Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Third Rate Game Play: The Legend of Zelda: WW SD / HD [Part 6: Hyrule and the Forsaken Fortress]

Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker SD/HD
System: Nintendo GameCube / Wii U
Developers: Nintendo EAD / EAD and HexaDrive
Publisher: Nintendo
Player: Tony / Alex
Experience: Tony has beaten it a few times. Alex has not.

(Check after the jump for the full article)

For over twenty five years, The Legend of Zelda has been seen by many as one of Nintendo's greatest franchises, and it is no surprise that the company would be bringing the cherished franchise to its latest console, the Wii U.  However, with HD development proving to be a complicated venture for the gaming company and its latest Zelda adventure far from release, Nintendo decided to bring one of its older Zelda adventures back into High Definition: The Wind Waker.

The Legend of Zelda is one of the many franchises devised by Shigeru Miyamoto alongside other major franchises such as Mario, Donkey Kong, and later Star Fox and Pikmin.  The concept behind Zelda arose when Miyamoto was a young child, traveling outside by himself around a dark and mysterious cave in the wilderness.  He eventually entered it any explored what it had, facing his fears in the process.  His exploration and dungeon adventures would lead to the development of the open-ended nature of the 1986 original release of The Legend of Zelda, developed internally as Mario Adventure by Nintendo R and D 4.  A sequel, Zelda II: Link's Adventure, was released a year later.  Its focus shifted more toward an RPG, with side-scrolling dungeons and battle sequences combined with overhead map exploration and level-based skill progression.

After a number of years in development, Nintendo would release a new Zelda for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.  This game returned to the gameplay mechanics found in the original adventure, and it brought about the dual-world theme that continues to recurr within the Zelda franchise.  Many believe that with the many dungeons and somewhat open-ended nature of the game, A Link to the Past is the best entry in the franchise.  At the same time, Director Takashi Tezuka was also working on the series' first GameBoy adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.  In Link's Awakening, the game uses multiple new items and explores a world outside of Hyrule for the first time.  Link's Awakening's engine came from that of Nintendo R and D1's GameBoy adventure Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru (For the Frog the Bell Tolls), and one of its main characters, Prince Richard, acts as a cameo in the Zelda game.

After 1993's Link's Awakening, the series once again entered a hiatus in the states.  In Japan, a number of Zelda-focused titles were released for the Satellaview, a satellite-content-delivery device that attached to the SNES and provided a multitude of game experiences live to players.  These Zelda games included  a remake of The Legend of Zelda, along with a second quest, a rerelease of A Link to the Past, and an episodic sequel translated as Ancient Stone Tablets.  However, for those outside of Japan, Zelda would only return when Nintendo's next system launched, the Nintendo 64.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was originally announced with the Ultra 64 as Zelda 64, and through data collecting, we can say that the game underwent many phases of development before it eventually became what Ocarina of Time is now.  The game features elements from A Link to the Past, including a dual-overworld element, but it also introduces the advent of 3D gameplay mechanics and more story elements.  After the great commercial and critical success of Ocarina of Time, two sequels were set in motion: Ura Zelda and Zelda Gaiden.  In Ura Zelda, Nintendo wanted to develop a second quest add-on to the title through the 64DD, a disk drive add-on which would only launch in Japan.  Although it would be cancelled, this second quest would reappear some years later.  Meanwhile, the team, lead by Director Eiji Aonuma, would take the Ocarina of Time engine and reshape it into the world of Termina facing great disaster in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.  Originally Zelda Gaiden, Majora's Mask introduces a three-day limit to save the world as well as mask-based transformations, changing the gameplay in significant ways versus its predecessor.  At the same time, Capcom-based developer Flagship began work with Nintendo to create a then three-game series of overhead Zelda games for the GameBoy Color.  These three games eventually shifted to a two-game campaign, titled The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, both of which released in 2001.

