Okami HD Features

In Theory: Nintendo GameCube remasters on Wii U

Digital FoundryIn Theory: Nintendo GameCube remasters on Wii U

Digital Foundry on The Wind Waker's HD treatment, and which other GameCube classics could follow suit.

HD remasters have continued to fill release schedules over the past couple of years, leaving many console owners feeling a bit of a remaster fatigue. Despite that, we still believe in them. While the likes of Saints Row 4: Re-Elected and Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition are obvious cash grabs, we feel that a high-quality remaster can serve not only to preserve classic games but also open them up to a new audience altogether. If there's one publisher that still has a lot of untapped potential in this field it has to be Nintendo. Going all the way back to Super Mario All-Stars on SNES, Nintendo's work on remastering projects has always been first-rate.

And yet, during the packed 2013 Autumn release schedule, exactly one such release slipped entirely under our radar - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. It's an interesting conversion of the original GameCube release that goes a bit further than your average remaster project; Nintendo EAD enhanced both the visuals and gameplay to refresh the game for a new audience while preserving what made it great to begin with. It was an exercise no doubt designed to familiarise the team with HD development in its preparation of a brand new Wii U Zelda title, but it highlights the potential in tackling more of its back catalogue. But just how good is Wind Waker HD as an example of what could be done, and what other projects would benefit from similar treatment?

Wind Waker HD isn't the first time Nintendo has returned to a classic Zelda game on a new platform; Ocarina of Time 3D was released more than two years prior with entirely revamped visuals in tow. However, with Wind Waker HD, EAD chose to stick with the original 3D meshes, instead using other means to improve the visuals. It starts with a crisp 1920x1080 output, something of a rarity on Wii U, combined with a post-process edge filter that does a reasonable job of keeping aliasing at bay.

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