I come to this title from an interesting perspective as a hard core gamer. I didn't own a Nintendo GameCube and did not get the chance to play the original version of the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker when it was released. Knowing that this game in often disputed as the best Zelda game on a 3D platform against my favourite, Ocarina of Time, I was really excited to learn at E3 that Nintendo was planning on reissuing the game on the Wii U. With no news of an original HD Zelda title in the near future, I was hoping that Wind Waker would curb my apatite for a Zelda game for the time being, and it has gone above and beyond.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was originally released in 2003 in North America. Designed for play on CRT monitors, the original game is in 3:4 ratio and features a cell shaded, cartoon art style. The HD version sports updated 1080p 16:9 resolution graphics, a new lighting engine and added gameplay features. The graphics are spectacular, making the game look more like an animated movie or cartoon rather than a video game. The bloom lighting makes sailing look gorgeous, giving a longer horizon line so that you can see more islands off in the distance as you make your way through the water. The colours are more vibrant, and the backgrounds are more detailed giving the game a polish that just wasn't possible on the older console.
Comparison video of the original game and the new HD version.
Gameplay is pretty much a carbon copy of the original, holding true to the combat mechanics that made the game so legendary to begin with. The added screen space permits more HUD elements to be present, which makes controlling your character a breeze.
The GamePad serves as a quick access screen to the map and items inventory so is very easy to switch between tools while playing. It also uses motion control for some weapons, such as the gyroscope to shoot your bow and arrow. I played most of the game using the GamePad as my main screen (due to my television being occupied by my fiancée playing Grand Theft Auto 5) and was still blown away by the graphics. If you are a traditionalist, you can also play using the Wii U Pro Controller to get the feel of the games as you would have on the GameCube.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a game full of amazing combat, great character design and awesome dungeon puzzles. It can be challenging for those who are not familiar with the Zelda style of trial and error to solve a puzzle. For those who played the game before and are concerned that this title will not challenge them enough, Hero Mode is available to be activated at the start of the game. The level of difficulty has been raised so that the enemies now take twice as much damage to kill them and healing hearts have been removed, forcing you to rely on potions to recover your health. Not a mode for the faint of heart.
Nintendo really did listen to the reviews and grievances with the previous rendition of the game. Small adjustments have been made render the gameplay less tedious. To make sailing faster, a Swift Sail has been added to speed up your travel time by 50%. It also allows you to travel in any direction at maximum speed without changing the wind direction. This is a must buy after finishing Dragon Roost Cavern dungeon at the Auction House on Windfall Island. This will make sailing to small islands and salvage points much more enjoyable.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is out now in digital form to be downloaded from the Nintendo eShop. For those who have yet to purchase a Wii U, there is a special edition bundle retailing at $299.99 that includes: a decorated Legend of Zelda inspired Gamepad featuring designs and lettering from the game, a digital download code for The Legend of Zelda Hyrule Historia, and a digital download code for the game in the eShop. The physical copy of the game hits store shelves on October 4th, 2013.
This is by far my favourite game on the Wii U to date. A must have for any Wii U gamer.