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Hands-On: The Wind Waker HD Aims to Appeal to Newcomers and Veterans

Jack Gardner


During the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD portion of Nintendo's pre-E3 conference, the company revealed some key aspects of the upcoming revamp to the classic GameCube title. Changes include some light integration of motion controls, like aiming bows or grappling hooks with the GamePad, some improved pacing changes, and fast travel has been added to the sea-faring portions of Wind Waker.


After playing around with the game shortly after the pre-E3 show, I can confirm that the changes are in place and blend very well with the rest of the game. One of the three items available in the demo was the bow and arrow, which are now aimed with the GamePad. Admittedly, it takes some time to acclimate to lining up shots using motion controls. To make the game seem more smooth and natural, almost all pausing was worked out of the game. Inventory and equipment management has all been moved to the GamePad. Finally, it is still unclear how faster traveling will be implemented in Wind Waker HD. You might need a special item or have it from the first time you step aboard Link's magical, talking vessel.


One feature from the original game, the Tingle Tuner, won't be reappearing in Wind Waker HD. Instead, Tingle Bottles replace the Game Boy Advance attachment item and provide all the same functionality. Players will also be able to send each other messages through the Miiverse. The feature to receive messages can block spoilers, block non-friend messages, or block all messages entirely.


The most obvious way in which the title has been improved is in the graphical department. Brighter lighting, smoother lines, and bolder outlines all contribute to an update to a classic that many thought had aged well. Let me put it this way, the old Wind Waker looked great when it came out over a decade ago and many maintained that the cell-shaded art style would render it timeless. While it certainly has shown some slight signs of aging, the GameCube title still looks fantastic. With the Wind Waker HD looking noticeably better in many respects, it is incredibly hard to imagine a future version of the title looking any better than it does on the Wii U.



For those worried that any significant changes might have been made to the story, characters, or world, I was assured by multiple Nintendo reps that, other than the Tingle Tuner, everything is the same as the GameCube version.


The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD will be available sometime in October 2013.

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