Last year, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker HD, an upgraded remake of the GameCube classic. Obviously, the biggest change in the game are the improved, high-definition graphics that bring Wind Waker‘s cel-shaded beauty to a whole level. However, Nintendo made a lot of smaller gameplay tweaks that significantly streamlined the experience. Here are five changes that really had an impact on the gameplay.
The Swift Sail
After completing the first dungeon, you can go to the auction house and bid for a new item called the Swift Sail. It’s worth every rupee as it allows you to sail several times faster than you can with the regular sail. This makes travel across the Great Sea much less time-consuming. It also automatically changes the wind direction to whichever direction your boat is pointing, meaning you no longer have to play Wind’s Requiem every time you want to travel. Nintendo was smart and made the swift sail an optional piece of equipment. You can swap between it and the regular sail with the press of a button, so those who prefer the slower sailing can still do that.
Menus on the GamePad
While you’re playing, all of your menus are located on the GamePad screen. If you want to change an item on the fly, it’s as simple as dragging the item up to the appropriate button. This also means you can have your map of the Great Sea out while sailing, allowing you to plan your route much more easily, look through Treasure Charts, and more. Lastly, the directions for your Wind Waker songs will appear on the GamePad when you take the item out, making it easy to remind yourself of the song’s notes.
Wind Waker is one of the easier games in the Zelda series, but in the HD version Nintendo included an option called Hero Mode that can flipped on and off in the file select screen. Hero Mode causes Link to take double damage and takes away heart spawns. This will increase the challenge for more experienced players, especially near the beginning of the game when you have few hearts and no healing items.
The Triforce Quest
In the original game, you had to find eight Triforce Charts and take them to Tingle so he could decipher them. Then you’d go to the location indicated on the charts and pull up the Triforce shards from the sea. Some people criticized this section of the game for needlessly slowing down the pace of the narrative and for the excessive amount of rupees required to pay Tingle. In the HD version, there are only three Triforce Charts. For the other five, you just get the shard directly from the chests that used to contain the charts. This cuts down on the amount of running back and forth you have to do.
Skipping/Speeding up Animations
Another minor tweak that speeds up gameplay: you no longer have to sit through the animation of Link playing his Wind Waker every time you use it. The full animation will play the first time you use it and subsequent uses will skip the animation. This is particularly helpful in dungeons when you have to play the Command Melody multiple times to control your companions. Similarly, Nintendo also sped up the animation of Link pulling up treasure with his grappling hook. It seems like a small change, but it smoothes out the gameplay experience by cutting down the amount of time the player is not in control.
In conclusion, Nintendo took Wind Waker, which was already a terrific game, and did more than throw an HD coat of paint over it. They made lots of small adjustments that, when put together, significantly streamline the game. Wind Waker HD is definitely the definitive version of the game, fixing some complaints and removing some annoyances that bring up the overall quality of the gameplay.