News Article

First Impressions: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Posted by Ron DelVillano

Wind Reawakened

It’s strange to have a first impression on a remake of a game, especially when it’s a game like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The truth is that despite being 10 years old at this point, Wind Waker is still a great looking game that plays well and has held up very well over time. Whether that’s due to the GameCube’s surprising processing power or the cell-shaded graphical style that was never meant to look realistic in the first place is a matter of conjecture, but the real question is “is this a game that needs to be remade?” The short answer to that is “probably not,” but based on the work that Nintendo has put into the HD version bound for Wii U, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little refresh.

We were fortunate enough to get some hands-on time with Wind Waker HD and it’s safe to say that the game is progressing very nicely indeed, but there are still some obvious differences that stand out from the now classic GameCube iteration.

The first thing that anyone playing Wind Waker HD will notice – whether you’ve experienced the original or not — is that it is absolutely gorgeous. The colours look sharper and textures are smoother than ever, and the whole game is now set in a widescreen resolution that fills every edge of the display. The sprawling oceans and lush green islands seem to come alive and look natural in their own cartoon-like way.

As far as gameplay goes, everything seems to be mostly unchanged from the original release. This is still a third person adventure that doesn’t diverge from the classic formula too much. The two playable areas in this demo were Link’s homeland of Outset Island and the Forsaken Fortress.

Outset Island allows for some light exploration and boat travel. This is the perfect way to become acquainted with the updated GamePad controls. Though the button layout is similar to that of the GameCube controller, targeting and movements are slightly altered, but they still feel natural. Boat travel is also a huge element of Wind Waker, and the developers here have been kind enough to add faster travel speeds with the simple tap of a button. This is a very welcome addition that will be recognized by anyone who has played the original.

Playing in the Forsaken Fortress involves running up a spiralling tower while avoiding enemy attack. Speed is a necessity here, so we obviously rolled all the way up when not busy using the grappling hook to cross fallen bridges. Reaching the top of the tower culminates in a boss battle against Helmaroc King, a giant bird equipped with some light armour. This was the point in the demo where we got to experience some true Wind Waker action, switching between swordplay and Link’s trusty Skull Hammer. The action is smooth and the frame rate remains consistent without a single hiccup, even during the more frantic and graphically taxing portions of the fight.

Wind Waker is played mostly using the GamePad’s face buttons and control sticks, but there is a bit of touchscreen integration beyond simply displaying a mini-map. The good news is that none of these additional elements were necessary, so you aren't forced to engage in touch-based minigames just to proceed. However, the ability to manage and swap out items directly on the GamePad is both an effective and useful addition. The other major feature of the GamePad – and something that we know many gamers are hoping for — is that it does support off-screen play, and everything looks just as crisp when scaled down to the smaller screen. The GamePad’s gyroscope can also optionally be used to aim or look around through Link’s telescope, an unsurprising addition as similar controls were implemented in 2011’s 3DS release of Ocarina of Time.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is a game that many Nintendo gamers are already intimately familiar with, and this HD version is shaping up to be a true love letter to these very same fans. It’s also looking to be a great way to introduce newcomers and younger players to the Zelda series. The game is set to release this October and we’re extremely excited to see what other innovations will be used to breathe new life into the already vibrant adventure.

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User Comments (76)

MAB

#1

MAB said:

This looks bloody good... Can't wait to sail the great sea in HD ;)

XFsWorld

#5

XFsWorld said:

I've never played the original Wind Waker, looking forward to playing this. :)

Shworange

#6

Shworange said:

Looks like the classic just got better. Hopefully there are some great and meaningful additions to the game as well!

19Robb92

#7

19Robb92 said:

It looks absolutely fantastic. Everything is just so smooth and clean, and I LOVE the new skyline. Looks loads better than the one in the original.

beingvasey

#8

beingvasey said:

The 64 and Gamecube are the only Nintendo home consoles I skipped over, so I am super pumped about this release. I am currently finishing up Twilight Princess, and will move on to finishing the OG NES Zelda afterwards. Should be perfect timing for when this comes out. An HD Zelda game that is new to me is the perfect stopgap before the real HD Zelda comes out.

