I talked yesterday about a few things IGN said about The Wind Waker
that they'd like to see improved in its remake. I was a tad peeved
about how shallow and contradictory their list was, and so I've been
motivated to make my own. Nintendo never really goes all out in adding substantial amounts of new content to their remakes, so I'm going to mainly focus on minor changes. These changes will have a huge impact on the way The Wind Waker plays, while still being very conservative and will keep the original game's design in tact.
To start off, let me recap and touch on some of the features I talked
about yesterday. The biggest change that was suggested was to improve
the sailing. IGN suggested to remove the Wind Waker minigame, but that
would be a pointless removal. Instead, giving players the option to play
the song by the press of a button, and to let them be able to play the
songs themselves, would be the best course of action. This would not
only smooth the sailing process, but help to make the later dungeons
where you constantly have to play the Command Melody a lot more
bearable. Mapping the Wind Waker to its own permanent button, either on
the GamePad screen or on the D-Pad for those who would rather use
another controller, would also be appreciated.
While on the high seas, although you were able to carry three items at a time, you pretty much only had one inventory slot. Your sail had to be out at all times in order to use it, and the Wind Waker had to be out in order for you to change the wind direction, leaving only one slot left for one of the many items you needed to use on the ocean. This lead to a lot of time being spent in the inventory screen, which was cumbersome for a lot of players. I've already addressed how to fix the issue with the Wind Waker, so the sail is the only issue left here. Why not, then, map it to the B button? You cannot even use your sword on the boat, so the B button ended up going unused for the majority of the game. This would open up all inventory slots, and substantially cut down on the time you have to spend in the inventory screen.
While the fluidity of the sailing was a bit of a problem in the original, it wasn't the only one. The ocean was incredibly barren at many times, and often times you'd be able to leave the room, get a drink, and come back without anything happening at all. An easy way to fix this is with something already present in the original game: Big Octos. These behemoths were scattered among the Great Sea, and were marked by seagulls circling above their humble abode. Anyone who did not pay attention to their surroundings would be caught off-guard by the Big Octos, and that added a wonderful sense of panic to sailing. Why not step it up by adding more underwater bosses, or even just randomizing the location of the Big Octos with each playthrough?
That's not the only thing they can do to make the Great Sea a bit more exciting. There were only five real enemies on the Great Sea, and most of them were incredibly predictable and could barely do any harm to you. The only enemy that ever instilled fear in me was the Seahat, as they would jolt towards you and ram you off of your boat. They go down pretty quickly, but because aiming a projectile on the boat is obstructed by the constantly shifting waves, it adds a new layer of challenge to the encounter. I'd like to see more enemies on the ocean in general, especially ones that can present a challenge. Another thing they can do is make some enemy encounters random, so you never get too familiar with your surroundings, especially to the extent in which you can just pass by every foe with ease.
Adding a few more obstacles or simply tweaking some of the original ones could also help in making the Great Sea a bit more interactive. The various mini-cyclones found around the Great Sea could do more than just set you slightly off-course; they could send both you and the King of Red Lions flying in opposite directions. You'd have to swim back to your boat within your breath limit to not drown, all while avoiding the now treacherous waters of the Great Sea. More explosive barrels could also be sprinkled about where appropriate, and even integrated into the minigame where you have to jump over barrels to collect rupees, punishing you even further for miss-timing your jumps.
I briefly talked about how the Triforce Quest should remain on the ocean yesterday, and I still hold that thought true. However, that's not to say it shouldn't be touched upon in any regard. Some of the more unnecessary pieces that were found by simply pulling up from the ocean should be removed, and the ones that remain should be expanded upon. Remember the Ghost Ship, and how menacing it was? Remember how once you entered it, the inside was exactly the same as most submarines? That was a complete disappointment, and should be fixed. The rupee requirement for deciphering charts should be removed, and some charts that lead to a room on the ocean should just be replaced with the Triforce itself. I also feel that the player should learn earlier about the Triforce; around after they collect the Master Sword. That way, all of the fetchquesting won't be confined to the very end of the game and the player can collect the shards at their own pace.
Other than that, the ocean is just fine. With the increased hostility of the environment, there's no need to have to sail faster, as there won't be very many empty locations. Even then, what was once a boring waste of time would now be a breath of fresh air, as encountering an empty area of the ocean after painstakingly trekking through an incredibly difficult section would instil a feeling of relief and satisfaction that was seldom present in the original Great Sea.
I touched upon some updates yesterday, like the updated functionality of the Tingle Tuner and gyroscope aiming, and I believe I touched upon all that needed to be said on those topics. But, for a quick recap: The Tingle Tuner should be usable with the GamePad, but also with a 3DS to allow the player to continue using the GamePad if they'd like, and aiming with the GamePad's gyroscope should be integrated into all projectiles, but be completely optional.
