The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Review 
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Darryn Bonthuys
October 31, 2013 at 12:30 pm

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Back in 2003, The Legend of Zelda was more despised than e-tolling. After all, how dare Nintendo go and dress one of the greatest franchises of all time up in some kid-friendly visuals and inject a lighter story into it as well? Turns out that that very Zelda game went on to become one of the very best titles in the franchise.

And ten years later, it still is.

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It’s a tale as old as time. You’re a young lad, garbed in green to celebrate your birthday and you sister has been snatched up by a gigantic bird and taken away to a sea fortress, leaving you to team up with a ragtag band of pirates and set off to rescue her.

Ok, that may have been a lie about the story being so old, but it’s still unmistakeably a Legend of Zelda title. Much like the rest of the game, which carries a formula and legacy that no other franchise has been able to replicate.

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It’s hard to actually realise that Wind Waker is now a decade old. Crisp and visually striking, Nintendo has done a bang-up job upgrading the hero in green from a 4:3 aspect ratio to the now more standard widescreen of 16:9 high definition.

Wind Waker hasn’t lost its charm through this process, and Link will still pull several facial expressions that help players along the way. For a feature that relies on a few emotions and eyeballing, it’s remarkable just how much is actually conveyed and showing just how far ahead of its time Wind Waker really was.

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There’s something timeless about the visuals of this game, and mark my words, in another ten years it’ll still be one of the prettiest games that Nintendo has ever released. The controls are something else though, and several older gameplay mechanics have not survived the HD transition too well.

Movement can feel a tad  responsive, and after a couple of years of playing third-person action games that have continued to evolve, combat can be clumsy and awkward at times. Not in a game-breaking manner though, but in a way where you have to rewind your gaming instincts back to a simpler age.

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Thankfully though, Wind Waker is also a game that won’t force you to use the Wii U GamePad. The GamePad brings with it some other features that I’ll get into later, but if that you’re still not used to that input device, then you can switch to the more precise pro controller.

Wind Waker feels far more at home on that controller, and easily makes up for some of the more annoying shortcomings of the older gameplay that manifest on the GamePad. That’s not to say that the GamePad doesn’t have some interesting ideas tucked away in Wind Waker.

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Selecting items and hot-keying them is obviously far more responsive, while using them adds more to the game itself until you tire of it. It’s fun to use the GamePad to aim items and weapons, but like all novelty bits of gameplay, it’ll grow old quickly and have players wanting to switch to a more traditional way of playing. At least with this scenario, Nintendo made the right choice by giving gamers that option.

But as a method to not have to pause and swap equipment around the whole time while providing a better way to map your surroundings and off-screen play? I kind of dig the GamePad, so pick your controller poison when you play the game.

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It’s still a joy to sail the open seas once you acquire your boat and sails, and while tedious at times due to the vast scope of the ocean before you, there’s always something to do on that journey. You’re still getting ripped off by that damn travelling salesman, you’re still collecting various items for your quest and there’s still a fish waiting for some grub and a chance to call you a small fry.

Enemies are still goofy yet dangerous, and the puzzle action of the various dungeons that you have to navigate will test the grey matter of anyone who takes them on. And through it all, Wind Waker remains a game where progression is tied towards climatic boss battles, making that long journey feel worthwhile.

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And that wonderful music! It was an overlooked feature back in 2003, but it was intrinsically tied to the game when Link first got his little hands on the Wind Waker baton. Like a maestro conducting an orchestra, that was the signature part of the game.

And it’s been preserved beautifully. Hell, i don’t even need to look at the screen, as my timing and rhythm for that gameplay mechanic has been etched into my memory, as I whipped up all manner of winds.

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So what else has been added to the game? Veterans will get a chance to flex their muscle in the new Hero Mode that’ll test the metal of your Master Sword, storyline streaming that trims the fat from several quests, first-person gameplay and sending messages to the MiiVerse via bottles that’ll pop up in the games of other people.

Tingle on the other hand, is still a damn menace in green tights who’ll make you question the sanity of Japanese game developers. Wind Waker comes from a simpler time in game development, where games were brighter and more optimistic, instead of drab and gritty.

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That’s an archaic sentiment that has been preserved in this HD version, and while the game occasionally shows its age in several departments, it more than makes up for it by crafting one of the finest Zelda adventures ever made and being irresistibly charming.

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Conclusion

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is one of the finest games that Nintendo has ever made. And now that it's in HD, there's no excuse not to experience that optimistic and perfect adventure for yourself.
9.0

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD was reviewed by Darryn Bonthuys on a Nintendo Wii U

Because he's the writer that Lazygamer deserves, but not the one it actually needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can't take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a loud-mouthed journalist, a watchful procrastinator. A dork knight.

  • oVg

    In the same resolution as COD Ghosts on the Bone :)

    • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      Actually, it’s native 1080p,

      • oVg

        Oh shit :P

      • oVg

        If they gave us a Metroid Prime like this persons fan art THEN I AM SOLD!!!!!!!
        But I do not want to buy another dead console like the Game Cube, where Nintendo just pull the plug and run after the casuals again.

        • Umar Moe Moe

          I feel ya, but you know…honestly, If they gave a new Metroid like that..I would buy it just for that game … truth

        • Umar Moe Moe

          God…You bastard, who knew a single jpeg can make me so hype

          • oVg

            You have a good point. Why do I not get that giddy feeling when looking at Next Gen games?

            I think the Banana is right. Gaming is done on the Wii U.

            SOCIAL is done on the PC ONE and PC 4.

