Hands-on: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD

People are fascinated by beautiful legends, they have the urge to tell and retell those legends to those whom they love and cherish. A legend is never the same once it is retold, the story changes and it could become worse or in some cases better. Only the best legends have the honor and right to be retold and to become better every time it is retold. Wind Waker is such a beautiful legend, it tells the story of a young boy, travelling the sea to find the one worth fighting for. It’s a legend worth to be retold.

A decade ago, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker released on the Nintendo GameCube. The console had to struggle to survive and needed some hardcore games to please the audience. Not everybody was satisfied with the way Nintendo treated the Zelda franchise on the Cube. What began as an epic 3D battle between Link and Ganondorf during the Space World tech demo, ended in a cartoony version featuring a very young Link. The internet spoke about the downfall of Nintendo and the destruction of a major franchise. It all changed however once people got their hands on the game. The visuals were stunning and the story was one of the best ever told in the franchise. Now, ten years later, it appears history repeats itself.

Just like the GameCube, the Wii U is currently struggling to survive against the fierce competition. Just like GameCube, Wii U needs hardcore games and not everybody is pleased with this HD version of the Wind Waker. Just like ten years ago, people are underestimating this game, we got our hands on the game and saw, perhaps, the game that could turn things around for Wii U.

Although gamers weren’t convinced the first time, Wind Waker scored very high in press reviews thanks to its timeless art style and emotional story. The art direction of the game was different of other games but was beautiful in its own way. Wind Waker is without a doubt one of those games that still look great today, until we played the HD version.

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Wind Waker HD really looks amazing thanks to Wii U’ power. We ran around on Outset Island and relived the beauty of the game. It was a sunny day on the island and thanks to the improved lighting effect, you could actually ‘feel’ the sun burn down on Link’s skin. Both water and skies looked incredible blue and you couldn’t tell where the sea ends and sky begins. Every little detail of the island came to live in a way that is hard to explain on paper. You really have to play the game for yourself in order to experience the game at its true beauty.

Aside from running around on the island and learning how to attack and defend, the demo also offered a fierce boss-battle against a giant bird. This action packed level also featured the gorgeous HD graphics, allowing to create enemies that look even more dangerous than before. The lightning and HD graphics turned this legendary fight in a new experience. The fight was high paced and just like in other Zelda games you’ll have to learn your enemies weakness, use the right weapon and defeat it once and for all.

Rather than just an HD remake, Nintendo created the new art style from scratch. But there’s more, some new things were added in the game as well. The biggest new feature we discovered during our play session was the integration of the MiiVerse.

Just like in New Super Mario Bros. U, people will be able to leave messages for others to find and read. This won’t happen with balloons hovering over your world but with so called ‘Tingle Bottle’. Gamers will be able to write down a message, put it in a Tingle Bottle and toss it in the sea. The bottle will eventually arrive somewhere on the shores of one of the islands, in another gamer’ game. You’ll also be able to include pictures of your favorite location. This interaction opens a new way of collecting. Aside from looking for all the heart pieces and other treasures, you’ll now be able to search the shores for bottles. So let the treasure hunt begin!

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The last thing we noticed during our session was how easy it was to control the game with the GamePad. You could just drag and drop the items Link has to carry and put them under the desired action button just with a single touch of the stylus. Big plus is also that the game can be played on the GamePad without the television screen turned on. In other words, you’ll be able to enjoy this legend even if other people are occupying your television.

Our first play session with this HD version was a very positive one. People who played the original will feel very familiar with this new version but will enjoy the new graphics and little improvements enough to buy the game once more. Newcomers will have the time of their lives with this retold but better version of this beautiful legend. Nintendo still has a couple of months to deliver the game in stores so there will be some more improvements without a doubt. The Triforce quest will be made more pleasant and there’s a rumor the game will include a harder difficulty level as well. Only time will tell how the game will turn out but what we know now is that this game could really boost Wii U sales worldwide. 

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.