Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
Platform: Wii U
Intelligence Agency Report by: Miguel Moreno
Long ago, there existed a kingdom where a golden power lay hidden, but an evil that was thought to be banished arose and caused the demise of this ancient land.
Several centuries have passed since the destruction of Hyrule, and its memory has long since vanished into the wind—but the evil that caused its ruin has risen once again, seeking those whose bloodlines are connected to the ancient kingdom. Link, whose sister has been kidnapped, now ventures through the Great Ocean in an attempt to rescue her. But why was his sister taken, and how is his fate linked to that of the ancient kingdom?
Weapons Expert Report: Miguel Moreno
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD is the first major Zelda title to appear on Nintendo’s Wii U console. While many re-releases tend to be nothing more than ports with updated graphics, Wind Waker HD changes enough of the gameplay and mechanics of the original Wind Waker to make the game feel like a new experience.
The setting and story of Wind Waker deviate from those of the standard Zelda game. Within the first minutes of the game, Wind Waker recalls the events that took place at the end of Ocarina of Time and the fate that befell Hyrule. The adventure begins when Link’s sister, Aryll, is mistaken for the pirate leader Tetra and kidnapped by the monstrous Helmaroc King. After his first attempt to rescue Aryll goes awry, Link is rescued by the mysterious King of Red Lions, a boat with the ability to speak. The King of Red Lions explains to Link who controls the Helmaroc King, as well as the steps Link must take before he can attempt to rescue Aryll again.
Wind Waker is among the first Zelda games to put greater emphasis on characters and plot, resulting in a highly satisfying gaming experience. The plot twists are pulled off brilliantly, and the characters develop throughout the story, as well. Series protagonist Link goes from a lazy, impulsive boy to a much more heroic personality. Even Gannon, who is portrayed as power-hungry, develops a bit of sympathy in his attempts to reclaim his lost land.
When you aren’t participating in the game’s main quest, you can partake in various mini-games scattered across the Great Ocean, fulfill various side quests, or even help out other players with the use of the new tingle bottle item (which replaces the tingle tuner from the original Wind Waker). Using the tingle bottle, players can send messages, offer tips, and even share photographs.
The gameplay mechanics of Wind Waker HD don’t change much from the original: you explore the land, clear out dungeons, and get weapons, just as before. However, what does change really stands out. The sailing is much faster with the addition of the swift sail, which doubles your speed and changes the wind’s direction without the necessity of the Wind Waker baton. Even the ever-daunting Triforce Quest has been shortened, with some Triforce Charts replaced by the Triforce Shards themselves. The game also offers up Hero Mode right from the beginning, eliminating the need to complete the game once just to experience a higher difficulty.
Wind Waker HD offers players the option of two different controller types: the Wii U Pro Controller or the Wii U GamePad. The GamePad acts as a secondary menu, allowing you to manage your items without having to pause just to change items. It also offers off-TV play, giving you the option of using the GamePad’s built-in screen instead of a larger television.
Part of what makes the original Wind Waker stand the test of time is its cel-shaded look, which is still fantastic, even ten years after its release. Looking at a simple screenshot of the game, one of the first things you’ll notice in the HD re-release is the amount of bloom; looking closer, you’ll be treated to improvements in lighting and textures. However, when the game runs in full motion, it’s like watching a modern Pixar film. While the game’s updated visuals sport a noticeable improvement, the game’s musical score remains largely the same—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering how great the original Wind Waker score actually is.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD is a fantastic re-release of the original Wind Waker, boasting a great story, tight-knit mechanics, and beautiful graphics. Those who missed out on Wind Waker during its original release should really check out Wind Waker HD. However, to those who played or still own the original Wind Waker game, the improved mechanics and visuals may not be quite enough to justify purchasing this game a second time.