One of my fondest gaming memories was coming home from a long day of school to find my dad sitting at the kitchen table with a copy of The Wind Waker for the Gamecube. I remember that new game smell resonating off of that sleek yellow case and that beautiful gold disk — good lord. The moment I put that disk in my purple lunchbox and watched that red boat glide onto the screen I knew that I was in for a totally different Zelda experience.
The once controversial “Celda” is now looked back on with much reverence and for good reason. The game was unbelievably gorgeous thanks to the games trademark cel-shading. What stood out to me when I was a kid was the continuity that the game established. It truly made the game feel epic. You were sailing seas, exploring islands, solving puzzles and learning the dark past of Old Hyrule. It was amazing.
That was 2003. Since then we’ve seen two console generations pass and two major Zelda installments (The Twilight Princess, one of my personal favorites, and Skyward Sword, one I’m not too fond of). To keep us Zelda fans satisfied till the next game that will hopefully reinvigorate the series, Nintendo has decided to grace us with an HD version of one of the most beloved Zelda games of all time.
In today’s gaming climate full of remakes and HD ports, I was hesitant to embrace Zelda fully. Remakes are few and far between with Nintendo, but when they remake something, they do it well. The Wind Waker HD is a prime example of this.
What a task for Nintendo, to take a game from 2003 that still looks beautiful and make it even more so. Ok, so maybe it’s not that hard but the game still looks outstanding. Link’s large, anime like eyes are full of emotion, enemies are full of life, and bosses have a truly epic feeling. At times, The Wind Waker HD feels like a cartoon come to life. That you can play.
The overall game is still the same. We meet Link on a tiny island called Outset out on the edge of Great Sea. What follows is the kidnapping of Link’s sister, Aryll and an adventure with a group of pirates led by Tetra.
The game plays just like it did in 2003 and that’s not a bad thing. The game was wonderfully designed then and it stands the test of time better than any game I’ve ever played. Locales you visit will instantly feel familiar to Zelda vets while still evoking a feeling of mystery. You really get the feeling that these islands are connected to something greater.
New WiiU exclusive upgrades were added to the overall game, including Off- TV play, a swift sail for faster sailing and the Tingle Bottle, a replacement for the games original Tingle Tuner. The changes, however slight, never detract from the game and essentially make a great game better. A harder mode has also been added for those looking for more of a challenge (I for one think this is the easiest of all the 3D Zeldas) but aside from that, there aren’t many other changes.
Nintendo doesn’t do remakes often, but when they do, we get games like The Wind Waker HD, a game that has aged like fine wine and is now embossed with the bells and whistles of a modern graphics engine. The WiiU may be in a bind now, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking this Zelda out. Those who played it before will appreciate the changes and those who are playing for the first time get to play one of the finest games ever conceived.