Ten years ago, one of the most (initially) divisive releases in The Legend of Zelda series was released… and today, it’s exactly what the Wii U needs.
I remember when Nintendo first unveiled The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and how outraged most gamers were since the GameCube exclusive looked absolutely nothing like what we were expecting. The game was criticized as looking like a cartoon, and would thus be too childish for any “serious” gamer to play.
Then we got our hands on it, and it was amazing, which is why it was no surprise that Nintendo decided an HD remake of Wind Waker would be in order for the Wii U, and they’ve pulled it off marvelously.
For those who missed the boat (heh) the first time around, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD tells the tale of a Hyrule that was, surprisingly, destroyed by evil many years prior, and as such what used to be a big world of open fields is now a big world of open seas. The sailing mechanic that both encouraged exploration yet brought criticism on just how long it took to get where you were going has been retooled for this release, with Link able to purchase a “Swift Sail” that gives you a favorable wind regardless of which direction your boat is pointing (so you don’t have to keep changing the wind’s direction), as well as cuts travel time inbetween locations in half. Nintendo also improved on the infamous Triforce “fetch quest” that was near the end of the original game: instead of having to find eight pieces of the legendary sacred object, you just need to find three. Hey, less time spent hanging out with Tingle, the better.
Speaking of Tingle, gone is the Tingle Tuner from the original, replaced with the ability to share messages via the Miiverse application. It’s a smart move by Nintendo that not only provides a seamless and bother-free way to interact with others and give/receive hints, but also reminds us that the Miiverse exists.
Oh, and it’s a great way to share selfies of Link.
Graphically, Wind Waker has never looked better, and that’s saying something. Nintendo does tend to use a bit too much bloom at certain times, but I never felt like it detracted from the experience. It’s truly the most beautiful entry in the Zelda series, and little touches like how rupees are animated and lit make me crave a full-on Wii U original Zelda game even more.
If you find the game too easy, another new addition should be right up your alley: Hero Mode can be activated on any save file, at any time, and makes things much tougher for Link: the only way to refill your health is thru fairies or bottles, as now nothing drops hearts. Not grass after you cut it, not enemies after you beat them, nothing. Also, enemies’ attacks do twice the damage, forcing you to think strategically during every single encounter, especially boss fights.
Otherwise, it’s a Zelda game like many before it. Find three of something, get better sword, find another number of somethings, stab Ganon in the forehead. Lather, rinse, repeat, bliss. Some have complained about the formulaic approach of the series, but when a game’s a fun as this one, you don’t even mind. Or notice. Or care. Luckily, if you do mind/notice/care, there is plenty of room for exploration: the game’s world is a big one, with islands scattered everywhere, giving you the option to literally go wherever the wind takes you.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was already a fantastic game, and Wind Waker HD takes care of some of the more nagging issues (fetch quest and sailing) that could have potentially held it back. It may be a game that’s a decade old, but it’s still one of the finest ever made, and one that deserves to be in every Wii U owner’s library.