn’t. Why, I ask, is getting hold of empty bottles so difficult?
The Miiverse is integrated directly in the game in the form of messages in bottles floating in the water. This is a great distraction while you’re sailing, and some are useful for collecting figurines for your Nintendo Gallery – if you take a photo of something with your in-game Pictograph you can turn it in at the gallery in return for a figurine of that person or enemy. Receiving pictures by Miiverse is much easier.
There are a multitude of side quests to undertake, mini-games to win, treasures to find and islands to explore. 30 hours will see you to completion of the main quest, but there is lots more to enjoy as well as a Hero Mode to play.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD – Launch Trailer
The Bottom Line
Glorious remake of the classic open world cartoon adventure. Left alone enough to remain intact, tweaked enough to make replaying it a pleasure.