With the long wait for Breath of the Wild nearly over I want to look back at one of the many treats in the Zelda franchise. Where better to start with one of the most charming and fun entries, Wind Waker HD was released on the WiiU in 2013 and is one of the reasons I wanted the console in the first place.
For those who aren’t familiar with The Legend of Zelda (somehow) the games are usually separate versions of our main character Link as he faces many trials and temples as he fights for the fate of Hyrule as well as the rest of the world. Wind Waker gives us a cartoon styled Link in a world full of water. This might seem scary to people at first as you look at the map and see 90% water but it still works well, sailing on the water feels like fun rather than a chore as relaxing tunes and sounds of the waves help to immerse you in this adventure and truly feel relaxed.
As far as the story is concerned, Link is enjoying another day on his home island when his younger sister is suddenly swept away by a mysterious bird after an encounter with some pirates. Link must set out across the ocean to bring her home safe. The story can last you a good amount of time if you let it, I put around 12-14 hours in before I finished, it also has some great moments in it for all the fans of the series as you explore a special environment towards the end which I won’t spoil.
As you search the ocean you will find more ways to explore and tackle enemies, this Zelda game likes to give you new things very slowly instead of all at once. You’ll find yourself unlocking new items towards the end quarter of the game and learning new mechanics to use in the next dungeon. The dungeons are all unique and fun to play through as you slowly begin to work out new tricks with your gear that maybe weren’t presented to you initially. One of my favourites was the wind temple towards the end which had me stuck in a few places before I could get to the next section, there’s even an added layer of difficulty as you take your little tree friend Makar through this dungeon with you. As adorable as he is, he caused me a lot of emotional pain as he would go flying up a wind tunnel.
A big feature in the WiiU version of this classic game is the ability to, well, take selfies and share them on the internet. Link can acquire a camera on his journey, allowing him to take photos of himself or the environment and put it in a bottle along with a little message. This message can then pop up floating in the water of a random player through the Miiverse. Most of the time I found drawings made by 12 year olds saying “fuk u” in poor handwriting which made me chuckle at least the first 10 times. The other times it was Link making a strange face with a caption in a language I couldn’t understand. At least the pictures looked nice.
The WiiU version also brings along with it some enhanced visuals and sound, making the game feel more up to date and fresh. This along with some minor fixes to pacing and bugs make the game feel like a charm and deserving of the HD title. However, some people still might find that the end portion of the game can be a long dragged out process that takes you away from the story for quite some time. I can personally agree with this as most of my game time was probably in the last 20% of the game. Despite this however the overall story and payoff works and is a joyous ride from start to finish. While you may be spending a long time in one location you are still given plenty of hours to explore the ocean and be free to do what you wish.
After you finish the story I would encourage you to play through again in Hero mode which is essentially a new game+ mode, it adds some extra life into the game and adds more of a challenge for those who seek it. While the game is linear in the order which you progress, there is still room to explore different islands and search for treasure meaning you can find new secrets the second time playing through. Wind Waker sits at one of my favourite games in the franchise and to have it remastered with such fidelity and care shows Nintendo know how to bring old games onto modern systems, hopefully we can expect more treats like this on the Switch. You can grab a copy of Wind Waker for only £15 on Nintendo Selects and for that price it’s a steal. The game will leave you with good feelings and a need to explore, and if you’re like me it will make you want to go sailing. This game makes you feel proud to own a WiiU.