The lights are on
This is my third Nintendo review, which is humorous because I only have three reviews. However, whereas the other two were Mario reviews (where bias really shines through), this is a Zelda review, a part of Nintendo mythos which I have never truly been a die hard fan of. Regardless, this remastering of a classic is grand and now solidifies Wind Waker as my favorite Legend of Zelda game.
The game starts with Link, or in my case "Captain" messing around on Outset Island. Something important happens and then you collect a tunic, a sword, and a shield to battle your way through Moblins, Bokoblins, and other enemies. Captain's sister is captured by a giant bird and then taken to the Forsaken Fortress, which is a place Captain really shouldn't mess with, but, thanks to the encouragement of misleading pirates, does so anyway. Thus, the story kicks off and, as far as you know, Captain just wants to save his sister. He continues to embark on an island-filled journey.
Right off the bat, the graphics are terrific. Granted, they were pretty great back in the day, despite being controversial at the time, but since then many fans have grown to like the cel-shaded look. Personally, I bought The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker for Gamecube, got to the Forsaken Fortress and then never really touched it mostly because I have the attention span of a hamster. However, I give myself credit because Zelda games are a commitment. So when I bought the remastering, I committed myself to beating. Back to the original subject, graphics have been greatly improved. Colors are far more vibrant, explosions look fantastic (though obviously not real), and character models and the environment are just plain gorgeous. I would say it even rivals the color palettes of Mario games. One small complaint, though, as I've seen from other reviewers as well, is that Link's hair, in some angles, looks like it's made of clay, sort of like a Wallace and Grommet character. It's a small problem, however, considering all the other aspects of the world of Wind Waker.
Concerning the sound, there is an original theme for Wind Waker and several original tunes for the Wind Waker, which all sound fitting and fantastic. Of course, you will hear familiar jingles every time Lin..ahem.. I mean Captain opens a treasure chest, finds a heart piece, or defeats a boss. However, one thing in the Legend of Zelda series I don't think we'll be seeing any time soon is complete voiceovers for any of the characters. As expected, there aren't any in the update of Wind Waker. I don't blame Nintendo for not completely revamping the original game, but it is worth mentioning, as adding voiceovers would be a nice change in pace. Super Mario Sunshine may have contained really low quality voiceovers, but at least Nintendo attempted voiceovers with it. However, given the terrific musical score, I will forgive the studio for this.
Obviously, this is the definitive version of Wind Waker, much less any Zelda game. With the Wii U Gamepad, you can assign items and tools on the fly to various buttons. It may in fact be very hard going back to other 3D Zelda games because of this feature. Regardless of the update, Wind Waker has the best combat mechanics of any of the 3D Zelda games. While Skyward Sword offered 1:1 controls, Wind Waker offers the most satisfying, as counter-attacks can be executed more intuitively, as I have experienced. However, combat doesn't see any real improvement from the update, besides the ability to switch tools during combat. A large problem is that when Captain is surrounded by a dozen Moblins or Bokoblins, though, the frame rate will take a significant dip when striking even one of them, and even more so when the spin attack is initiated. This nearly caused Captain to get killed several times.
When using items such as the Boomerang, you can aim with the Gamepad's gyro sensor. I ended up using it involuntarily, as every time I tried to use the right stick, I would accidentally move the Gamepad, causing Captain's aim to be controlled by the gyro sensor. The sensor works absolutely fine, but I just have a preference for non-motion controls. Also, Captain does solve brilliant and cleverly-crafted puzzles along the way, all of which require a decent amount of thought. However, I have heard that they are easier than ones seen in previous games. I am not an authority on this, as, besides Twilight Princess, I have not completed another Zelda game. I realize this may be a sin and I have made a promise to myself that I will get around to them, however.
One subject that comes up whenever I talk about Wind Waker amongst my friends is dungeons. They were disappointed in them in that there's, well, a lack of them. As opposed to the series norm of nine dungeons, there is a total of seven dungeons, if you include the Forsaken Fortress, which is up to debate. While I understand, I was completely content with the number of dungeons in this game, as I thought the game was just the right length, when you include the fact that you can go searching for more heart pieces, bomb bag size increases, and extensions of magic.
Of course, as with other Wii U titles, you can use the Gamepad's screen for playing the game, but, unless you need to for some reason, like say you need to use the restroom, I would highly recommend not doing so, as it takes away from the best improvement, which, as stated before, is the ability to assign items as you please without having to pause the game. However, using the Gamepad's screen also yields no problems. You can also play with the Pro Controller, but that brings up the same issue. Why would you want to? Unless you prefer a classic feel, the Gamepad makes everything so much easier and helps the game flow better.
Another new addition in the game is Tingle bottles. These bottles found near islands, in the sea, or on islands contain a message from the Miiverse from random players. I'm glad that players have their fun during the game, saying "THAT DUNGEON WAS HARD" or drawing a very well-made portrait of Captain, but it is a feature I could easily do without.
Along with the brilliant changes made with the Gamepad, there are notable differences and additions from the title's original incarnation. First of all, Nintendo has added another sail for Captain's boat. Being forced to use it for the first few hours of the game, I am able to say that the first sail is a true pain. Having to change wind direction with the Wind Waker every few seconds is also quite annoying. However, Nintendo remedied this. One significant island in Wind Waker is Windfall island. There, you can locate an auction house, which holds auctions at night for various items, one of which is the new sail, which allows the King of Red Lions (Captain's mode of transportation) to go twice as fast and doesn't require a change of wind direction. This made sea gameplay far more fun and less slow. On this note, I would like to discuss sea combat. When you come across enemies at sea, it's easy to stop, pull out your cannon, and start blasting away. However, much like sword combat, when there are ten Octoroks surrounding you and you are firing repeatedly, the frame rate will take a significant dip, preventing sea combat from being smooth or even entertaining. Allow me to digress. There are more differences in this game, one of which includes means of obtaining the Magic Armor. In the Gamecube version, as far as my understanding, it was required that you went on a side quest for a vender to go and trade flowers for other flowers and eventually come back to him with the final trade. After this, he would give you the Magic Armor. This remains one way of obtaining the Magic Armor in the update, but you can also purchase it at the auction house. There are plenty of other subtle differences, which make this update no Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
This remastering has helped to establish Wind Waker as my favorite Legend of Zelda game. Despite occasional hitches in combat, it has a clichéd yet fulfilling tale of "the Hero of Winds," incredibly satisfying combat, with greatly improved and colorful visuals, and astounding improvements made with the Gamepad. When you include the daring transportation system, creative temples and dungeons, puzzles, and iconic sounds and music, it all comes together to make a near-perfect Zelda experience.
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