Waiting To Play Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Was Frustrating, But Also Enlightening

By Robert Ward . September 4, 2013 . 6:03pm

The Penny Arcade Expo is a lot like Disney Land. If you’re only going for one day, you won’t be able to see or do everything you’d like. You’ll have to pick and choose your experiences, and the sheer number of people attending the event guarantees grueling wait times in uncomfortable and disorganized lines.


To some, particularly those in Nintendo’s Zelda Gaming Lounge, the wait wasn’t long enough to detract from their desire to play one of the most anticipated additions to the Wii U library. The line for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD was the talk of the show, at over 2 hours long, second only to Microsoft’s Titanfall—which logged in at a staggering three-hour wait time.


The traffic may not have been solely because of the community’s desire to experience The Wind Waker in HD, though, as Nintendo had set up a scavenger hunt (pictured above) that would reward anyone who accomplished all four quests with an officially licensed Link t-shirt modeled after the shirt Link wears in The Wind Waker’s prologue. Finishing a quest, of course, involved satisfying the four conditions outlined in the card above and receiving a stamp from an employee stationed at the location.


The first two objectives were simple. First, you were asked to write a message about your favorite Wind Waker memory to put in a giant bottle. Second, you had to visit the Wii U gaming booth and “find the rupees,” (which was, in reality, a very patient girl with a sign advertising The Wind Waker HD scavenger hunt) which was a clever way of sending people to experience other Nintendo games. Then, you had to take a picture with a replica of the King of Red Lions, whose line was initially intermingled with the Nintendo World Store’s and equally as frightful as the demo’s.


Finally, all that remained was the demo. Interestingly enough, the wait for the demo was, for me, more interesting and exciting than the demo itself. I wanted to get a feel for how the community was feeling about the Wii U, and whether or not they’d consider buying one just to get their hands on The Wind Waker HD. It amazed me how positive the responses were—many admitted to being in line for the shirt, but several more admitted that they’d either buy the bundle or the newly priced deluxe edition just for the chance to see Outset Island in high definition.


Regardless of whether or not they were in line to get their hands on Link’s signature crawfish shirt, few sought only the stamp. The line remained two hours long from the moment the convention center opened at 10:00 AM to when it closed at 5:00 PM, and only a scant few defected before they reached the front of the line. This pattern continued on Sunday, when I entered the convention center at 10:08 AM to give the demo a second shot. Zelda sells, and it’s become apparent to me that The Wind Waker HD will push a considerable number of units into the market. Don’t believe me? Look at the crowd.


As a day-one Wii U owner, it was cathartic to feel like people’s opinions about Nintendo’s next-generation console were changing. It may not be a dramatic change, but you could feel it in the air—people loved experiencing it. Not just The Wind Waker, but the Wii U itself.


It would follow, then, to say that The Wind Waker HD feels right at home on the Wii U. The two demos available at the show were a portion of the prologue that allowed you to explore Outset Island, and a showdown with the game’s fifth boss, the Helmaroc King, atop the Forbidden Fortress. The former was obviously aimed at letting the player see the full majesty of the game’s new HD graphics and (now dulled) bloom-lighting effects, while the latter shows off how fun the boss battles are even after twelve years.


Walking around Outset Island, Link’s home town in The Wind Waker, showed off some of the new controls (being able to walk in first person mode, for example), but mainly showcased the effect of the bloom lighting on the island’s environment. The effect really made you feel like you were at sea, or on a tropical island. The air felt heavy and hot, interrupted ever-so-occasionally by a breeze of wind. The rolling tide utilized the system’s ability to create an immersive soundscape. You could hear the waves rolling in on the T.V., and then crash against the shore through the Wii U GamePad, depending on how close you were to the water.


The second demo had some unexpected surprises, but nothing that this year’s E3 hadn’t already illustrated. Items can now be assigned to a button quickly, simply by pressing a direction on the d-pad. Sailing has been cut short by eliminating the second-recitation of any given song and skips right to the overhead-compass view (this allows you to change the direction of the wind), and so on. The Wii U GamePad subverts the inconvenience of pulling up the menu in game, allowing you to make decisions about what to equip much quicker than the original.


The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD was certainly an odd choice for an HD remake, and the cel shading certainly loses some of its visual charm in place of high definition graphics—but the charm of a Zelda game comes primarily from the experience, and that is still alive and well.


You can pick up The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD from the Nintendo eShop on September 20th, or get your hands on a hard copy starting October 4th. Look forward to more coverage on Siliconera in the future.


