Details: Originally released for the GameCube in 2002. The HD version was released in 2013 for the Wii U. Spent around thirty to forty hours playing through it. Official site is https://www.zelda.com/windwaker/
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is an upgraded re-release of the Gamecube version of this game. I never played the original and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this game.
Wind Waker takes place long after the events of Ocarina of Time. The land of Hyrule is now a thing of the past and all that’s left is a vast ocean dotted with islands. You play a young boy (who you can name) who lives in his safe little island village. One day, a monster comes by and kidnaps your kid sister. Now you must man up and go rescue her, eventually discovering that you must defeat a great evil in order to protect all lives on this ocean.
The most marketed aspect of this game are the visuals. I looked at a comparison video of Wind Waker and Wind Waker HD and the core visuals are pretty much the same. Textures have been redone and up-resolutioned to look good on high definition screens. Otherwise, the art style of the game looks pretty much the same as the original, just smoother and with a higher resolution.
This works out well since this is a game with a mostly simplified, cartoon style. It’s the kind of style that holds up well over time since it’s so stylized. It still looks dated in that there are very few details added as you’d expect from more modern games.
The story isn’t terrible nor is it exceptional. It’s certainly a little more story focused than Breath of the Wild, which had barely a main story line. While this game may seem like an open ended, open world game, it’s actually surprisingly linear. It forces the player to play through events in a very specific order. In fact, many of the locations that I thought were part of side quests actually turned out later to be mandatory locations for the main story line.
Additionally, there is clearly a lot of plot elements here that relate to Ocarina of Time. If you played Ocarina of Time, you’re likely going to get more out of this game than someone who hasn’t. I have not, so I only vaguely got a sense of what was being referenced. I still mostly enjoyed the light story.
Gameplay is your standard Zelda gameplay. This is an action adventure game played form a third person perspective. Throughout the game, you find more and more items that all new functions and gameplay mechanics. This changes some aspects of combat, but adds a lot to the many puzzles in the game as new items add new complexities to each puzzle. I found most of the puzzles entertaining and was confused only a few times (meaning either the puzzles were too easy or were very well designed, I’m not sure which). Combat is fun and quick-time button presses and new items add variety to the button mashing.
It’s a lot like combat in Breath of the Wild. A lot of the game is like what was in Breath of the Wild, except lesser. Which makes sense since this game came out long before Breath of the Wild. What’s unfortunate is that I played this game after playing Breath of the Wild, which made me miss a lot of the innovations that game brought about. Simple things like a quest log to track quests would have been much appreciated in Wind Waker HD.
Music is amazing and I enjoyed most tracks. There is barely any voice acting. It’s your classic Nintendo text dialogue mixed with a single noise each character makes to affirm conversation. It’s usually a grunt or gasp or something like that.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game. At the same time, I felt like this game was a product of its age in that the core concept was promising, but the technology wasn’t there. Games like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag do a much better job being a game that glorifies sailing and exploring islands. I can see what Nintendo was trying to achieve. It’s just that the ocean world is mostly empty and uneventful and would be much more entertaining with a lot of the modern conventions developed in the industry for open world games. Wind Waker HD was fun, but it is not essential gaming and can be skipped if you’ve already played Breath of the Wild.