The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is undeniably one of the best looking games of all time. With a gorgeous palette of colours and an incredibly smooth style, it still holds up nearly ten years later. It’s a timeless piece of art backed up with an immense story, near-perfect level design and brilliantly flowing gameplay.
There’s no denying that a HD version was necessary to show off this game to its full potential, but was a remake really necessary? Couldn’t they have just fired it up to 1080p and released it on the Wii U eShop?
Ocarina of Time needed to be remade to boost the visuals, although the reasons for the remake of The Wind Waker lie elsewhere too; adding online functionality, going out of their way to fix the at times monotonous sailing and even fine-tuning the gameplay with GamePad features, while no doubt fixing some issues found with the game along the way.
The Miiverse functionality is actually really impressive: you’ll find bottles with messages inside strewn along the beaches of the islands you visit, right from the Outset. These could be tips, progress updates or even discussion from your Wii U friends or complete strangers. You can write messages yourself and this is all done very neatly through a messages tab on the GamePad. This replaces the Tingle Tuner and seems like a much better idea.
Most of the Tingle Tuner’s functionality can now be found with the GamePad features anyway – you can really see how Nintendo have always planned their second-screen agenda. However, instead of controlling Tingle himself via the GamePad, you’ll be able to view the map and any messages you’ve received, which should give you relevant hints instead of Tingle himself.
Sure, some people may miss the Tuner aspect but this new way of doing things seems very focused, with the GamePad map making travelling around the sea a lot easier without breaking immersion. It means you won’t be constantly pausing to check if you’re heading in the right direction and, as well as that, you’ll have easy access to your entire inventory.
This makes it easy to quickly switch between items; simply dragging and dropping the items into the desired slot instead of constantly having to go into the menu in order to arrange your equipment.
As well as all of this, they’ve really improved the sailing. You’ll still have to use the titular baton (which is now tied to up on the d-pad for easy access) to change the winds for the direction you want to go, but you can now press A when at top speed to effectively boost, making getting around much faster.
It plays really well with the GamePad’s buttons, too. There’s plenty of room for the items and the camera, while combat is as snappy and smooth as ever, with notes flying off wonderously as you attack the enemies. Gyroscopic and touch controls also add to the game, rather than taking away from it. Aiming is much more intuitive and can be fine-tuned by moving the controller, while the Wind Waker can be controlled by touching the screen.
It’s a real gem of a game that hasn’t lost any of the charm in the gameplay in its transition to Nintendo’s latest console.
All of that – and probably more gameplay tweaks and fixes, including a tweaked Triforce quest – lies on top of the brand-new visuals, which seem to have been entirely redone rather than just upgraded, toning down the blocky cel-shading for something entirely more smooth and satisfying.
It’s truly a glorious sight to behold and one that every Zelda fan – and every Wii U owner for that matter – should consider this October before we enter the next generation fully in November. You can bet you won’t see something as beautiful and stylised as this even on the PS4 or Xbox One.