            I think I need some good old Nintendo gaming in my system again to revive my PASSION and screw the marketing band wagon called next gen.

          • Rincethis

            Me too, he’s stirring things I forgot about 0-O

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Oh man Metroid Prime! I still stand by what I said in 2003, METROID PRIME > HALO!

          • Umar Moe Moe

            A millions times yeth!

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        Wii U > Xbone720!

        • DarthofZA

          Wii U > PS4 !

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Wii U > PS4 > A Jar of vaseline > a dirty hobo’s underpants > Xbone720

          • DarthofZA

            I no longer agree with you…. I would of been fine with:
            PC > 3DS > Wii U > PS4 > Xbone > Vita
            This is with only the new set of hardware on the chart….

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Mmm. Vita is definitely above Xbone though and PC is way overrated.

            I’d say,

            3DS > PC > Wii U > PS3 > PS4 > Vita > Wii > Xbox 360 > Xbone

          • DarthofZA

            Putting in current gen… hmmm…
            3DS > DS > PC > X360 > Wii > PS3 > Wii U > PS4 > Xbone > PSP > Vita

  • oVg

    I have the golden edition for the Game Cube. It came with Ocorina of time HD.

    Nintendo OWNED 2003 on all platforms at the GOTY awards with this piece of art.

    Nice to see the kids of today getting a chance to sample something from the Golden Age of gaming.

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      ME TOO! ME TOO! I also have that copy!

      • oVg

        WE KNOW OUR SHIT :)

    • Major Commodore 64 Darryn B

      That’s the one with the octagonal disc holders, amirite? BEST GAME EVER.

      • oVg

        R499 for 2 AAA games. No on-line, no bugs, no patches, no DLC, no redeem codes, no updates.

        PRESS PLAY

        • oVg

          Did I mention that the Gamecube was R999 and had better graphics than the PS2?

          Still cheaper than the PS2 in 2013 10 years later. Go figure.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Hectic hey? GameCube! Nintendo may not think so, but I consider that their greatest console ever made. Sadly, it was a victim of stupid local distributors, and a lack of drive on Nintendo’s part.

      • oVg

        It also came with the lost levels.

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Do you still have your Gamecube? Mine’s in the collection cupboard. I should actually pop it out and play a bit. Maybe this weekend!

          • oVg

            I think Ill pop it on again. I need a break from the heavy GTAV and get back into innocent gaming with simple narratives again.

            Ill start with Paper Mario. A better JRPG than FF XIII :P

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Paper Mario is a gem! I also have Tales of Symphonia! Such a pity my Gamecube collection isn’t huge! :/

        • Aussious

          Ocarina Time… even today its still timeless can’t believe it came in a cartridge…

          • oVg

            and not a single loading screen ;)

          • Aussious

            True I suppose the N64 had its perks

  • Umar Moe Moe

    I swear to god I will kill Tingle..NO need fo dat fool

    http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/587/702/a92.gif

  • Umar Moe Moe

    BTW the game looks beautiful

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      I want a Wii U and this game! :I

      • Umar Moe Moe

        Me too lol ….. I’m ignoring the reasonable side of my brain telling me it’s too expensive just for this now…but Super Mario is on the way too…dammit Nintendo

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Nintendo is going to claim the throne again. I know I’ve made fun of the Wii, but that’s only because they just decimated Microsoft and Sony, but I actually want the Wii-U to punish the bone in sales.

          • Umar Moe Moe

            I feel ya, I make fun too, crz Ninty needs to up their game, they can do so much more…sigh :( Also, I don’t know how to describe it…but i feel clean buying a wiiU. Other next gen consoles makes me feel iffy

          • Rincethis

            I hate to say it, but I really don’t see that happening. Not at all.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Maybe, but if a current gen console outperforms a supposed next-gen console in the resolution game, then it’s bound to get interesting.

            I doubt the Wii U will be able to beat the PS4 (although SONY’s just a string of bad PR away from being where MS is now) but I definitely think it has a good chance to take the second place crown from Microsoft (this coming gen)

          • Rincethis

            I think even with the number of prebookings for the Bone they will out sell Nintendo. America is behind this system big time, even the Japanese have taken a great deal of time to show an interest in the WiiU. I’d say let’s shake on it, but with being a bot that’s not possible!

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Indeed, I think we can revisit this in about 5 years time, and see to what extent the WiiU has recovered and whether Microsoft got their act together with the Xbone720

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    I love this game. This game is the reason I own a gamecube, and it might actually be the reason I eventually get a Wii U. Wind Waker <3

    • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      SHUT UP AND GET ON SKYPE ALREADY.

  • oVg

    Just thought about it… Even if the Wii U is a fail and Nintendo leave the console market to own the handheld market, their consoles are still designed to last 50 years or more.

    My 8 Bit – my Gamecube all work just fine.

    1080P here I come.

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Dude, my original gameboy STILL WORKS!

      • oVg

        lol same here, I play the 1989 TETRIS

  • MacDoodle

    This looks stunning :-D anyone got a wii u to lend out?

  • veggiesaurus ZA

    what sort of graphical improvements have been made, apart from the 1080p jump? I’m wondering if it’s worth investing in it, when compared to legally emulating with dolphin

  • Kyou

    Forget it!! The Wii U STILL has NO good games!! And yet the 3DS STILL has NO good games either!! Don’t get me started on Pokemon!! WAKATTA ANTA!?

  • MacMeister998

    Now to try and get this game locally.
    After the struggle I has getting a copy of Rayman Legends on Wii U this might be another battle