A legend is reborn. As I scoured the icy mountains of Snowpeak, sprinted through the vast desert of Gerudo and engaged in some of the most intelligent dungeons ever created, I realised just what a magnificent accomplishment the world of Twilight Princess is. Sure it may be seen as one of the most split in opinion amongst Zelda fans, still after ten years there’s something captivating about Twilight Princess, something difficult to ignore, something simply wonderful. A “must play” is a remark that is thrown around a lot these days, so please don’t take this as an understatement. If you have never experienced The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess it is a “must play”.
The story of a young boy being thrown into an epic adventure is one of the most common traits in the Zelda series. Here it is no different with Link dwelling in the small village of Ordon spending his day-to-day as a goat herder. Later on, his friends are kidnapped after an unexpected encounter with a group of Bulblins which then throws Link into the mysterious Realm of Twilight. Smothered by the dark world, Link transforms into a Wolf before collapsing and therefore being captured by Twilight creatures. Imprisoned Link meets Midna; another Twilight inhabitant. After rescuing Link from his cell, she convinces him to help her find three fused shadows to prevent the King of Twilight; Zant from engulfing Hyrule in Twilight.
Coming from the Wii iteration, I was eager to see what it would be like to use the GamePad. That along with the world being mirrored made the game feel more new. Using the buttons instead of swinging the controller felt a bit strange to me since I played the original religiously with motion controls, nevertheless the GamePad suits fine and within a few hours I knew the controls inside out. One gripe I did find though was the left toggle stick to control Link. This felt less sharp than the Wii remote particularly when riding Epona causing collisions with obstacles quite often. Your inventory is now laid out neatly on your GamePad making swapping items much easier. The option to have a second map on the screen came in handy from time to time too. Camera control works fantastic with the right toggle stick allowing for zoomed in or out focus whenever necessary.
Graphically even with the overhaul to the textures and lighting, the darker tones of twilight were never going to hit the heights of Wind Waker; Big surprise. That said the landscape has still been massively improved with sunsets and scenery never looking better. Rough edges can still be seen on characters, although without stripping the models back to it’s core and starting over it was unlikely to be anything startling.
This may be Link’s journey, however the true star throughout is his sassy sidekick Midna. With her own intentions shrouded, Midna is one of the most interesting characters to appear in the Zelda franchise. Her witty, lovable personality is one of the games strongest assets which helps propel the story forward. By the end you really care for this character and the relationship she shares with Link.
On the other end of the spectrum you have the dark, malevolent Zant. From first appearance the shadowy figure is threatening. His lack of words make him even more chilling that when he does speak, the whole room stops to listen. One dimensional is not a term that matches Zant, as with progression you learn the events of what drove him to such monstrosity. Once discovered he cements himself as not only a distinctive and memorable villain but truly a unique one.
Amongst others there are dozens of superb personalities to fall in love with. Take the Ordon children for example. You have Talo, Malo, Beth and Colin, all individuals in their own sense. So when they are kidnapped you genuinely want to rescue them as opposed to it feeling forced. Then you have the typical goofy citizens like Agatha who is completely obsessed with bugs or the Postman, who runs around Hyrule delivering mail, before handing it over whilst humming a momentous tune. I personally favour Barnes of Barnes Bombs. You purchase bombs at one of his counters and sell them at another. Though here Barnes brings down his face guard and puts on a different voice to pretend he has others working for him. It’s both wacky and wonderful.
The HD treatment is debatable for what it consists of. Is it just a new lick of paint? Or a full re-structuring from start to finish? Time spent by Tantalus media upgrading this classic, upon first look may seem little when compared to the Wind Waker, still scratch the surface and you will notice small improvements. Speeding up the gameplay we have a toggle option to change form along with faster swimming and climbing. Rupee messages that don’t constantly get thrown in your face, reduction of tears in the “Tears of Light” quests and a Ghost Lantern to hunt down Poe souls. Difficulty was another concern as many found the original far too easy. Not too worry as the new Hero mode will challenge even seasoned veterans. Feeling confident? Add the Ganondorf amiibo to go from tough to mad man. All these new features aim to diminish any annoyances within the 2006 release, fortunately for the majority they succeed.
The biggest of them all though is the opening. Nothing is more like marmite than the introduction where you live out Link’s daily routine before being thrown into an epic adventure. Somewhat enduring the calm before the storm. Many believed because of it’s length that it would be shortened. This is not the case as the only reduction I could see was in the cat quest where instead of catching two fish you only catch one. Clearly not solving the issue, I personally have never disliked the opening enough to warrant it a problem. Yes it may have taken me nearly two hours to reach the first temple, (On my sixth play through) yet the slow burn approach hits home with me. If you’ve ever watched Breaking Bad, you’ll understand what I mean.
Bundled with the HD release you receive a Wolf Link and Midna amiibo. Owning this entitles you to the newly implemented dungeon whereas Wolf Link you venture through the “Cave of Shadows” battling Twilight enemies until reaching the lowest level. Here you’ll be rewarded for your trouble with not an obligatory item nonetheless still a useful one. Depending on your stance on the Wolf combat this can either be great fun or your worst nightmare. Still the more positive of us will even find this dungeon tedious. I appreciate the new addition but feel more could have been done to make it feel less of a chore. Other compatible amiibo include Link, Zelda, Sheik and previously mentioned Ganondorf.
One outstanding asset that has held up extremely well is the music. This can be said for most Zelda titles, yet Twilight Princess sometimes falls under the radar. Whilst exploring the fields of Hyrule, investigating the deepest reaches of a dungeon or taking on one of the many behemoth bosses the music never disappoints. From dark, gruelling theatrical showdowns to poignant storyline moments the sound helps emphasises just what a truly special game this is.
Dungeons. Love them or loathe them, they are a defining factor of Zelda. Some entries struggle with this concept, not Twilight Princess. Every single Dungeon you visit is exceptional. Walking on walls surrounded by lava in Goron Mines, gaining control of enormous statues in the Temple of Time, or even gliding on top of a Beyblade like spinner through Arbiters Grounds. These and so many more reasons contribute to the best selection of dungeons to ever grace the series.
The world of Twilight must be explored if never experienced to truly appreciate what an achievement it is. With a cleverly crafted sidekick, an eerie, looming villain and plenty of surprises along the way the cast shines in this darkened tale. New improvements and additions like the Cave of Twilight may not be revolutionary, yet they contribute well to smooth out any rough spots on original release. This along with increased difficulty, outstanding music laid together with exceptional dungeons that have stood the test of time make this without a shadow of a doubt the definitive version. If The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess does nothing else, it is still a fresh reminder that even after a decade, there is nothing quite like Zelda.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Wii U code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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