The Wind Waker’s Visuals and the HD Remake

Axle the BeastFebruary 9th, 2013 by Axle the Beast

Hey guys, new discussion video! This video’s about The Wind Waker HD, and how I feel it measures up to the original game’s visual design. Obviously the graphics are a big deal with the remake, but I had some thoughts on it that I wanted to share. You can watch the video here or check out the embed after the jump.

The Wind Waker might be my least-favorite Zelda game, but it’s still a very impressive experience. I always felt its visuals were one of its greatest strengths, and that’s part of what brought on this video. Also, for those who know my arguments about remakes in the past, don’t worry about that being repeated here; I’ve talked about that before, and this is a completely different discussion.

So how about you? What do you think of The Wind Waker HD’s new graphics? Do you feel they compare to the visual design of the original game? Any other thoughts about the way these games look? Tell me in the comments!

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  • mcineri

    wind waker was seriously your least favorite zelda game? really? even more than adventure of link or four swords?

    • IgosDuIkana

      Four Swords was terrible, but really guys. I bet half of the people who bash AoL were too under dedicated to even finish the game. AoL beats the living daylights out of this “new” garbage they have been doing for the last 10 years. I loved Wind Waker, but had a hard time taking it seriously at first. I believe that it turned a lot of people away before they had a chance to experiance it. Seriously though, “AOL didn’t feel like a zelda game”. No Zelda game after Wind Waker has felt like a Zelda game. AoL was an amazing game, that however different it was was at least more like a Zelda game then Skyward Sword. SS was not bad, I enjoyed it, but it failed to meet the objectives that it was implied as of having.

    • Axle the Beast

      I enjoyed Four Swords. It’s not a compelling adventure, but for what it is, it’s pretty entertaining. I’ve yet to play Four Swords Adventures or Adventure of Link; they’re the only two Zelda games I have no played at all. However, I’ve read a lot about Adventure of Link, and I’m a colossal fan of 2D platformers (it’s my favorite genre), so I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy the game when I do play it.

      So ya, The Wind Waker is my least favorite at this time. Sorry. xP

      • Regol

        Even more than Phantom Hourglass? That’s new xD

        • Axle the Beast

          Phantom Hourglass is one of my top favorites. I think it’s really fun.

          • Regol

            Just for the sake of curiosity, what aspects do you take into account when deciding your favorites?

          • Axle the Beast

            Favorites are determined purely by how much I enjoy the game on a personal level. Which one I feel is BETTER is a different argument (Skyward Sword is my favorite Zelda game, but I don’t think it’s the best one; I’d probably give that to A Link to the Past or Majora’s Mask).

            I do think that The Wind Waker is one of the worst games, though, not just my least-favorite. Most people fault Phantom Hourglass for being dull, but I think it’s just a Zelda game that focuses more on level design than atmosphere (which makes it the complete antithesis of The Wind Waker, which is atmosphere-centric). People hate the Temple of the Ocean King, but to me it’s one of the most intricately designed dungeons in the series, with its alternate paths. I love it.

          • dietfried schwineswagger

            ack! majora’s mask! die demon die!

          • Regol

            Well, if you give dungeon design much more importance than atmosphere, I guess I can understand your personal rating. I don’t agree, however, because I value more the fact that TLoZ is supposed to be an adventure. A good plot line (which is actually well narrated and a good story overall, not like TP and SS’s hollywood/anime (respectively) plots), a greatly constructed world with great characters to interact with and the ability to explore that world and actually FEEL like an adventurer are three key concepts that not all games have and that I appreciate the most when giving value to this series. That’s why, even if SS is enjoyable to play and has great dungeon designs, it’s not even near to be among my favorites, and that’s why TWW is my second favorite, just after MM, and the last Zelda that I’m able to consider a great game. Not that it isn’t flawed of course. But at the end it just amounts as much as the value you give to the flawed aspects

            Just a little bit of comment.

          • Axle the Beast

            Actually, when I say level design, I don’t mean just dungeons. I mean all areas. Level design, to me, is the construction of the gameplay space and placement of objects within it, based around its gameplay, whatever that gameplay may be. Level design elements obviously differ depending on the area — you’re going to want to accomplish different things in an overworld area than you are in a dungeon area — but it’s still level design.

