Ocarina of Time is my top game ever, and its 3DS remake, which introduced graphical overhauls, a touch-based menu and inventory selection system, and added gyroscope controls for aiming, is my preferred version. Technically that makes Ocarina of Time 3D my favorite game of all time.
And yet, having seen and played what the Zelda team has to offer The Wind Waker with The Wind Waker HD, I’m convinced so far that it’s actually going to turn out the better remake. Read on to find out why.
All the Big Improvements from Ocarina 3D, Plus More
The Wind Waker HD carries over all the meaningful features introduced in Ocarina of Time 3D: it’s got improved HD graphics, including extended draw distance, better lighting and environmental effects, and higher-resolution characters and maps; it’s got a touch screen inventory and maps; it’s got added gyroscope control for aiming; it’s even got an added aid for conducting the game’s melodies with the titular Wind Waker.
However, it does all this… and goes many steps further.
Players complained about sailing taking too long: now they’ve added an item that lets you move even faster if you wish. And they’ve apparently even found a way to introduce it as a real item in the game’s story, too, so it isn’t just an odd nonsense ability designed to cater to fans’ wishes.
You can also now move around while aiming in first-person using dual-analog control, or a combination of analog and the game’s gyroscope aiming. This feature was already introduced to the series in phases beginning with Twilight Princess‘s Wii version and advanced further in Link’s Crossbow Training and Skyward Sword, but this is the first time we’ve been able to do it in a more traditionally-controlled Zelda. We imagine it’ll be carried ahead to the original Zelda Wii U as well.
The inventory has been improved as well. You no longer have to take up meaningful slots to assign the Wind Waker, the Grappling Hook crane, or the bomb cannon to your ship – they’re assigned to D-pad buttons automatically. The sail is also triggered by pressing the A button once you enter your ship. It makes inventory management during the transition from sea to land just that much smoother. I know when I played, I always had the Wind Waker in my inventory, even when I was exploring, but now I’ll have an extra slot to assign an action item.
If you want to emulate the feeling of “conducting” with the Wind Waker, you have the option of using touch to control not only Link’s baton movements but to adjust the direction of the wind. It’s not necessarily ideal for everyone, but it definitely feels nicer than Ocarina 3D‘s virtual buttons, which were small and not as intuitive as just using the normal face buttons.
Miiverse has also been directly integrated into the game in the form of Tingle Bottles, which contain messages left by other players. It’s a great way to share experiences, to give pointers to less seasoned players, and to leave surprises for your friends hidden all over the game world – and all the while, it doesn’t introduce too much into the main game experience. You can also store more pictures via the in-game Pictograph Box to share later with your friends via the social service. This should make completing the Nintendo Gallery much easier as well.
Add all this on top of Off-TV Play on the Wii U GamePad and currently undefined refinements to the dreaded Triforce Quest, and you’ve got a more robust improvement to the original than Ocarina of Time 3D ever was.
A More Faithful Remaster
Ocarina of Time 3D updated the original’s graphics with better models, animation, and textures, much of which was modeled to look more like the character artwork. Additional objects and 3D maps were also added to places that seemed sparse or that were pre-rendered in the original game. The result was an up-to-date Ocarina of Time, but in the process, many found it to be unrecognizable in places.
The Wind Waker HD is a much more faithful recreation of the original. Most of its visual improvements involve graphical effects like draw distance on the Great Sea and the widescreen aspect ratio, not changes to any of the models or textures. In fact, if you compare the two games closely, you can see that most of the textures are drawn literally identically to the original game – they’re just rendered at a higher resolution.
Purists will love it, and because the visual style holds up so well anyway, people don’t have to worry about the changes impacting their memories of the game too much.
One significant difference that I’ve noticed is that the color palette is much brighter. Just compare these two shots:
That’s a pretty noticeable change.
All told, though, The Wind Waker HD does a great job of capturing the original’s graphics in an almost pristine remaster; Ocarina of Time 3D had to go in and completely revise some things to impress.
Do I think Ocarina of Time 3D is a bad game? Obviously not. It’s my preferred version of the best game of all time. And truth be told, it does have a couple things on The Wind Waker HD: the inclusion of a tougher redesigned Master Quest and the addition of a Boss Challenges mode. All told, however, I think The Wind Waker HD does a better job of updating its original for a new platform with new features and improvements.
What do you think?