*Released: Mar. 24,2003 (Original Game Cube Version); Sep. 20, 2013 (WiiU HD Remake)
*Platform(s): Game Cube/ WiiU
*Developer: Nintendo EAD, Group No. 3
The original Wind Waker was the first Legend of Zelda game to be released for the Game Cube and introduced elements into the franchise that are still seen as iconic:
- a distinctive, cell-shaded art style
- the King of Red Lions (both man and boat)
- the genderless waif himself, who Zelda fans have dubbed “Toon Link”
It also introduced an all-new game mechanic to the world of Zelda: sailing. The gaming world of 2003 was all like, “I get to sail a bout in a Zelda game? Nice!”
Wind Waker was unlike anything I’d ever played. Heck, it was unlike anything ANYONE had ever played back in the early 2000’s. I was quite shocked at the stark contrast between this game and the titles that were popular back then such as Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and even A Link to the Past (which IS STILL considered a SNES classic, by the way). But I gave it a fair shot anyway and quickly discovered that playing through Wind Waker was an enjoyable and refreshing experience. All of the Zelda conventions were present and accounted for − only they were spread out over the vast new world of The Great Sea. This game was something I greatly enjoyed over the lifespan of both my Game Cube and Wii consoles.
I really liked getting to see Link actually have a family for a change and seeing the timeless Zelda narrative play out with all-new characters and in a whole new world. It was a blast exploring the many islands floating out the on the sea, finding untold treasure and never having to worry about anybody else getting to it first. (Did anyone else notice the strange lack of other sailors out on the waves in a world that’s mostly ocean? I always thought that was kinda weird . . .) I liked thinking of myself as the greatest sailor to ever sail The Great Sea because by the end of the game I had seen more than any other person.
However, it wasn’t fun times and exploration. The entire first half was just way too linear for my liking. I didn’t appreciate being kept on a fairly tight leash, being lead all over the flippin’ ocean, or doing the bidding of a creepy talking boat. Who’s ever heard of a talking boat anyway? And I never did understand exactly how the King of Red Lions was making it talk when he was trapped below several hundred feet (at least) of water? And here’s something else that’s always bugged me about this game: why am fighting all these other monsters when it was a giant bird that took Link’s sister in the first place?! And the biggest thing that always bugged me: how quickly the storyline went from saving her to saving the whole dang world from Ganondorf’s evil.
I still regard Wind Waker as a solid entry in the Zelda series, and many others do as well. Since we’re right in the middle of the Age of Reboots, Remakes, and Re-imaginings (we can thank Tim Burton for that), a wonderful group of people at Nintendo thought it would be a great idea to give it the HD treatment in about two years ago . . .and it rapidly became one of the WiiU’s best selling titles. Also, it’s been recently revealed that Twilight Princess will be getting an HD makeover as well. Happy March 2016 to us all!!
Wind Waker HD is practically the same game, but with a shiny new coat of paint. Playing it was like reuniting with an awesome childhood friend who move away and came back ten years later only more awesome. The nostalgia was so thick I could cut it with a knife. My experiences with both the HD remake and the original were nearly the same. But don’t think for a second that Wind Waker HD is a simple port of its Game Cube predecessor. Delightful new features were added, old ones were revamped, and they all come together to create the ideal mix of modern and nostalgic. So let’s get into what kind of new additions were brought to the table, why don’t we?
- The Graphics
I’m gonna start with the big one: the graphics. Graphically, Wind Waker HD is worlds away from its Game Cube ancestor. Everything looks so clean and smooth compared to the more blocky/pixilated original. The color is so saturated and seems to pop off the screen and the hi-definition gives it all an almost dream-like quality. It is truly mind blowing to look at.
I know my mind was blown for the first five minutes I spent with this game. I lost count of how many times I watched the mini cutscenes that play before you press START. I never thought that I, an avid gamer since childhood, could be so taken by the way a game looks that I’d actually forget to start playing it.
