The company has already highlighted a number of tweaks that fans are likely familiar with by now, such as the addition of a new, faster sail for traversing the Great Sea more quickly and a suite of Wii U GamePad-enabled features, such as off-TV play, the ability to use the controller's built-in gyroscope to more naturally aim items like the bow and hookshot, and an Ocarina of Time 3D-esque drag-and-drop touch screen interface for equipping items. Neat additions, to be sure, but it turns out this HD remake is getting quite a bit more fresh content than we first thought!
Even diehard fans of The Wind Waker cite the game's maddeningly easy, almost non-existent difficulty as one of the game's biggest drawbacks, and as such have been clamoring for the addition of a harder quest to play through in The Wind Waker HD. Even though Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma previously said that this wouldn't happen, it turns out this wasn't true (or at least isn't anymore): The Wind Waker HD is getting a new, harder "Hero Mode" difficulty, and it's available from the start - there's no beating-the-game requirement to unlock it! Like its namesake in Skyward Sword, it represents a major jump in difficulty: all enemies now inflict double their normal damage, and there isn't even a single life-refilling heart in the entire game, meaning the only way to recover life energy is by drinking potions! A tall challenge, to be sure, and one that should make veterans of this quest quite happy.
The Picto Box -- essentially a camera that lets you take pictures of the game's various locations as well as unsuspecting villagers and enemies -- has also been upgraded, and it now allows Link to take self-photographs, otherwise known as "selfies" in our age of social media. You can have Link include himself in any picture you take with the Picto Box, and you can set the emotional expression on his face to happy, sad, or surprised before you snap the photo. Considering Picto Box photos can now be uploaded to Miiverse too, it's easy to imagine the Zelda community coming up with all sorts of funny, cute, and heroic photographs featuring what is rather appropriately the most expressive version of Link the series has ever seen.
Speaking of cameras, The Wind Waker HD adds a fully playable first-person view to the game, allowing you to explore the game's waterlogged world through Link's eyes. You can't quite play the whole game in this view -- you can't use Link's sword when in this view, for example -- but you can wander around and shoot arrows like you're playing a first-person shooter, changing up a significant portion of the gameplay experience for those looking for something a little different.
Finally, it's no longer possible to accidentally skip Tingle's island, as Nintendo has worked an introduction to everyone's favorite wannabe-fairy into the main quest. This is a small but important tweak that ensures no one will accidentally be missing out on that portion of the game.
Nintendo has also shed new light on previously revealed changes they're making to the game for The Wind Waker HD. We already knew that the infamous Triforce hunt late in the game -- largely derided for being a tedious, overlong fetch quest that breaks the game's flow -- would be receiving nips and tucks to make it shorter, easier, and less tedious. Now we know to what extent, exactly: of the eight Triforce pieces that must be found, five can now be grabbed directly, while only three require that you find and translate sea charts and go hunting in the Great Sea. Originally, you had to find and translate a different sea chart for all eight Triforce pieces, and considering it cost 201 Rupees to translate even one chart, it's easy to see why this portion of the game was not well-received. From the sound of things, The Wind Waker HD's new Triforce hunt will be far more enjoyable and less flow-breaking.
One of the first improvements over the original game Nintendo revealed was the new Swift Sail, which can be used to travel around the expansive Great Sea far more quickly, and now we know a little more about it. The Swift Sail becomes available after completion of the game's first dungeon, and can be acquired at the auction house. However, there is no in-game prompt alerting the player to the Swift Sail's availability, so make sure you check that auction house early and often!
Besides the Swift Sail, there's one last tweak Aonuma's team has made to the game's sailing mechanics, and it's a significant one: the wind now changes direction automatically based on the direction you're sailing in, meaning you don't have to pull out the Wind Waker nearly as often when you just want to change the direction of the wind. Convenient!
Ultimately, it sounds like Nintendo really took the loudest feedback and complaints about the original game to heart and aimed to address as many of them as they could with this high-definition remake, resulting in The Wind Waker HD hopefully being a more streamlined, accessible, immersive, and fully-featured game experience than the already-excellent original. Of course, we won't know for sure until the game hits North American store shelves this October, but things are looking good!
In the meantime, check out the embedded video for a look at many of the new features discussed in this article!