5 Reasons You Should Go Play The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Right Now

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The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD has landed, and it comes just as its host system the Wii U is starting to heat up and look halfway compelling. If you don’t know the controversy surrounding Wind Waker’s original release, there are a dozen places to read about it online or elsewhere. All I can say is that if you loved the old game, the HD revamp is a gorgeous love letter crafted just for you. If you never played, didn’t want to play, or were too embarrassed to play the old game, well, this is your second chance. Don’t let it pass you by!

If you need that little bit of extra convincing, read on for our top reasons why you shouldn’t allow yourself to miss Nintendo’s wondrous remake.

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It’s all in the name

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This is the most obvious reason, but as a selling point it holds weight on multiple levels. The game is called The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Meaning, every last bit of the game, every tuft of grass, and each far-reaching corner of the Great Sea has been overhauled to modern 1080p presentation standards.

This is nice in general, but with GameCube and PS2-era games, it doesn’t always improve every visual aspect. Remember the Jak and Daxter Collection? Despite being “remastered in HD,” the makeover did just as much damage highlighting jaggies and the games’ general old age as it did to smooth things out and sharpen them up. It was still for the better, but barely.

Wind Waker, on the other hand, is absolutely made for something like this. Have you seen the original game running under the Dolphin emulator on a PC? It looks incredible. And that’s completely before Nintendo’s professionally-done modern paint job. The Dolphin version is essentially just a well-hacked-together native resolution boost.

The new game not only effectively does what Dolphin aimed to, but also gives us high resolution new textures, a healthy dose of bloom lighting (perhaps too healthy at times), and an overall refreshed and restored game that will match the remembrance you had of the original in your brain. When you actually go back and see it running on a GameCube, you’ll realize how wrong your remembrance actually was.

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It’s getting fantastic reviews

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Whether you live and die by what critics think or not, it’s hard to ignore the kind of success Wind Waker HD is having on the review circuit. The original game has an aggregate score of 94.43% on GameRankings. The new game? An impressive 91.02%

Keep in mind – Wind Waker is now a ten-year-old game. And ten years later, with some fresh paint and streamlined gameplay, critics are collectively saying that it is only three or so percentage points less fantastic that it was all those years ago. This may sound like backhanded praise, but it’s actually far from it – the gaming landscape evolves dramatically in ten years. There are dozens of games the same age whose gameplay, combat, and general presentation have became laughable in half that span, yet Wind Waker’s design has proven to be about as close to timeless as a game can get. If you hadn’t played the original and decided to pick this up, unaware of what it was, you could easily mistake it for a brand new Zelda. It’s that solid.

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You can get it for the price of Nintendo Land

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If you’re getting a Wii U this Fall, then there’s absolutely no reason not to get the Wind Waker bundle. It contains the deluxe-version Wii U, which is the 32GB console as opposed to the basic 8GB, and it comes with Wind Waker HD pre-downloaded and installed, ready for the playing.

The normal deluxe-set Wii U comes with Nintendo Land. So for the same cost as what is essentially this generation’s version of Wii Sports, you’re getting a classic, epic Zelda offering that most people feel is still on par with the best adventure games of the present-day. That’s a pretty appealing package.

Of course, that’s not your only reward – the set also comes with a special GamePad. Now, I definitely understand that people’s mileage will vary on something like this, but I for one am a sucker for limited edition controllers. I have a pile of old, white Wii Remotes in a mangled heap in the corner of my room, but my golden Skyward Sword remote sits proudly on a shelf next to the game’s box. Such is the way of the collector’s world – sorry, white remotes.

Anyways, the GamePad included here is very Wind Waker, with a Triforce and some ancient Hylian writing sketched around the edges. A quick internet search will reveal what some of the text means, but to me the point is that it looks cool. It will make you actually take care of your GamePad, instead of chucking it in the corner with an old half-eaten box of pizza. Always a plus.

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Not Just a Remake

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Though Nintendo has done a lovely job enhancing the visuals beyond what something like the Dolphin emulator so impressively does, there’s more to this package than visuals alone either way. As you’ve likely heard by now, the infamous Triforce quest towards the end of the game has been streamlined – it’s now a whole lot shorter and less of a hassle, but still maintains the essence of the original rendition. I’m one of the few who actually didn’t mind its original form, but it’s hard to argue that the new setup flows much better and helps to not break up the story, which is flying at a breakneck pace up to that point.

Additionally, Nintendo has addressed another complaint of the old game – the time it takes to sail around the overworld. Again, I was a huge fan of sailing in the game, and the music that plays during sailing segments will stir the emotions like few things can. If the sentimental stuff isn’t your bag, though, or you’re simply in a rush, Wind Waker HD has an item called the Swift Sail. You can buy it on Windfall Island at a certain point in the game, and it doubles your speed in the water. Additionally, it’s better at catching wind no matter the weather conditions, so you won’t have to break out your magical baton constantly just to change direction.

There are other, more Wii U-centric features, too. The sea chart can now be viewed from the GamePad screen, you won’t have to be constantly breaking it out and interrupting the onscreen action just to figure out where the hell you are. Item management has gone GamePad as well, and though it seems somewhat minor, the ability to handle all this stuff on the fly without pausing is a major convenience. There’s off-TV play as well – if you thought sailing the Great Sea was invigorating already, try playing in bed with headphones the way you might using a 3DS or Vita. It’s Wind Waker up close and personal like you’ve never seen it, and it’s glorious. Not only that, but the small GamePad screen makes a pretty remake look like a gorgeous next-gen marvel.

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It’s the best game on Wii U

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The both exciting and sad part about all this is that despite all the games finally coming to Wii U this Fall, the ten-year-old Wind Waker by and large trumps every last one of them. Pikmin 3 could be your best depending on taste, but most folks will probably find it hard not to single out twelve-year-old Link.

Though an all new Wii U Zelda game is in the works, and will no-doubt be magnificent, we have no idea when it’s coming. Though Nintendo is bringing games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Super Mario 3D World this holiday, those may not be what the seasoned, hungry Zelda player is looking for. Nor the recent Wii U-convert, for that matter. In fact, despite its age, Wind Waker delivers in ways that even other Zeldas have failed to in recent times. It’s the most open-world Zelda by far. It’s combat is still rock-solid after all this time. You can play it in a surprisingly enjoyable first person mode. It’s practically Skyrim! Not at all, actually, but Wind Waker is truly epic in its own amiable, unique way.

The fact is, if you’re getting a Wii U any time soon, then you should be getting The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD immediately thereafter. It’s odd to think of a ten-year-old cartoon in motion as a system seller, but that’s exactly what’s happened.

The Wii U has great games coming, but until we hear about the next Zelda or some kind of surprise Metroid game (likely a far-off occurrence), Wind Waker is going to be the best experience for both Nintendo fans and new-experience seeking Wii U buyers alike.

And if you’ve never played Wind Waker before? In that case, you’re in for a real gaming delight. I for one couldn’t be happier to return to the Great Sea.

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  • Phill A. Sheeo

    Always wanted to play this. Never have. Dolphin doesn’t seem fast enough! Ah well, maybe some enterprising human will port it over to windows!

    • http://uki-sutori.com/ Griffin Vacheron

      that would be quite the feat! the dolphin experience is remarkable in its own right, but hopefully this new version will really re-introduce a whole new generation to the game, as well as people who missed it last time.

    • Trance

      Or you could, you know, buy the system and the game to support the company.

      • Phill A. Sheeo

        Dammit. Why didn’t I think of that? Nah, some people ARE that poor.