Wind Waker HD isn’t exactly a “new” game for the Wii U, but it’s still a great and highly emotive RPG experience.
The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD: On the plus side
Zelda is one of Nintendo’s flagpole series, and one that now has a chronology that is, frankly, quite confusing to follow. Wind Waker HD’s chronology places it firmly after the events of The Ocarina Of Time, which makes sense, as its original Gamecube iteration followed up from the two N64 Zelda titles, Ocarina Of Time and the highly unusual Majora’s Mask.
The Wind Waker HD is Wind Waker, the Gamecube game with an HD coat of paint. That’s no bad thing, as the original’s use of cel-shaded cartoon style graphics made it stand out for its time, although this was a divisive move for the wider Zelda community. Link emotes a lot in The Wind Waker HD, and if you don’t empathise with him, it’s somewhat hard to get into what is still a fairly regular Zelda RPG romp. You’ll open chests, slingshot around the place, pick up bombs… it’s all highly familiar stuff if you’ve played any Zelda game at all, really.
That feels a little unfair though, because Zelda games are usually highly polished, and for the most part that’s true of The Wind Waker HD. While the chronology is confused, you don’t really need to know it, because the game starts you afresh on a tiny and peaceful island. If you’ve played any Japanese RPG, you know that peace won’t last. Soon you’re off on a mighty adventure, changing a very different Hyrule to any Zelda world you’ve ever seen before, or that Nintendo’s attempted since.
The Wind Waker HD’s main change to the Zelda universe was in how you get around the world. Where previously you’d trod the fields of Hyrule, here you sail the oceans blue, at first on a pirate ship and from then on in your own highly opinionated craft. There are still dungeons to delve into, but you’ve got to trek to and fro across the waves to make it there.
When The Wind Waker first came out on Gamecube, this was one of the most divisive bits of gameplay, because there was trekking across the waves, and some gamers didn’t like that. Nintendo appears to have listened to those complaints, as sailing can be completed more quickly and without spoiling matters there’s some tweaking around quests to make things a little easier.
The Wii U isn’t the Gamecube, and there’s no Wavebird support, but Nintendo’s approach to this is to make Wind Waker HD either Wii U Gamepad compatible, or Pro Pad if that’s your style. The Wii U gamepad also acts as a map screen, and can be used for full offscreen play, which is how I’ve been getting through the game. More of this type of play, please, Nintendo, for those of us with kids who want to hog the TV all the time!
The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD: On the minus side
I’ve been trying really hard to work out reasons why you shouldn’t buy The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD.
Realistically, there aren’t too many.
If you’ve played the original there’s not a lot of tweaking here, and the fact that the Gamecube version would work perfectly well if you had a Wii came to mind, but that’s arguably only a small segment of the audience anyway.
You could also be somewhat annoyed that the first Zelda game specifically for the Wii U isn’t a “new” game, but that’s Nintendo for you.
Likewise, if you found young Link in this game to be a bit too cutesy, that could be a deterrent. Mind you, if you did, I’d wonder if you have any soul at all. Despite his lack of speech, Wind Waker Link is one of the all-time great emotive characters.
I guess my only real complaint with The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is that the Wii U gamepad’s battery doesn’t last all that long, and that means I have to keep on stopping to let it recharge. That could work better — but then that’s true of any game that allows purely Gamepad play.
The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD: Pricing
Like much of its Wii U output, Nintendo offers The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD on disc or via eShop. A disc copy of The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD will cost you around $79.95
That’s precisely what the eShop version sells for. Given it’s tied into your Wii U, which means if the hardware dies, your copy goes with it, I’d say that makes the disc version the one to buy.
The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD: Fat Duck verdict
Some game designs stand the test of time, while others don’t stand up nearly as well.
Equally, some games get HD remakes that sap the life out of the original concept, while others upscale and redraw in a way that’s sympathetic to the source material.
Nintendo is something of a master at getting both of those aspects right, and The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD absolutely nails it. If you’ve still got the original there isn’t much of a case here, but for anyone who hasn’t played Wind Waker, this is a great way to jump on board.