            I place game design — one aspect of which is level design — above all other aspects of a video game because it’s the reason I play video games; if I only wanted a thematic experience, I’d stick to art, books, music, and movies. While having impressive atmosphere is a crucial element of a great game, it’s only one element; the meat of any quality video game is how it’s designed AS a game. That’s why I don’t like The Wind Waker as much, because while, yeah, it has a lot of stuff to go see and do… none of it felt very compelling to me. Traveling across the sea basically asked me to set the controller down entirely for a few minutes, and most of the land areas were absurdly tiny and not conducive to interesting gameplay. You sail on the sea doing nothing, and then you go ashore to do very little and for only a brief time. Rinse and repeat.

            You spoke of the feel of adventure… but to me, the most important part of the game to accomplish that feel in is the game design. A feeling of adventure doesn’t just come from music and scenery. At least for me, the thing that produces an adventurous feeling in me, is having an area that I truly have to explore. Sights and sounds are crucial parts of making it complete, but give me an interesting environment to poke around in, explore, and find things in, is alone enough to make me feel like I’m having an adventure. That’s why I think A Link to the Past is pretty much the best Zelda game. It makes me feel like I’m wandering through a living world and finding stuff.

      • mcineri

        IMO, if you write for this site, you have to have played every Zelda game. It’s not a hard thing to do and I cannot take your opinion seriously if you haven’t.

    • Tehlul

      We all got a least favorite zelda game. His is Wind Waker, and that’s fine.

  • Vaati101

    There is a game in development at the moment called A Hat in Time that is currently being worked on for the PC but may come to the Wii U. When I look at the graphics, it reminds me of The Wind Waker (Well I guess that’s pretty obvious when you see for yourself)

    But anyway I feel that the graphics used in A Hat in Time should of been used in The Wind Waker HD. It really does look amazing and vibrant, yet it has that vibe of being/living in a Cartoon which the Original Wind Waker had. Nintendo still could of experimented with the HD Graphics with the Original Wind Waker’s Art style, I don’t think it was necessary to make a complete overhaul of the graphics and leave out the key visual element.

    I feel the A Hat in Time graphics suit the Wind Waker HD Better than what Nintendo showed us, they look better to be honest.

    • Flaming Lemons

      After watching some A Hat In Time videos I feel like It actually does look a lot like Wind Waker HD’s graphics although maybe I just can’t see the difference, anyway the graphics for A Hat In Time do look very nice and would be perfect for Wind Waker :D

  • Cmaster

    Who’s hand was that?

    • Axle the Beast

      Why, that was YOUR hand, viewer!

      • rulerofyourface

        What, nobody else has the power to shove their hand into their moniter? I didn’t think it was weird at all.

        • jeremy

          i can shove my hand into my moniter!

      • Cmaster

        Maybeeeeeeeeeee. :0

  • Link5967

    WHY WOULDN’T THEY MAKE IT FOR 3DS? THERE’S NO POINT IN BUYING A GAME THAT’S ALREADY BEEN MADE! And I get if you make a remake with better graphics but wind Wakers was fine the way it was and they could’ve made it PORTABLE which makes lot more sense because you can’t drag around your Wii or Wii u everywhere you go

    • Michael Bayruns

      Because the wiiu kinda needs games

  • Vink

    Pretty contradictory of what you said there Axle, I’m sure I’ve heard you say Wind Waker is your favourite zelda.

    • erikingvoldsen

      Nope. That’s Skyward Sword.

    • Axle the Beast

      I know that’s not true; I had issues with The Wind Waker since the first day I played it, and never liked it as much as every Zelda game I’d played prior (OoT, ALttP, and MM).

      Either way, even if someone says an opinion that’s the opposite of one they’ve stated before, that’s not a contradiction; that’s a change of opinion. People change their minds.

  • erikingvoldsen

    Toon style never bugged me except for the ocean….my…God…just…seeing nothing but blue gets really dull….

  • Some Rando

    Why they are remaking Wind Waker, the game with the most timeless graphics? That game will never look old to me… Why not Majora’s Mask or ALTTP? I don’t understand Nintendo sometimes.