Now, on the subject of controls. All traditional controllers (the GamePad, Pro and Classic Controller Pro controllers) for the Wii U have something in common: they all have four face buttons, two analogue sticks, a D-Pad, and four shoulder buttons. The game's controls should be updated to make use of the additional shoulder button that was not found on the GameCube controller, and allow the player to hold four items at a time. L and R would become item buttons, while ZL and ZR would be mapped to targeting and the shield respectively. All other buttons would keep the functions of their GameCube counterparts.
I believe that the shield functionality should be updated. In the original game, you could use your shield with the R button, but only after you drew your sword. When your sword was sheathed, you'd crouch. I don't believe that crouching and the shield should share the same button, as the shield is an important gameplay mechanic, while crouching is only a circumstantial one. The only solution I can think of, would be to map crouching to a button on the D-Pad, preferably down for obvious reasons. Instead of having to hold the D-Pad down, which would prohibit you from moving (unless you use the claw), you'd simply need to press down to toggle crouching. However, the D-Pad was already full in the original Wind Waker, and adding both crouching and the Wind Waker to it like I've suggested could be problematic.
Could being the key-word here. Luckily, all of the new traditional controllers for Wii U have an extra menu button: the Select button. Opening and closing the map could be easily mapped to this button and free up the D-Pad from unnecessarily clutter. The new D-Pad layout would now be: D-Pad Up: Wind Waker; D-Pad Down: Crouching; D-Pad Left: Grow mini-map, summon compass/clock; D-Pad Right: Dismiss mini-map/compass/clock.
The GamePad should also be home to many things that you'd normally have to pause the game to see, such as a map (sea chart on the ocean) on the left, and the inventory screen on the right. No longer will players have to pause to switch items around, as they'll simply be able to tap the icon of the weapon they want with their right hand, hit the button they want to assign it to, and instantly have it available for use. The HUD should also be slightly customisable, allowing the player to move their hearts, rupees, and various other icons to the GamePad screen if they so desire. The GamePad screen will not be necessary to play the game, but will greatly enhance the experience for players who don't like entering the pause menu too much.
Now, you may have noticed that I've not mentioned Wii Remote and Nunchuck as a play-style yet, and well that's because it wouldn't work. There are simply far too many functions in this game to use a Wii Remote and Nunchuck. They may have been able to make it work with Twilight Princess, but that game's mechanics were specifically changed to work with the Wii's new wand. On a system where the Wii Remote doesn't even come packaged with it, it would be silly to think that it'd gain priority over both the original game's mechanics and traditional controls.
... And here's where we leave the realm of probability. As I said when I started off this article, Nintendo does not go all out with adding substantial amounts of new content to their remakes. Anything brought up in this section is simply something I'd hope for, but won't be expecting or disappointed by if it doesn't make the cut.
IGN brought up an interesting titbit in adding the cut dungeons. Rumour says that there were two cut dungeons specifically, one on Greatfish Isle, seemingly taking place while or before Ganon raids the island, and an ice dungeon, seemingly replaced by Ice Ring Isle. It was also their original plan to have the Earth and Wind Temples found underwater in Hyrule instead of on the ocean like in the final product.
The cut content from Greatfish Isle making a comeback would be an excellent addition to the game, completing the trio of dungeons that house the trio of pearls, and also making Jabun's disappearance more meaningful to the player. Leaving Greatfish Isle after collecting the last pearl from Jabun, and returning later to find the island destroyed would be much more impactful, because you'd both see what it looked like before Ganon destroyed it, and you'd have no idea where Jabun went. Finding Jabun later would then become an optional sidequest that'd be much more interesting than having someone tell you where he is so you can go find him, especially if they move his hiding place. Restoring the ice dungeon wouldn't be nearly as impactful, but still worthwhile. There are only two real dungeons after obtaining the Master Sword, so adding another dungeon alongside them would definitely enhance the experience.
As for accessing the dungeons from Hyrule, I'm not too keen about. Sailing on the high seas in The Wind Waker is an integral part of the experience, and if they go through with making the ocean more daunting then there's no real point of dropping it halfway through the game. This is especially true, once you consider that halfway point is where the game really gives you full reign to explore the ocean to your own will. Dropping an overworld that has just opened up for an entirely new one is pointless.
All of the improvements I've mentioned in this article are not the be-all-end-all of improvements that can be made to The Wind Waker, and I implore you to come up with your own ideas if you can. If The Wind Waker HD were to receive the same amount of attention that new Zelda titles are given, there would be much more potential for additions and improvements that could be made to the overall formula of the game. But, that defeats the point of this remake. The Wind Waker HD is meant to hold us over until Zelda U, not to be Zelda U. And while I'd love for it to happen, we'll be lucky if anything on this list even makes it into the game, no matter how conservative I've made my suggestions. So, please, don't use this article to get so hyped over how much The Wind Waker could be enhanced, and just be happy that we're even getting a Zelda game this year at all.
I'd like to give a big thanks to Kyrith over at the ZI Forums for contributing some ideas for this article and overall being an awesome dude.