Wind Waker HD is the Rocketeer of Zelda games, and holds up just fine after ten years

Wind Waker HD is the Rocketeer of Zelda games, and holds up just fine after ten years

Wind Waker HD

  • Wii U

$49.99 MSRP

Buy Game

Wind Waker HD is the game I play when I need to escape from Grand Theft Auto V. Both games are enjoyable, but I don’t necessarily want to disappear into the crime underworld. Wind Waker takes place in a world that is comforting, simple, and somehow lyrical. This is a classic game, so it’s not worth re-reviewing the experience in its entirety, but there are many good reasons that it’s so well-regarded, and those haven’t dulled with age.

If anything, the game’s design is even more refreshing now than it was at launch.

The visual upgrade was done with a light touch, and it’s only part of the story. The game is played in high definition now, hence the name, but everything has been cleaned up. There are a few extra effects here and there, and the use of bloom lighting is likely to be controversial among fans of the original. I wouldn’t judge the game based on how it looks on your PC screen or in videos; you need to see it on a large, comfortable HDTV to get a sense for how right everything looks in this version.

The game’s use of color, stylized faces that convey both emotion and information to the player, and simple designs for the environment, characters, and enemies all pay  off. You don’t have to squint to see all the details, and the screen is never busy or overloaded. You drink the game’s visuals like a tall, cool glass of water.

The Wii U additions are also well done. The touchscreen is a great way to look at and manage your inventory, you can play on the gamepad without even using a television if that’s your preference, there are motion-based controls for things like the telescope, and there is a new sail that makes movement over the seas faster, which cuts down on what many considered to be lengthy sailing sequences.

Maybe I’m insane, but I liked the sailing sequences; being on the water and exploring, finding islands, and enjoying the world were big parts of why I liked the game so much. The ability to see your maps at any time on the GamePad and the Hero difficulty level unlocked from the start also help to give players more than enough reason to return to the game.

The GamePad also makes it easy to play with others, or your children, and I can’t recommend this enough. The game is an adventure, and the sense of danger, wide-open spaces, and possibilities of the sea are attractive to anyone, but it’s like imagination crack to young children.

They play, look over your shoulder to debate which weapon or item to use, or just watch and shout out instructions. Wind Waker HD is one of those rare games that’s exciting enough for even jaded adult gamers, but “safe” enough for children of any age.

This is the Rocketeer of Zelda games, and I mean that in the best possible way.