2016 marks quite a milestone for The Legend of Zelda series. The wildly popular Nintendo franchise is now 30 years old, and barring anymore delays, we’ll also be playing the first original Zelda title on the Wii U.
Before that, though, we’ll be twiddling our thumbs with the HD iteration of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which also happens to be celebrating its 10th anniversary.
What Is It?
Originally released in 2006, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess launched simultaneously on both the Wii (as a launch title) and GameCube, which was a first for the series. While they were largely the same game, they offered different experiences as the Wii version marked the series’ foray into motion controls, while the GameCube version offered a more traditional gameplay experience as far as its controls.
For those who haven’t played it, the game’s plot is considered to be one of the darker ones in the series. It begins in the Ordon Forest where Link lives and works as a livestock herder, well-liked among the children in the forest. As Link picks up after the kids as they perform some troublesome deeds, darkness envelops the forest and Link is brought into the darkness, where he’s suddenly transformed into a wolf. Left helpless in the twilight, a mysterious-yet-friendly elf named Midna follows him around and eventually gets him back home in his original human form. Now donned in the recognizable green cap and tunic, Link finds out he’s the latest incarnation of the legendary hero.
The Wii’s successful launch and the game’s release on the GameCube toward its concluding run caused more people to experience the game on the Wii. That said, Twilight Princess HD more closely resembles the GameCube version and according to Zelda‘s executive producer Eiji Aonuma, it also represents sort of a foundation for what he plans to do with the new Zelda game coming later this year.
Why Should I Care?
Twilight Princess is one of the more revered entries in the Zelda series for a bunch of reasons—mostly due to both its darker tone as well as its more realistic visual style versus that of the game before it in The Wind Waker. Of course, as great as the game is, it isn’t without its faults.
Like Wind Waker HD before it, the biggest changes in Twilight Princess HD are in its visuals and controls. Twilight Princess HD is undoubtedly more lush than the original, and the amount of detail put into the final product is a lot more visually attractive than when the game was announced earlier this year. Despite this, it’s sort of a catch-22. The original Twilight Princess masterfully utilized a blur effect throughout the game that many believe gave the game some unique character. That blur effect has since been washed out to give the game a cleaner look. For some reason or another, the developers also chose to maintain the glow effect for the written dialog, and while it looked okay in the original, it just looks tacky in high definition.
As for the game’s controls, the improvements made are primarily thanks to the Wii U GamePad. Now, instead of pausing the game, you can activate items and weapons simply by using the touch screen. In addition, you also have easy access to your map so your actual TV screen isn’t cluttered with menus. The one nitpick is with the actual item menu screen. In the original, your items and weapons were laid out in such a way where you really had no idea whether or not Link’s “bag” was full. Twilight Princess HD puts the equipment back in separate slots. Why is this an issue? When all the slots are full, you know you’re closer to actually finishing the game. The original game made that a mystery, and it’s unfortunate that this no longer is the case.
It’s also worth noting that controlling Link will take some getting used to. Early on in the game I had trouble simply standing in the right place to read signs, talk to people, or open chests when playing with the GamePad. I also ran into similar issues when using Epona, especially early on when playing the sheep herding minigame. None of this was a problem with the Pro Controller though.
During its time, almost every Zelda game since Ocarina of Time has been a linear experience, and Twilight Princess is no exception. It’s impossible to change that fact, but something a lot of fans of the game should appreciate is the fact that the “tears of light” quests you do as Wolf Link are more bearable, as there aren’t as many to collect in Twilight Princess HD as there are in the original.
For those unfamiliar with these quests, there are times in the game where you discover a new area, and then you have to explore it again as Wolf Link, having to take part in a fetch quest to find “tears of light” in order to rid the area of darkness and revert back into human Link.
Speaking of Wolf Link, a common issue people had with the game was the fact that the Wolf Link segments were too few and far between. While it’s not a requirement to get through the game, Twilight Princess HD includes a new dungeon called the Cave of Shadows which players gain access to by scanning the Wolf Link amiibo, included in most $60 bundles. It’s similar to the Cave of Ordeals from the original Twilight Princess, except here, you’re only in control of Wolf Link. You can also save your high scores to the Wolf Link amiibo. Progression through the Cave of Shadows earns you rupees and bigger wallets to hold your rupees, so other than that, it’s really just a hack-and-slash timepass.
The amiibo functionality doesn’t end there either. Those with a Link or Toon Link amiibo can scan the figures to replenish arrows while those with a Zelda or Sheik amiibo can replenish their hearts. Then there’s the Ganondorf amiibo, which daring players can use to double the damage Link takes, which makes the more challenging Hero’s Mode quite excruciating. It’s not quite Dark Souls, but if you don’t approach the game with any sort of tact, you’ll die quite easily.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
With it being the 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo is making it pretty easy to catch Zelda fever all in anticipation for the new game supposedly out this year. Almost the entire Zelda backlog from the original game to Ocarina of Time is available to play on the Wii U thanks to the Virtual Console, so there’s no better time to experience the series than now.
If you haven’t played Twilight Princess, this HD version is a great way to experience it, but I wouldn’t say it’s the definitive way to play the game. Both the original GameCube and Wii versions of the game had a certain feel to them that really gave it a lot of character. Twilight Princess HD just doesn’t retain that feel.
That isn’t to say the game isn’t a good recommendation. It was a joy to experience the game and its darker story again after quite a while, especially in the more challenging Hero’s Mode. It’s also something significantly different for those who enjoyed the game on the Wii. But if you played the original GameCube version, don’t be surprised if that feeling you had playing the original feels lost in the twilight.