    • S. Mario

      Nintendo was taking all of their previous Zelda games and putting them into HD to figure out which style would work best for the new Wii U Zelda game. When they did The Wind Waker, they loved it so much that they wanted to fully make it. I’m actually glad that they are. That way I can play Wind Waker on my Wii U when I go off to college so I don’t need to bring my Gamecube too. Only needing one system is better than having to bring two.

      • Link_The_Ultimate_Chronomancer

        Yeah, they said they said the loved it so much they had to make WW in that style. NO THEY DIDN’T!!!!!! WW old style was fine, but the new style is sooo much better than the U promo-style. Fan-boy rant over.

    • TheMaverickk

      You know something, I wanted Wind Waker on my Wii U, but I was personally more hoping for a more direct port of the original, where it had the exact same visuals, just at a higher definition, and released on the Virtual Console, for eShop. Just a digital title.

      I didn’t need it to have overhauled visuals, or to be a retail release again.

      I agree I would’ve rather seen Majora’s Mask get a complete visual overhaul (make it look more like the official art for the game as opposed to recycled Ocarina of Time attributes), because it needed it. Even Twilight Princess could use a texture overhaul more then Wind Waker.

      • Some Rando

        I agree, I would rather just have the original downloaded for cheap. This is going to be like $60. All I want is the original with 16:9 support THAT would be perfect.

  • Rob

    I would have liked Wind Waker 3D better than Wind Waker U, but it should be a pretty good game.

  • pizzaman

    Does anyone else feel that from the screenshots, the WW graphics look a bit to glowy?

    • Tough

      Glorious BLOOM amirite?

  • I <3 WW

    “The Wind Waker might be my least-favorite Zelda game, but it’s still a very impressive experience.” ~ Axle the Beast

    I’m sorry, but that’s extremely contradicting.

    Axle the BeastMod mcineri•3 hours ago
    I enjoyed Four Swords. It’s not a compelling adventure, but for what it is, it’s pretty entertaining.

    I don’t even understand how that second statement is possible……

    I thought WW was just short of being a phenominal masterpiece. Definitely top 5 material imo.

    • gamer

      Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. All ice cream flavors.Vanilla is my least favorite ice cream flavor out of these, but it’s still great to eat. Get the point.

      All Zelda games are fun, and have memorable and great parts in each one. But, some will be better than other, and some will be worse. SS was my least favorite Zelda game. But, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have fun playing it, and it’s still overall a good game.

    • Nevan Lowe

      I think he’s comparing, so Wind Waker is awesome, but the others are awesomer.

    • Matthew Shannon

      its like comparing the best of the best. there has to be a least-best best O.o

    • Axle the Beast

      How are they contradicting? I consider ALL Zelda games impressive experiences; just because, out of all of the Zelda games, one is my least favorite (and one would have to be), doesn’t mean it’s bad.

      And I don’t get what your gripe is with the second quote.

      • Noa

        Oh, Axle, if you only wouldn’t bash TWW so much, yet speak of SS like it’s the greatest game ever made…yet it’s actually the worst one(my opinion), just play it once again, first 5 hours is cutscenes, and tutorials, the rest of te game is so linear, I like to smack my head against a wall until my brain,skull,eyes,nose and teeth all colide into a beautiful pile that is more fun to look at, then to play that stupd-ass game, controls suck, and I don’t mean that just because they are motion controlls, I mean it because they don’t always work, and they should.Like buttons did the last 25 years, the motion controlls should have been implemented once they are spot on, and perfect.They are also soooo forced in the game that EVERYTHING uses them, and yet you prefer that piece of ****, over this art…When MM was your favourite, I could understand that, the game is one of the most unique, best zelda games ever made, but SS…really!?

        • NioJio

          SS is by far the worst in my book, and I played it with as blank of expectations as it gets. I was fine with the controls as well (though I never actually had to fully utilize them much until the final boss battle).

          You can see it rip elements from every other Zelda but instead of doing them with equal quality they’re all half-baked and seem shoved in. The world was entirely empty but it was “BIG” =D (like WW), except sorry it has no atmosphere :( (or day/night system that’s in EVERY other game), all but one of the side quests are boring fetch quests with the only interesting one being the overarching demon->human quest, they had a search button for areas the size of a large backyard (That pointless thing ruined exploration, and none of the areas you search in are actually much larger than the freaking size of a football field i.e. there was no NEED for it- it’s like setting up a radar to find Easter Eggs what the actual heck), the dungeons themselves are all supremely (toddler level) easy with the Water Temple being the only slightly interesting one (though still not challenging AT ALL), 80% of the enemies can be wagged down and the other 20%s strategy is just “Simon Says” with no actual depth to them- there’s tons more but I don’t want to write a much larger wall of text.

