The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Review


Malik Rahili

Survey 100 self-proclaimed Zelda fans about 2003’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on the GameCube, and you’ll likely get a polarizing range of opinions.

“It’s great, vibrant and one of the best Zelda games to date,” some would say.

Others, turned off by the bright, cell-shaded graphics and very different storyline, would say they never gave the game a chance.

And for the latter group, that is a shame.

Those who missed Wind Waker solely based off of worries that a superficial makeover of the Zelda formula would create a poor game, have missed an incredible adventure.

That’s perfectly fine, though. The HD remake provides WiiU owners a chance to experience a Zelda game that fans of the series and gamers alike simply shouldn’t miss.

Once you get past the initial shock of seeing the Zelda world in cartoon fashion, and the confusion that may ensue after having the game’s protagonist interact with pirates, you will find that Wind Waker is truly a Zelda game at heart.

It looks different, and it sounds different and for much of the game, you will not be traversing Hyrule, but yet, it all feels so familiar.

One of the key factors in that familiarity is the “Z-targeting” system- a combat system that made Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask such joys to play.

It works incredibly tightly here on the WiiU gamepad, and it makes you feel like you truly are a swordsman worthy of legend.

Hold the lock-on button and swing your sword, throwing in the occasional dodge or parry attack, and you’ll be taking down enemies in minutes.

The WiiU gamepad provides crisp control and also adds incredible convenience, allowing players to touch items in their inventory on the gamepad, and slide them into item slots for Link to use on the fly, eliminating the need to pause to change items.

It makes things seamless, which is how a Zelda game should be. Couple that with allowing the wind waker to be permanently mapped to the d-pad, and you have an inventory that is much less frustrating than the GameCube predecessor.

Some other conveniences have been added, as well, such as gyroscope capability for certain items, the ability to sail the seas faster with a special swift sail and the ability for the gamepad to display dungeon maps as you roam through the game.

All of the gameplay feels tight and refined, but it wouldn’t be anything without a story driving it.

Luckily, Wind Waker brings that. It’s a different tale than longtime Zelda fans will be used to, but it ties together some familiar elements.

Wind Waker offers five true dungeons, and a multitude of adventuring sprinkled between them. They’re all standard Zelda dungeons- collect items, solve puzzles and then bash a boss, collect a heart container and move on.

But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Wind Waker manages to provide enough difficulty to shake its “intended for kiddies” moniker, but isn’t quite as unforgiving, or dark, as Ocarina of Time ever was.

The happy, vibrant feel suits this game just fine, though.

The music, as par for the course for the series, is top notch, and provides ominous, doom-inducing low tones and poppy, energetic rhythms when the times are right.

As you guide the hero through the collection of pearls, shards of the triforce and the escort of sages deep into temples, you get the feeling that Ganon is waiting somewhere to end your quest.

And he might be. But that’s best found through playing.

Those who devote the 15-25 hours to reach the end of the game will be treated with another classic ending and an epic end-game duel.

Very few things ever slow the Wind Waker down.

Many complain about the sailing segments, and while they are monotonous and high in frequency, they are made more bearable with the advent of the swift sail.

Link’s jumps and sword thrusts aren’t always as precise as they always should be.

However, any complaints are menial in the grand scheme of things.

Make no mistake, if you never played the older sibling on the GameCube and have no way to, it’s worth purchasing a WiiU to do so.

With the refinements that the WiiU version brings, in graphics and in playability, there has never been a better time to experience a timeless classic.

The winds of change blow, and franchises come and go, but if you consider yourself a fan of the series, or are looking for a WiiU masterpiece, look no farther than toon Link and his merry band of puzzle solving, combat and charm.

If a Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time are triforce pieces, the perfect trinity isn’t hiding in Hyrule- it’s in the Wind Waker HD game case.

– Cory Spiers