Faruko

#9

Faruko said:

I know the WiiU its hardly next gen graphics (and believe, with my PC even the PS4 and One arent really impressive... they are hardly next gen graphics) but with the hardware they have they just do magic, i cant believe they are doing this graphics with such an old hardware, it does means that when you know how to develop a game, even if you have some hardware restrictions you can do things that are beyond beatiful

i dont have a WiiU, but with that they show in E3, im deff getting one on christmass (hopefully with a price reduction too)

fluggy

#10

fluggy said:

Waste of time and money. Would hardly call it a remake! Resident Evil 1 on GameCube ..... now THAT WAS a remake. Total redesign, graphical overhaul, infinitely improved voice acting, new levels and enemies - to the point where its unrecognisable to the original (ie, a completly different, improved experience) and all the better for it. Now THAT is how to REMAKE a game! This WW remake plays identical to the original. Throwing in some boring gamepad features does not a remake make and the original still looks great anyway. A missed opportunity!

Samus06

#11

Samus06 said:

This game looks gorgeous. I hope they add the dungeons that were supposed to be in the original game.

Varia01

#12

Varia01 said:

I almost wonder if the pro controller can be used for this game after reading about it. The gameplay and graphics looks amazing. HYPE!!! :O

erv

#13

erv said:

Will SO buy this brilliant, brilliant game for my wii U. Perfect choice for some zelda love on my wii U :)

WaveBoy

#14

WaveBoy said:

"the developers here have been kind enough to add faster travel speeds with the simple tap of a button"

Thank Goonies! I checked out some footage of the faster sailing on Nintendo's Youtube channel and it now actually looks....fun? :o and gets you to where you need to go without uuber frustration. Other awesome additions, like being able to use the Gyro controls to aim or look around with the telescope, using the GP screen as a mini map, and the ability to manage and swap out items directly on the GamePad makes this remake far more exciting than just having gorgeous polished-up widescreen HD visuals...

These new additional GamePad screen/gyro controls imo are as equally important!

andreoni79

#15

andreoni79 said:

They should focus in simple HD port of all the best GC games instead of recreate only some of them, starting a budget price series like they did with New Play Control for the Wii.

Kirk

#16

Kirk said:

Ok, this game definitely looks beautiful but I know they could do the lighting and shading just a little bit better in this day and age than what they are doing here.

It's more the specifically the toon-shading technique being used specifically on the characters that's bugging more than it used to, probably because now that the game is HD I guess it's more obvious that it's kinda an approximation of proper toon-shading, with a slightly shiny and plastic dated look to that particular effect, than a spot-on presentation of it.

The game still looks really good but I just know they could have gone even further with realizing the whole toon-shading style on this much more powerful hardware and really nailed it, along with adding a lot more dynamic lighting and shadowing across the entire game world.

Maybe the new Zelda game will use this toon-shaded style again, I actually REALLY hope so (it's the graphical style that's held up best of all the 3D Zelda games, by far), but just take it to the next level.

Also, PLEEEEASE tell me there's an option to move all the HUD stuff to the GamePad screen, so the main game view is pretty much completely clutter free and so we can all fully appreciate these HD Wind Waker graphics in all their newly updated glory...?

ricklongo

#17

ricklongo said:

Sadly, I skipped the Game Cube and went with a PlayStation 2 in that generation. Missing out on games such as this made it so that I'll probably never ever consider skipping a Ninty console again.

Can't wait to get my hands on this!

Dogpigfish

#18

Dogpigfish said:

I absolutely love this game. Spent countless hours in this world and am ready to go back.

MetalKingShield

#19

MetalKingShield said:

Does anyone know what the frame rate of this game actually is? Is it still 30fps or has it been increased to 60fps?

Electricmastro

#21

Electricmastro said:

Aside from the updated effects, framerate, and controls, it doesn't seem to different for me to the point that i'll immediately buy it.

Spuratis

#22

Spuratis said:

God, I need to get a Wii U. This game never appealed to me when I had my GameCube even though I was a huge Zelda fan. Looking at it now I don't know what I was thinking. This is definitely one of the reasons I will be getting a Wii U. Can't wait to play it. :)

bunnyking

#23

bunnyking said:

I didn't get to play the whole game but it was amazing. Now on the Wii U it looks even more amazing. The HD makes it look like a completely new game, I am definitely playing it when it comes out.

Wanderhope

#24

Wanderhope said:

This may be my favorite game of all time. So happy it's seeing the HD and GamePad treatment.

IxnayontheCK

#26

IxnayontheCK said:

Really really looking forward to this! Sad to admit it, but I never finished it on GC. Dunno why cause i loved it...

