Friday, February 10, 2017

The Wind Waker HD: 2nd Quest Logbook

The current journey is clear: before Breath of the Wild gets released in exactly three weeks, I want to re-experience all 3D Zelda games on my Wii U again. And after things were progressing quite slowly with the Nintendo 64 games on Virtual Console, I'm back on track with the Wind Waker HD. Only after one (work) week I was able to complete the 2nd Quest mode and thus finally the entire game...

When the remaster came out in October 2013, I completed everything in the normal game mode (see my The Wind Waker HD Logbook) and left the 2nd Quest mode for a future playthrough. And that playthrough happened now. It started last Saturday, where I played til Tower of the Gods, while on "Sidequest Sunday" I did the majority of exploring of the Great Sea. Like the last time, I've avoided to start doing things as early as possible. That's unusual for me, because I usually try to get all Heart Pieces and other optional things as early as possible in the games. I even did this in a past playthrough on the GameCube once and it's kind of fun to get some Triforce Charts really early or whatever, but to save time I didn't start scavenging the ocean until after the battle with the Helmaroc King. It's just more convenient to do everything on a per-quadrant basis, where I systemically charted the entire sea, cleared all islands, conquered all platforms and submarines and even salvaged all Light Rings yet again.

Apropos Light Rings, I had the same phenomenon like in my first playthrough of the Wind Waker HD, where early in the game I couldn't find the Light Ring to the southeast of Dragon Roost Island, but it then appeared later throughout the game. Strange. It would also have been nice, if the charts would cross out all the things, that you've already gotten or done. E.g. if you got all the treasure chests on one of the platforms, it should be crossed out in the Platform Chart. Even a Blue ChuChu Chart, which keeps track of them, would have been great. The same goes all the Light Rings... Whenever I replay the Wind Waker now, I keep track using pen and paper on my printed Light Ring Chart, but that feels somewhat old-fashioned, especially while playing the game with a touch device, which includes a pen. At the least the ability to take notes on your maps like in Phantom Hourglass would have been nice.

Anyhow, doing these things were quite fun to me, but it does lack the necessary variety in the Wind Waker. Most of the activity is tied to the boat and all the platforms, the submarines and also some of the islands are simply just the same thing over and over again. But I'm confident that Breath of the Wild with its similar approaches can be fun, while at the same time deliver more variety thanks to the different terrains and the fact that there will be much more to do, especially with the over a hundred Sheikah Shrines.

Talking about the Sheikah Shrines: the Tower of the Gods really had this big Sheikah technology vibe coming from it, especially with the blue relays everywhere and the eye symbolic of Gohdan. The Beamos even had a level of deadliness to them, which may or may not compare to the Guardians. But it's hard to destroy them without being hit first and in Hero Mode they can do quite some damage.

Overall I left Hero Mode activated during the entire time and it felt much tougher than before. I've never died, but the lack of any hearts combined with the double damage can be threatening, because a lot of things can easily hurt you in this game. The enemy cannons, which you will mostly face in the six reefs, for example two or even more hearts of damage with one hit and these hits can rack up quickly, because you don't get thrown out of your boat anymore. And it's not like there are fairies around every time, early in the game I even used the "Save & Quit" method a couple of times to "heal" myself.

But of all 3D Zelda games the Wind Waker probably offers the most fun and intense fights, where the secret cave on Shark Island will always be the prime example. It's just so much fun to wreck the hordes of various enemies in this game. Twilight Princess then wasn't as fast and it felt more grounded, while Skyward Sword overdid the whole motion control directional puzzle thing instead of delivering actual combat. But the Wind Waker really shines here, except for two factors. You can't attack tumbling enemies, which is super annoying, and the game uses lots of small enemies to effectively prevent you from targeting the important ones, like the summoning Wizzrobes. It's even used in boss fights with Molgera.

It's the boss fights, where I also tried something different for this playthrough, namely Kalle Demos. For the first time I used the Forest Water trick on it to kill the thing quickly. It's not hard to do, if you leave the dungeon right before the boss and use the "warp pots", but it will block one of your battles for half an hour...

Otherwise I didn't do anything special with this playthrough. The focus lied on enjoying the visuals, where the Wind Waker HD easily delivers the best in the series so far. The Cel Shading style is timeless and the bloom makes everything pop. It just looks really nice and I can't get enough the lush, sunbathed views of all the island. It might be even a shame that this game never got an actual sequel with the same graphics, because the whole style was never matched on the weak Nintendo DS hardware and the graphics of Twilight Princess, while having their own charm, didn't age as well.

But what didn't entice me as much this time was Miiverse. I still think that the Wind Waker HD did an excellent job of incorporating Miiverse into the game, with the Tingle Bottles it's probably still the best Miiverse inclusion I've seen so far. But after a view drawn dick pics I quickly lost the motivation to go after them. It just wasn't the same as in the days after release, but that's to be expected. Part of it was also, because I've already completed the Nintendo Gallery in the 1st Quest, so that Carlov isn't even present in the 2nd Quest. As soon as you arrive at Forest Haven, you can immediately enter a fully completed figurine gallery. I did this even once on the GameCube, but with the Wii U version it was much easier and saved me quite some time here.

Still, one small additional goal that I had with this playthrough was collecting all eight missable figurine shots on my Deluxe Picto Box:

  • Tetra
  • Kogoli
  • Cyclos
  • Big Octo
  • Phantom Ganon
  • Helmaroc King
  • Wizzrobe King
  • Puppet Ganon

I took them all again and scattered them over Miiverse yesterday... So, if you're still missing one of them, go to the game right now and you might be lucky to pick up one of my Pictographs in a Tingle Bottle.

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