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The Legend of Zelda the wind waker HD review: how does this cel shaded classic look now that it's all shined up

Updated on May 6, 2016

Sorry I just loved this thumbnail for my video so much.

I had to highlight it for my hub, it just fits how I feel about the sailing part so much.
I had to highlight it for my hub, it just fits how I feel about the sailing part so much.

Note all screen shots and videos in this article were captured by me using a game capture device, some photoshop was done to add text in other things to the screen shots.

With The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess HD out now I decided to go back and take a look at another HD remaster that Nintendo did The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker HD. Now I remember when I first got the Wind Waker back in 2003 it was one of the reasons I bought my GameCube I saw the ad for this plus a free copy of Ocarina of Time, and with the game boy player coming out soon to that console I knew I wanted one. I was so happy that I order this online and actually got it a day early unlike now days kids there was no online connectivity so Nintendo had no idea I was playing this a day before I was suppose too. Anyways back in the day the Wind Waker was hated for its art style, now days it is beloved because of that art style being timeless. And for the most part that’s right but the wind waker has many flaws in it and I am talking about its gameplay. Oh and I will mention there will be some spoilers.

At any rate Nintendo did do an HD update in 2013 lauding has its killer ap for its struggling Wii U in 2013, in which case I busted a gut over it. Um yeah Nintendo HD remakes aren’t new at this point and the PS3 was getting Kingdom Hearts 1.5 that year too for less money than Nintendo was charging for Zelda I could own not one but two Kingdom Hearts games, and a bunch of crappy cut scenes. Needless to say I wasn’t really interested in buying it right off the bat. But they did give me a free copy for buying Mario Kart 8 and that is why I have my copy. But how is the Wind Waker now that it’s all shiny well let’s take a look.


The story actually references Ocarina of Time in several places; it’s the first Zelda game to really ever do that. The story also really throws the timeline into complete chaos though. Before this game everybody pretty much knew the story line Ocarina was the prequel to a Link to the Past, and a link to the past to the original. Yeah this games post-apocalyptic story line throws that out the window.

Anyways the game starts with pretty much a retelling of Ocarina of time a lost kingdom was happy until some bad man grasped the golden power and use it to cause chaos. Then a time traveling youth appear out of nowhere using the blade of evils bane he sealed away the evil, by the way I love that reference if you read the Link to the Past instruction booklet you get the whole blade of evils bane thing if not well your screwed. Anyways the time traveling youth became too be known has the Hero of Time, centuries pass all was well and then the ancient evil pop up again and the kingdom was helpless, no one knows what happen to the kingdom after that. But on the great seas one island has a tradition of dressing young boys up like the hero to inspire them to do great things. In on this island its Links birth day and he gets to dress up like the hero. However some pirates come to the island chasing after their kidnap leader who Link tries to help, only to have his sister get kidnap. It’s up to Link to get to the bottom of why people with pointy ears are being kidnap. Along the way he manages to find a talking boat who agrees to help him on his quest to find his sister but has he travels to find the power he needs to stop this evil he finds out that his sister kidnapping and the story of the lost kingdom are tied together. If he has any chance of saving her he will have to find the lost land in the legend, and it might be closer then he thinks.

Anyways the story is for the most part has good has you can get in Zelda game. Mostly all text but it does have its humor and its charm, one of my favorite parts comes when you have to raise the tower of the gods, this huge tower that leads to Hyrule and is so massive you can see it pretty much anywhere in the world after you have risen it. It gets the respect it deserves with the music and sounding epic, only do have Link do a cartoonish face plant.

And there are some really good plot twists I remember when you find Hyrule castle so you can reclaim the master sword and just how epic it is to return to an abandon hyrule. Both epic and creepy at the same time. The ending is probably also the darkest in the Zelda series, yeah Majoras Mask wins outright the whole darkest Zelda game because it deals with the theme of people dealing with the fact that the apocalypse is staring then literally right in the face. But that one ends with the fact that the time traveling boy that they don’t notice running around went out and collected magical mask that stop it from happening. Here it ends really dark yeah Link defeats Ganon and saves Zelda but at a great price. It also makes the timeline really confusing because after the Wind Waker there is no way a Link to the Past could happen.


