The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker HD is how remakes should

first_imgThe idea of taking a game that has been out for years and releasing it not only as a whole new game, but as a bundle geared to sell more consoles, is nothing short of a magic trick in my opinion. Yet somehow that is exactly what has happened with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for the Wii U. What’s more, Nintendo did such a good job that I feel they have set a new standard upon which other remakes and ports should be judged.The Wind Waker holds a special place in the hearts of many Zelda fans because of the sheer size of it. Much of the game involves travelling across a vast map by boat, such that you could truly spend days exploring every inch of it if you wanted to. It was responsible for not only re-igniting the franchise, but adding an entire generation of new players into the fold. The limitations of the GameCube forced Nintendo to be creative with the art in the game, but the cell shaded world quickly became the favorite over its predecessors.As a result, The Wind Waker was widely accepted as one of the best games ever released for the console. It’s not hard to see why Nintendo chose this as the title to resurrect for their currently stumbling Wii U console, but Nintendo had to tread lightly in releasing this game. If it wasn’t perfect, they’d only further doom their current console. The game needed to not only be an HD port of the original in terms of gameplay, but carefully modified to take advantage of the second screen on the Wii U GamePad. Nintendo’s execution here is not without its flaws, but the overall experience is fantastic.Now available in HDFirst things first, how big a deal is the bump from SD GameCube-era Wind Waker to the new Wii U HD Wind Waker? The cool thing about cell shaded art is that it looks neat regardless of what you play it on. Plug a GameCube or a Dolphin emulator into your TV and fire up Wind Waker and you’ll still have a decent looking image on the screen. Things will be a little fuzzy around the edges, and most things a few feet away from the focus point in the game will be blurry, but overall it’s perfectly playable. It’s not until you see the games side-by-side that you really grasp what the HD improvements really are.The HD enhancements to Wind Waker for the Wii U don’t just add a general sharpness to everything in the foreground, but significant depth as well. This is most apparent during the many times you’re sailing from one place to another in the game. You’re ability to see what is ahead of you has been dramatically improved, which is a big deal when you decide to kill an afternoon farming an area of the map for the many treasures that lay under the surface. It’s not enough to change how you play the game, but it is certainly an all around improvement that makes some of the more tedious parts of the game that much more enjoyable.You may also notice that the colors in the HD version of Wind Waker are softer. In some places, this actually feels like a disservice. The softer, more textured, and frankly alive blues in the sky had previously been a mostly flat sheet of impressively deep blue. This is common for large spaces of color like the sky in Wind Waker HD, but in smaller areas the differences are obvious improvements. When Link picks up an item and raises it to the sky in his uniquely celebratory fashion, that item is more often than not dramatically more ornate and realistic looking, in a way that is almost out of place against the cell shaded backdrop of whatever level you are currently on.For an HD remake of an existing game with an animation style as iconic and intentionally childish as Wind Waker, Nintendo did a great job of giving the game modern visuals without disrupting the appeal of the title. Anyone guilty of already spending ridiculous quantities of time on this game will absolutely enjoy doing so again, only now on a much larger and significantly higher quality television.The second screen you didn’t know you neededFor better or worse, there will probably never be another controller like the GameCube controller. Nintendo has moved on to several different controller designs, and so Wind Waker needed to be adjusted to take advantage of the pros and cons of these new layouts. For this release, Nintendo needed to figure out the most appropriate way to approach the second screen on the Wii U GamePad without disrupting the actual gameplay. The end result is simple, elegant, and so much better than the previous system for this same interaction.Like most games of its era, the inventory system for Wind Waker wasn’t great. You just didn’t go into your inventory if you were in the middle of combat, because there’s no way it’d be worth it to you to break up the battle like that. It turns out that if you have a huge touch screen in the middle of your controller, you can quickly make the necessary inventory changes by dragging items into their corresponding slots in your item layout. This means you can quickly equip whatever tool you need for the task at hand by only looking away from the screen for a second. This doesn’t do anything to radically change the actual gameplay, but it makes the one non-game part of the gameplay all but disappear.Unfortunately, taking advantage of this cool feature means you have to actually use the Wii U GamePad. Nintendo’s massive second screen controller is just not going to be as comfortable for those all night gaming sessions. Even if you don’t mind using it for hours on end, the battery in the controller only lasts for about four hours. Something in the translation is lost when you try to recreate losing a Saturday to Wind Waker only to find yourself tethered to the closest wall outlet in order to keep playing.Fortunately you can also play with the Wii U Pro Controller if you have one, but you either lose the cool inventory system or you keep the GamePad on a cradle close by and wind up using both controllers occasionally. It’s not the best environment, but ultimately only effects people willing to sit and play for hours and hours.Is this worth it?The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is available for $50 if you already have a Wii U, or for $350 if you want to get the limited edition console with it included. Nintendo feels they have done enough here to justify charging full price for an HD remake of the game, and I am inclined to agree with them. Many will purchase the game just out of nostalgia, and this will most certainly be a game that drives Wii U console sales, though not enough to make any reasonable impost on the market share of the Wii U in general.Nintendo has given their core audience exactly what they wanted, and opened the door for HD remakes of other popular first-party classics if this release is at all successful. This isn’t likely to be a major turning point for the Wii U, but Zelda fans everywhere have reason to rejoice. VIEW PHOTO GALLERY Wind Waker attackWind Waker attackWind Waker Deku TreeWind Waker Deku LeafWind Waker BombWind Waker WindWind Waker HD GamePadWind Waker GamePad Maplast_img