- A Brand-new Picto Box
Now let’s talk about the other big one: the new-and-improved picto box. Both the basic and deluxe picto boxes can store up to twelve pictographs at a time. They even come with a ‘selfie’ mode which lets you use one of the WiiU gamepad’s d-pads to change Link’s facial expressions. There’s a whole lot of fun to be had with just that one feature. See, I’m not much of a selfie taker in my everyday life, but while I was playing through Wind Waker HD I quickly become one of those Selfie Queens that everybody complains about on social media sites. That’s fine, I guess. I mean, it wasn’t like anyone else would have to be subjected to my Link-selfie addiction, right? But then I found . . .
- The Tingle Bottle
. . .this thing, which is infinitely more useful (and fun!) than the Tingle Tuner from the Game Cube version. It is used to share all of those photos and selfies you most certainly will be taking with your new picto box with other players and the good people of Miiverse. It’s basically Twitter on The Great Sea! If there was ever a reason to let that weirdo Tingle out of that jail cell on Windfall Island (you know, besides getting the picto box in the first place and having your Triforce charts deciphered), then this is definitely it.
Of course, you’ll also be able to see pictures and messages that other people have posted using their own Tingle Bottles. They appear as odd, little bottles in the shape of Tingle’s head scattered about the overworld. You can’t miss them.
- The Triforce Charts & Shards
This one took me a while to fully wrap my head around and work through. Here’s a little spoiler for people have not played this game or the original: in order to beat either of them, you must gather all eight shards of the Triforce of Courage. Doing this is the only way to move the story forward after returning the power to repel evil to the Master Sword. (It’s a long story.) How you go about getting those shards is significantly different between the Game Cube and WiiU editions of Wind Waker.
Here’s a rundown of how it works in the original.
*Receive the IN-credible Chart from Tingle, 201 rupees C.O.D. (Tingle’s awesomeness comes at a price. Literally.) It tells you where to find the Triforce charts.
*Find all eight charts and then have Tingle decipher them for 398 rupees a pop. That is an IN-credible 3184 rupees total.
*Use the now-legible charts to sail to the areas where each shard rests beneath the waves.
And you’re done. It’s a straightforward process, even if it is a bit lengthy and tedious.
It works a bit differently in the HD remake, however. You still get the IN-credible Chart from Tingle and it still cost 201 rupees. But when you open it up, you can only see the locations of only four of the Triforce Charts. The other four have been replaced with Triforce symbols which means − “There are actual Triforce shards on some of the islands now?! *Gasp* That’s insane! I am gonna save SO much time this way and I’m only gonna spend half the rupees. It’s a win-win!” I never did understand what Tingle needed with 3000 rupees anyway.
- The Fast Sail
Now this is something I never had the pleasure of using, but I know all about it. The Fast Sail is a newly-added item that lets you travel across the sea at double the speed. It also automatically changes the wind’s direction so that it’s always at your back. No more conducting the Wind’s Requiem every five seconds. The Fast Sail can be won at one of the nightly auctions held on Windfall Island that I just never had the patience to deal with some reason. Huh . . .now I’m thinking I probably should have gotten that thing . . .
- Motion Controls
Did y’all know that you can actually move the WiiU gamepad to aim your long-ranged items/weapons in the game? The gamepad has an internal gyroscope (exactly like a 3DS) that responds to how it is positioned. You can even use the left control stick to move while taking aim. It took me until well into the second half of the game before I was even remotely competent at it. I felt like I was playing Skyward Sword all over again. That was the first time I experienced the awkward transition from control stick to motion-based aiming. It’s such an ungainly process. . .
There were countless other little tidbits and Easter eggs, but I only wanted to cover the big differences that really affect the gameplay between the Game Cube and WiiU versions. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing what had been added, removed, enhanced, switched around, left entirely alone, and/or touched up with a new coat of paint. There’s so much here for the old-as-dirt veterans like me and the youngsters just being introduced to the wide and wonderful world of Zelda to have fun with. There’s something for everyone to enjoy. . .that is, except for those people who just DO NOT like this franchise for some reason. Honestly, what’s wrong with THOSE people?!