"An Improvement on a Masterpiece"
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker easily tops the list as one of the best Zelda games I’ve ever had the joy of completing. The story was intriguing, Link had a vivid personality, and the setting was different enough to hold my younger attention span throughout the whole quest. Now, with the HD update to the Wind Waker, I found myself questioning how well it would truly stand the test of time among today’s games. Fortunately, The Wind Waker HD holds its own and is still the same impeccable game that it was ten years ago.
To begin with the obvious, The Wind Waker HD looks great. The cel-shaded style received loads of criticism when it was first revealed. However, it eventually grew on the world as we all experienced the wonderful game behind the unique art design. Now, ten years later, that same cel-shaded style has lent itself to a wonderful graphical overhaul, while still retaining its artistic merits. The bloom effects from the sunlight and lava, the updated particles and the crispness of it all really shows how much loving attention each section of the game received. Initially, the shift was very noticeable in contrast to the SD version on the GameCube. However, by the time I was being whisked away from Outset Island, I’d fully adjusted to the change. The overhaul is beautiful and really shows how artistic HD can be pulled off in contrast to the hyper realistic games we normally receive.
Of course, The Wind Waker HD isn’t just a graphics overhaul. It’s had a few gameplay adjustments as well. To me, the most important of these updates are the new Swift Sail, which allows you to sail 50% faster and eliminates the need to constantly play the Wind’s Requiem so that sailing on the open seas is a smoother experience. For me, this eliminated almost all of the tedium I used to feel when sailing from island to island. Moving more quickly across the water made the experience feel more fluid and, while the Great Sea isn’t any smaller, getting around it quicker makes exploration a more bearable venture. In addition to the sailing changes, they’ve also redone the Triforce fetch quest in the final chapter of the game. There are still some pieces to hunt for, but the number has been reduced by half and it at least shows that Nintendo is willing to listen to fans regarding issues from the original.
All this is just a framework though. A crucial part of updating a game into HD is knowing what you should change and what not to change. Thankfully, the original game is largely untouched and it’s still wonderful. The story being told here is still, in my opinion, the best that the Zelda series has delivered to us so far. Though you’re playing as a younger Link, there’s a pervasive sense of maturity that descends upon the story as you proceed further and further along into the quest. The Wind Waker HD also brings the best iteration of Ganon, in my opinion, which somehow actually left my sympathizing with the villain in some small way as the credits began to roll. The Wind Waker also placed Zelda as a more central character instead of her just being a royal figurehead. Because there may be some gamers who are just now experiencing The Wind Waker, I won’t spoil anything, but I’ll gladly admit that this Zelda has the most gripping and captivating story of them all.
Then there’s the gameplay. Yes, Skyward Sword has come along and let us feel the joy of being connected directly to Link and swing the sword around precisely to fell our enemies, but The Wind Waker is no slouch. Instead of the same repetitive combat that the series is sometimes accused of, The Wind Waker adds a parry action which makes a world of a difference. Parrying allows Link to counter his enemies and doing so is normally the difference between dealing damage and taking damage. There’s also the musically connected combat, which plays notes every time you land a strike on an enemy and helps to keep the combat more lively. The engaging combat is fully realized during the boss battles and optional challenges, where you’ll have to use everything at your disposal in order to prevail. The Savage Labyrinth truly lives up to its name.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is the real deal. It’s not only a remake of a great game brought into beautiful HD, but it’s also received the proper amount of tweaks to improve on the original. The gameplay hasn’t changed much, but in its current form, The Wind Waker HD is a still the wonderful and masterful Zelda game that was released ten years ago for Nintendo’s little purple cube.
GameDynamo's Score for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)
|Joey Blackwell II
Avid gamer who's more passionate about writing. Hopes to be a renowned writing voice in the world someday, while still being addicted to games.
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