The Wii U GamePad Brings Out The Best In Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

By Robert Ward . September 29, 2013 . 9:30am

In an interview with Eurogamer back around E3 2013, Eiji Aonuma, long-time Director and Producer of the Zelda franchise, addressed concerns that fans have had about the infamous structure of The Wind Waker’s main quest since its release in 2002: “If it felt like there were maybe too few dungeons, then I feel that what was wrong with the GameCube version was the pacing.”

 

The focus of The Wind Waker HD’s many amendments, then, was to make the time you spend outside of and between dungeons feel more or less equal to the time you actually spend in them. A long list of new conveniences makes this vision a reality: a swift sail that always puts a favorable wind at your back, sped-up animations for the crane & Wind Waker, and some leniency with how far you can be from a glowing circle to successfully retrieve a sunken treasure chest.

 

Even the “triumph-forks” quest—a multi-faceted fetch quest that encourages you to explore every corner of The Wind Waker’s boundless sea—seems to have benefited from the game’s quickened pace. Even so, despite its beautiful new HD makeover, if you’ve played the Gamecube version of the game, then The Wind Waker HD will feel very, very familiar (perhaps even watered down). It’s supposed to.

 

Ultimately, it isn’t about recreating what you experience in the game, but recreating how you experience it. Nintendo has always tried to create new experiences through innovative hardware, and The Wind Waker HD and the Wii U GamePad are a good example of this.

 

The Wii U GamePad puts you at the helm of your adventure—literally and figuratively. One of the reasons the original Wind Waker felt so sluggish is because you had to navigate several menu screens to view your map and various treasure charts. The GamePad does away with this, allowing you to directly interact with all of your navigation materials on the touch screen.

 

In short, the GamePad helps you feel like a veritable cartographer. Pouring over maps deciding which regions you’ll explore next, comparing the squares you’ve filled out to the treasure charts you’ve amassed throughout your adventure, and re-examining the hearsay given to you by well-travelled fish on the great sea all come together to create an unbridled sense of adventure.

 

That is not to say that the 2002 version didn’t evoke that same kind of adventurous spirit—all the charm characteristic of the Zelda franchise is alive and well. After all, it’s simply reorganized it into a more fitting and user-friendly interface. For people who are experiencing the game for the first time, this new sense of generational awareness will help to make it will feel like it was built from the ground up for the Wii U.

 

For a time, I thought that The Wind Waker would be the least likely contender for an HD remake, but I have come to realize why it may have been the most fitting. Sure, the state of the market, Nintendo’s desire to continue its legacy, and the Wii U’s sluggish sales are all obvious justifications for a re-release, but more than any other Zelda game, The Wind Waker seems best suited to the Wii U’s features, and the Wii U brings out the best parts of The Wind Waker.

 

Food For Thought:

 

Alright, I’m abandoning the bullet-and-number system here to talk about something often overlooked in conversations about The Wind Waker, and that’s how brilliantly the map was designed. Despite being a relatively open-world game, there is still an obvious and very natural sense of direction about it.

 

For example, right after you get the ability to warp across the map, you need to visit the forsaken fortress, positioned in the farthest northwestern corner of the map. The two squares you’d naturally warp to are the two closest to it. The square you naturally warp to first is the Mother and Child Isle. Doing this will land Link and the King of Red Lions in a fountain belonging to the queen of the great fairies, who will tell you to come and see here once you have someone important to protect – a detail crucial to finishing a quest later in the game.

 

The second closest square features a curious totem-pole tower belonging to the mysterious… uh, fairy, Tingle, whose small plot of land in this square is appropriately named Tingle Island. If you’ve released him from his cell in Windfall Island’s prison, he’ll offer translation services for charts that you can’t read. He plays a crucial role in the latter half of the game, and it sets you up for success long before you need to know that.

 

The game is also generous with rupees. Nine times out of ten, when you pull up a chest from a glowing circle you catch dancing across the surface of the sea, you’ll find a purple rupee. These stack up quickly, and your wallet will be full before you know it. Pots found in the latter half of the game will easily yield 50-100 rupees. The game was designed knowing what it’s asked the player to do.

 

This doesn’t help the latter half of the game from feeling rushed, or the Capcom-inspired Ganon’s Tower from feeling lazy, but I feel it’s at least important to mention that the Triforce quest was subtly built into the entirety of the game.


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  • malek86

    “Even so, despite its beautiful new HD makeover, if you’ve played the Gamecube version of the game, then The Wind Waker HD will feel very, very familiar (perhaps even watered down). It’s supposed to.”