When Nintendo announced the Nintendo GameCube in 2000, they also showed off a brief teaser for what many thought was going to be the next Legend of Zelda title.  In this demo, a well-modeled Link battles against Ganondorf, and with its inclusion in the GameCube sizzle reel, many saw potential in what the next game would be.  However, at Nintendo Spaceworld 2001, Nintendo would unveil a very different Legend of Zelda game, using a new cell-shaded style and a more cartoony version of Link.  The Internet went into a great uproar over the more childish design over the darker version shown in 2000, and it helped coin the term Celda among other lesser descriptions.  It was not until late 2002 that Nintendo officially gave it the title The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

In its release, Nintendo held a  preorder campaign in which anyone who preordered Wind Waker would receive a special bonus disc which contained not only The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time but a revived Ura Zelda, now titled The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest.  To date, this is the only console release of Master Quest; it has since appeared as a mirrored version in GREZZO's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.  The disc also contained demo videos and a demo of The Wind Waker.

Between Wind Waker's release and its HD remake, The Legend of Zelda would see many more releases as it approached its 25th anniversary.  In 2004, Flagship released the only original Zelda game on GameBoy Advance, The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap, and Nintendo EAD brought about a GameCube adventure using the previously-established Four Swords series: The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures.  The next major console Zelda title, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, would release in 2006 as a Wii launch title and GameCube release shortly thereafter.  The Wii Motion+ origin story to the Zelda timeline, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, would release as one of Nintendo's last Wii games in 2011.  When it came to releasing a new game on the Wii U, however, Miyamoto went on record to say that HD development had hit the company hard, and in developing new games, time would be a major factor.  In order to help train the teams for HD development and still produce a game in a timely manner, Nintendo EAD Group 3 brought about an HD rerelease of one of the more graphically inspiring Zelda titles in its history: The Wind Waker.

Two companies helped EAD develop The Wind Waker HD, HexaDrive and DigitalScope.  HexaDrive was founded in 2007 by ex-Capcom programmer Masakazu Matsushita who had previously helped develop such games as Power Stone, Project Justice, and Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions.  HexaDrive has worked on a number of rereleases including Rez HD, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, and Okami HD, but it also worked on a couple new titles as well: The 3rd Birthday (the third Parasite Eve game from Square-Enix) and E.X. Troopers (a more anime-styled Lost Planet game released in Japan only from Capcom).  HexaDrive specifically worked on helping textures become HD for Wind Waker.  DigitalScope is a technology company specializing on model work and animation.

Official Word
One of the Greatest Adventures of All Time Returns in HD.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker makes its glorious return on the Wii U console with gorgeous HD graphics and enhanced game features. In this timeless classic with a unique and colorful "toon-shaded" art style, players guide Link as he sets out on the massive Great Sea to find his kidnapped sister. You will sail the seas in search of lost islands, fight fearsome enemies, take on mighty bosses, and seek out the legendary Triforce.
-Official Description

Game Overview

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a third-person adventure game in which players control Link, a young boy whose sister is kidnapped by a gigantic monster bird for purposes initially unknown.  With the help of a band of Pirates and a talking boat The King of Red Lions, Link must find the power to defeat the leader of those that kidnapped his sister - the evil lord Ganondorf.  Within time, the history of a drowned kingdom and the legacy of the Triforce come into play, and Link is called to bring peace to the world once again.

The game plays much like its previous and future 3D Zelda adventures.  Players control Link and camera to help him traverse across islands and into dungeons in order to defeat the bosses inside and gather what is necessary to defeat the great villain Ganondorf.  Usually a special item is bestowed to Link during or before the dungeon which is necessary to complete puzzles or more effectively win boss encounters.  Certain items have undergone significant changes such as the Megaton Hammer while completely new items have been introduced such as the Deku Leaf.  Throughout the adventure, players will have access to two Bags of special items, Bait and Spoils.  Bait can be used to lore animals and enemies alike for use in puzzles, and Spoils (items earned from defeating enemies) are used for side quests or for potion creation.  Also new is the ability to disarm and subsequently attack enemies with their own weapon, adding a twist to the game's dynamic combat system.

What is most significant to the game besides its graphical shift is the new form of world traversal.  In order for Link to travel from island to island, players must use The King of Red Lions to venture across the sea.  Without a special sail, players will need to play the Wind Waker to change direction of the wind and then use a sail to head in that direction.  Exploring the sea, players can encounter small islands filled with danger and treasure, and through a number of side quests, Link will encounter fairies, gigantic squids, angry storm gods, and a haunted ship.  Just do not expect to encounter these especially frequently; the sea is as big as it can get.