Ok if you haven’t played a Zelda game basically your some boy or young adult hero name Link whose job is to find dungeon and solve puzzles so he can collect magical McGuffins needed to save his world. How does the Wind Waker do with the formula? It’s a mix bag let’s start off with the good, and then move on to the bad. The game starts you off really slowly going through the first 3 dungeons and is really linear. After that though the game does open itself up and for both the good and the bad, so let’s look at the good which are the dungeons. There all fantastically done. From the stealth sections of the Forsaken Fortress, to the beautiful lava pits in the volcano dungeon, to the tower of the gods somewhat creepy lost technology feeling. There all beautiful done and have some really fun puzzles. The only dungeon I didn’t like is this forest dungeon where I have to use the leaf to blow things around and it’s a bit annoying. The last two dungeons though require teaming up with an NPC. These are really fun and I love the earth dungeon where I have to fly around with the bird girl has well use the reflect shields to toss light beams around, it’s probably my favorite dungeon in the entire series.

Has for combat it adds a lot to Ocarina of time, if you played Ocarina you’re going to be right at home at locking on, jump slashing, vertical slashing, and spin attacking. The newest additions to combat is that if you time the button press right you can run around the side of an opponent and slash there armor off or give them a big hit. Add in that you can use the newest item this rope and hook to steal items from enemies and combat is pretty fun. Even if Link has way to much health.

So what’s the bad side of this game? Well next to the whole way to much health thing let’s get started with the worst part of the game. The sailing parts suck. In order to sail you have to use the wind waker to set the wind right, and then It takes several minutes to get to the next island and often time there very little to do sometimes unless you go out and look for it, it’s nothing but this for 4 to 5 minutes sometimes.

Come on at least Assassins Creed 4 had sea shanties.

Oh what do you do with a drunken hero.
Oh what do you do with a drunken hero.

To be fair this version does change a few things, first is the speed sail which always has the wind blowing behind you and when you have it equip Links boat takes off like a bat out of hell. Also they mainstream the controls you no longer have to equip the sail its map to A, while sailing the wind waker, crane, and canon are map to the control pad. It’s a lot better set up then the GameCube version.


What stands out about the wind waker the most when it comes to its graphics are the cel shaded visuals. Now back in the day Nintendo assured us the graphics of the wind waker would not age, that’s before people saw HDTV’s coming into full force. That said with a little HD updating it’s hard to tell cel shaded games from there newer counter parts. But Nintendo went the extra mile rounded out character models and spiff up a lot of the side areas, the whole thing looks nice. And I mean beautiful the areas of this great sea are just all wonderful works and the whole thing looks an illustration. The only game I can think of that can match and surpass this look is Capcom’s Okami. And the HD upgrades really make it clear take a look at these side shots from the end of the game one is on the GameCube with component cables and the other is this HD version, Nintendo not only upgraded looks but again you can see that extra mile they did by putting color and detail in the background has you face off against ganondorf

The orginal gamecube and the wii's side to side.

The only thing I don’t like about the game is the character model. I never really like this version of Link and I know he’s kind of now the default version of Link in a lot of games but I never really liked the chibi eye look of this character.



I have been playing some of the music in the background track throughout the review and has you can you see it’s amazing. The game knows how to be cartoony, Irish, and upbeat when it needs to be. But when scenes get dark so does the music. It’s an absolutely fabulous sound track. Like most Zelda games no voice acting is use just screams and grunts.

Final recommendation

If I have to give a number score I would probably give it a 3.5 out of 5. The graphics are beautiful especially HD upgrade just the sights and sound of this huge ocean, and heck even when you go under the ocean for brief jaunts to Hyrule it looks beautiful. It has some interesting ideas when it comes to gameplay and the dungeons are probably some of the best in the series. But damn is the sailing boring and there’s not much too really do. Each island has its mini puzzle and treasure to get but for the most part there skippable and forgettable. I would have taken fewer islands that were bigger and had more to explore over a whole bunch of mini ones which are pointless. It’s the whole nothing to do while sailing that really hits home that this is a substandard Zelda far from being the worst in the series, which award goes to its DS sequel, it’s far from the best. Still if you like Zelda games you should definitely check this one out. The port of this game does a better job updating it then Twilight Princess, but I do believe Twilight Princess is a slightly better game. Why because fighting on horseback is way better than this.


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