The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker: As We Play

As we play offers the thought strands of the reviewer as they’re going through the game. This offers unique content for the reader so they can come to understand the conflicting feelings of the reviewer as they’re playing a game for the very first time.

All feedback on this concept is welcome.

A Confession

So I should probably get this out of the way from the beginning. Wind Waker is my all-time favourite Zelda. Not Ocarina. Not Skyward Sword. Not even Link to the Past.

To me, this is where Nintendo nailed it. They took a bold, advantageous risk and they laid it all on the line with a cornerstone franchise on a system that, quite frankly, was struggling to keep up with its competitors.

Wind Waker is an example of what Nintendo can do when they’re under pressure. When they’re inspired and feel the need to change things up. This is why their franchises continue to stand the test of time. This is why they’re still here today, despite people the world over selling them short.

There is no game that deserves the HD remake treatment more than Wind Waker. Its easily among my top five games of all-time and I cannot wait to see how Nintendo have reinvigorated this classic and made best use of the Wii U’s capabilities.

Melodies without misfortune

I have the same nostalgic, but bone-chilling feelings listening to this music I had while playing the Monkey Island Special Edition a few years back (another game in my top five). Hauntingly authentic but so gloriously modern. Wonderfully realised.

Contrasting views

And the graphics. That contrast is almost blinding. The dynamic lighting makes the appearance of the game mesmerising and the actual shading is, somehow, even more glorious. Within the first five minutes, its quite obvious just how much Wind Waker has benefitted from the HD treatment.

Telescopic

Using the Wii U Gamepad as a Gyroscope for the telescope works pretty wonderfully. Clever use of the second screen and pad as a whole. It’s all about making it a game thats suited for the format its being remade on, and so far, Nintendo get that. Wind Waker already feels like a fresh release and there really is no better Zelda game to kickstart the fortunes of the Wii U.

Orchestration of anarchy

It’s a pleasure taking part in swordplay. The familiar tunes and fanfare that fill the air as Link slices and dices through enemies, pummelling them into a purple plumes of smoke is such a hallmark of this wonderful game. If I had one criticism though, I would have liked to have continued the Skyward Sword trend of using the Wii Remote for action in Wind Waker. Surprisingly, I really got behind that, and think Nintendo did a wonderful job of converting, what would initially appear to be, a bit of a chore into something quite wonderful. It’s not a massive criticism (and I would have wanted its implementation to be entirely optional, not mandatory) but something that would have continued to take advantage of current tech for an older game.

Priceless moments

What never ceases to amaze me about Zelda is that, despite all the characters grunting instead of actually speaking, it conveys more emotion than most modern games with fleshed out characters have ever achieved. When Link leaves Outset Isle on a pirate ship after receiving the Hero’s Shield from his grandmother and that moment when he sees her in the distance, her head down as he sails away, still kicks me in the gut. You’re right there with them, you know exactly what both of them are thinking even though they haven’t said a single word. Its been ten years since i’ve played this game and that moment still gets me.

Proof, as far as i’m concerned, that Wind Waker really is something truly special.

 

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Forbidden Fortress

This first dungeon is still one of the most creative Nintendo have ever put in a Zelda game. More about espionage than all out sword-slashing/puzzle solving and chest looting, Link doesn’t have a sword and has to use barrels to conceal his identity from the ferocious pig-guards, take out spotlights to ensure he isn’t spotted and take to the high ground so that he doesn’t bump into trouble. If he gets caught, there’s no chance of a retort. Link will get thrown in the brig. Happy memories have come flooding back.

Arguably even more relevant than when it first launched, this shows that not only has Wind Waker aged well, it may have even been a bit before its time.

Roaming Map

It’s hard to deny how useful and refreshing it is to play a massive Zelda home console release and have a dynamic, real-time map accessible to you at all times without pausing the action. I think that says a lot for the future of the franchise. It’s one feature that will make the debut of an original Zelda on Wii U so special, but it works an absolute treat in Wind Waker. Just being able to flick through that and to your inventory with a tap of the stylus just makes Wind Waker more user-friendly than ever, but rather than making it easier, it just takes out a dated, cumbersome layer that was part of the original experience and actually makes Wind Waker as fluid and accessible as it always wanted to be.

Easily my favourite addition to this remake so far.

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,