The lights are on
Back in 2003, Nintendo took a risk by releasing a new entry in the long-beloved Legend of Zelda series with an entirely new art style never seen before. Some fans thoroughly enjoyed the entry, praising its beautiful visuals and captivating gameplay. Other decried this new entry, titled The Wind Waker, due to its art-style and somewhat-boring gameplay. Either way it went, the author of this review had to skip Wind Waker ten years ago because he didn't own a GameCube.
Now things are different. I happened to pick up a Wii U after it release last November, and month later a high-definition remake of The Wind Waker was announced to my surprise, and I was determined to get a copy. Now that I've spent lots of time playing through the main quest, I have to say that I'm glad I waited this long to finally experience Wind Waker. Between its gorgeous visuals and reinvented gameplay built around the Wii U GamePad, I haven't been able to get enough of it.
For those of you who might not have played Wind Waker yet, I'll bring you up to speed; Set out in an open sea, which is simply enough known as the Great Sea, a much younger semblance of Link lives on Outset Island with his sister, named Aryll, and their grandmother. After a giant bird is seen taking off with a girl in its clutches, Link suits up and head off to rescue her. The girl turns out to be a pirate named Tetra, and after rescuing her, that same giant bird takes off with Link's sister... which is what sets us up for the quest ahead.
Tetra helps Link by taking him to the Forbidden Fortress where Aryll is being held, but unfortunately Link is flung from the fortress after an unsuccessful attempt at saving her. He's rescued by the King of Red Lions, a talking boat that's willing to help Link in his journey across the Great Sea, where he must fight enemies and gather the power he needs to find the ultimate weapon--the legendary Master Sword.
Link's journey requires him to do a lot of sailing, which is one component of the original game that was criticized by many. Luckily, this HD remake soothes those woes by offering players the chance to obtain faster sails. I'll admit, somehow I missed out on these faster sails, but I didn't care because I'm just glad I was finally able to play this much talked about entry. As is the case for games on Wii U, players can manage their inventory, check their map and even play the entire game through the GamePad's touchscreen.
Also, the Miiverse integration is terrific. Players can send out Tingle Bottles, which other players will find while traversing the Great Sea. I've found several of these during my journey, and messages ranged from humorous to helpful. Once players unlock the Picto Box, they can take snapshots of the beautiful game's environments, or they can take silly pictures of Link and share them on Miiverse. One way or another it really does add to the experience, and I can imagine even players that have enjoyed Wind Waker several times can appreciate that.
Despite its enjoyable moments, it wasn't perfect. Sometimes, the camera got a little too jumpy during intensive battle sequences. When the camera wasn't being jumpy, during some temples and dungeons I would be completely clueless as to what I was supposed to do. I guess that's a sign of a good game, but I would feel so annoyed that I'd save, quit, and try something else. After resuming though, I'd have an "a-ha!" moment and quickly figure it out. Also, even though it's compatible with the Pro Controller, you definitely want to stick with the GamePad. It feels a lot more natural with that.
I couldn't tell you exactly how many hours I spent finding every last thing I could on my first run through the Great Sea, but what I can say is from its introductory moments through the last--and surprisingly somewhat violent--battle, I was delighted to have finally played Wind Waker about a decade after its release. Whether you've never played it before, or you've enjoyed it several times, this revamped high-definition version is worth a shot.
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