Wind Waker HD - What's In Store?

Published: February 6, 2013 By Stealthylight | Comments (3)

It would seem that a chunk of E3 broke off and rolled down the hill to meet us a bit early this year. Among the slew of first and second party title announcements that where revealed to us during this January's Nintendo Direct was not one, but two distinct Zelda titles. While the prospect of a new, original Zelda title for the Wii U that will supposedly be a "newborn" Zelda experience is certainly an exciting one, there is no doubt the fans responded a bit more fervently to the breathtaking visuals from the stills shown from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker remake in HD for the Wii U. In a situation analogous to the paring of the Ocarina of Time remake and Skyward Sword, it would seem that this Wind Waker remake will serve as buffer between now and the distant, but impending new Zelda title for the Wii U.

Full view of Windfall Island

There wasn't much that was revealed about the remake, which is slated for release sometime this fall, but there were a few key elements revealed and discussed. Most noticeably was of course, the epic graphical overhaul, made very apparent by the set of rendered stills shown during the video. Wind Waker has been praised by many as having a "timeless" art style, aided by the use of cel-shading in its graphics. While I am certainly one of these advocates, it is shocking to see just how much room for improvement the original Wind Waker had when compared to the stills of the remake. Most notable in my opinion is the magnificent improvement to the game's lighting (something I have thought even recent entries into the Zelda series have lacked). In this particular example, the crisp, deep cast shadows and the subtle blue ambient lighting give off the clear sense that it is early morning on Windfall Island. Also worth mentioning is the impeccably more vibrant colors, high-res textures, refined edge flow or "smoothness" of forms, and the all-around improved character rendering. It's important to summarize by saying that while it is of course correct to refer to this as an "HD" remake, it is not simply un upscaling of the games resolution; it is clear that the game's assets are being rebuilt from the ground up and taking advantage of the vastly improved technical capabilities of the system's hardware to create a visual experience on par with contemporary current-gen game titles.

Overhead view of Windfall Island

While the idea of all the possibilities and yet-to-be-seen locals, characters, and enemies all in HD are mind-numbing, there is even more to be excited about! According to Iwata, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for Wii U will also include a "tune up " of the overall gaming experience, the ability to be played entirely on the Wii U Game Pad, and connectivity with Mii-verse. While this list of additional features lacks specifics, it is clear that this will be a remake in every sense of the word. I tend to think a little conservatively when it comes to additional content in Zelda remakes, but if Ocarina of Time 3D is any indication, perhaps we can look forward to a boss battle mode, a few revamped items (a la motion control) and of course, an improved interface with the help of the Game Pad. While still just a remake, Wind Waker for the Wii U may give us a glimpse into what the next original Zelda title may have in store.

I highly doubt that Aonuma or Miyamoto have changed their tune on the importance of gameplay over graphics; the idea that gameplay comes first on the list of the Zelda team's priorities is why we have never had a truly "bad" Zelda game, and it goes without saying it's something we should be grateful for. But for a game that, in my opinion, is equally about exploration and immersion, it is exciting to see that Nintendo is finally giving the visual side of Zelda the attention it has always deserved. Even in a world as fantastical and surreal as the Wind Waker's, such improvements help to make the world, for lack of a better word, more relatable. It puts us in a more familiar atmosphere, making it easier for us to insert ourselves into the world. The lasting effect of this, is that it makes the experience of playing more memorable. While those who have played The Wind Waker before have much reason to be excited, I feel that it is those who have yet to experience this title who are in for a treat.

Link, Tetra, and the pot girl.


  1.  webmasterbob |  February 6, 2013

    Nice job, Dane! A great first in-depth article post re-design :).

  2.  Linkman |  February 7, 2013

    Looking forward to a more de facto boss battle mode myself. I'd really like to see another dungeon, similar to what they did in LA, but who knows. :D

  3.  SageOfWater |  February 11, 2013

    I love your article! I'm so excited for WW HD! Now, if only I had a WiiU...

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