The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Review for Wii U

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Review for Wii U

The Winds Rush Across the Great Sea

I’ve never been at sea before. I’ve never cast caution to the wind, boarded an anthropomorphic boat, grabbed a magical baton, and set out to save my sibling who’s been captured by a bird. I realize, as an owner of every Nintendo console, this comes across as both a surprise and something of a sin, but until now, I’d never sought the glory that comes from being the Hero of Winds. I’m glad; because it means my first experience is with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD , and I can’t imagine a better place to start.

See, my prior experiences with Link and Zelda’s adventures have always been in the form of sprite-based or almost-realistic worlds. I’m familiar with the Links of Twilight Princess , The Minish Cap , The Oracle of Ages, and, of course, The Legend of Zelda . I somehow missed his other, cartoonish incarnations, which means The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is my first encounter with toon Link.

It is glorious.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is unbelievably gorgeous and vibrant, with unexpected details and personality embodying even the most pedestrian areas. Each location has heart, and its uniqueness is captivating. I didn’t truly realize how amazing it was until I was wandering around Dragon Roost and happened to stop on a drawbridge because I was fascinated by a lava plume. Yes, I stopped to watch lava. Then I quickly had to start moving because (oh em gee) there were fire bats, but still. It was the first of many moments where I really had to stop and appreciate my surroundings. The Great Sea is a magical world.

Still, having a pretty face is nothing if there’s no substance behind it, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD delivers. The story gives young Link a chance to shine. Despite only just coming of age, and getting a replica of the Hero of Time’s outfit to prove it, he begins the adventure with the courage to face all odds if it means he can rescue his kidnapped sister, Aryll. Of all The Legend of Zelda games I’ve played, it’s only with Wind Waker that I’ve gotten the sense from the very beginning that Link is made of the stuff of legends.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Screenshot

As I played, I got the feeling that I wasn’t the only one. At Windfall Island, two fathers whose daughters were kidnapped by the Helmaroc King look to this child to save their precious girls even though Link hasn’t even accomplished any notable feats. Though Link is mostly left as a blank slate (as usual), these two characters seem to recognize his determination and strength.

Speaking of the supporting cast, I am pleased to report that most every character has a vivid personality. This includes the standard NPCs, ones that some players may even ignore as they go about their adventure. I’ll admit, there are times in RPGs when I hit my threshold of bland characters. I don’t talk to anyone without a unique character model or portrait because I’m just ready to power through and keep going. This didn’t happen when I played The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD because I was genuinely interested in what everyone had to say, even though it often would have absolutely nothing to do with Link’s affairs or the task at hand.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Screenshot

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD encourages the idea of getting sidetracked. Yes, there’s a wonderful, strong story, but the fact that Link is sailing the Great Sea in the King of Red Lions (his boat) means you’re going to stumble upon other, optional destinations while on the way to the next big event. It’s only natural, and it’s even relaxing. Though the fate of the world does, ultimately, rest in Link’s hands, there’s no need to rush. It’s okay to sightsee along the way. For those who don’t want to dally, they can use the Wind Waker baton to change the course of the winds, so the boat speeds towards the next destination.

Or, better yet, stop by Windfall’s auction house after Dragon’s Roost to get the Swift Sail. With this sail in place, pressing A on the world map sends the King of Red Lions racing in any direction without altering the wind. Personally, I preferred to go as the wind took me, enjoying the ride, but as I’ve said, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is new to me. I was savoring every moment. Those looking to do speed runs, or who’ve played before and know where they’re going, will find the Swift Sail a welcome addition.

These same people are probably going to want to jump into Hero Mode right away. Upon starting The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD , players will find the opportunity to choose between two different difficulty levels. One is the one everyone is familiar with, and the other tests people to see if they are worthy of being called Hero of Winds. It takes away all recovery hearts and doubles the damage that enemies deal. That may not sound too intimidating, but when I decided to give it a try for research purposes, I quickly found out, about halfway through the first dungeon, that it wasn’t happening. I saved, exited, reloaded, and turned off Hero Mode. I know my limits.

The fact is that The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is a very streamlined game: There’s the impressive use of the Wii U GamePad to quickly sort through Link’s inventory, check maps, and assign items to buttons; the optional, faster means of sailing; and select, important items tied to d-pad directions. It all just works. In fact, the GamePad is perfectly suited to the experience, especially when it comes to using gyroscopic controls to shoot arrows with the Hero’s Bow. It all works exceptionally well, and it feels like The Wind Waker was always meant to be paired with it.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Screenshot

Lamentably, I was unable to test one of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD’s new features. Fortunately, it was one that isn’t crucial to gameplay. Upon rescuing the infamous Tingle from Windfall Island’s jail, he bequeaths Tingle Bottles upon the player. These can be sent out along the waves of any beach, taking a random message to another The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD player. Pictobox images can be included, and if someone is online, a Tingle Bottle might appear on his or her shoreline. I received an error message when I attempted to send one and never came across any bottles during my wanderings. I’m sure this will be remedied once the game actually launches, but I like the notion of it and feel it will add a friendly, social element to an otherwise solitary adventure.

Of course, I’m sure I’m probably preaching to the choir. Many of you have probably already experienced The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker before and have gone through what I’ve been experiencing. It’s a touching and awe-inspiring journey. While playing, I marveled at things I normally don’t pay attention to in games, such as the way light and shadows played off of Link and his enemies in battles, or the way the wind made little things, such as flags or windmills, come to life. (I also may have been a little too amused at Medli’s reactions to being thrown against the wind.) But for those who, like me, are new to The Wind Waker , go into The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD knowing that this is an example of a truly great game as well as one of Link’s finest adventures.

Almost every view in The Wind Waker HD is majestic. 5.0 Control
The Wii U GamePad is perfect for inventory management and map viewing. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
No matter where you are, the music will always be fitting and, often, catchy. 5.0 Play Value
The Wind Waker HD isn’t a game you play once. There’s so much to do 5.0 Overall Rating – The Best
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD features 1080p visuals that will immerse players in the game like never before.
  • With the Wii U GamePad controller, it’s easy to manage your inventory and view maps.
  • Players will enjoy cruising the open sea with a new Swift Sail, bringing them to their next destination and action-packed adventure that much faster.
  • Once players receive the “Tingle Bottle” item, they can connect with others by posting comments to Miiverse. Through this new feature, comments or screen shots posted on Miiverse will wash up on the shores of other players’ games. It’s like finding a message in a bottle.
  • Players can also take and store more pictures with an improved Pictograph and then post them on Miiverse.
  • If the television is already in use, this game can been played off-TV on the Wii U GamePad.

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