The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD Review

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It had been a long time since I had gone back to play The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. When the HD remake was announced, I was skeptical if the game would hold up in today’s market. The Wind Waker was originally released in 2002, and quite frankly, I was not sure if it would hold the test of time. After playing The Wind Waker HD for an hour, all fears of this were alleviated. In fact, those who have never played the original could easily think this is a brand new Zelda game for the Wii U.

Nintendo has updated one of the series’ most incredible entries, and they have done so in a smart and well-thought out manner. All of the lovable aspects of the game remain, while several minor nuances have been removed.

When The Wind Waker was originally released it came under fire for its “kiddie” cartoon-like art style. The graphics were extremely divisive, and still stands as one of the most debated issues with the Legend of Zelda community. Critics of the cel-shaded look fail to see the vast expression and vibrant world that was made possible through this creative decision.

wind waker hd review

Visually speaking, this HD rework is nothing more than an upgraded texture and lighting system. Yet this simple touch does wonders to deepen the immersive feel of the game. This HD upgrade makes The Wind Waker feel much better and one can get the sense for the goal the developers were trying to capture with the original release. The graphical upgrade is greatly notable in an impressive way, and you can see these huge improvements the moment the game loads onto your screen.

Overall, this game has lost none of its quaint charm or appeal from the original. The game looks fantastic whether you are playing it on the television screen, or on the Wii U’s GamePad.

Nintendo did make some minor adjustments to improve the overall Wind Waker experience. However none of these changes detract from the original’s personality. All of the dungeons remain intact, and one will still find their boggling puzzles to be challenging. Many fans were hoping for the inclusion of long-scrapped dungeons, but this did not happen as Nintendo wanted to keep the game together as it was released in 2002.

As in most Zelda games, the dungeons in The Wind Waker starts off fairly easy and straight forward. Dragon Roost Cavern relies on the use of one primary item, and is mostly linear. By the end of the game you will be using a wide-range of items and solving the dungeons will require some heavy use of your brain.

The Wind Waker also boasts some of the best combat in the series, even the genre perhaps. The reliable lock-on system is back and the game has a ton of offensive weapon options. There are so many creative ways to disarm or defeat an enemy. You can use your grappling hook to steal the enemy’s item, the boomerang to stun them, or just go at them full-force with your sword. My favorite move, “the parry” is still intact as well, and provides for some amusing combat.

wind waker hd combat

One of the biggest problems with The Wind Waker, and even the Zelda series in general, is the ease of which common enemies are dispatched. The monsters throughout this game are relatively simple to kill, but this is offset by the deep level of personality and charm that Nintendo has put into them. Moblins have been around since the original Zelda game, but only in The Wind Waker do you see a level of personality or intelligence from them. The look of confusion and shock when an item has been stolen from them is classic, and is one of the primary reasons that The Wind Waker’s graphics were definitely a good decision on Nintendo’s behalf. It is hard to capture such personality with a generic art style. The enemies actually feel like they are alive and aware, unlike most monsters in games.

While maintaining everything that made The Wind Waker great, Nintendo still managed to make changes for the better of the game. The Wind Waker really thrives off of the use of the Wii U’s GamePad. While nothing is revolutionary, it is still genius and adds a level of ease not found in past entries. The GamePad allows for uninterrupted item changes, easy view of maps, and a more streamlined process of doing just about everything.

Several items got reworked as well. This list includes: the Wind Waker itself, the bombs, and the grappling hook. While on the Great Sea, all of these items can be used, without equipping them, just by using the D-Pad. Of course the biggest, and most welcome, upgrade is to the sail itself. New to The Wind Waker HD is the Red Sail. This item enables Link to sail the Great Sea at a remarkable speed. Gone are the long mundane sailing portions.

wind waker hd red sail

Nintendo also went through and made some gameplay adjustments as well. A Hero Mode is available for those who find the game too easy. Like the version from Skyward Sword, this mode adds a new level of difficulty to the game. Enemy damage is doubled, and health can only be regained via potions. Gone are the random hearts. This mode in itself should be able to challenge even the best Zelda players.

Of course the biggest change is the editing of the Triforce Quest. Long considered one of the most tedious quests in the series, the Triforce Quest has now been streamlined. Most pieces of the Triforce no longer requires a chart and deciphering.


By making these two changes Nintendo has basically eliminated all valid concerns about the original’s gameplay. As a huge fan of the original, there is little more that I could have asked for. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is a wonderful game that has greatly stood the test of time. The reworked graphics alone would have made this game worth the cost, but the fine-tuned gameplay makes this game a must buy for all Wii U owners.

Score: 10/10


About Author

Noah Glaser is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where he majored in Information Technology with a minor in awesome. Noah has worked in web marketing for over 5 years and has built a reputation that has followed him both professionally and independently. He is the founder and lead content contributor for The Hidden Triforce.In the 5th grade he bought Link’s Awakening for his brother as a Christmas gift. Since stealing it back, he has been hooked to the Zelda series and has never looked back. In his spare time you can find Noah frolicking with his Porygon and Kiwi Birds. He dislikes chocolate, cheese, and bacon.