          SS was the opposite of an Adventure game, in reality it was a typical RPG with typical RPG fanfic writing not to mention being just as cutscene ridden and that’s not what I buy Zelda for. It’s like if I buy Super Mario Galaxy and got Space Invaders gameplay “This time with a Red Hat and overalls!” instead of 3D platforming, if they want to go there- set up a new IP.

          SS has no “adventure” in it and it didn’t even have a cohesive world- it was just your bland, typical “Point A to Point B” JRPG “now with a Green Sleeping Cap and Triforce LOL”.

          It’s the 3D equivalent of Zelda II except done 25 years in. By saying it’s your favorite you might as well be saying “I like JRPGs more than Adventure (i.e. Zelda) games”.

    • Ryan

      Umm, that isn’t contradicting at all. For example, I love all three of the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. If I had to rank them, I would put Dark Knight Rises in the number 3 slot making it my least favorite despite the fact that I thought the movie was amazing. The others were just a little better.

  • dietfried schwineswagger

    no no! axle is just being funny guy! he loves wind waker and hd he just be silly!

  • Mawk

    It’s funny how people are now just starting to accept The Wind Waker as a one of a kind Zelda game yet Axle is one of the only people who still disagrees. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, we all have our opinions, but it’s just so strange to find the first person to believe this was the worst Zelda game in their opinion.

    • Axle the Beast

      Thing is, I still agree it’s a one of a kind Zelda game. ;)

      Someday I may do a video to detail why I think The Wind Waker is the worst (and my least-favorite), but I don’t intend to do it any time soon.

      • TheMaverickk

        My guess is that it has something to do with how the great sea was one big missed opportunity.

        Don’t get me wrong, I happen to love Wind Waker, although it sits probably at the bottom of my top 5 Zelda games (a list that was hard to choose from).

        Still I can recognize that the ocean, although great had a few big flaws…. the first being how repetitive the content in it is. For example lots of the islands are extremely small and unrewarding in their discovery, not to mention are just variations of other islands… like the Dice islands (one through six), the triangle islands (puny holding a statue at each position) and then there’s the platforms and submarines which are all for the most part built identically… and for the most part just the fact that even amongst unique islands there is usually not much content to discover.

        The bigger islands where you spend most of your time are the only places that really reward you, like Dragon Roost, Forest Haven, Windfall and Outset.

        Besides this issue there is the fact that they clearly ran out of time developing the overall content, and had to cut a lot of needed content…. like the Great Fish Isle dungeon, and whatever they had in mind before the Triforce shard quest.

        Putting aside this issue, the game’s actual design is fairly good. Item integration is well thought out, dungeons are actually very well done (although a bit on the simple side, probably due to Nintendo wanting to create a new Zelda that wouldn’t be overly daunting in difficulty), the visual style, character building and overall story arch is well constructed. The overworld is a love hate situation… loved the concept, loved that there was that sense of discovery, and loved the change of scenery…. just hated that they didn’t fill it more, and that they clearly ran out of time developing it (remembering that it was a short dev period of about 3 years, it was still pretty impressive).

        Still I hold this game in high regards because it had clear direction, the developers knew what they wanted to create and kept it in mind through out it’s development, not to mention it was a Zelda that took risk’s and pushed Zelda design in new directions. Which for the most part I think paid off, and that’s why it makes it so enjoyable to revisit.

  • Zack Patterson

    Maybe they decided to do Wind Waker because it was already so well done visually? Just to show us how much better it can be? Sounds weird but it’s all i can think of.

  • JeredenDonnar

    TWW is my second favorite game (nothing will topple OoT). I’m a little nervous for TWWHD because I’m afraid they’ll tweak something that didn’t need to be tweaked. Beta content would be cool, but I’m afraid they’ll replace existing content for something, I HATE it when companies do that!! (George Lucas!!!!!>:() Adding cut things would be cool, but trieing to “One-up” the original games extras with replacements of there own, would kill the game and mar the name. I’m nervous.

