Review by Jerrynsteph4eva
"An amazing Zelda gets an amazing upgrade."
In 2002, I spent nearly my entire summer vacation rebuilding the roof of our house with my dad. The days were blistering and by the end of them I could hardly feel my hands. But it was worth it because at the end of it, my parents pitched in the remaining money I was missing so I could purchase a brand new Gamecube, complete with Super Mario Sunshine. I loved every moment of the game, but the real shocker was when my Mom brought me home a second game: a Legend of Zelda double disc, only obtainable for preordering Wind Waker. While fans everywhere were screaming at the new cel-shaded looks and "kiddy" gameplay, I was eagerly anticipating the game. When I finally got it, I was blown away by the game and it quickly became my one of my favorite Zelda games. But there were several quirks about it that brought down the game at parts and made me apprehensive about returning to it.
Naturally, when Wind Waker HD was announced 10 years later, I knew it would be a day one purchase for me. I eagerly awaited the release of the game and even resisted the urge to download the digital version in order to hold out for a retail copy. But before I could get a hold of it, my fiancee (who I introduced to the original game) surprised me with it on release day. But is this game the masterpiece it was in 2003 or has it faded into obscurity/ And what's new in this iteration? Read on.
Likely the biggest upgrade of the game and the first thing you'll notice about it is the massive update to the game's graphics. While the original game's graphics held up quite well, everything has been touched up to look even better. Blades of grass sway in the wind at Outset, a new lighting system casts shadows from every object and all the new textures give the world a rich, beautiful new look. Though Wind Waker was probably the one 3D Zelda that DIDN'T quite need the visual upgrade, it enhances the already great graphics to a whole new level.
The story of Wind Waker takes place hundreds of years after the "Adult" ending of Ocarina of Time (that is, the world destroyed by Ganon in which he is sealed away in the Sacred Realm). The world returns to its peaceful self and life goes back to how it was before Ganondorf ever set foot in the Sacred Realm. However, many years later, Ganondorf breaks free from his prison and ravages the world once more. Desperate, the people call out for their hero (Ocarina Link) to save them from Ganondorf. Unfortunately for them, Link is long gone. Hearing their desperate cries, the goddesses flood the world, trapping Ganondorf underwater and causing the people to rebuild their world on the peaks of their mountains. Many years pass from this time and as one of the descendants (Link) undergoes a traditional ritual to dress like the Hero of Time, a giant bird kidnaps his sister and flies off towards an ominous tower. Your goal is a selfish one but will broaden as time goes on: save your sister!
The biggest thing Wind Waker is known for is the vast explorable ocean that you can sail along freely. The ocean is split into sectors to help you keep track and each sector has a different island which can be explored. This adds a huge exploration factor that I feel hasn't been achieved since Link to the Past. Sure, you can fire up the sails and set course for your next dungeon but you can also take a few detours along the way to explore some of the game's numerous islands filled with rupees, treasures and other items that will aid you in your quest. To be quite honest, most of the islands are completely optional (or have limited story purposes) so the game is filled with places the adventurous will love to explore.
Of course, one of the biggest complaints with Wind Waker's original gameplay was the amount of travel time you had to do to get from one place to the next. You'd have to sail for upwards of five to ten minutes to get where you wanted and it was a drag, especially when you had to keep adjusting the wind in order to do so. In Wind Waker HD, they added a new item that eliminates most of these problems and using it makes travel time SO much easier. The Swift Sail, which can be purchased at the Windfall Auction, not only allows your ship to go at double the speed while also adjusting the wind automatically so you're constantly going at full speed. This alone makes playing Wind Waker so much easier and lessens the amount of dead time you spend waiting to go from one place to the next.
As far as gameplay goes, Wind Waker continues the tradition set by Ocarina of Time and continued by Majora's Mask. Players are thrown into an overworld filled with hidden collectables and are asked to fulfill story driven missions which require you to head from town to town in search of dungeons. Like the previous games, items can be set to one of three buttons for use. If you played any previous 3D Zelda (or any Zelda after it, aside from Skyward Sword) you know what to expect from the gameplay. However, Wind Waker HD offers a few tweaks that make it much more pleasant.
For starters, the game uses Ocarina of Time 3D's touch screen based inventory. This means you no longer have to open up your start menu to switch between items and it makes the gameplay faster now that you're not having to break your concentration every few minutes to switch between items. It's great for those times when you're sailing along and notice a fish in the water (and need to grab some bait) or you're on top of a ledge and need your Deku Leaf without pausing and disorienting yourself. Of course, your status screen is on the touch screen as well, which is a cool feature as well but not really necessary.