Blue-Thunder

#27

Blue-Thunder said:

I just after finishing the original and it's epic. The original was considered by Game Central on C4 teletext to be the best looking game of the Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox generation and I have to agree. It really showed how clever the Gamecube's architecture was, years ahead of its time.

LDXD

#28

LDXD said:

Im not a graphics lover by any means but I'm blown away by that last pic and how good it looks and supposedly runs at 60fps I'm truly impressed, I've been playing metro last light on my pc everything cranked up and to me this looks better
I really cannot wait for zelda u or whatever its going to be called, I cant imagine what that will be like

DestinyMan

#29

DestinyMan said:

I've never played the game before, so it would be natural to go with the updated, better version of it. I've seen the game at Best Buy, and it is totally slick and smooth. The Helmaroc King battle was definitely fluid, and it all suits the cartoon style very well.

Mewtwo21

#30

Mewtwo21 said:

I wanna know whether this still gonna be a full 60$ or not. Im gonna be buy regardless of the price but it'd be nice to have it lower because it's a remake.

RQuinain

#31

RQuinain said:

I'm excited for this too. I always made plans to buy the GCN version for my Wii, but they just fell through because I became pre-occupied with Wii games, handheld games, and school, of course. But this gives me an excuse to finally play Wind Waker!

WiiULoveSquid

#33

WiiULoveSquid said:

People are insane saying this shouldn't have been remade for WiiU. There was no better Zelda for the Wii U. It really fits in with the line-up of games it's releasing along side.

The grass alone has me convinced. Best looking grass of any Zelda game to date. I will double my play through times just obsessively hacking at it all.

LDXD

#34

LDXD said:

@Mewtwo21 as far as I know it's $60
To me I think the price is fine this isn't just a quick simple remake like most games looks like they went all out with the textures and all the game looks amazing

Wheels2050

#35

Wheels2050 said:

Wait, so first you publish an article criticising Nintendo for not being creative enough with Super Mario 3D World, and then you write a glowing article over a remake of a game that effectively amounts to swapping in some high-res textures and changing the resolution?

Righto.

Kirk

#36

Kirk said:

You know, for the next Zelda game I'd actually really love for them to go with this whole cel-shaded style again.

All I think they need to change is make Link and the other main characters the adult versions along with making the world a wee bit more grown up too I guess (Think Skyward Sword but with a proper full toon-shaded version of the artstyle in this game), tweak the toon-shading effect ever so slightly so it's truly up to modern standards and showing off what a proper next-gen HD engine can do with this type of graphical style, and have full realtime dynamic lighting and shadows being cast from and on all the objects and characters (specifically light sources like torches and fire etc should be affecting any and all the world/character lighting and shadows in realtime) just to give the game a really dynamic and dramatic look.

Now that would be a truly stunning and graphically timeless next-gen Zelda game imo.

Kirk

#37

Kirk said:

@Wheels2050
Well this is basically just an HD update of a classic game, it's not pretending to be anything more, and Super Mario 3D World is the next big Mario platform game on Wii U so what they said makes absolute sense in the context they said it.

I disagree that the new Super Mario 3D World is not creative enough however, they've not even seen enough of the game to fairly determine that in the slightest at this stage, but that's a whole other debate.

RedYoshi999

#38

RedYoshi999 said:

Can't wait, but I need to know: does the sea map display on the GamePad screen while you are sailing? If not, they missed a great opportunity to improve the sailing.

jayblue

#40

jayblue said:

If it comes out at vc prices i will buy it.Ancient game at full price,need to be pure nintendo Zelda fan.

DerpSandwich

#42

DerpSandwich said:

@fluggy People who call it a remake are actually mistaken. This is really just an HD port. And it's not a waste of time and money considering that a whole new generation of gamers that weren't around in early 2000 will get a chance to play it. And it's one of my very favorite games, so I know I'm getting it.

DerpSandwich

#43

DerpSandwich said:

I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that the upgraded shading and whatnot still maintained the feel of the original. Those early screenshots were a little worrisome, but this just looks amazing.

LDXD

#44

LDXD said:

@jayblue 10 yrs is considered ancient? Wow I must be really old. You're right this game should be 10 bucks ( this is me being sarcastic and stupid )

TheMagus

#45

TheMagus said:

@fluggy You evidently do not understand the concept of a remake. The POINT is that it's playing THE ORIGINAL GAME with improved features and graphics, not that it's a totally different game with the original story. Anyways, the Resident Evil series sucks.

