- Fantastic cartoon graphics given a new HD sheen
- Hours of mystery and adventure
- Many oddballs to meet and islands to explore
- Some sensible changes make the game even better
- No abandoned material restored
- Minor glitches and gameplay issues
Review Price £45.00
Few Nintendo games have been met by such a mixed reaction as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and while those feelings don’t run as high now as they did ten years ago, that’s still the case today. Then the battle was between those who regarded The Wind Waker as a classic and those who hated the game’s bold cartoon style or thought all the sailing was a bore. Now it’s between those who see this remake as a confirmation of the game’s classic status, and those who will see it as a missed opportunity. We’ll admit to a certain amount of disappointment at what The Wind Waker HD fails to deliver, but it’s hard to feel too cross when what we’ve got is still so richly lovable, so sweeping, so exuberant.
The good news? That notorious fetch quest has been fixed so that you won’t spend hours on end completing it. The bad news? This is an HD update rather than an extended cut. Those missing dungeons have not been reinstated and there’s precious little brand new content in the game. To this we’ll shed a single tear. Boo hoo.
Yet it doesn’t seem to matter with The Wind Waker because it’s such a coherent and engaging piece of work. Each section seems to flow on into the next, making it incredibly hard to put down. And even if you played it on its first outing, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll have forgotten from your first visit, and how enjoyable a second outing is.
Between the dungeons, you have some of the most weird and wonderful places and people of the series, from the cheeky nippers and crazed game-operators of Windfall Island to the inept pirates to the elderly gent you'll find looking through his telescope at interesting spots around the great sea.
There’s certainly no shortage of eccentric characters to meet or strange new places to explore. Some fans feel that the world of The Wind Waker isn’t as interesting as the world of Ocarina of Time, but the more you play, the more you realise that they're wrong. Whether you’re looking to salvage sunken treasure, deliver the post or find secret caves, there’s plenty here to keep you exploring for a long, long time.
A huge part of the pleasure of The Wind Waker is in the exploration – in taking to the seas, stopping to get tips and chart updates from the local talking fish and then finding out what each outpost or island has to offer. The new version doesn’t change this, but it does cut down on the time spent drifting around.
Any new grumbles are minor. There are some odd collision detection glitches that see characters or monsters walk partly through certain objects, most noticeably when the pig-like guards are inspecting barrels in the Forbidden Fortress level early-on. A few dungeon mechanisms are needlessly fiddly, making a few sections frustrating, and while Nintendo has always been clever about introducing shortcuts into dungeons so that, when you die, you don’t have to do too much to get back to where you were, there can still be a fair bit of backtracking. Some might grumble that there’s not much use made of the Wii U gamepad, but it does a great job of maps and inventory management, and being able to play the game on the pad screen rather than the TV is a real plus. This isn’t a game you’ll want interrupted.
There’s so much detail in the animation – and particularly in Link’s responsive face – that you’re hit by how brilliantly the whole thing works, and how badly other cartoon-style games released since compare. Rather than childish, The Wind Waker now looks iconic, and while some might prefer the more ‘grown-up’ style of subsequent console Zeldas, we’d argue that this incarnation is the best.
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