The map being on the touch screen while you're sailing helps make it ten times easier to get where you want to go or see where you have to go for the next treasure chart without having to sacrifice sail time to do so. Not only does it offer the basic overworld map but it also allows you to click on any square to zoom in and check out a more detailed version of that sector, which is great if you're trying to figure out where the treasure from your newest treasure chart is.
Seeing how useful the gamepad could be, I figured that a full fledged Tingle Tuner remake was in store for this iteration. Unfortunately, Tingle Tuner has been removed this time around, though the statues are still hidden around the world (they can be obtained with a normal bomb now instead of a Tingle bomb). In its place is the Tingle Bottle, a relatively cool new feature that integrates Miiverse into the game quite well. Once you obtain the item, you can turn it on to find messages in a bottle floating out at sea or send off your own (which you can attach Pictographs to). You can even use the new "Selfie" function of the Pictobox to take pictures of yourself at various locations and send them off to friends and unknowns to ponder and comment on. While this seems like a fun, minor addition, it has practical uses that I'll get to momentarily.
One of the largest side quests in Zelda history was the Nintendo Gallery quest, which required you to take color photos of every character, enemy and boss in the entire game and submit them to Carlov, a sculptor who turns your photos into figurines. Each figurine was cool and offered a tidbit of information about each character or enemy. However, due to hardware limitations, the quest required you to constantly travel back and forth to the gallery (as you could only hold 3 pictures), making it the most arduous and tiresome quest in Zelda history as well. However, this time around the developers added in several tweaks to make the quest go much more swimmingly. The first is the fact that you can now get the color pictograph, a necessity for the quest, as soon as you enter Windfall (no more having to go to Forest Haven and get a colorful firefly!). The second is the fact that the Pictobox holds 12 photos now instead of 3, a feature that makes collecting Pictographs much easier. The third feature is telling you whether or not a photo is good when you take it, eliminating the frustration of taking a picture and driving it all the way to the gallery only to find out that the angle is slightly off and Carlov won't accept it.
But the single biggest upgrade to the quest is the above mentioned Tingle Bottle. Since players can attach Pictographs to their messages to post on Miiverse, any bottle you find with a picture can be downloaded to your Pictobox. That means that if you were unfortunate enough to miss out on a boss pictograph or haven't got far enough to get a legendary pictograph, you can search for Tingle Bottles which may contain said photos and download them to your Pictobox for figurines. This can save a TON of time (and rupees) and pictures aren't forfeited when they're shared, which makes them that much easier to share and obtain.
One of the other long, boring and costly quests (which I won't mention due to spoilers) has also been altered so that it is easier and more fun. Several of the charts have been eliminated (replaced by new Treasure Charts) which are replaced with the object in question itself, making the quest much easier on your wallet and on your sanity. That way, you can simply finish it up and continue the game in question.
Other new, minor additions include the ability to use the Wii U Pro Controller (one of my favorite controllers of all time), Wind Waker animations only playing once, the ability to hold 500 rupees at the start of the game (with the upgrades becoming 1000 & 5000) and the ability to turn while grappling.
One thing that's not quite up to par with the other Zelda games is the short length. If you completely ignore the sidequests and islands to explore, you're going to be sorely disappointed with the lack of dungeons (there's only six if I recall correctly, with one being kind of a mini dungeon). This game was truly made for the explorers out there and if you're not one to explore and search for secrets, you probably won't enjoy this one as much as others in the series.
Though numerous additions make travel time less cumbersome and time consuming, sailing still takes up a vast majority of gameplay. While you won't be on the sea for 70% of the game this time, you're still on it enough that it can be tiresome if you're not a fan of it and it should be noted for those who disliked the sailing aspect of the original.
All in all, Wind Waker was one of my favorite Zelda games and with all the numerous tweaks Nintendo put into the game this time around, I can safely say that this is my favorite Zelda of all time. The fact that it rewards those who enjoy exploring the world map while still offering enough guidance to get to your next goal is perfect and the upgraded graphics and new tweaks eliminate nearly all of my complaints with the original and make this a must purchase for any gamer. Add in new, bonus content (like new Treasure Charts) and that fact that it's extremely forgiving to newcomers and you really have no reason not to purchase the game. Buy it for yourself and you'll see what I mean.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/03/13
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (US, 10/04/13)
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