GamerJunkie

#46

GamerJunkie said:

I won't pick this up unless its $20. I played the original already, not dishing over $50-60 for a remake.

Its pretty good for anyone that didn't already play it, just nothing exciting for people that have been around a while and seen it before.

Zodiak13

#47

Zodiak13 said:

Ah man, looking forward to a non GBA Tingle Tuner (I think that was it's name). I too never quite finished the game but yet I had a great time playing it. Probably some new flashy toy took my attention for a time. Very stoked to get this day -1 (which means at the Fred Meyer where I live, they put the games out early very often).

chewytapeworm

#48

chewytapeworm said:

Yeah, never got to play this game. As I only really enjoy the "Toon Link" games compared to the true ones (go ahead, flame me, I don't care!) I will be very intrigued in giving this a spin, especially as it's in a 3d world as opposed to the traditional plan view...

element187

#49

element187 said:

"i cant believe they are doing this graphics with such an old hardware,"

@Faruko I really wish this s**t would stop. There is nothing old, hardware wise in the Wii U.... ITs a Radeon 6000 series GPU, which those were first released in 2011, but the Wii U is a total custom job, not ever seen before, so its really 2012 tech... so If 1 year old means its old hardware....

Further more, the effects the GPU is capable of is way beyond the level of the PS360. I think Sony/MS fanboys feel threatened that Nintendo had the audacity to leap frog their PS3's and x360's.... The GPU is capable of dx10.1/11 type of equivalent effects in OpenGL 4.0.... We are going to see games with tesselation. We are going to see games with much better lighting effects, a higher quality bokeh and bloom effects.

Please stop spreading the console warriors talking points. The Wii U is advanced technology, the performance or how many floating operations it can perform wont have too much bearing on what this system will do. It may not be able to run Shadow Fall level of visuals, but for Nintendo's IP's they will look breathtaking. Nintendo already showed us at E3 the system is already capable of pushing visuals the ps360 would choke on (Actually Criterion already proved this, but now Nintendo is)

Of course I do agree with your point. Nothing can PC gaming. Whenever I run across a sony/ms console warrior trying to shake his d**k around i throw it in their face my Radeon 7970 would run ciricles around the PS4.... (which it will, its the equivalent of 2.5 PS4's duct taped together)

KAHN

#50

KAHN said:

graphics aren't as sharp as nintendo makes them sound. i think Nintendo could do a better job with some textures. oh wait... the WiiU wont let them.

coren

#51

coren said:

This is the perfect Zelda to remake. Its old enough to have not been played by a lot of people that own a wiiu, and not old enough to have to reimagine everything from the ground up.
This game is truly beautiful, and with this as well as other wiiu first party games, its showing that it can produce very high quality visuals. That doesn't necessarily matter to me, but it does to a lot of people that are hesitant to jump on board the wiiu because they think its to "current" gen.
I think its safe to say that Nintendo proved that the wiiu is absolutely next gen. It may not be as strong as the comp but I don't think it needs to be if it can run games at true 1080p and 60 fps.

KAHN

#52

KAHN said:

still kinda wish they remade MM instead of this. WW looks fine on the gamecube version, MM actually needs an update. and since it doesnt look like they're adding anything significant to the HD WW remake, they could if they wanted to. oh but wait, nintendo wants money, not games...

TheAdrock

#53

TheAdrock said:

Can't quite believe that people are whining about WW being updated/polished for HD on the U. N should do the same for OoT, TP, and SS... on the U. Its bloody easy for them to do, and N will just print money.

Blodtryck

#54

Blodtryck said:

Wind Waker was somehow the only Zelda game I've ever finished (I loved all of them, but due to university/etc. I usually ended up not playing anymore after 3/4 of the game and never got back into them). Really liked it, apart from the endless, endless, endless sailing.

Probably wouldn't play it again, but it does look really great!

