Published on October 11th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker HD
The cruising adventure on the Gamecube is back and has been luxuriously remastered for the Wii-U, more than just jacked up graphics, the new Wind Waker now boasts a tonne of tweaks and enhancements to justify the effort.
Originally released late 2002, The Wind Waker garnered fantastic reviews, however it suffered comparatively low sales for a Zelda game, mostly due to the visual style they opted for. Many fans considered it toony and childish, creating an uproar during the development stages, these fans were later catered for with Twilight Princess.
The decision to give this particular title special treatment is strange indeed, however, I am glad they did.
The story is based in a land that is mostly ocean, known as the Great Sea, with Link growing up on a small island called Outset where boys who come of age are dressed in green garments to celebrate the hero of time. It is Link’s coming of age when he sees a large bird flying over the island and drop someone in a forest on the mountain peak, he investigates and saves a young girl, only for his younger sister Aryll to be mistakenly kidnapped by the bird. The young girl is a pirate captain and agrees to take Link to the Forsaken Fortress where he will find his sister.
Modelled similarly to Ocarina of Time, the game features the same combat, lengthy dungeons and lots of sidequests, however has a larger emphasis on discovery and exploration due to the inclusion of the sailing of the ocean which is the main aspect of the game. The sailing involves using the direction of the wind, which can be manipulated using the Wind Waker, the sail is hoisted and the boat moves in the direction you’re facing, speed depending on the wind’s direction.
The world map is much larger than any other Zelda game and is sorted into squares, each with a land piece, most of the islands are pretty small and there are only 4 inhabited islands, making most of the others quest-based. The map can be unlocked square by square by visiting each of the fish that you can find, the fish can tell you extra information to help you with general tips or even secrets involved with the game.
Like other Zelda games, The Wind Waker features most of the equipment from earlier titles such as the bow, hook-shot and hammer, found in dungeons, unlike Ocarina of Time however, there are only 4 large dungeons and a number of smaller ones. The aim for the larger dungeons are story-based and surround saving someone or something, but later on the smaller dungeons are done in order to gain objects such as various equipment and later pieces of the Triforce.
Combat has been made much smoother and the Z targeting is less problematic than I found in Ocarina, for the most part the camera stayed in the right place and there weren’t often times that I felt I was cheated due to the game’s mechanics. There were a couple of negatives about the targeting, as it seems that although faster and more accurate, the distance was much shorter, meaning you have to get rather close before you can begin attacking and the target switch is slightly better by it now changing by pressing the button multiple times, however there were still instances when it would focus on the nearest enemy despite them being behind me and my target showing on a front facing enemy.
The game is now over ten years old and most people have probably played it, so for those that have, the main interest in this game are all the new features that are involved.
Firstly, the graphics have had a much larger overhaul than simply upgrading them for HD screens, formerly the game was a cel-shaded and bright aesthetic, however there has been much bloom added and colours are now deeper variants, making the game look slightly less toony and more modern. In areas this has affected the style of the characters, particularly the eyes, they are as expressive as before, just a little less unique like they were before. Following the visual upgrade, there are adjustments made to the screen to accommodate widescreen.
There are various tweaks made to make the experience flow better, the Wind Waker will play shortened versions, animations for treasure hunting are shorter and the Triforce quest has been made shorter, adding more treasure maps to the sidequest in its stead. For more differences there’s a comprehensive list on NeoGaf here.
As this was my first time playing I found hearing about the changes to be a good improvement, the gameplay and story is all straight-forward and paced well, giving a clean and hassle-free experience. Perhaps due to this, the game felt much easier than Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, the enemies do little damage, the boss techniques are simple and rarely become challenging and the fairies are pretty abundant. Perhaps being a slightly higher difficulty or having more difficulty modes outside of the newly implemented “Hero” mode would help break the lull of ease. The new “Hero” mode is a tad too excessive, with the damage dealt being doubled and hearts not being able to be found or dropped by enemies anymore.
For those that have already played this, I don’t think a recommendation is needed, the changes could or could not make you purchase the game at full retail, but for those that haven’t played the original, The Wind Waker is in my opinion vastly superior to Ocarina of Time, a game which was hampered by poor design and terrible pacing, which is not apparent in this game. There are some times when it appears that there might have initially been more to a dungeon during the development phase, but it doesn’t impede the overall enjoyment nor do you entirely wish it was there, the game exactly what it needs to, to keep the player coming back and playing, right up until the credits roll.