The Wind Waker HD is a high-definition re-release of the GameCube original, displaying the full game in 1080p resolution and smoothing frame rate in the process.  Lighting has also been changed from the cell-shading established in the original to a more natural lighting system.  Besides graphical effects, players get to use the Wii U GamePad for more effective menu navigation.  For the most part, the game plays identical to the original title, but improvements have been made to the endgame and sailing elements to improve the flow of the game.  Specifically, the Triforce Hunt near the end is greatly reduced by replacing a majority of the Triforce Charts with Triforce Pieces themselves.  Also, through the Auction House, players can purchase a Swift Sail which doubles the speed of sea travel and does not require the movement of wind via the Wind Waker.  These among small improvements here and there make The Wind Waker HD a smoother experience than the GameCube version, even if it removes the more colorful cell-shading style at the same time.

In the original Wind Waker, a GameBoy Advance could be plugged into the system to act as a helper via the Tingle Tuner; the tuner could find items, help attack enemies, and assist Link through difficult spots in the game.  Wind Waker HD, however, replaces the Tingle Tuner with Tingle Bottles, which allows players to send notes out to other players via Miiverse.


The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was met with a good amount of positive response, but there were major issues that were brought up by critics regardless.  Most of the largest complaints revolved around the great scale of the ocean and long sail times as a result of said scale.  This was compounded when the game's ending turned from adventure to scavenger hunt.  The infamous Triforce Hunt was slow and plodding, many agreed.  It is no surprise that these two issues would become the biggest fixes made by the HD rerelease.  Unfortunately, Wind Waker HD would not bring back any removed dungeons or added content beyond these major fixes, but the game still had been greatly improved by the tweaks made to the system.

The Wind Waker has had two chronological sequels made since its release, both on the Nintendo DS.  The first was The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass in 2007.  Starring the same Link as in Wind Waker, Link is tasked to save Tetra from the clutches of a life-eating monster Bellum who resides within the Tower of the Ocean King, a multi-tiered dungeon that can only be explored with the sands of the Phantom Hourglass.  Another sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, released in 2009 as a sequel a hundred years later.  In Spirit Tracks, Link travels with a locomotive across the landscape, and Princess Zelda's ghost helps him by possessing monsters in order to help fight and solve puzzles.  Both Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks use touch-screen-based controls, only using button presses for the most basic of uses.  It would not be until 2013's The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds that handheld Zelda games would return to more traditional controls.

As for the Wii U, The Legend of Zelda has seen a spin-off adventure, Hyrule Warriors, developed by Omega Force and Team Ninja in collaboration with Nintendo.  Omega Force is best known for having developed the Dynasty Warriors franchise, and Team Ninja, while known for the Dead or Alive franchise, has worked with Nintendo previously on Metroid: Other M.  Besides this release, Nintendo has since released The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D with GREZZO and is working on The Legend of Zelda for Wii U in the next couple years.

Game Play

We told you we would be back, and boy are we!  Together with Mark and Brian, Alex and Tony venture through another Zelda game, this time with Tony in control of the GameCube original (played on Wii) and Alex with the new HD Wii U release.

With the Tower of the Gods defeated, we took ourselves in the exact opposite direction - deep underwater!  We enter the sunken land of Hyrule and pull out the Master Sword, and then we proceed to destroy every living being we encounter in the awoken kingdom.  After that, we get a bit ambitious and decide to charge head-first into the great Lord of Darkness himself, Ganon the Dorf.  After getting back-handed into next century, we head back to the underwater castle to show Tetra, because she's special or more than we expected.  Oh, and we fight a giant bird.  As if that wasn't enough.


You can really tell that we are going slowly insane, right?  Or maybe that's just you.  Anyways, our adventure turned out rather well this episode, although it was mostly cutscenes and traveling.  We decided to cut out getting to the Forsaken Fortress because, well, who needs to watch that water trip.

We were actually running out of time on the DVD-burner, so we made drastic cuts whenever possible, as seen by our speeding up of HD's Forsaken Fortress run.  Despite our best attempts, the DVD still was not enough.  However, we did make the best of it, and our banter became increasingly self-sufficient throughout the mostly dialogue heavy cutscenes which plaster the end of the episode.

Now with Zelda out of the way, we might as well go shopping for a sharper sword, right?

3RM Says: Aha! Stand back, bird, or this giant letter
opener is going to open rather feathery letter!

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