Review by BloodGod65

"For better or worse, this is the dawn of a new era"

Among all of Nintendo's beloved franchises, none has a more devout fan base than Legend of Zelda. Don't believe it? Grown men literally cried at an early E3 preview of Twilight Princess. That could be classified as taking things a little too seriously, but when it comes to Nintendo good games are few and far between. And when it comes to Zelda, new games usually only come around twice per console generation. So when it became clear that Twilight Princess wasn't going to be done until the Wii was almost out, Nintendo decided to cover their butts and ported the game over, complete with some tacked on motion controls.

The concept for Twilight Princess is the same as in every other Legend of Zelda title. Zelda has gone and done something stupid, Hyrule is in danger, and only a young boy in green tights can save it. This time around, Hyrule is being overrun by an all-consuming darkness known as Twilight and the Guardian Spirits of the land are dying. Eventually Link meets up with a Twilight entity known as Midna, and the two set off to restore order to the land and defeat the Twilight.

Although it sounds kind of dark on paper, Twilight Princess is as lighthearted as any other entry in the series. For instance, in the first dungeon Link is aided by monkeys with little pink bows on their heads. Quirky little touches are strewn all through the game, and they're usually good for a laugh. Even the main foe of the game ends up being a victim; despite his being really, really creepy and intimidating throughout most of the game, when you actually meet him he starts prancing around and waving his hands in the air like a ninny.

The gameplay, like the story, is fundamentally the same as it has been in every Legend of Zelda. You will explore a variety of dungeons, defeat their monstrous bosses, and gain a variety of weapons. Par for the course, there are also many side quests and activities around the land. Given that these elements remain the same throughout the series, I won't devote too much time to them other than to say that the dungeons are as intriguing and clever as they've ever been, and there is the occasional challenge (that Water Temple is always a head scratcher, isn't it?). But for the most part, the puzzles are easy to figure out and when the occasional brain buster arises, you'll usually find the answer was staring you in the face the whole time. It's nice that for the most part, the solutions to the puzzles adhere to a reasonably easy to follow logic.

The dungeon locales are all fairly typical; you get the forest, fire, water, and ice dungeons. However I can't say that these basic templates feel old because Nintendo manages to keep them fresh with clever designs. For instance, the water temple revolves around the player moving flowing streams of water to open up new paths. The ice dungeon is an interesting departure that plays out more like a scavenger hunt in a dilapidated mansion. The final Twilight dungeon is probably one of the most straightforward, but still has some interesting mechanics such as a fog that transforms Link whenever he touches it. The sky temple is the only real stinker in the game, and that's mainly because you sink an hour or more going through the thing for the sole purpose of hitting a single switch to open a path to the boss, who was clearly visible from the very beginning.

Speaking of bosses, Nintendo has managed to come up with an impressive array of large and intimidating enemies. As in most other 3D Zelda's, the bosses usually require some interesting tactics to defeat, but not much in the way of skill. They all follow that old "three strikes and you're out" cliche that has been with gaming since… well, forever.

Still, Twilight Princess manages to carve out its own identity in the chronology of the series. However, it bears saying that much of it is eerily similar to another well-known game. As far as the concept goes, the similarities between Twilight Princess and Okami are quite suspicious. Just as in Okami, Link must first banish the darkness in each new area he enters in order to appease divine magical spirits (who also take the form of animals). The similarities get even more marked, because Link turns into a large, majestic wolf whenever he enters an area of darkness. He even has a passenger in the form of Midna, who rides on his back.

To return the land to its original form, Link must first collect Tears of Light. To do this, Wolf Link must use his enhanced senses to hunt down invisible bugs and kill them. Once they're all dead, Link can revive the Guardian Spirit. After this is done, Link usually reverts to his human form and can continue on. About halfway through the adventure, this routine is abandoned and Twilight Princess goes back to the usual template of entering dungeons, knocking out the bosses, and taking any new items you happen to find.

The biggest difference between the Wii version of Twilight Princess and its predecessors is the motion controls. I'll be frank about this; in no way shape or form do they enhance the gameplay. More often than not, they just feel as though they were tacked on to justify porting the game to the Wii in the first place. With that said, the game is still entirely playable even though it would be easier to use a traditional controller. As was perhaps to be expected, most of the motion sensing capabilities are seen in combat. To swing Link's sword you swing the remote and you can perform a spin by shaking the nunchuk. When using weapons such as the boomerang and the hookshot, a targeting reticule appears on screen to assist in aiming. Outside of combat, the main function is to move the cursor on screen to look around.

While the gameplay elements of Zelda rarely evolve, the graphics do. In this regard, Twilight Princess feels undeniably outdated. From a stylistic perspective, the game looks great with its wonderful character, enemy, and environment designs. But in reality, it all looks pretty bad. There are lots of jagged edges, washed out colors, and smeary textures. Part of this is due to the Wii being a non-HD console in a world of HD televisions. However, I think the bigger problem is the fact that Twilight Princess is a game designed for the Gamecube and not the Wii.

I can't make any similar excuses for the audio. While the music is as great as always, there are several unfortunate issues. The first is an almost total lack of voice acting. I don't care what the reasoning is, it is just unforgivably archaic at this point. Then there is the issue of the speaker in the remote; whenever you swing a sword or deflect an attack it makes an annoying little noise. At this point, the quality of the remote speaker (or lack thereof) is notorious, so you should, for the sake of your sanity, mute the thing. Perhaps the biggest issue is the audio bugs. For some reason, there are certain sound effects in the game that never fail to initiate a really irritating crackling, sputtering sound that is akin to the noise a busted speaker makes. From the way it sounds and from the varying situations it appears in, I really don't think Nintendo intended for this to happen.

One final note on Twilight Princess; it is quite a long game. I was fairly focused on completing the game and it still took just under forty hours to complete. I suspect those looking to find every heart piece, complete every activity, and beat the optional dungeon will easily have another ten hours or more on their hands. However, the game starts to feel a little bloated towards the end, as if Nintendo was deliberately trying to pad things out before the big finale. After beating one of the temples, you have to roam the land and look for statues so you can access the next dungeon.

THE VERDICT
Twilight Princess was a long time in the making, but overall the quality of the game is in line with the rest of the series. While I certainly don't think it is good enough to spark uncontrolled bouts of sobbing, it is a good title for a console sorely lacking them.

With that having been said, I would not have bought it if I knew what I know now. As far as I'm concerned, the Wii version of the game is nothing more than a Gamecube title gussied up with motion controls for the sake of making a buck off of people buying a new Wii. Frankly, the motion controls don't enhance the title and ultimately detract from it, even if they are functional. Twilight Princess is still a good game, but I wish I had played it on the console it was originally designed for. Take that as you will.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/11/12

Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (US, 11/19/06)


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