Wind Waker is the bravest game in a series that doesnt get much credit for bravery. It took guts to veer away from Noughties games obsession with grimy realism and commit itself to a colourfully minimalist, cartoon art style that reflected the Zelda series sense of childish wonder instead. It took bravery to quite literally wash away the open fields and mountains and lakes of old Hyrule, with all the familiar locations and characters and villains and mythology, and replace it with a vast ocean dotted with little islands. Although Wind Wakers world would reveal itself to be more closely connected to the Hyrule of old than it first appeared, it was still arrestingly, powerfully new.
And like many new things, Wind Waker initially struggled to find a place in the hearts of the hardcore. The new art style caused a fanboy ruckus equal in recent memory only to that stirred up by Ninja Theorys new Dante (which proved equally spurious in the end). What we didnt understand until Wind Waker actually came out was that the visual style of the game perfectly reflects the childlike, ingenuous delight in exploration and discovery at the Zelda series heart. Links credulous little face is disarmingly alive. The game leaps from the screen.IGN
The sailing accompanied by the triumphant Great Sea theme, one of Koji Kondo and his composition teams most stirring pieces of music also reflects that ideology. There are few images as evocative of discovery as that of a ship disappearing over the horizon and out into the blue. Wind Waker has around 50 islands, each with secrets, most of which lie far out of your path. Like the very first Zeldas dungeons, theyre there for you to find, but they arent always put in your path. This is as relevant as ever now, when games so frequently suffocate our impulses towards independent exploration with hand-holding and inflexible cinematic direction. Wind Waker lets you play.
Wind Waker wasnt a stepping-stone to something else, as significant games sometimes are.
Its characterisation was different, too. Instead of the largely absent Princess Zelda of the series past, we got the vivacious, wise-cracking, fiercely independent Tetra not a wan damsel in need of saving, but a pirate who was as much Links mentor as his friend. This is a mantle that Skyward Sword took up, crafting a sweet and totally unpatronising relationship between Zelda and Link that lent a new dimension to the series, adding smart writing and a touch of humanity to a set of characters that were previously impersonal.
Wind Waker wasnt a stepping-stone to something else, as significant games sometimes are. It was is self-contained, which is one of the reasons it still feels fresh when you play it. It was perfectly cognisant of the limitations of the GameCube technology, and crafted a visual style that worked within them rather than pushing them to breaking point; where the semi-realistic games of the time look painfully dated now, Wind Waker still looks great, because it looks like itself.IGN
Everyone has their special games, the ones that came along at a pivotal time in life. Wind Waker is mine, but its not just nostalgic affection that makes me delighted to see it in HD. Wind Waker is a bold refutation to anyone who says that the Zelda series never changes, a reminder that this isnt a complacent series, or an exploitative one that actually, its never been afraid of reinventing itself.IGN
It's a brilliant, timeless game, one that is perhaps least in the need of a remake, but one that above all else epitomizes Nintendo. How fitting then that it will be their newest console's first must have title.