2013 10 14 Game Review Zelda Wind Waker HD 500

Honestly, this review is probably one of the hardest I’ll ever write. I am a Zelda fan from way back, so I’m not even going to pretend to be objective on this game, especially since I think Wind Waker represents the all-time highpoint in the history of the franchise. Thankfully, however, even if I were able to be completely objective, there’s not much in Wind Waker that disabled gamers will have problems with.

 

To begin with, The Legend of Zelda has never relied much on audio cues, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD continues in this tradition. None of the dialogue is communicated using sound, and audio cues are for the most part simply embellishments. The one notable exception is when pulling treasure chests from the bottom of the ocean. When Link is sailing on the open sea, players will occasionally see rings of light floating on the surface of the water. When moving closer to them, a high-pitched tone begins to sound. The closer the ship is to the treasure, the louder and higher-pitched the sound is. As a result, the ability to hear is helpful when executing this portion of the game, but I have done it with the TV on mute, so the audio cues are not necessary even if they do make the process easier. Beyond this, the fact that it’s on the Wii U actually makes the game more accessible for the hearing impaired, since the player always has the option of using the gamepad’s speakers and headphone output rather than having to sit close to the TV.

 

Forgetting about fine motor for a moment, let’s move on to the game’s visual accessibility. Visually, the game is as beautiful as ever. The cell-shaded art style is back, making everything easy to see. And while it is true that there is a certain level of color coding in the game (rupees are color coded according to value and chus are color coded according to type), the inability to see color does not inhibit the game play, since the denomination of rupees is usually not as important as collecting as many as possible, and since each type of chu jelly (the substance gathered from killing chus) is clearly labeled in the inventory. The color is a mere redundancy. Again, with visual disabilities, we see the Wii U hardware actually stepping up to make the game more accessible for disabled gamers. Instead of having to view a map on a screen which may be several feet away, players will be able to see the map displayed on the gamepad, which brings it much closer and makes it easier to see fine details.

 

Now for the elephant in the room: fine motor accessibility. Zelda is historically not the most accessible for those with fine motor disabilities because of its reliance on precise timing when traversing dungeons and completing puzzles. Those elements are there in Wind Waker. But let me put them into perspective. I have never been able to beat any Zelda title except the original Wind Waker on the GameCube. I’ve put about 20 hours into The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, and I am confident that I will be able to beat this title as well—with little to no help from any able-bodied people. One feature that greatly helps the game’s accessibility is the option to use the Wii U’s pro controller, which feels more like a standard DualShock or Xbox 360 controller rather than the gamepad. This can make accessing the game easier for gamers who have fine motor impairments. And while it is true that there are minor segments in the game that require precision or the use of two hands, these only happen briefly and extremely rarely. Given this and the fact that I will be able to beat the HD version just as I was able to beat the original, I would categorize this title as barrier free for those with fine motor disabilities.

 

On the whole, there is no question that The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is barrier free for both those with hearing and sight disabilities. As for fine motor accessibility, all I have is my own perspective—which includes a severe fine motor impairment. As I was still able to fully enjoy this game, I think a barrier free rating is more than justified for this title.

 

Please feel free to leave comments below the article that address your particular accessibility challenges with this game. If you feel there is a major omission in this review, please feel free to e-mail dagersystem@gmail.com with the word “revision” in the subject line. Please include specific details regarding anything we may have missed. If necessary, we will update our review based on your feedback.

 

Overall Rating: Barrier Free
Visual Rating: Barrier Free
Fine-Motor Rating: Barrier Free
Auditory Rating: Barrier Free
Released For: Wii U
ESRB Rating: E10+
GameInformer Score: 9.25

 

 

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The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Disability Pros Cons
Visual

 

– Cell-shaded art style eliminates any reliance on fine detail.
– The ability to view the map on the Wii U’s gamepad makes it easier to navigate.
– The color coding in the game is redundant.

There is color coding in the game.

Fine Motor

 

– The game is extremely forgiving.
– The game is easy enough to help compensate for most gamers’ disabilities.
– Puzzles that rely on precision and timing are very forgiving.
– Except for one small area, the game can be played with one hand.

There is one small area where the game cannot be played with one hand.

Auditory

 

– The game uses subtitles to communicate the story.
– The story uses non-audio cues to communicate almost everything else.

There is one area where the ability to hear helps, but completion of this task is not dependent on the ability to hear.

 

Overall Rating: Barrier Free
Visual Rating: Barrier Free
Fine-Motor Rating: Barrier Free
Auditory Rating: Barrier Free
Released For: Wii U
ESRB Rating: E10+
GameInformer Score: 9.25

 

 

 

 

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