Release Date: 8 December 2006
Given that the original Legend of Zelda came out the year before I was born there is an argument to be made that I’m a little late to the party when it comes to enjoying this particular franchise. Having finally understood what it was that made this series so much fun (thanks to The Wind Waker HD), I have gone out in search of as many of the games I can get my hands on, and am slowly catching up on 29 years’ worth of monster slaying and princess saving.
Twilight Princess is everything The Wind Waker wasn’t (as I understand it, this was the point): it’s dark, it’s gloomy, it’s sombre, it’s incredibly gripping and, towards the end, actually rather sad. It also made me accidentally throw a Wiimote across the room during a particularly difficult battle; I was perhaps a little over-enthusiastic with the motion controller and effectively knocked out the three brain cells my poor cat had, but more on that later.
If nothing else, of all Gen 6 games ported to a Gen 7 console and played through backwards compatibility on a Gen 8 machine, Twilight Princess is by far my favourite.
100 years have passed since the events of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask in the second of the series’ timelines. We begin our adventure in Ordon Village, where a young man named Link is about to set off on a special errand to deliver a gift to Princess Zelda in Hyrule Castle.
As it was most likely ordained Ordon is attacked while Link’s trying to negotiate the return of his horse with a very irate female. The children of Ordon are stolen and Link is knocked unconscious. He gives chase but, instead of finding children, he finds a wall of Twilight and a hellish otherworld on the other side inhabited by creatures known as Shadow Beasts, who capture Link after his body has a negative reaction to the Twilight which turns him into a wolf.
On the other side of the Twilight Link is set free by a little imp creature named Midna. She’s a sarcastic little thing that doesn’t seem overly impressed by the world of light, but she needs Link’s help so she’ll tolerate him for the time being, and the two set off to find Princess Zelda in Hyrule Castle.
Once found Zelda explains to Link that Zant, an inhabitant of the Twilight Realm, has usurped the position of king and is now determined to spread the Twilight across Hyrule. It’s up to Link and Midna to travel across Hyrule and banish the Twilight and defeat Zant before all is lost to a perpetual gloomy sundown.
Controls admittedly take a bit of getting used to. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the control scheme, but since the game was originally designed for the GameCube motion controls were a much later addition. Movement is controlled with the Wii’s nunchuck, and that’s perfectly fine. Items can be mapped to three of the d-pad’s four directions (the other being reserved for interacting with Midna). The trick comes with using weapons. For Link’s sword you have to wave the Wiimote around for him to attack, and sometimes this isn’t the most reliable. Equally unreliable are certain attacks which require you to thrust the nunchuck forward, which the game often confuses with you shaking it, in which case Link will perform an entirely different attack and whatever enemy you’re fighting will smack you around a little. Weapons such as the bow and arrow and slingshot are controlled by pointing at the TV screen to aim, which works fine most of the time. Once you get used to them the controls are fine, but given the choice I would have preferred to use a more traditional controller.
Apart from that there’s nothing here to really complain about.
The graphics are nothing to write home about now, but considering that the game was made almost a decade ago they’re holding up very well. On a larger TV things start to look a little rough around the edges, but played on a smaller TV or the GamePad none of this is noticeable.
What I particularly enjoyed was the sheer size of the game. Again, taking into account its age and its system of origin, the entire map is impressively enormous, with plenty of main story line and side quests to keep you busy for hours (I finished in around 48 hours, which for me is a lot of dedication). The dungeons have been meticulously thought out, with some puzzles being absolutely brilliant in their ability to stretch the mind or to utterly infuriate when you realise how simple the solution really was after you’ve spent 40+ minutes pushing blocks around on a frozen surface.
Midna also grows on you and is there to give you little hints if you ask her for them.
For one who likes his games light and colourful, this took a bit of getting used to. Scary monsters are attacking and everyone’s screeching and ominous pixels are flying and that weird imp’s criticising my ability to be a wolf and it’s all a little stressful to be honest.
Once I got beyond that though I really enjoyed just how effective this game was at being gloomy and dark, with a constant layer of sadness over everything (the ending in particular). Through that there’s also this great sense of adventure as you travel around trying to defeat evil, which can be summed up as follows:
- We need to get the Fused Shadows!
- YEAH! We got all the Fused Shadows!
- Fuck! We lost the Fused Shadows!
- We need to find the Mirror of Twilight!
- YEAH! We found the Mirror of Twilight!
- Fuck! The Mirror of Twilight’s broken!
- We need to find the pieces of the Mirror of Twilight!
- YEAH! We repaired the Mirror of Twilight!
- Nobody else want to steal anything or find anything or break anything? Good!
- We need to vanquish evil!
The more of these games I play the more I realise how engrossing they are, and how wonderfully fun it can be to be a hero (in a very fetching green hat).
My Final Rating: 8 / 10
Buy The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess at Amazon.com