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

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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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