Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)
While others hit the pirate life in a much more violent and visually arresting way with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, I have been making my way through the pile of untouched titles on my desk, first of which is the Wii U remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
From the moment you begin this game it engrosses you completely. Its beautifully scored soundtrack fuels the adventure and the stunning cell-shaded (now HD) art style will instantly warm your heart. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is truly a one of the best Zelda titles in the franchise, and unlike the others in it’s series, Wind Waker departs from the original structure and style in a way which hasn’t really been attempted since. Though still similar in a lot of ways, Wind Waker was a daring step by its creators, charting the series into dark and scary territory. Even though fan opinions are split on this title, it arguably can go down in gaming history as a classic Zelda title.
The game still follows the same general story, Link is the hero, Ganon is the bad guy and Zelda is a princess, etc. Yet, unlike the traditional Zelda experience, Wind Waker is not locked off into regions, so the player is free to explore right from the first moment you gain the ability to sail your ship. This open world experience changes the whole feeling of your journey and separates it from it’s brethren making it an open experience. Wind Waker also has a wonderful sense of character that is unique to it’s world. Link’s simple but effective facial expressions are just one great way that it adds personality to the experience, along with wacky NPC’s and its cute PG versions of pirate culture, the game plays out like a Japanese anime in all of the best ways.
This cute cartoon-like style has often been a fan criticism and as it feels catered for a younger audience, it was also criticized for being a little too easy. On this point I tend to agree, though it does get more difficult as you progress, the gameplay never really hits the controller-breaking level of difficulty that some of the other Zelda games do. This is however a fairly minor criticism, which I don’t think taints the overall experience. The gameplay is simple but fun, players get all of the normal Zelda moves and abilities, plus the boat offers new dimensions of time wasting distractions like fishing and salvaging to help break up the tedium of navigating the ocean. There are also plenty of small islands to discover, side quests, characters to meet and enemies to fight during your travels. The new Wii U version also offers a few interesting and fun features such as the ability for gamers to share and receive messages from other players around the world (ala Dark Souls) and the touch pad has been utilized for quick menu and map navigation, which does help make the experience more dynamic and fluid. Also, those that share a TV with other flatmates (or family) will be happy to know that this new version can also be flicked from the screen to the Wii U Gamepad if the TV needs to be used for other tasks.
As a whole this new version is a great title to give a HD make over to. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD brings this story forward with an impressive visual improvement (see above), a wonderful 1080p resolution and some enormously useful touch screen additions to help make the experience even more enjoyable than it used to be. Wii U users would be mad not to invest in this game, if not only for reasons of nostalgia but also to experience one of the best adventuring classics around.