‘Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD’ Hands-On Impressions

By | 3 years ago 

While Nintendo hasn’t revealed any plans for the next entry in the Legend of Zelda franchise, they are keeping the series’ presence strong with two new games making their rounds at various conventions and expos. The first is the 3DS title The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, a sequel to the original Super Nintendo game A Link to the Past, and the second is a complete remastering of the GameCube original in glorious HD exclusively on the Wii U – you know, that thing you’ve been using as a paperweight. Well, dust it off and get ready dive back into the vast oceans of The Wind Waker.

As some might recall, The Wind Waker caused a rift between fans. Some loved the bold, new art direction and some loathed the cartoony cel-shading so much that they dismissed it altogether and refused to play it. What resulted was a bunch of gamers missing out on a phenomenal game. But never fear, my stubborn friends, the title is returning after a little pixelastic surgery and it’s even better than before.

Legend of Zelda Wind Waker Outset Island Original Nintendo Wii U

Here is how it used to look.

The first thing everyone now realizes, or should realize, is that cel-shading was meant to be in high-definition – Wind Waker is a perfect example of why. The early screenshots reaffirmed this earlier this year, but you can’t get the full experience until seeing the game in person. Everything is astoundingly crisp and bright. Every single color pops off the screen and adds a richness to the characters and the world, something that wasn’t as prominent in the original. And the lighting is not even comparable. There is a tropical atmosphere through the game, accented when the sun shines naturally through the environments. The demo definitely mustered plenty of ‘oohs’ & ‘aahs’ from the crowds.

The demo is limited to two playable sections of the game: a boss battle and free exploration of Outset Island (the opening area). Both were relatively the same as they were in the original, but with a few minor changes. The Wii U GamePad played an important role in many of those changes, the most important being the game’s menu. Now the menu is accessible through the GamePad screen, where everything is displayed as it would be normally on the television. Dragging and dropping items to switch them out makes using them much more efficient. The gamepad screen is also used to look through the telescope, take pictures with the camera and view maps. In the finished game, the triforce hunt will also be more streamlined – possibly requiring only one map to find all the pieces. All of these new features assist in speeding up the pace of the game, which many felt was slow.

Another interesting feature is the Tingle Bottle. Players can write messages, stuff them in bottles and launch them into the ocean, where they will appear on the MiiVerse boards and wash up on other players islands. Need to gripe about a certain area? Message in a bottle. Need to share a tip? Message in a bottle. Need something to get into a bar fight? Just the bottle will do.

Legend of Zelda Wind Waker Outset Island HD Nintendo Wii U

See the difference? Glorious!

But the best new feature is the red sail. It is a little something Nintendo added to stifle the complaints of those who didn’t enjoy the open world style of the game. While some enjoyed the scenic routes, it was just too much to sail from one place to another. The red sail is an alternate sail that makes Link’s boat go much faster. Players will still want to slow down at certain points, so switching between the sails is a breeze (no pun intended).

Whether that is the extent of the new features isn’t confirmed. There is a possibility even more content will be made available for players to explore. Extra dungeons are even rumored to be added, despite Miyamoto stating otherwise – specifically two that were scrapped from the original due to time constraints. New dungeons would warrant the asking price, which is on par with newer games at $59.99.

Similar HD remasters are keeping their prices lower ($39.99) since they are re-releases of the same game, but with some additional content. Does the higher price suggest the rumored content will be included? We’ll just have to wait and see when it’s released.

Legend of Zelda Wind Waker Outset Link Nintendo Wii U

Hi-def? Mos-def.

The changes Nintendo has shared so far are more than welcome. They utilize the new hardware perfectly and provide conveniences many will appreciate. However, it’s hard to not want just a touch more. The major draw is the visuals, as they are so dramatically different that they have transformed this into an almost entirely new title. It is, in a word, stunning. New content or no, a Wind Waker re-release is worth investing in solely based on its original merit, but the remastering is just the green cap on top of the link sundae.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is expected to be out sometime in October, 2013 exclusively for the Wii U.

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