Legend of Zelda, The: The Wind Waker HD

Winwakerhd

Legend of Zelda, The: The Wind Waker HD (2013)

An awful long time ago, I did a write-up on Wind Waker GameCube, or more accurately a 5,000 word dissertation. It was fairly stuffy, and in it I mostly spoke about how the graphics actually added a nice bit of whimsy and the story and plot was pleasant when you met big bad Ganon, but crucially some pilchard left a few dungeons out.

Not just that – the creators really did have a bit of a grudge against the players in the original Wind Waker, or they wouldn’t have had you trawling the ocean floor looking for Triforce fragments, but not before you’re sent to unremarkable location after unremarkable location to find one of the Treasure Charts that lead to these fragments.

And once you have all THAT, you still can’t proceed because your particularly moronic incarnation of Link can’t make head nor tail of the map at all, so you’ll have to go cap in hand to the local pederast Tingle and hand him hundreds of quid just so you can keep going.

Just to add to that, while all of this is going on, your grouchy ship travels at glacial pace. Your wonky camera device’s storage space is full after a whopping 3 photos – and the shots you’ve taken probably aren’t much use for the massively unnecessary and tedious sidequest they’re designed for, meaning you’ll have to go back to a previous Save and snap that dungeon boss again. And you must stop dead in your tracks everytime you want to change the wind’s direction, or play any other song with the eponymous Wind Waker come to think of it

I rated it highly at the time but those sure are a lot of complaints, aren’t they? Of course there are – it’s what I do. In fact, what I usually do is type a thousand words about 1970s disco or about my experiences as a trainee acrobat at the circus before I hurriedly shoehorn a contrived reference to the game in question, right at the death.

But here, there’s no need for me to go on about the comics I used to draw about heroes who would never be the subject of multi-zillion dollar Marvel franchises, because I’ve just about said all I need to say on the Wind Waker. So when Wind Waker HD was announced for the DOA Wii U, there wasn’t an awful lot of furore so far as I could see. We know that there wasn’t much furore about any Wii U game for that matter.

They really did blow that one, didn’t they, Nintendo? Zelda HD ports, a 3D Mario game, Bayonetta’s bum in not one but two outings, and still no sod wanted the thing. I blame the Miis, myself. Well, there’s that or the CRT TV of a controller that needed its own power grid, had virtually no range, couldn’t be replaced, made visible cuts to the resolution and was meant to be some sort of selling point for the blasted thing.

As it happened,. some screenshots were released of Link on Windfall Island (read – one of the few places in the game where Link’s feet don’t get wet) by way of announcing Wind Waker HD, and they looked quite ravishing indeed. A whole host of other improvements were promised too; no, we didn’t get the glaringly absent dungeons that were struck off previously. But all of those niggles and quality-of-life jobbies I mentioned up there have all been addressed and the experience has been made a whole lot more palatable.

The seafaring bomb battles are still as slow as a month of rainy Mondays mind, and the Miiverse now being kaput means that the Tingle item in this game has even less function that the preceding Tingle Tuner from the GameCube edition, if you can imagine that. But still, this is a re-release done right.

Being honest, though, while it may be easy for deriders to mock the Wii U for resorting to a reliance on remakes of previous Zelda games, I’m pretty much of the opinion that, with Breath of the Wild having come out, or maybe Super Mario Odyssey or BMX XXX or SNK Heroines, we have now made all of the games that needed to be made.

I think the guys in Japan can now sit back, take a well-deserved rest and just churn out remakes for the rest of our natural born lives. After all, what do we want, Indie 8-Bit Chiptune Platformer #87,645, or a remake of Kickle Cubicle? The correct choice is plain and obvious. But don’t worry if you want something new, because in the background, maybe Just Dance and FIFA could still continue to churn out new releases, but that would be all. Sound good?

No? Well, perhaps not. And perhaps it was too early to remake The Wind Waker. But if any Zelda needed touching up, it was that one (oo er). When a remake comes out, die-hard fans of the game in question tend to start slobbering over its potential. “The cut content will be put back in,” they gush, “new dungeons for all!”

Well, no. That doesn’t tend to happen. Apologists will say that it’s because inserting previously cut content would compromise its status as a remake – it may even have to go under the filing cabinet as a ‘Reimagining’. But both you and I know the real reason why not much substance was added.

As for the missing Wind Waker dungeons, of which we now know there were at least 3 planned, we were never going to see an addition like that. They didn’t do that for the Secret of Mana Remake 24 years down the line, so they weren’t going to do it for The Wind Waker, even for a desperately ill console like the Wii U. It’s a shame, because every other facet of Wind Waker HD renders the GameCube original just about invalid, save as a retro jewel to garner Instagram likes with (here is where I start with the cross-promotion).

You’ll wonder how you ever bothered to wait around on that blasted boat that long. The very first thing I did when I started up Wind Waker HD was Google how to get the Swift Sail. And it required a fair bit of gameplay, almost too much for my patience to bear. Even then, it was random chance before you got it, and you needed the Rupees too.

Finally, I laid my hands on it, and was half-tempted to break my old GameCube disc in half in a kind of celebration, a freeing of the shackles. Finally, I could cross the vast expanse of sea at almost twice the pace! It’s a more exciting prospect when you’ve played the game, believe me.

The music is slightly updated as well, though in many cases you’ll hardly notice the difference, which I’d count as a good thing. Performance and graphics on both the big screen and the big ugly tablet are lovely too. There’s still the odd exception of course: as mentioned, even with the power of the Wii U (what power?) sea battles tend to become as choppy as the waters they’re fought on, because the explosions and smoke are all pretty and that.

Wind Waker HD may not have added much, but it’s certainly a remake that needed doing, if only to surgically remove some of the boils that the GameCube original had. It makes you wonder why any game designer bothers innovating anything, really. But we must be getting to the stage soon where the remakes will get remakes. If Wind Waker HD is remade into Wind Waker 4K, or even 8K, do you think it will finally get rid of Tingle?

14 December 2018

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