Wind Waker Wii U is the Perfect Opportunity to Release a Complete Director’s Cut

It’s very common for games to see content lost on the cutting room floor between announcement and release – it happens with basically every game ever – and of all the games in The Legend of Zelda franchise, The Wind Waker was the one to see the biggest cuts. Many people noticed that parts of the game felt light in terms of dungeons, and that there were places where events seemed to have been sped along unnecessarily – and they were right. There were originally going to be more dungeons than the ones that actually wound up in the final product.

Though The Wind Waker is now fondly remembered by those who tried it despite the early stigmas against its visuals and style, to this day it remains the most “incomplete” Zelda game. But thanks to the incoming release of The Wind Waker Wii U, an HD remake of the original game, the Zelda team now faces the perfect opportunity to rebuild what was lost and release the game the way it was meant to be.

And the best part is… that might just happen.

Among the updates Nintendo plans to bring to The Wind Waker for its Wii U release – which include Off-TV Play, upgraded graphics, and Miiverse compatibility – Nintendo president Satoru Iwata highlighted “tuning up the overall game experience” as one of the goals of the HD remake. Naturally, I expect this will include adding touch screen inventory and map support, gyroscope aiming options for certain items and perspectives, and other Wii U specific features, but there are plenty of opportunities to tune up the game content as well.

Add in the removed dungeons

According to series producer Eiji Aonuma, there were two or three dungeons cut from The Wind Waker because the developers believed that the size and scale of the game were simply too large for there to be so many dungeons:

With Wind Waker, it wasn’t that we removed dungeons because of time constraints or anything like that. Actually, we thought that there was just too much volume. So we reduced it to something that we thought was much more manageable to the end user.

He admitted after this, however, that many American players wound up actually feeling as though there weren’t enough dungeons in the end:

But having released it, we heard from North American end users that there wasn’t enough and they wanted more. So with Twilight Princess, we added one more dungeon than was in Ocarina of Time.

zelda-tww-dungeonsAdding more dungeons in Twilight Princess was a good start, but it’d be an act of tremendous goodwill to those customers who were unsatisfied with the lower amount of dungeon content in The Wind Waker to offer the dungeon content that was removed for the HD remake. I can’t speak for precisely what was removed, but I suspect there were supposed to be extra levels at both the end of the Pearl quest – a third dungeon for Nayru’s Pearl – and extra Temples plus additional Sages to awaken in the second half of the game.

I don’t know about you, but if there’s anything I could ask for from a Wind Waker remake, it’s definitely “more meat.”

Tweak the dreaded “Triforce Hunt”

I personally didn’t mind the infamous “Triforce Hunt” quest at the end of the game. It gave me a chance to go out on my own, self-driven expeditions, without being guided by a set-in-stone course of events, and hunt for treasure on the open seas – one of the big draws of The Wind Waker, after all, was its effort to capture that feeling. But… a lot of people dreaded it, so I think it’d be worth giving it some additional attention.

A couple pieces of the quest – namely the Ghost Ship, the Cabana, and the Savage Labyrinth – are already fairly well-liked as they are. I think that pattern – offering up areas that feel in and of themselves like important parts of the quest – could be useful when figuring out how to spruce up the hunts for the other Triforce Charts.

tww-ghost-shipI’m tempted to say that the charts’ current hiding places are more or less good as they are. Changing them too much would probably result in the game deviating over-much from its source material, which could be disastrous. A less invasive change could be to add to the “mini-dungeons” surrounding the charts so they feel more substantial, more like the Ghost Ship and the other well-received quests. This would leave the “world” of The Wind Waker largely intact, while making the Triforce “fetch quest” – which, like it or not, won’t be removed altogether – feel more substantial.

Improving the sailing experience

Another big problem I’ve heard from almost every Wind Waker player I’ve known – from the game’s biggest fans to its most outspoken critics – is that the wind-changing mechanic is cumbersome and slows down travel too much. And I’ve got to say, I kind of agree with them – I shouldn’t have to play the Wind’s Requiem every time I want to change directions. But how do you work around this?

One solution I’ve been fond of is to always have the wind at your back when your sail is raised (after the point at which you unlock the Wind’s Requiem, of course). When you’re on land, however, you have to manipulate the wind manually. This would preserve some of the challenges of directing the wind to Deku glide over to certain areas or to activate certain objects like the Windfall windmill, while removing the annoyances of having to change the wind to travel west instead of east.

tww-sailingI think there ought to be one exception to the “always favorable winds” rule when sailing on the high seas, however – when you’re within range of enemies. In fact, I think the whole maritime combat experience could be improved – using items from your ship was frustratingly cumbersome in the original game. The Wii U GamePad offers a myriad of ways in which this could be done, but the main suggestion I’d have is to allow players to use the Wii U GamePad gyroscope or touch screen to manipulate their ship’s cannons – possibly even while it’s moving. You’d have to look between your two screens to keep track of where you’re going while you aim the guns.

The combat suggestion isn’t really something I consider “required” by any means – it’s just a possibility. Improving the wind-changing mechanic, however – that’s absolutely critical.

In the end, it’s clear the Zelda team is aiming to make Wind Waker Wii U the definitive edition of the game, not only in terms of the graphics but in terms of the gameplay experience. With that in mind, I’m sure they’re thinking about ways to address players’ biggest complaints, just as they did with Ocarina of Time‘s Water Temple. And, like the Water Temple, I’m sure they’ll be able to offer ideas that add to the experience while keeping the core elements of the original game intact.

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