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  • Guest

    This is going to be my first time playing Wind Waker, so I’m excited :D

    First thing I’m going to try at the game is Link taking selfies xD

    • Robgoro

      It’s a great game, and I really do think that the Wii U version augments its mechanics. :)

  • ZEROthefirst

    The wait for the game is killing me. I’ve been wanting to play WW again, but I know if I put in my copy for the GC I’m going to lose a lot of my excitement for the HD version here. So I’ll bear another month so I can play again… as well as get that Ganon figure :D

  • ReidHershel

    Bu….But no one wants to play a remake of a gamecube game.

    But seriously, Wind Waker is on my Top 10 Games of all time and I’m totes picking this up.

  • Nogib

    Due to some mix up by the convention center staff Sun monring, a Nintendo employee came and initialed my sheet and others with me since we were there first but screwed out of being able to get in line. T-shirt acquired and I didn’t have to deal with that line or even play the demo. Win!

    • Robgoro

      I think that they realized pretty quickly that there were people flooding the line just for the shirt – the Nintendo personnel at the demo stations got pretty liberal with stamps near the end of they because they really wanted the people who came to get their hands on the demo to, well, get their hands on the demo. XD

  • Ruins72

    I want an HD Twilight Princess. Dat lava…

    • leingod

      I want an HD Skyward Sword… but just because I missed it on the Wii.

      • Ruins72

        me too :(

      • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

        Then buy it and put it in a WiiU, looks nice on the WiiU’s internal upscaler

        • ronin4life

          Yes; the beauty that is Backwards Compatibility…

        • leingod

          Not a fan of the mandatory motion controls :/

          • British_Otaku

            That’s kinda of how Skyward Sword was built, around having to angle your sword correctly and strike along other things.

            Unless you are planning to wait for a Skyward Sword release on a platform with no motion controller (the Wii U isn’t one of them), you may as well hop on now.

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            People who say this tend not to understand how awesome infrared motion controls augmented by gyroscopes are. Nothing like the original wiimote waggle, the precision is comparable to mouse and keyboard. Nothing like wiimote waggle, which by the way, is not ”mandatory”

          • leingod

            I get what you mean, but I just don’t like motion controls… no matter if they’re awesomely accurate or not. I guess that’s not hard to understand either.

            And as far as I know the motion controls are mandatory for Skyward Sword, you can’t play it using regular or classic controller.

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            Have you played Pikmin 3 or Red Steel 2?

            Or any game that requires precisions such as an fps?

          • leingod

            Nope, not interested in those games. I can do well on FPSs using a regular controller, although mouse users should make short work of me :P

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            Why arent you interested in PIkmin?
            Its an adventure RTS, Nintendo sure does love to make gameplay driven story games like Majoras Mask and pikmin.

            Red Steel 2 is an awesome first person brawler.

          • leingod

            Just not my cup of tea. Every game has a limited appeal, and while I appreciate they tried to innovate with Zelda on the Wii, I’d rather just use regular controls. It’s a matter of taste, really.

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            What kinds of games do you like?

          • leingod

            Well… Action RPGs (like Zelda or Skyrim), traditional JRPGs (like Persona or Pokemon), fighting games, Karting / Racing games, Turn-based strategy games (like Fire Emblem or XCOM), third-person action/adventure games (like Uncharted), classic platform games… how about you?

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            RPG.Puzzle,Strategy(RTS,SRPG),Adventure,Hack&Slash,Beat Em Ups(side scrollers), Fighters, Hybrids, Shmups,3rd person on rail shooters. Platformers(slow ones)I tend to dislike but they cover a wide variety of types so Im not listing it.

          • leingod

            Well, we both don’t seem to care much about FPSs…

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            Nope, I like stealth games however

    • Wake

      Same here. Out of WW,TP and SS, TP is probably the Zelda that would have benefited the most with an HD transfer. Compared to the other two, which had an art style that could age gracefully, TP had the look that was begging for it to be in HD. From the details in the character design. the Twilight realm, and the general look and feel of TP, it was something that was really meant for HD. It’s something that would have been appreciated more if it wasn’t limited by the tech at the time.

      • Ruins72

        Aesthetically it’s my favorite Zelda after Majora’s Mask. I just love how intricate everything was. Those boss designs were nothing to scoff at either. Although I do wish the game was harder. Who knows? Maybe they’ll do something similar to this somewhere down the line.

        • Wake

          Definitely. Ever since Wind Waker, they’ve toned down the difficulty to make the game more accessible. If they ever decide to give TP and SS an HD transfer, they would probably add Hero mode too so there’s that. Hopefully it happens.

  • Robgoro

    In case anyone was wondering, the two messages I put in the bottle were:
    “I never knew whether or not breaking Tingle out of jail was a moral decision…” and “Waiting in line for The Wind Waker HD at PAX was soooooooo fuuuuuuuuuuun.”

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