The Legend of Zelda has always blended the childlike sense of outlandish adventure with an unparalleled sense of pacing and design, that never fails to deliver an engrossing yet entertaining gaming experience, a department Nintendo rarely fails to deliver in. Despite losing some of its steam over the last few years very few franchises many to compete with The Legend of Zelda in terms of quality. Wind Waker has always stood at the top of this pedestal.Some may disagree but I’ve always believed this installment to be the definitive Zelda title, delivering a timeless art style with a gorgeously expansive open world. All these aspects combine to create the best entry in the series, remastered in glorious HD along with an array of new yet not entirely necessary features. But is it worth buying a Wii U for?
It is no secret that the initial reception following the reveal of the original Wind Waker was incredibly negative, many fans abandoning the series due to its new yet unexpectedly polarizing art style. However these criticisms were incredibly superficial, and its safe to say many people came to love Wind Waker and are more than happy to see it return to the Wii U. Its visual overhaul stays true to the original whilst significantly upgrading it. Adding a sense of scale and colour that makes the original pale in comparison, which is even more impressive considering its already timeless nature. Character models and environments seem so much more distinctive and detailed, reinforcing the cartoonish art style whilst applying an extra touch of polish to the aesthetics of the game. .The improved draw distance gives us the illusion that the world is ridiculously vast, but its contents is one the game’s qualities that hasn’t aged as well as you’d expect, not to mention it is all the more noticeable due to the fluidity of the breathtaking visuals.
Your main drive this time around to explore the vast ocean in search of your kidnapped little sister, who has found herself in the clutches of the iconic villain Ganondorf, who, as you’d expect is looking to take over the world once again and ruin the weather for some unexplained reason. Oh and there is a princess to save too! The plot that accompanies Wind Waker is simplistic and easy to follow, but stays faithful to the formula whilst keeping you invested all the way through, but some later fetch quests tend to sour the experience somewhat. The formulaic approach Zelda takes to storytelling is most definitely showing its age in a generation where gaming drifts towards the darker and edgier elements of narrative, but it still emits a nostalgic charm that will keep you invested. Luckily all a Zelda game needs is a story that keeps you enthralled, and the way in which the timeline of each game intertwine and connect with each other is a marvel to witness, especially to long time fans of the franchise.
As a Zelda title, Wind Waker delivers almost flawlessly in the gameplay department, gripping its hookshot firmly onto every critical feature we’ve come to expect from the franchise, and they feel at their most natural and refined here. The rhythmic and fast paced combat system is easily the best in the series, overtaking the motion controlled efforts of Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess. You’ll feel perfectly in tune (pun intended) as Link valiantly slashes at a variety of different enemies throughout your playthrough, along with some creative yet underwhelming boss battles, once again emphasising the bustling creativity Nintendo have crammed into Wind Waker. The sailing mechanic is improved hugely through the implementation of a quick sail, doubling your boat’s speed and completely negating the direction of the wind. But the sail is obtained through a hidden side quest, so less experienced players may miss out on it entirely. This negates the obnoxious tedium that bogged down the original version, especially the latter part of the game that seems to be padded with a myriad of fetch quests to compensate for the lack of development time Nintendo apparently had.
The Wii U Gamepad works perfectly with Wind Waker, acting as the essential companion controller to your Hyrulian adventure. The interface allows you to change items, navigate your map and upload to the miiverse all without leaving or pausing the game. This makes for gameplay that is much less frustrating and much more intuitive, and I couldn’t imagine playing Wind Waker again without it. The option to play the game entirely on the gamepad is also there, although you will lose some of the gameplay features and graphical flair that makes this iteration so special. Platforming and exploration sections remain largely the same, movement controls on the gamepad work surprisingly well as I found myself adjusting to them immediately. For those who wish for a more nostalgic experience are able to utilise the pro controller as an alternate control method, which is strangely reminiscent of the gamecube controller.
Its difficult not to recommend Wind Waker HD. Even though it was originally released in 2003 it would still hold up as a modern release, although some design hindrances certainly add an unwanted stain on what is otherwise a masterpiece. It meticulously blends each and every part of a legendary franchise into what is one of the finest adventure games of all time, fully deserving of its sometimes overblown praise. It may not be worth spending £200+ on a new console for a remake but it certainly is tempting.