Nintendo’s Gamecube darling gets a shiny overhaul for the Wii U, but is this a classic worth revisiting? Find out in our Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker HD review.
Published on Sep 17, 2013
Depending on who you speak to, The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker is the best Zelda game.
Of course that’s completely subjective and we couldn’t possibly comment on such an opinion (it is), but there’s no denying that Wind Waker was an important Zelda game for Nintendo.
New visuals, new mechanics and other subtle tweaks to the franchise put players off, as though Ocarina Of Time and Majora’s Mask had set some kind of expectation too early on.
Regardless, if any game is worthy of a HD upgrade, it’s Wind Waker.
The cel-shaded visuals, for a start, help to keep the game feeling modern even before the HD gleam is added, but – honestly – screenshots don’t do Wind Waker HD justice.
Wind Waker's New HD Visuals
In motion it’s hard not to be awed by Wind Waker HD and while there are moments where the new bloom effect is a little bit over-the-top and heavy handed, it is nonetheless consistently gorgeous.
The new and improved textures are part and parcel of that, and while the character models and world design still remain the same sort-of-is sort-of-isn’t blocky shapes the art style helps mask any concerns here.
Worry not then, Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker HD is simply beautiful.
But of course this is only one aspect of the HD remake. If all you wanted was a visually up-to-date Wind Waker, then consider yourself sold – you couldn’t ask for more.
The issues come with the tweaks underlying the game.
Wind Waker HD brings with it a whole host of mechanical changes – so many we couldn’t list them all here – and not all of them are particularly positive.
Changes To The Game
Firstly, the positive. Though porting to the GamePad could’ve been a little more inventive, there’s no faulting the improvements utilising the Wii U’s controller has helped with the Wind Waker HD.
For example, the map/inventory is instantly accessible without ever having to pause or switch. A subtle thing, perhaps, but keeps the gameplay going without having to flick through menus and other screens.
Meanwhile the likes of the telescope or bow can be controlled via the controller’s gyroscope, if you really wish, making for minor alterations on top of more general - and traditional - means of aiming.
The ability to play the entire game Off TV should be praised too, a feature that is quickly becoming the Wii U’s key selling point.
Making Wind Waker Easier
Sadly there has been a concerted effort to alter some of the trickier elements of the original game. Take the wind management of sailing as an example, a feature that relied on smart use to make the most of.
Now it’s possible to buy a Swift Sail, which is 50% faster, can be bought separately from the auction house early on and doesn’t rely on Link to be travelling in the same direction as the wind - or to alter it - to gain speed.
It makes the game quicker, and for newcomers it will make it unnoticeably easier to get to grips with - but it does detract from some of the magic that made sailing such an important part of Wind Waker HD.
If nothing else, it now feels a little simplistic.
Other changes have the same negative affect for anyone who might’ve played Wind Waker before, most notably how animations have been sped up to.
There are two prongs to this particular problem. The combat is quicker and slicker, and undeniably a lot of fun. But it is easier, and while that in itself is fine it seems like an unnecessary issue to have to resolve.
No one ever complained that The Legend Of Zelda was too hard, after all.
Wind Waker HD - For Better Or Worse?
Wind Waker HD falls into the awkward zone that some HD remakes so rarely do - it’s visually stunning and a worthy upgrade, but has the mechanical changes affected the overall experience?
Whether it’ll bother you will depend on just how against Nintendo’s myriad tweaks and changes you are. None of them are dramatic game changers admittedly, and it’s true that it does mean newcomers will have an easier time overcoming some of the problems that may (or may not) have irked players previously.
It’s a tough call to make, but Nintendo should - at the very least - be praised for the efforts it has gone to overhaul Wind Waker.
In an industry where the addition of ‘HD’ often means little more than a 16:9 image ratio, there’s no doubt that the Wind Waker HD has been given the proper treatment.
There’s no forgetting that much of these concerns can be rectified by playing in Hero Mode, too. The optional difficulty option can be switched on or off at any time, and makes your enemies pack a bit more of a punch.
It doesn’t resolve everything, and purists will find much to complain about with the Wind Waker HD, but none of this changes the fact that the Wind Waker - HD or otherwise - is still an exceptional game. You need to play it.
Newcomers now have no excuse to play The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker; it’s as enjoyable as it ever was and looks as good as a modern game should thanks to the HD elements.
The problem comes with the old-school players, and it’s here that giving a score to the Wind Waker HD becomes difficult.
These new changes might be jarring for diehard Wind Waker fans, but ultimately it is for the best of the game. Nintendo has created a smoother experience, and it shows.
It's a brave move to delve into the mechanics of a classic, but Nintendo was right to do so. These changes can easily be forgiven, and as a result Nintendo has created a masterful recreation of one of its most cherished games of yesteryear.
8.5 / 10
9.0 / 10
9.0 / 10
8.0 / 10
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9.0 / 10
Wind Waker HD brings with it a selection of improvements and tweaks to make it a prettier, more enjoyable game that newcomers and fans - even the most diehard - will find appealing.