  • bs8814

    I really like your point on the original Wind Waker’s art style. It was truly amazing.

  • Jonathan Barajas

    you play league? dude play wif me!

  • Olamarr

    I like the the wind waker HD very much. My only problem I have is that I think it is changed to much from the original. Ocarina 3d of time had the same art style as the original, it was just smoothed and fleshed out, but with wind waker HD, its a whole new art style, They could of used this new clay-mation look on a new game, rather then recreating an old one. But when it comes out, I wont care about any of that stuff, because its the wind waker and its one of my favourite games ever.

  • mcineri

    AoL is complete garbage. And since I love Zelda, I’ve played the thing three separate times to make sure my opinion is justified. The game wreaks of poor level design, terrible controls, uninteresting dialogue, and a non-existant story. I’m fine with your personal opinions and wouldn’t want to change them, but the idea that you write for a Zelda website and haven’t played AoL (despite its crap factor) disappoints me. I really think you’d change your mind afterwards about Wind Waker. Just saying, if you write for a Zelda blog, comment on Zelda games, make Zelda videos, you need to have played all the games. It’s not hard to do man.

    • Link_The_Ultimate_Chronomancer


  • daver

    wind waker will be fashionable this year.

  • Dark_Link9001

    Does anyone know if you can play the original graphics on The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD?

  • mookysam

    It’s hard to tell based on screenshots alone, but something about the look of the Wind Waker HD just doesn’t sit right with me. It no longer looks like the cartoon the original did and there is far, far, far too much bloom. The bells and whistles of HD consoles are nice, but just because Nintendo can use it doesn’t mean they necessarily should. The original Wind Waker is one of the most beautiful looking games I have ever played and it still looks great ten years later. I can’t fathom why they would change the art style when it was such a huge part of the original’s charm.

    Visually, it’s the Zelda least in need of a remake, but in terms of gameplay there’s a lot to work with. I honestly don’t believe they’ll add in new dungeons, but can see the potential for refinements in things like the stealth gameplay at Forsaken Fortress or improvements to the infamous Triforce quest. Simply having the whole map on the gamepad screen and the ability to mark destinations with the stylus and make notes a la DS Zelda would make a huge difference. I also hope they bring the combat at least up to Twilight Princess standards – particularly with regard to the targeting of single enemies within large groups, or using the sword whilst running. Boat combat is another area I can see being tightened up.

  • Valoo

    Y’ know what Axle, I agree. I think WW looked fantastic and that WW HD looks fantastic but it lacks the bold cartoonish-ness (is that even a word?) and cohesiveness that the original had – check that screen-shot of Link & Tetra in front of the school. The characters don’t seem to blend in with the surroundings like on GC, they still look like bobble-head figures it doesn’t seem fit in. Also, the characters no longer look like cel-shaded cartoons, they look like normal 3D models but then made into a cartoon – This doesn’t match with Miyamoto’s quote about not simply giving it a visual style but making that style match with the game world and making it come to life etc (something you and I both agreed with)
    I still think the game looks brilliant and will be brilliant game (it’s The Wind Waker :) ) but it just doesn’t seem to have the same vibe & timeless quality of the original. maybe they’ll alter it, maybe they already have and these were early Beta screenshots, but hey, I still hope they continue to improve an already excellent thing.

  • Locke64

    Think of older cartoons where you’d have a drawn background with cel-shaded moving elements overlayed on it. Like a detailed rocky cliff with one cel-shaded boulder that’s obviously going to fall simply because it’s cel-shaded. I think this resonates with what Axle’s saying here. The detailed backgrounds have historically been seen as static, while cel-shading is perceived as dynamic. In the original WW, everything was cel-shaded so the whole world seemed dynamic and lively. By switching to the static background style, WWHD loses some of that life.

  • TheLinkGanon

    zelda dungeon should make a wind waker video walkthrough

    • baileygirl99

      YES. IT WOULD BE REALLY HELPFUL. too bad not to many people play the game anymore, but since I recently played it, a video walkthrough would have been immensely helpful for me.

