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Feature: Why Zelda: Wind Waker HD Is The Perfect Game For Families

Posted by Andy Robertson

Family Gamer's Andy Robertson goes questing with his offspring

A lot has happened since The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was released for the GameCube. In the video game world we have seen another two generations sweep on and off our radar, while in my family there has been the arrival of a new generation in human form — two more children.

The GameCube game has plenty of sentimental family value for me. Not only does it look super cute and feature a young hero, but it also reminds me of playing the game with my newly born daughter asleep on the sofa beside me, or on my lap. Then there were the times when my 2 year old son would watch me play Twilight Princess on the Wii, clasping the GameCube controller.

My daughter is now 10 and we have a fresh rendering of the GameCube classic in the form of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Being a single player game, it was something I had expected to play while the kids were in bed. However, it only took an hour or so of playing before my daughter poked her head around the door at the “Item Found” tune. She wanted to know what I was playing and why it sounded so familiar.

Before long, all three children had joined me on the sofa to play Wind Waker HD and we started to make our way through the first few islands. They were quite taken by the look of the game, and I have to say I found both the familiar visual style and pixel perfect HD rendering to be a compelling next generation experience. I know you may get more polygons or higher resolutions on other consoles, but it’s the investment in visual storytelling here that makes the real difference. With simple, stylised line work and use of scale and motion — not to mention the greater draw distance — Wind Waker HD had us all hooked.

Make no mistake though, this is a Zelda game from the era before the requirement to add increased hand-holding and assistance for family players. I had expected this to be off-putting, and to frustrate the children with slow progress and obtuse puzzles.

I was again surprised to find that quite the reverse was true. Firstly, they all happily took turns to play and assigned themselves different tasks within the game. Ellen (10) read out the dialogue complete with different voices for each character, Thom (8) took charge of the combat and Ollie (5) was best at spotting treasures and secrets. Together they progressed all the way to the end of the first dungeon.

At this point, it was with some relief that they called for my help. The complexity of the bosses meant that they couldn't get advance on their own. As you can see in the video shown above, we worked as a team and soon had the first boss beat.

As we went on there was one concession that we needed to make for their younger age though. Usually I avoid getting help online and steer clear of cheat guides. Playing Wind Waker with a family, I found that we needed to keep the momentum going and these guides sometimes aided our enjoyment. There are some puzzles that you could spend hours running around trying to solve — usually the ones in the open world sections — and it's with those that a guide can help you navigate with younger players.

I’d thoroughly recommend Wind Waker for families to play together. Certainly, as Grand Theft Auto V hits the streets it serves as a timely reminder that not all the tales video games tell are full of gritty storylines and questionable characters.

I didn’t realise quite how much impact Wind Waker had had on the kids until I saw what my youngest decided to draw at school as his weekend highlight. It was a picture of him playing Zelda.

Beyond the clever mechanics, visuals and attention to detail, Wind Waker does what all Zelda games do well: catch the player up in the legend of its world. Spending time on the different islands not only offers gameplay opportunities but connects you to these places emotionally. I can’t wait to see the look on my children’s face when we go back to visit old friends and family on Outset or Windfall Island, or discover new places on the high seas.

The funny thing is that they haven’t once mentioned that the sailing is boring. In fact, it’s their favourite part.

[via youtube.com]

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User Comments (47)

Metalslime

#1

Metalslime said:

"Certainly, as Grand Theft Auto V hits the streets it serves as a timely reminder that not all the tales video games tell are full of gritty storylines and QUESTIONABLE CHARACTERS."

You haven't met Tingle yet then!

Ryno

#2

Ryno said:

Nice read. As a new dad of a 3 month old son I can really appreciate this article and I look forward to playing Wind Waker HD in a couple of years!

Fingeldor

#3

Fingeldor said:

This is awesome! I'm really thankful Nintendo is keeping these games alive. My daughter is in love with Mario and Kirby. In a couple years, she'll be ready to tackle Zelda. I try to imagine if there were only Xbox and Playstation consoles and I know our family would have limited video game options.

Bakajin

#6

Bakajin said:

When I was first playing this game a decade ago, amongst my roommates were a young family with a three or four year old. I had a TV in my room, but the GameCube was hooked up in the living room. Boy, did that boy love watching me play this . . . a bit too much. He really identified with Link, and would get quite rambunctious after I'd slayed a few Moblins and ChuChus, and it got to the point where his parents asked me not to do the action sequences while he was watching.

