A breathtaking revision to one of the most timeless Zelda classics for the Wii U console. This review will be covering primarily the core of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and won’t stray too much on the HD changes.
The journey follows the overused route of Zelda in need, but this adventure comes with twists that makes this installment in the Zelda franchise a breakaway from normal plot conventions. Hyrule has been flooded and turned into vast ocean to seal away Ganon, but as time passes evil is back and it is up to Link to save what is left of Hyrule. The game is centered around the great flood which allowed the developers to add unique elements in this entry such as treasure finding, island exploring and even the joy of sailing.
Wind Waker HD holds one of the most awe inspiring art styles of the Zelda franchise. The cell shaded backgrounds and characters used in the original Wind Waker caries over impeccably onto the modern day TV. This timeless style of graphics is brought to life further with the full-fledged utilization of a lighting and shadows system added to the game making the immersion stronger than before. From the tranquility of Outset Island, to the infernos of Dragon Roost Island and the epic wall of water that surrounds the final battle with Ganon; this game is truly gorgeous in every aesthetic respect.
With all this gaping beauty the question is raised, “How does the game play?” and the answer, fantastic. The combat system is built further upon the original one used in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, but while keeping combat options simple and easy to control. Controlling Link comes with ease from his movement animations, through combat and all the way to item usage; controls are responsive, intuitive and smartly mapped out on the gamepad. A new addition to the HD version of the game is gyroscope aiming. At first I found myself resilient to this control change, but as I progressed it became one of my favorite moments with Link. New immersion is brought through this usage and it is my personal recommendation to try leaving it on as it enhances the game. Slashing and dodging opponents feels better and more polished than ever before in this instant Zelda classic.
The people of our flooded Hyrule borrow on the idea from Majora’s Mask usage in terms of side quests and minigames. Windfall island is the hub of side quests which are surprisingly fun, from playing Battlesquid, participating in the town Auction (You are going to want to do this for the newly added swiftsail) and even playing hide and seek with the local children. There are many more minigames and side quests spread throughout the entirety of the game leaving it fun and accessible for players to control the game at their own pace. The characters of this vast ocean have much to offer bringing the game further to life and creating a refined sense of enjoyment and realism.
Enemies are beautifully revamped in this edition of Zelda. The new design of moblins are incredible from how they move to the new artistic style cast upon them; many of the old Zelda characters are added with beautiful design changes to fit this cel shaded surreal game. It is more than worth mentioning the new design of our classic foe Ganondorf, as he takes on the design of a Samurai with a more than heart-touching backstory. New enemies and AI are also included, the simple bokoblins and the friendly korok tree children enter the game bringing something fresh and fun to the series. Boss fights are the same as before with dungeon item achievement to using the new found tool on the boss. Regardless of the series repeated item gating it still shines leaving unforgettable battles.
Of course what would a Zelda game be without their most iconic asset dungeons. There are seven main dungeons in the Wind Waker each unique in style and atmosphere. Clever level design is used throughout all seven, but each comes with its own quirks giving it unique gameplay compared to the other six. My personal favorite example of this can be seen in the Earth Temple where Link is allowed to control and use another character named Medli to either glide or have her take short flight. All dungeons have their own variant of gameplay keeping it fun and intersting. The dungeons hold unique variety capturing the players interest and enjoyment.
Wind Waker HD is a fantastic Zelda game that builds on the series old and introduces new concepts that make it a fresh and enjoyable experience for everyone. Although the bold art style was mocked upon release, time has shown how this has become one of the best looking Zelda games to date. Gameplay is polished and enjoyable while story is intriguing and unique; great balance is shown in this epic title. What this Zelda game has had to offer is a step forward and a great milestone towards the Zelda legacy. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is a worthwhile addition to any Wii U owner’s collection.