The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is, just in my own opinion, the best Legend of Zelda game ever made. It captures the open-world exploration that the series was founded on, brings a whole new level of characterization to the silent protagonist, and is a wonderful blend of natural exploration and linear gameplay. Everyone has their own personal favourite of the series, but for me, this was the high point, and this HD remake brings all of that back and improves on it.
Right off the bat, a brief explanation for those who have never played it before: Wind Waker introduces an open-world sailing design to the series that totally changes how you play. Islands scattered throughout the huge ocean can be discovered and explored in virtually any order, and the game does a great job of not holding your hand too much, allowing you to really find secrets for yourself. In between exploring, the classic Zelda gameplay of exploring dungeons and defeating bosses is polished to a shine.
The art style was controversial at the time, as a cell-shaded Zelda was not what some fans wanted. With this HD remake, there is some controversy again because the colours are turned up to 11 and the lighting and bloom are turned up even higher. It is jarring at first, but you soon get used to it, and it creates a great tropical atmosphere to the whole game.
For those who played this on the Gamecube, the HD remake has brought a lot of welcome changes. Besides looking superb in HD, some aspects of the gameplay have been streamlined (less Triforce charts to collect) and new features have been added (a super-fast Sail that change the wind automatically for you). They don't influence the overall game too much, and despite being unsure of any such changes at first, I found I really appreciated what changes they did make. The Hero Mode is a particularly great addition, as it adds a whole new level of difficulty to the game that long-time Zelda fans will actually need to work hard to get through.
The only downside to Wind Waker is that it can be quite fast-paced, asking you to learn a lot in relatively little time, and introducing non-gamers to it can take some patience. As long as they are willing to take the time to learn all the controls, however, this is a great introduction to the series.
Overall, this is personally my favourite Zelda game of all time, and remains the my favourite Wii U game to date. It has a ton of replayability, a very long run-time for an average playthrough, and it really raises the bar for what to expect from Zelda.
+ Great HD update for a classic Zelda game
+ Lots of exploration across a massive sea
+ Plenty to discover naturally through play
+ Enemy design is superb and some of the best in the series
+ New Game Plus and Hero Mode give a ton of replayability
+ New features and changes help streamline the game
- Can be tough for non-gamers to get a hang of the game's fast pace
- Controls sometimes frustrating, especially when moving on small ledges
These reviews are the subjective opinions of ChickAdvisor members and not of ChickAdvisor Inc.