Fair enough, and we still had good times, him watching and me sailing around and doing various non sword-related things. He, too, never seemed to find the sailing boring.

MagikarpSplash

#7

MagikarpSplash said:

This game is a must have for the holiday season parents, but its for the kids not for you! Just kidding its for everyone!

Ryno

#8

Ryno said:

@andyrob_24_7: Thank you! Since my wife is not much of a video gamer, she may not be a big fan of the idea of me basing my decision on how I dress my son from a video game character. I am tempted though. Haha...

Pachterkid

#10

Pachterkid said:

Unlike the article that tried to convince uninterested gamers that The Wonderful 101 was a perfect family title that every gamer should run right out and buy, this article I actually agree with. Wind Waker is a perfect game, easily my favourite in the Zelda series, and is a game that I believe everybody should experience at least once.

rjejr

#11

rjejr said:

As a father of 2 myself I appreciate all that Andy brings w/ his Family Gamer and unbridaled enthusiam for gaming. But - and I hate to be negative here but - the title says "the perfect game for families" but the article reads the opposite: its 1 player, the bosses are too difficult for kids and you need to look stuff up. I understand it looks great and kids might be interested - my kids enjoy watching me play games as well - and it isnt GTAV - but a perfect game for my family is NSMBU w/ its 4 player bubble-up option or a Disney Infinity or Skylanders w/ its co-op multiplayer or even Pokemon Rumble U w/ its mindless harmless button mashing.

So yeah, WW HD is interesting enough that my kids would probably watch me play it for awhile, and even take turns playing, but there are other better options for us to play. Your family may vary. :-)

unrandomsam

#12

unrandomsam said:

I hate it when kid's (Under 10) try to play Zelda they have no perseverance and I end up having to do most of it. Don't get what is different (I would never have asked anybody to do a part of a game for me).

It is not a good family game unless you are just using it as an excuse to play it yourself.

Don't know about the Wonderful 101 as I have not played it but a multiplayer game seems a better idea.

idork99

#14

idork99 said:

Great read and video. I don't have children but do have nephews and nieces that are 5-7 years old and love playing on my 3DS. They love the Mario games a lot at the moment. I keep telling my five year old nephew that once he learns how to read more, that is when I'll introduce him to the greatest game of all time: Ocarina of Time. He gets excited everytime I mention it and all he says,"Ah! I can't wait!" Lol. But looking at this game, this would also be a great introduction for them into the Zelda series. Actually, looking at this video and after reading reviews today, I'm actually tempted to buy this Zelda bundle. I don't own a Wii U yet. I said I'd wait until Mario Kart 8 but this game looks gorgeous. And it's not even in my top 3 Zelda's!

Unca_LzStaff

#17

Unca_Lz said:

I dun have any kids but my brother is expecting a daughter. I shall be her favorite uncle! :)

james_squared

#18

james_squared said:

My daughter and I have played Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword together several times. She loves the story and always knows where we are in the game and what we need to do next. I find that quite helpful as, well, I do tend to forget what's going on in the game!

GamerJunkie

#19

GamerJunkie said:

Yep, Wii u is the perfect console for your 4 year old son, nephew, or whatever.... it has turned into a "my 1st console"

odd69

#21

odd69 said:

Its perfect for all types of players :) I actually thought the ending was rather voilent though, I wonder if that got cut?

mudmask

#23

mudmask said:

Welp... my just-turned-three-year-old can swing a Wii remote around and help his mom and dad defeat bokobins and moblins in Nintendo Land... and that's exactly why we opted for a Wii U. I'm looking forward to picking this up and going through it with him. I decided that OOT wasn't a great game for him to watch (yet) after venturing into future Hyrule, especially now that we're on the cusp of the shadow temple... which is still freaky, even after all these years. He's seen me play Wind Waker on the Gamecube but that was some time ago.

Anyways. Good stuff. I'm always surprised at how many people get offended on these gamer forums, btw. Someone's offended by that kid's heart warming journal entry? Strange. You're weird, internet.

Zombie_Barioth

#25

Zombie_Barioth said:

@rjejr
I think the flip-side of the coint here is you can't learn how to deal with sticky situations and frustrating moments unless you run into them first. Thats the golden opportunity here since they're learning ways to deal with them in a way that just seems like fun and games.