  • Strangely

    Honestly the HD screenshots could just have the cel-shaded filter turned off…

    Plus the walls and ground really aren’t actually cel-shaded to begin with (They are textured in a cartoony manner though). So long as they remember to add the cel-shading filter to the characters and items it will be pretty similar to the original.

    • TheMaverickk

      The cel-shading engine would conflict with all that bloom they got going on. There’s no way for that to work properly on the characters while having those lighting effects happening on the environment around them.

      The simple truth is that if they chose to use this sort of visual style, you can count on the characters looking much the same in these pre-release images.

      • Strangely

        But we really don’t know if this is the final look for the game. After all they were experimenting with the style, so these shots could just be from one of the tests they were doing.

        So until we see actual gameplay footage I’m going to remain optimistic that the style will be at least a bit more like the original.

        • TheMaverickk

          They wouldn’t just show an experimentation. If it was just some random pile of screen shots.

          They may tweak the levels of the bloom effect and other stuff, but I can assure if they say “we really like how this visual style turned out” it means this is the visual style they plan to continue with for the entirety of the remake.

          Unless of course fans were to become outraged and vocally make it known they prefer the original cel-shaded engine.

  • TheMaverickk

    Been saying it for a while, but Wind Waker HD doesn’t use cel-shading, and that fact makes the WWHD a little less then a faithful recreation.

    Hence why I think at this point they may as well make other changes as well. Add in an additional quest or island or dungeon or something.

    They wanted something to look visually new/different, so why not have the game have other new and different aspects as well.

  • Someone

    I agree with you, when I first saw them I was like. ‘This is not Wind Waker’ the cute cel-shading was the thing that made the game look so great, so I hope that this is not the final game and they don’t touch the original too much, because like you said, it’s timeless. Which means they could’ve grabbed the game from the gamecube and placed it right onto the Wii U without it being a weird-looking Wii U game.

  • Vink

    You should work for nintendo axle and fix there mistakes by giving them ideas for the right art style or just give them data from Zelda dungeon and/or other related sites of what Zelda fans really want in a zelda game.

    LOL hilarious when you said ‘Ohhh myyy God!’.

  • Link-182

    Axel, I love your videos, they are so well thought out!
    And I agree that the screenshots definitely feel different and I’m not sure if I like it less or more just yet.
    But I want you all to consider this, at least in my opinion I thought the Wind Waker screenshots made the game look uninteresting to me and I wasn’t really considering picking it up. It wasn’t until I played a demo for it and saw it all in motion that it really captivated me and I finally understood what it was all about.
    All I’m saying is I think you will really need to see this new graphical design in motion to see the true details of this new direction to truly appreciate it!
    I wonder how the ocean and clouds move in this new design, I wonder what sunset looks like, or when the full moon is out or how the lighting effects the dungeon design such as the lava in the first dungeon. I’m going to have to play this one all the way through to make a true decision on which style I like more.

  • Anthony Pallotta

    the windwaker is my all time favorite zelda with my favorite music, graphics, storyline, characters, etc. But thats just my opinion. I can’t wait for the remake!!!

    • baileygirl99

      I agree COMPLETELY on the music case. The music in TWW are just amazing. Truly incredible. They are relaxing to, especially the themes for certain islands. And who can hate on the sea theme right? They have to endure it anyways…

  • baileygirl99

    Remakes are what make Hyrule known. If there hadn’t been an OoT3D, then I would never have gotten into this beloved series. Remakes are da bomb.

  • mr cranky

    Wind Waker has a timeless look, and they’re ruining it. I was really excited to hear that they were remaking it, as I want to play widescreen games on my widescreen games (it’s a mild annoyance), but very disappointed with what I saw. It pretty much bummed me out for the entire day. Unless they make the graphics true to the original, I’m not gunna waste my money on this and will just go back to the Gamecube classic now and then.

  • Nevan Lowe

    I have similar thoughts as you, but I still think the new one looks good, just not good in the same way the original was.

  • ArabDiSASTER

    THE WIND WAKER IS MY FAVORITE ZELDA GAME – I HAVE NO GRIPES WITH IT AT ALL! – But since I’m a cool guy I also TOTALLY understand opinions.

  • Ryan F. Hullstrunk

    Axle, you play league? I already thought you were a badass but this steps it up anoher level.

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