The past couple of weeks have been harrowing for gamers, GTAV Online really struggled with its anticipated launch and the long awaited title Beyond: Two Souls failed to impress, so who better to fix all this mess than Nintendo who've re-released The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker in HD, reminding us that it's still a classic, even though it's hitting ten years old.
Now many of you will be rolling your eyes at yet another HD update of a “classic” game, but when it comes to Nintendo, you can rest assured that this is no half arsed attempt, but a revisit to an amazing game that somehow they have made even better.
A vivid memory of The Wind Waker was the somewhat ridiculous overreaction to the whole cel-shaded presentation when the first videos and screen shots appeared, the loudest voices damming Nintendo and vowing never to play this game, well that was their loss as, at least on a personal level, this is one of my favourite Zelda titles (top place goes A Link to the Past). Well its back and now it looks even better than you could have imagined, a beautifully created “carton” world full of wonder and excitement that will entertain well beyond its closing titles.
Set across the Great Sea, our hero Link returns again as a young boy who has just come of age, wearing the green clothes of a once great hero of a time long ago. No sooner does Link don the green that disaster strikes, first off a giant bird is seen carrying a pirate and dropping her in the local woods, but once Link saves her, his sister is then captured by the same giant bird and carried away to a far off fortress. Seeking to save her, Link joins the pirates only to find his sister and a group of other young girls have been imprisoned by Ganondorf, an evil sorcerer that has somehow recently escaped the confines of his eternal prison, returning to once again search of the Triforce. In their first encounter Link is easily defeated by Ganondorf, being is flung far away into the Great Sea and left for dead until a strange talking boat saves him. Teaming up with the King of Red Lions, Link then embarks on a huge quest, visiting strange islands and making many friends along the way to save not only his sister, but the world as well, using the not only the Master Sword but also the “McGuffin” for this game, the Wind Waker, a baton that is able to command the direction of wind.
First things first, you cannot help but notice the improved visuals, the cel-shaded colours look fantastic on the TV screen, smoothing out any rough edges and adding a deeper view, letting you see far into the distance when skipping over the waves in your upgraded King of Red Lions thanks to his nifty new swift sail that you can pick up later in the game, allowing for even faster travelling across the open seas.
It is not just the graphics that have been updated but with the aid of the WiiU gamepad, the controls have been changed for the better as well. With all of the action on the TV screen, it is now left unhindered and free of all of the previous HUD and menu elements, now supported with quick taps and swipes allowing you to switch items and weapons with ease and also navigate the maps a lot easier. The built in gyro is also utilised, making first person aiming even easier, with fine tuning enabled with small adjustments of the controllers position. As expected the WiiU gamepad also allows for off-TV play and even on the small screen then game looks amazing, though you now have the added requirement of pausing the game to change items or view the map, no real biggie considering this is what the original GameCube version required.
Those looking for the definitive and complete edition of the Wind Waker may feel a little disappointed with the exclusion of the Tingle Tuner, an add-on that was unlocked early in the original game where you connected your Gameboy Advance to locate hidden items dotted around the islands. Looking back the Tingle Tuner was maybe a little out-dated if put in a modern game so the replacement is a very much welcome addition so now when you rescue Tingle you are awarded with some new social media elements to the game, something that really changes how you use the Picto Box. Letting you take photos and even selfies of Link, you can then pop them in a bottle and throw them into the sea, which then transports them into the Miiverse, where yours and others will wash up on island shores of any other online player, sharing your photos and other tips you may wish to offer.
Whilst on the subject of previous owners and players of the original Wind Waker, if you are having doubts about replaying the game just because of a new look and a few updates I do share your concerns; however these are pushed aside with the inclusion of the Hero Mode which is available from the very start. Here the quest will play out the same, however the challenge has been upped considerably, with enemies now dishing out double the damage plus you will no longer have hearts appearing from broken bottles or plants, with you now relying on creating and using red potions.
Whichever way you look at this game, as a newcomer or a hardened veteran this is still an amazing title that, even though is over ten years old, shows just how good Nintendo are at creating timeless games.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: Wii U)
+The “portable” nature of the WiiU gamepad
+ Touch controls for inventory and map use
+ Stunning cartoon visuals
+ Masterfully created dungeons
+ Unrivalled gameplay