The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, known in Japan as The Legend of Zelda: Takt of Wind HD (ゼルダの伝説 風のタクトHD Zeruda no Densetsu: Kaze no Takuto Eichi Dī , lit. "The Legend of Zelda: Baton of Wind HD"), is a 2013 action/adventure video game in the The Legend of Zelda series for the Wii U. Developed by Nintendo EAD, it is a remake of the 2003 GameCube game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD expands on the original with updated 1080p-resolution graphics, an alternative lighting engine, as well as new gameplay features and modifications. The release of the game marks the ten-year anniversary of the international release of the original, and the first game in The Legend of Zelda series released on the Wii U.
The gameplay is largely the same as the original version of The Wind Waker on the GameCube. However, the game offers graphical modifications and various new features from the original.
The Wii U GamePad's touchscreen serves as both a map and inventory, eliminating the need to toggle between gameplay and the menu interface. Players will be able to use motion controls to control the Wind Waker. Some weapons, like the bow, can be aimed using the GamePad's gyroscope, as in Ocarina of Time 3D. The game offers Off-TV Play which enables the player to play the game solely on the Wii U GamePad. The game can also be played on the Wii U Pro Controller, a controller similar to the one used in the original game.
The Tingle Tuner item (which utilized the Game Boy Advance as a peripheral to the GameCube) in the original has been replaced with an item called the Tingle Bottle. The Tingle Bottle will be used to send messages to the game's Miiverse community if players are in need of help; players then receive replies containing hints as to current objectives. Using the Picto Box item in the game, players will be able to take screenshots, including self-portraits, switching between happy, sad, and surprised facial expressions for Link. They can then post these screenshots to Miiverse for other players to see.
The developers tuned the gameplay to make it less tedious. After completing the Dragon Roost Cavern dungeon, players are able to purchase the Swift Sail at the Auction House on Windfall Island. This red sail operates 50% more quickly than the regular sail. The Swift Sail automatically changes the direction of the wind so the player can sail at full speed all the time, without doing so manually. This is intended to make sailing to small islands and salvage points more enjoyable. Animations such as those for the grappling hook are quicker.
The game features a streamlined version of the Triforce Quest, a controversial aspect of the original game. Whereas in the original game players needed to collect a Triforce Chart for each shard of the Triforce of Courage, in the remake the player will be able to collect five Triforce of Courage shards directly from treasure chests and will only need three Triforce Charts to find shards hidden beneath the Great Sea. Additionally, the player begins the game with the ability to carry 500 rupees instead of 200.
Hero Mode, a modified difficulty setting first featured in 2011's The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, is available from the beginning of Wind Waker HD. In this mode there are certain differences in gameplay. Enemies do twice the regular damage and hearts will not appear anywhere in the game world (forcing players to use potions to heal). Hero Mode is available from the start of the game, not initially requiring the player to complete Normal Mode like in other titles of the series. It can also be toggled on or off at any point before entering the game.
In a Nintendo Direct presentation released on January 23, 2013, a high-definition remaster of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was announced for the Wii U, then slated for release in the fall of 2013. The remaster came about as the development team experimented with art styles for the next main Zelda title, also in development for Wii U. HD remasters of the later The Legend of Zelda games in the series, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, were also tested during the planning stages, but the development team considered The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker's visuals to be the most improved. The Wind Waker HD took six months to develop. The music was updated by Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, Asuka Hayazaki and Atsuko Asahi. While the game was developed in-house at EAD, high-resolution textures were produced with the help of a few external companies.
A limited edition console bundle that combines both a digital version of game and the Deluxe Wii U console was released on September 20, 2013 in North America. The black console features The Legend of Zelda styling; the GamePad include gold lettering, a gold Hyrule Crest, and gold symbols from The Wind Waker HD. A redemption code for a digital copy of The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia was also included. A Ganondorf figurine was released with a special edition copy of the game, available exclusively through GameStop.
The game was originally launched on the Nintendo eShop on September 20, 2013. Reggie Fils-Aime denied the early digital release as being part of any policy shift:
"We saw an opportunity given the value change to make sure we had a strong product offering for Zelda loyalists, and to get them firmly in the Wii U franchise. This is not a policy change or some grand signal by launching the digital version a few days earlier than the physical version."
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD was released in Japan on September 26, 2013, in Europe and North America on October 4, 2013, and in Australia on October 5, 2013.
In an early preview, Audrey Drake IGN noted improved dynamic lighting and shading in the game's graphics engine. However, a later preview noted qualms about the graphic style, stating "The new HD art and bloom lighting look impressive, but they subtract some of the cel-shaded magic that made Wind Waker feel like a playable cartoon." Metro noted better shading, resulting in a "painterly quality", although it spotted some "rough edges" with some textures. In its preview, IGN noted significant differences from the original, saying the remake is "much better, smoother, and feels as capable as a brand new game."
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD received critical acclaim from critics upon release, with aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic giving the game's reception an average of 91.08% and 90/100 respectively.
The improved graphics of the game from the original received positive commentary. Dan Ryckert of Game Informer noted that the upgrade was immediately apparent, and that "the vivid colors and crashing waves of the flooded Hyrule [look] fantastic." IGN's Jose Otero stated that the game "looks great." Andrew Fitch of Electronic Gaming Monthly claimed that the game "enhances the already excellent Wind Waker visuals with HD flair."
The story of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD was met with positive reactions. Both Otero and Nintendo World Report's Neal Ronaghan stated that the story was memorable. Marston Gaston of Gamespot said that the game is "filled with great moments".
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD's audio was met positively. Gaston called it "evocative", and Ryckert said that it "keeps with the tradition of memorable Zelda tunes." Michael Damiani of GameTrailers noted that the audio enhances the experience of the combat.
The combat also received generally positive reactions. Ronaghan called it "simple yet fun", while Otero called it the best feature of the game. Damiani said that the combat is "fast and frantic."
The game's first week sales in Japan were 30,000 physical copies. In the week following the release of Wind Waker HD sales of the Wii U console increased by 685% in the UK, and 31% in North America.
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