10 years ago Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker on the Gamecube, much to the ire of the gaming community and Nintendo fan-boys and girls alike. The game had been met with no lacking abuse, gestures of hatred at the art design, style, aesthetic, appeal and characters. Once the game was fully released, the speed at which people were silenced could have beaten a pin dropping to the floor. The gorgeous visuals, compelling characters and beautiful opening really captivated the hearts of many gamers at the start of the game and carried you through to a beautiful, climactic and explosive end.
We start our game on Outset Island, your a kid with blond hair and a blue T-shirt. Your sister gives you a telescope through which you view an event with a giant bird, some pirates and a young girl in the birds clutches. After a massive twist, your sister is kidnapped by the bird, the pirates want to help you out, and you are wearing green clothes like “the Hero of old”.
The pirates and their leader Tetra agree to take you on their ship to pursue the colossal beast to its roost in the Forsaken Fortress, it literally couldn’t get any more obvious with the naming. The games charm begins to strain as you lose your sword immediately upon entering the Fortress by air, in a hilarious little sequence involving a catapult. Navigating your way around using stealth techniques to avoid the pig man spear wielding guards that patrol the fortress until you finally reach your sword, deal out some justice and enter the overly huge door that leads to your sister. The super pigeon swoops down and shows your face to the “Shadow” of the fortress and you are launched into the sea.
Just joking, a red talking boat comes and grabs you, and takes you to the next destination and this is where the game truly begins. Upon reaching Dragon Roost Island and its gorgeous scenery, you are gifted with the Wind Waker, a legendary conductors baton said to have control of the very winds themselves. At this point in the story you are about ready to begin taking on the many challenges that Wind Waker will throw at you.
Now lets go through some motions, you the player are Link. He’s a kid on an island who likes to sleep, hang out in high places looking out to sea and has a younger sister called Aryll. Link lives with his grandmother, no parents are mentioned during this process, something that is common within the Zelda franchise is that Link is a boy of prophecy and inherits the abilities of the hero with each incarnation of his being. However, this Link is the first to NOT do this. He is a boy on an island with a sister and when an unfortunate incident arrives, with the help of his fellow islanders, he sets off to save her.
If you wanted to over examine the story you could say that once the talking boat arrives and takes Link off on the adventure, that it is technically a form of kidnapping. Visually the game is stunning, runs smoothly and looks gorgeous at 1080p. The enhanced textures and clean up have done a great job on making the game look gorgeous.
The islands and dungeons see the biggest change as there is only so much you can do with cel-shaded water, the sky hit marks look more vibrant, but overall it’s very “bloomed”. Bloom is often used as a way to hide something undone, but the original Wind Waker didn’t leave much to the imagination because its beautiful cel-shading allowed it to show us just about anything and still marvel in its beauty. Unfortunately for this title the bloom is in excess, being overly bright doesn’t necessarily make it more beautiful to look at, even from the opening titles of the game is bloomy and somewhat garish. This is however mostly wherever there are strong light sources, and thankfully most of those are limited to the sea areas which have had something of an overhaul.
The game now features a new sail, one that keeps the wind constantly flowing forward from behind the boat, negating the need to use the Baton for anything more than the necessary songs throughout the game. Some may feel however that the use of the baton swinging and the wind changing and song singing were the moments that captivated them, spending time on the high seas with your boat looking for treasure, changing the wind and rushing to your next location. These experiences on the high seas are what made the game that much better, at least for me. That being said, a sail that always allows me to go flowing and fast without stopping can only make traversing the sea that much more enjoyable.
Other features added to the WiiU version of the game is the ability to take a screenshot with a short message that is then put into a bottle and launched into the internet. This bottle appears in the games of other players so that they can open the “bottle in the water” and see your message and photo in their game. It’s a cute use of the system but otherwise it’s just a “Hello I am this far in the game, admire me for this!”. This is not a bad thing however and adds a little something to the use of the online function. Making use of the tablet, Nintendo have opt to have it be a live inventory screen. This is perfect for mid sea sailing and on the go item swapping for dungeons, it doesn’t help sometimes however when I have to look away from my screen to make sure I’m putting the right items where I need them. The on screen monster need not take such liberties. For everything, but battles though the system works very well, no need to pause (unless you are doing a speed run).
The final added piece is the last puzzle you do before facing the final boss of the game. During the travels around the sea in the original, you are to collect map pieces to the 7 Triforce shards to make the Triforce of courage. These map pieces were to be found in mini dungeons dotted around the world, and then following their collection, were retrieved from the ocean floor afterwards until you had all 7 pieces. To streamline the game somewhat it seems that Nintendo decided to do away with the longer search. Only 3 pieces are now found this way, and the other 4 pieces can be found in the dungeons where the maps used to be found. Some may see this as losing some gameplay, others will be thankful having remembered that needing to constantly stop to change the wind direction while trying to claw up the shard chests was a tedious affair towards the endgame point.
Battling has not changed either, each strike makes a whimsical tune on each enemy as you combo them to monster heaven. Signature moves from the Legend of Zelda franchise are also here, with the spin and jump attacks still providing serious a damage output. Battles are more challenging now than before if you selected the games “Hard” mode, ensuring that monsters drop no heart ups for Link, meaning that you will have to rely on potions, fairy’s and skill to get you through battles and bosses. Oh and the monsters do double damage too!
The thing about Wind Waker is that it truly is the game that we all know and love, and that’s fine on its own, however, does it require a brand new game? Does it even require a HD remaster?
In this reviewers opinion no. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was a very good console title back on the Gamecube, it holds up very well, because its style is very timeless. This HD remaster seems to echo that timelessness more than it proves the need for an update of this title may not have been necessary.
Not to say that the HD remaster is poor or unappreciated, but with so many HD remasters released this one strikes the feel of desperate need to sell consoles rather than ship a decent high quality product. Twilight Princess may not have been a terrible choice for a HD remaster, more so than the already perfectly fine Wind Waker. On top of the seemingly desperate release of this game, Nintendo opted to shirk the commonplace prices of current HD remasters at around £25-30, instead though they could have charged full price for this 10 year old remake. As much as I love The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, it’s 10 years old at this point and it’s just a bloomed up remaster that seems ill-thought. I love the game, but I feel like my love is being exploited for coin.
HD remasters as a whole rely on nostalgia, Wind Waker does not shirk on the nostalgia factor and for the 10-12 hours that it lasts, it is a beauty to behold. I would still hold off for a while until it comes down to a more deserving price before purchase, but those who love it will get it on launch the same as I did. It’s worth a buy, just not at a full new game price.