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Wii U preserves the past with Virtual Console and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Nintendo owes its success as much to savvy marketing as it does to creative, accessible game design. Super Mario Bros. is a great game even after a quarter of a century, but that’s only part of the reason why we’re still playing it. The other is that Nintendo is very cunning about re-releasing its games. Super Mario Bros. has appeared on almost every Nintendo console, from the Game Boy Color remake Super Mario Bros. DX to the 16-bit remake in Super Mario All-Stars, a version that went on to be a Wii bestseller in 2010. With the Wii U being Nintendo’s first HD console, though, people have been curious to find out how Nintendo would repackage the past for a machine with more advanced capabilities. The answer is with a new and improved Virtual Console and complete HD remakes, not just remasters, of games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma spoke in Wednesday’s Nintendo Direct video presentation and explained that since it will take quite awhile to finish the new HD Zelda, Nintendo will release an HD remake of The Wind Waker in time for the game’s tenth anniversary. As pictured above, the remake features the same clean cartoon look of the original while upping the resolution to an impressive degree. The video presentation contrasted the old Wind Waker graphics to the new and the difference is striking, a markedly different sort of improvement than the resolution shift in HD remaster sets like Devil May Cry HD, and arguably a step above more concerted efforts like the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection.

Graphics aren’t the only improvements coming to the game, though. Nintendo will have Miiverse functionality for the remake, so people can look at hints to help get through sticky puzzles, and the game can also be played on the Wii U GamePad screen. Aonuma also said that the team will “tune up the overall game experience.” What this means is unclear. Many people complained that it took too long to traverse the Wind Waker’s ocean world, so play aspects like that may be tweaked. Wind Waker was also famously unfinished, with incomplete dungeons discovered in the data of the original. Will Nintendo finish these?

The Wii U’s Virtual Console meanwhile will be a step up from the Wii version. Out this spring, the new Virtual Console will allow Wii owners to repurchase games at a discount—$1 for previously purchased NES games, $1.50 for Super Nintendo games. This is even after those games have been transferred from a previously owned Wii. While that consumer unfriendly pricing is par for the course with Nintendo, the fact that Game Boy Advance games will be available through the Wii U Virtual Console is not. Nintendo has in the past drawn a line between its portable and home console software, only releasing a scant few NES games on Nintendo 3DS. The availability of GBA games on Wii U is a promising start towards breaking that habit.

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