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Top 6 Saturday: Lessons HD Re-Releases Can Learn from Wind Waker HD

wind waker hd, zelda, wii u, top 6, gamecube, comparison, improvements

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is now out for us hipsters who still like our video games on discs. You techies have had the game via the Wii U eShop for a while now, but now it’s available for everybody. Beyond format wars, we can all agree that this is a fantastic game; it was a classic then, made even better now. In fact, other updated games (we call them HD versions in the business) could learn lessons from Wind Waker HD. And wouldn’t you know it, we’ve got six of them right here!

6. Pick a Classic

wind waker hd, zelda, wii u, top 6, gamecube, comparison, improvements

This should go without saying, but picking a game people want to play again is important. In truth, Wind Waker HD is a decade-old game that feels brand new – some would say even better than stuff that is brand new. It’s a game many missed, many loved, and many wanted to play again. In all three cases, they will enjoy the game’s re-release. It’s simply a fantastic game that is worth experiencing (again). What would the sales numbers say for HD versions of Alter Echo or Haven: Call of the King?

5. Make Noticeable Graphical Changes

wind waker hd, zelda, wii u, top 6, gamecube, comparison, improvements

Raising the graphical fidelity of the game is obvious, but it might not appear that way to our eyes. With Wind Waker HD screenshots compared to the original GameCube version, the difference is clear. Without that side-by-side look, however, we can’t really see the change; the game just appears modern. However, the game goes a step further by doing more than just adjusting the graphics. See that lovely glow on the horizon in the screenshot above? That’s called bloom, and it wasn’t present in the original release. Adding completely new effects to the game’s appearance will reflect more strongly than simple up-rezzing.

4. Add and Improve

wind waker hd, zelda, wii u, top 6, gamecube, comparison, improvements

Wind Waker HD is a re-released classic, and that means most people have already played it. These people are eager to return to the game, but they may not be as eager to simply repeat the experience. Replaying a game is nice, but having something new to go back to is better. With Wind Waker HD,  players can experience Hero Mode, which increases the difficulty of Link’s quest. The game’s biggest feature (and biggest point of contention) has received an upgrade with the Swift Sail, pictured above. These features are not just new, but answers to fan questions held since the game’s original release. Adding and improving to the game’s mechanics make the game worth reliving and experiencing anew.

3. Give Us New Ways to Play

wind waker hd, zelda, wii u, top 6, gamecube, comparison, improvements

We’ve already touched on Hero Mode, but Wind Waker HD offers more new ways to play, due mostly to the Wii U’s gamepad controller. With this controller, players can organize items on the touchscreen, physically move the gamepad to snap in-game pictures, and even play the game on the gamepad alone. This gives players a unique feeling of nostalgia plus modern technology. This should go beyond simple Move or Kinect integration: this new way of playing the game should feel as if it were the way the game was meant to be played the whole time.

2. Don’t Sweat Over Extras

wind waker hd, zelda, wii u, top 6, gamecube, comparison, improvements

Wind Waker HD includes new additions like Hero Mode and gamepad control, but it doesn’t go overboard on the extras. Everything added is meant to strengthen the core game; could a behind-the-scenes vignette do that? Obviously extras are nice, but we don’t need the equivalent of a full series TV box set with poster and figurines here. A re-release is about experiencing the game again, not external goodies. Wind Waker HD gives us a new look at a classic game without fluff.

1. Cut What Doesn’t Work

wind waker hd, zelda, wii u, top 6, gamecube, comparison, improvements

Everything we have touched on so far can be summed up under “additions,” but this isn’t the only category in HD releases. Sometimes, things need to be cut. There’s a phrase in media known as “killing your babies” – this means some ideas, no matter how great they seem at the time, may have to go for sake of the overall project. Wind Waker HD took this to heart and made cuts where needed. The terrible Tingle Tuner (an item finder used via the GameBoy Advance link cable) is gone, replaced with Miiverse messages. The late-game Triforce shard quest has been streamlined, saving players time and in-game money. This is the most important lesson of all, hence its place at the end of the list. Developers, if it didn’t work the first time, cut it. We’d rather play your game the way we remember it – which is likely, perfect – over the actual game, with its filler and occasional poor design choices.

Top 6 Saturday is a weekly feature here at Front Towards Gamer. Named for our founder, Stephen “ShanghaiSix” Machuga, the Top 6 Saturday is our countdown of the top six things that are relevant that week. It’s like a Top 10, but not quite as robust!