KAHN

#55

KAHN said:

theadrock13 wrote:

Can't quite believe that people are whining about WW being updated/polished for HD on the U. N should do the same for OoT, TP, and SS... on the U. Its bloody easy for them to do, and N will just print money.

oh my god i hope that was sarcasm. i hope to god that was sarcasm.

belmont

#57

belmont said:

I never got into the original so am not really looking forward to it. Bland and uninteresting plot, super easy, bad sailing system. Of course this will be a great game for fans of the original but it is no system seller. I agree with the friends from above that suggested a remake of Majora's Mask.

meltendo

#59

meltendo said:

Looking forward to this but dismayed that they seem to treat an HD port like a big release. They SHOULD be working right now on getting many games like Metroid Prime, Mario Sunshine, etc. for an HD port. If not, we might be getting only one HD release a year.... :(

Cyberbotv2

#61

Cyberbotv2 said:

@beingvasey : You skipped out on my two favorite consoles ever, in the N64, and gamecube! Regarding Zelda though, there's a reason this game looks amazing. Because, graphics have not progressed that much in the past decade. I'll never get this uproar for PS4 and Xbone.

jayblue

#63

jayblue said:

Release wii u with a ten year old game,i can't believe people are getting excited about this.Well i be happy playing watchdogs on ps4 or xbox1.In november.

JebbyDeringer

#64

JebbyDeringer said:

Looks great but it's a shame Nintendo won't acknowledge any of their games are imperfect and could benefit from some serious tweaking. In some ways this is the best Zelda game ever and in some ways it's the worst. Travelling by sea was almost simulation like since it took so long to get anywhere.

MAB

#66

MAB said:

The same logic can be applied to the PSBOX... In the end you're paying $500 to play FPS/3rdPS/Racing games from 10 years ago with slightly upgraded graphics ;)

Ichiban

#67

Ichiban said:

One of my fav games of all time...
Ill admit i was dissapointed when i first saw the e3 trailer, dunno why i was expecting them to do more with it. But either way, this, DK and Sonic Lost world will keep me happy this year.

Itglows

#68

Itglows said:

The lighting looks blown out, too much white bleed. I might still pick it up or maybe just get the GC version

WolfLink22

#69

WolfLink22 said:

There is no doubt that I will be getting this game, but since I just got Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon, I might have to make this a Christmas game.

Objection

#70

Objection said:

This is an updated port done well. It looks great (the base game already did of course) and it sounds like they're adding some cool little things, too.

JJtheTexan

#71

JJtheTexan said:

Confession time: After owning every Nintendo console to date, including Virtual Boy, I skipped the GameCube for three reasons: as a recent college graduate at the time, I needed a strong justification to spend a lot of money on a new video game console, and I was so put off by Luigi's Mansion, Super Mario Sunshine and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker that I decided to quit gaming altogether (I went seven years game-free before crawling back to the Wii).

Like many other gamers at the time, I was disappointed with the direction Nintendo appeared to be taking the Mario and Zelda series. I wanted a "next-gen", "hardcore" Zelda game that expanded upon the incredible leaps taken by Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, and I was unwilling to give "toon Link" a chance.

I now regret that decision and I'm exceedingly grateful Nintendo is giving me another chance to play this game for the first time. I had planned on tracking down a GameCube disc, but Wind Waker HD looks to be a great deal better!

Goginho

#72

Goginho said:

@fluggy A missed opportunity for what? This is merely a warm-up for Nintendo. The original does play great, no doubt about that ..and the reason for the remake is not because it was necessary, like with Ocarina, which I found to be greatly improved with the 3DS version. And the gamepad features are meant to be useful and reinforce the flow of the game, whether they're "boring" or not.

DualWielding

#73

DualWielding said:

I'm really surprised so many people is excited about this game, I'm not a Zelda fan, to me this doesn't look like a remake at all, is just an upscaled version of the Game Cube game.....

Henmii

#74

Henmii said:

One thing they should change is the figurine affair! I mean: If you defeated a boss BEFORE you snapped it with your pictobox, you could never snap it again! Thus you missing the figurine! The collected figurines moved over to the + game, but I still miss one or two figurines! I hate it when I can't collect everything!

element187

#75

element187 said:

@URAmk2 its not a port. A port implies nothing has changed from the original... oh wait you are trolling. Aren't you worried that people will think you are naive and ignorant as F... I mean, anyone reading your comment probably thinks you have no idea what you are talking about and perhaps would disregard anything else you have to say. An HD remake where they updated ALL of the visuals, is not a port... or wait, you didn't know that. So you really are completely and utterly niave and ignorant.

NightmareXIV

#76

NightmareXIV said:

All this new, and remade Zelda things may just have a chance to dethrone LoZ OOT as my favorite game of all time.

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