    Dunno, even with all the interface differences, I think having some more extra content would have been a lot better.

    • SlickRoach

      Yeah, extra content would have justified buying a Wii U to play it instead of slight changes/enhancements.

    • British_Otaku

      It’s definitely a fine list of tweaks (mostly looking forward to taking selfies, 12 photos and Hero Mode) and interface changes (the OoT is terrible in the Water Temple largely based on how the interface was built). It is far beyond most ports or HD remakes on the market, but yes it could have benefited from more content.

    • Robgoro

      I think that the statement was trying to emphasize that the remake wasn’t about bringing new content to the game, but introducing a new way to experience old content.

  • Go2hell66

    too many dungeons!? lolwut?
    is it even possible for a game to have too much anything?

    • SCORPIONSERKEN

      Assassin’s Creed 3 has too much mechanics that playing is just a chore, and the game interrupts your pacing giving you new mechanics that are never seen after their introduction.

      • Go2hell66

        well mainly talking about content in this case

        • SCORPIONSERKEN

          Kingdoms of Amalur? the map was way too big and a lot of people never past the first continent, then there’s the people who felt that Twilight Princess has too many dungeons (Dont quite agree with this one) and the other one that comes to mind are RPG (Japanese or Western) that some people feel that developers padded the gameplay time with more dungeons or thing like sidequests…

          • Go2hell66

            did people actually complain about the map being too big? i find that hard to believe

            i think more content is always a good thing as long as its not forced

          • SCORPIONSERKEN

            More content is great, but there has to be some equilibrium because in the end could feel like padding the game… and yes, people complain that the map is to big, and is a reasonable complain if the map is so big that make going from point A to B feel like a chore, especially if the map feel lifeless…

            With the TP example, I love the quantity of dungeons and the number of them, but the over world map, while incredible beautiful, sometimes feel a little empty… then again I love Twilight Princess =D

          • Go2hell66

            did people actually complain about the map being too big? i find that hard to believe

            i think more content is always a good thing as long as its not forced

    • SCORPIONSERKEN

      Assassin’s Creed 3 has too much mechanics that playing is just a chore, and the game interrupts your pacing giving you new mechanics that are never seen after their introduction.

  • http://LevelUpGeneration.blogspot.com/ KALiverin

    I never really minded the lack of dungeons in this game. I know people will probably jump on me for saying this, but one thing I couldn’t stand about Twilight Princess was how boring some of the later dungeons felt. This game only has 5 dungeons, but I enjoyed them all. It’s one thing to have a lot of content. It’s a whole other thing to have well-designed content.

  • Arcana Wiz

    Zelda…. i have a lot of childhood memories playing zelda.

    http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2012/066/6/5/no_pot_will_survive_by_ookey_chanoo-d4s15t5.jpg

    Yep good times.

  • NimbusStev

    On this topic, can anyone with this game post a screenshot of the options screen? Or list all of the options available on that menu?

    On my recent playthrough of Wind Waker a few months back, one of my biggest criticisms of the game was the lack of control the player has. Pretty much the only thing you could choose was Stereo vs Mono. Why not let us play non-inverted? Or change the text speed? Even NES games gave us better options than most Zelda games do.

    Nintendo seems to be really looking forward with the Zelda series, according to recent interviews. So I figured a more detailed options screen would be a pretty easy first step. Sadly I can’t find images or videos anywhere that show this screen. Anyone have any insight onto this?

    • Robgoro

      The options screen lets you choose inverted directions on the X and Y axis for the camera, though, there is no button to put link into a first person view. You can also choose to turn the gyroscope on the controller off so that you exclusively control items with the right stick. Of course, stereo and mono is an option as well. You can edit settings that allow you to receive tingle bottles from everyone on the miiverse or just your friends list.

      • NimbusStev

        Wow! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that makes this the first Zelda game you can play non-inverted. My desire to get a Wii-U just went up exponentially. Thank you very much, Robgoro!

  • Folk Hellfang

    Getting back to Wind Waker makes me realize that this is one of my most beloved games of all time. I had a little anxiety about playing it without the tingle tuner, but the gamepad takes up the duty no problem. I would love to see more of Nintendo’s classics return this way.

  • yienwae

    We are getting this when the disc version releases on October 4. My son is looking forward to it and I think it will definitely win my wife over again. She loved Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword and enjoyed watching us play those. I think toon Link is going to definitely warm her heart even more as she watches us explore another aspect of the Zelda series.

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