Your right though, not every game is a perfect fit for everyone. You could say "well, I grew up with Ghosts n' Goblins" but thats still not saying much when its a game infamous for its difficulty. Just because it works for you doesn't mean it works for everyone.

Sanquine

#26

Sanquine said:

@rjejr I agree! I played Ni No kuni with my nephew and he got destroyed. The appereance of the game says kids but the mechanics like this game are to complicated for kids.

Chunky_Droid

#28

Chunky_Droid said:

Nice article! My kids love playing games too, usually we play multiplayer stuff such as Nintendo Land and the LEGO games.

My son's always drawing Zelda stuff though, and my daughter can kick my butt at Donkey Kong Crash Course (it took her 3 days to master it, she was 6 at the time).

andreoni79

#29

andreoni79 said:

Ok, if it helps to sell more consoles...
"Yes, Wii U is the Family console! Love is everywhere! Shame on Rockstar!"

tripunktoj

#30

tripunktoj said:

Sailing was also one of my favorite parts on the original, its so relaxing, specially with that BGM and scenery. I never understood why so many people dislike it.

ULTRA-64

#31

ULTRA-64 said:

As a father of none......I play scary games....late at night....so kids don't try and get into my life!!! ;)

andyrob_24_7

#32

andyrob_24_7 said:

@rjejr that's very kind. You are right that in many ways this doesn't appear to be a family game, but that's my point. Unexpectedly this has functioned (and been enjoyed) as much as other family friendly games with multiplayer and the like.
The visuals, Link character, story-telling and locations work together to get the whole family involved. I wonder if this would work for your family?

cookiex

#33

cookiex said:

[SPOILER]

It's all fun and games until someone gets a sword stabbed in the face.

Ducutzu

#34

Ducutzu said:

I am very happy that Andy Robertson is writing for Nintendo Life. I find his features very informative.

rjejr

#35

rjejr said:

@andyrob_24_7 - Yeah, sorry for the negativity yesterday, I have an unnatural fixation on titles, just ask Damo. I know what you were trying to say and you made some good points, but if you were making a list of best family games for "boxing day" I'm not sure this would be at the top, which is what "perfect" implies to me, not with Skylanders (loved the tournament videos) and Disney out there. I bought my son a Classic Controller Pro yesterday so we can play multiplayer W101 together, another recent recommendation of yours, that's more my families speed. Though obviously all families are different. I think my sons will enjoy WW HD playing solo for some down time. I might also, never played it before, sounds relaxing.

We are very much looking forward to SM3DW. Have you covered that one yet? Even my wife is looking forward to that one and playing as Princess Peach.

Jellitoe

#37

Jellitoe said:

My son inherited my Cube when I got a Wii 6 years ago and Windwaker with it which he still plays today. He was 4 then.

Mommar

#38

Mommar said:

I can't wait to see the look on your 5 year old's face when he sees what Link embeds in Gannon's forehead.

Mommar

#40

Mommar said:

@BlatantlyHeroic

To be honest, of all the Zelda games I've always felt this one was the most graphic and violent of all of them... well, the ending is anyway.

AJWolfTill

#42

AJWolfTill said:

@Mommar
I think that the end is more striking and powerful than it is violent .At the very least it serves a creative and story driven purpose as opposed to awarding violent tendencies.

Cohort

#43

Cohort said:

@andyrob_24_7

It was interesting to see people interact while playing a single player game, each member of the team having their own specialised area :)

The new Wind Waker visuals look amazing!

element187

#44

element187 said:

"I hate it when kid's (Under 10) try to play Zelda they have no perseverance and I end up having to do most of it. Don't get what is different "

@unrandomsam Look around at every game released today... including the gritty realism games. They all have hand holding.. and I'm not talking small hints here and there, but real straight hand holding from mission to mission..... Kids today only have games that hold their hand in every single genre imagineable.. When I was a kid I had Ninja Gaiden on the NES. Today kids have Call Of Duty, with health regeneration and auto-aiming assistance enabled, QTE (press 'A' to awesome).

Its not even gaming anymore, its interactive cinema where the computer asks you to do a simple task every few minutes. You watch the cinema, and then 5 minutes of cut scenes is followed with "Press A now!"

You can't tell me you are surpised by the amount of children who can't play difficult games anymore... playing difficult games used to be the staple in gaming, now its the exception.

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