Earlier this week, I ventured down to Nintendo’s
Bay Area heqadquarters to spend an hour of play-time with the THe Legend of Zelda: The
Wind Waker…HD. And that last part is key, because this is still very much the same Wind
Waker you know–and maybe love–only with a fresh coat of paint and some small, but
smart improvements. Now while I have tried the game before at
E3, I was actually able to play through a section far later in the game, starting from
Hyrule Castle. But unfortunately, I don’t actually have footage or screenshots of everything
I saw, so please just keep in mind that the visuals may not always match up perfectly Okay, so let me get it out of the way…I’m
not the biggest Wind Waker fan…whoa, whoa, okay, okay…is anyone still watching? I won’t
get into all the reasons, but sailing was definitely pretty high up on my list. It was
slow, it broke up the pace of the game, and having to change the wind direction with the
the Wind Waker constantly annoyed me to no end. Basically, sailing felt like the longest
loading screen I’d ever experienced in a game Which is why I was very happy during my play-time
with the Wind Waker HD becasause it improves on this in almost every imaginable way…and
more. The biggest change is that you’ll now gain access to a Swift Sail, which true to
its name, allows you to sail around the ocean at a far brisker pace. And not only does it
increase your overall top-speed, but the wind’s direction will actually change automatically
to match whichever direction you’re heading, which reduced the amount of times you’ll have
to use the Wind Waker by at least a thousand. Okay, so maybe it only felt like a thousand.
Now for you purists out there, don’t worry, you can still access the slower, wind-dependent
sail from before too…but why would you So so far, I’m feeling pretty good. But then
I noticed that the GamePad can now display your Sea Chart, instead of having to access
it from the pause screen like in the original. Which is a really nice addition, as you can
now chart your course as you’re set sail. Taken altogether, these small changes greatly
improve and streamline the sailing process. Now I can’t say for sure whether I’ll actually
enjoy sailing this time around, but it’ll certainly annoy me far less. Now that’s not the only benefit the GamePad
provides. In addition to displaying a map of your current area, it’s also used for inventory
management, allowing you easily equip items in real-time simply by dragging and dropping
them onto 3 any of three button slots. And the GamePad even improves using some of
those items, allowing you to use the GamePad’s gyroscope to quickly–and accurately-aim any
of the first-person perspectiveitems, such as the hookshot. Oh, and you can even walk
around and aim while in in the first-person too. Then there’s Link’s camera, the Pictograph
Box, which has seen some major improvements. Such as how it can now save 12 pictures instead
of just 3, and they’re also in glorious full-color instead of the black & white originals. Oh,
and you can even now take slfies too–and you can even change Link’s expression. But
what good is a selfie if you can’t share it, and luckily, you can do just that thanks to
Miiverse support. Another new feature enabled by Miiverse are
Tingle bottles, which you’ll gain access to once ytou rescue Tingle–which by the way,
is no longer optional. These allow you drop bottled messages into the ocean where they’ll
then wash-up on the shore of someone else playing the game. We weren’t able to see this
in action, but we imagine it could be useful for providing gameplay tips to whomever may
encounter the bottle. Unfortunately, this does come at the expense of the Tingle Tuner
option from the original game, which is unfortunate as it would have been a perfect fit for the
Gamepad. Now perhaps one of the biggest gripes people
had about Wind Waker was the infamous Triforce Hunt. You know, the one where you had to sail
around looking for sea charts that you then had to have deciphered for 300 rupees a pop
in order to then seek out the 8 different pieces of the Triforce? Well, that too has
been greatly improved. Now I wasn’t able to try it myself, but according to the Nintendo
rep, you’ll still have to hunt down all 8, but this time only 3 of them require Sea Charts,
which should greatly simplify and shorten the amount of time it takes. Really, Wind Waker has received nips and tucks
in all kinds of ways. Some animations have been shortened, it’s now faster to pull up
sunken treasure, and even the using the Wind Waker has been tweaked, now allowing you to
start conducting at any time. And of course, the entire thing looks gorgous,
especially with its improved lightning models all running at 1080p,. Now as far as I could
tell, the raw assets themselves–such as the character models–are all identical to before,
so you’ll still see some blocky polkygons here and there. But the otherwise the fantastic
visuals really make them a non-issue. And there are several ways to play the game
too, as the game supports the Pro Controller in addition to the GamePad, as well as Off-Screen
Play. And for you more experienced Wind Waker fans, there is a new Hero mode available from
the start that not only doubles the amount of damage you’ll take, but also removes all
health-restoring hearts from the adventure–nasty! But this game has plenty of heart to be found
in all the right places, with some very smart tweaks that improve what many already consider
to be Link’s finest adventure. And you won’t have much longer before you can try it for
yourself, as it launch in the United States this October at $59.99. Thanks for watching and make sure to stay
tuned to GameXplain.com for more on The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and other things
gaming too.