Yesterday, Zelda Universe received a review copy of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, and since then I have been “working diligently” to complete the game. I started the game using the new “Hero Mode”, and I have actually been surprised by the challenge it offers (but I haven’t died yet!). After one day of playing, I am ready to enter the Tower of the Gods, but I spent a large part of the time rediscovering the world of The Wind Waker.

The swift sail alone makes exploring the world significantly more fun, but there are a variety of smaller changes that have made this remake all the more worthwhile. Some of the changes are well known, but others haven’t been mentioned by Nintendo. As I play through The Wind Waker HD, I will be checking in and providing new glimpses and details about the changes made in the game.

Today, I’ve decided on three small (some of them unexpected) changes that are my favorites. Obviously, the swift sail is a huge improvement over the original, but I’ll talk about the sail later this week!

The boat’s cannon shows a trajectory.

This was a change I was hoping would make it into the game, but I didn’t expect it to happen. While using the cannon aboard the King of Red Lions, you can now see the path of your bomb before it is fired. This addition trivializes some portions of the game that were previously more difficult; that is, anything that requires using the cannon to aim precisely.

Defeating Big Octos is now extremely simple; likewise, destroying the cannons that fire at you from sea platforms is also simple. While it does make parts of the game easier, it also makes them less frustrating.

Unfortunately, another related change did not make it into the game: you are not shown a trajectory when Link is throwing bombs (this feature was included in Skyward Sword).

Using the Wind Waker no longer feels repetitive and takes less time.

How many fans were frustrated by needing to constantly change the direction of the wind or take control of a companion? Using the Wind Waker constantly for repetitive tasks is one of the biggest complaints from fans regarding the original game (right after the boat being too slow). The Wind Waker HD has made some very minor changes to the way the Wind Waker works, but they make a huge difference in the experience.

1. The Wind Waker must no longer be equipped. The Wind Waker now has a designated button (up on the D-pad). While playing the original Gamecube game, I always had the Wind Waker equipped. It wasn’t a huge hassle (I always keep the ocarina equipped in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask), but opening up the third inventory slot is sure to please some players.

2. The beat does not begin until you press a direction. While playing on the Gamecube, you had to be quick to start conducting a song because of a constant beat. Not pressing a direction in the first couple seconds meant starting over. In The Wind Waker HD, the beat does not begin until you press a direction. What that means is that you can take out the Wind Waker and start conducting a song immediately, or you can stand in place and wait until you are ready. This is a very small change that will save seconds for some players and save frustration for others.

3. Link does not conduct the song a second time, every time. When you start the game and conduct a song for the first time, Link will conduct the song a second time and a message will display informing you which song you conducted. This is no different from the GameCube game. However, when you play the song for the second time, you input the directions and then the effect happens immediately.

4. The GamePad displays each song for reference. I have never had a big problem remembering the songs in Zelda games. I still know all of the songs from Ocarina of Time without needing a reference, and I rarely need to reference anything for Majora’s Mask or The Wind Waker. However, I am sure that I am in a minority. Fortunately, when you begin using the Wind Waker in The Wind Waker HD, all of the songs you have learned are displayed on the GamePad for reference. It makes it much easier to find out what you’re doing wrong.

The Picto Box is useful, and fun!

This change has been talked about extensively the last couple of weeks, but it is still a somewhat surprising change and my absolute favorite addition to the game. The Picto Box is no longer just an item to take up space or to complete the most tedious sidequest ever put in a video game. Instead, the new features make it an amusing distraction from the main game, and I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures players post on Miiverse.

There are a few key differences. First, you can get the color Picto Box before ever visiting Dragon Roost Isle, and it’s very easy. You are now required to rescue Tingle before you can purchase the sail from Zunari, and Tingle will tell you there is an item hidden behind his cell. Obtaining the deluxe Picto Box no longer requires a firefly from the Forest Haven; you only need to complete Lenzo’s three-part photo-taking sidequest to obtain a new Picto Box that creates color pictures.

Second, as previously reported, you can now hold up to 12 images at a time (instead of the original 3), and the ability to post your pictures to Miiverse means that the images can essentially be saved forever.

I saved the best for last. Link can now be included in your pictures, and he has a few different expressions to make the pictures more interesting. I have already spent a lot of time setting up amusing pictures and just having a good time using the Picto Box. I no longer need to equip the Wind Waker, so the Picto Box has taken its place; I always have the Picto Box equipped.