Review by TSA_ZHQ

" Twilight Princess GCN - The Definitive Version"

Twilight Princess is truly a unique Legend of Zelda title. It is the only Legend of Zelda title to be a "launch" title for a new system. It is the only Legend of Zelda title to ever release on more than one system in its original run (not re-releases). It's also the first Zelda to have two pretty unique versions with different mechanics, albeit nothing major. The Wind Waker had its controversy over graphics. Twilight Princess will be known for its controversy over which "version" was superior.

Sure, the "politically correct" thing to say is "both versions are great, get both or get whatever you want". I've never really been a fan of saying what is "right" over what is "true". Mask it all you want, or believe all the PR nonsense from Nintendo, but in reality, there is a divide with Zelda fans right now, and unlike The Wind Waker which could "win over doubters" because there was only one version to convince people with, Twilight Princess has two versions, and you are going to favor one over the other.

I gave Twilight Princess on Wii a 9.6. To sum up, it was a great game that worked on Wii, but due to some control issues and some minor flaws in visuals and audio, I felt it was not perfect like a lot of the press and fans proclaim. Twilight Princess on GCN, in a nutshell, remedies the control issues I had on Wii, with my only complaint being the "theoretical" better aiming was replaced with the traditional aiming. Also, because this is a GCN title, the visuals are superb, with I think only Resident Evil 4 being a better looking title, and because it is no longer a next-gen system, the audio issues are more forgivable. Rather than go through the same process of our standard review formula, this will be more of a comparison. Don't worry; there will still be a final score for you score freaks.

The game controls are basically the same as the Wii version, though how you control the game is drastically different. Instead of swinging the Wii Remote, you simply push the B-button to swing your sword. While this may take away from the "unique" experience of the Wii, it allows the player to have superior control. Whether this matters or not is up to you, but there is no delay between pushing B and Link swinging his sword. The spin attack is also done by simply holding down the B button, which is technically easier than shaking the nunchuck, but it takes longer to do. There is no "recharge", however, so you can do spin attacks as frequently as possible. Additionally, the quick spin returns, which has been a staple of Zelda titles since Ocarina of Time.

Camera control is also a welcomed addition to the GCN version. Unlike the Wii version, which the player had to rely on Z-targeting or going into first person, the GCN version allows the player to rotate the camera angle with the C-stick, or zoom out for a wider depth of view. There were several times in the Wii version I tried to use Z-targeting to align my camera, and it would lock onto an enemy or object, which became annoying at points. This is remedied in the GCN version. Additionally, platforming is made much simpler by the ability to on-the-fly adjust your angle so you can have a straight line-of-sight for your next move.

One noticeable disadvantage to some is the lack of the pointer aim system found in the Wii Remote. Not only do you need to use the analog stick to aim (which is also possible in the Wii version if you toggle the options), but you are forced to start your aim in a neutral position, rather than have your cursor pointing at a spot on screen to begin your aim. There is also no pointer for weapons like the bow and slingshot, though the hookshot and using the hawk feature an aiming reticule. Depending on your setup, one version will have better aiming. If you don't own a big screen TV or don't have much space to stand back, the GCN version will be easier because you will experience accuracy issues with the Wii Remote and sensorbar. If you have a nice HDTV and a huge space to play your Wii, the Wii version will be a bit easier. The only trump card is that even after adjusting the aiming sensitivity of the Wii Remote, there may still be noticeable latency between your aim and the on-screen cursor. This is not present at all in the GCN version.

The real disadvantage comes with the item button setup on the GCN version. The Wii utilizes three d-pad slots for items, whereas the GCN only utilizes the X and Y buttons for item slots. Thus, you may only equip two items at anytime on GCN, whereas you can have up to three on the Wii. This is not an issue, and only hardcore gamers will have any complaints. Zelda has limited players to two items before, and even one item in some installments. The Minish Cap was a great title, and you only had two item slots. Was Link's Awakening penalized for only having two item slots? Maybe some have forgotten that probably the greatest Zelda title of all time, A Link to the Past, only feature one item slot, as did the original installment in the series. Sure, having the ability to use more than one item at a time is the way the series has evolved, but it is not always necessary. Still, it is a difference between the two versions.

Lastly, the fishing is vastly different on the GCN version. Rather than reeling in by rotating the nunchuck and pulling back on the Wii Remote, you use the C-stick and a button to fish on the GCN. The Wii version may be more fun as it attempts to replicate real-life fishing, but that chord that connects the nunchuk to the Wii remote really does become an annoyance at points. Fishing on the GCN is easier, though it may not be as involving as the Wii. The Wii version definitely is more entertaining to fish on, though.

Other than what was mentioned, the two games are identical. Except for one trivial issue. Twilight Princess on GCN is a "mirrored" version of the Wii. or vice versa, depending on which fanboy you're speaking with. The only people that this really matters to are people like me who played the Wii version first, and are now attempting to play the GCN version. You will be disoriented for most of the game unless you have the ability to flip everything in your head easily. Of course, if you play the GCN version first, and then go to Wii, you'll experience the same dilemma. For those who do not play both versions, this is a non-factor. Some fanboys will lead you to believe one version is the "true" version because of which hand Link uses, or which way the artists intended the game to be played. I concede that, by their own admission, the creators have said it doesn't matter which hand you use on the Wii version due to the nature of the sword mechanics and they only "flipped" the game to help the marketing, and as such, mirroring the game was pointless. Still, the argument is utter nonsense, but if you do intend on playing both versions, prepare to "unlearn what you have learned", or you will find yourself running into walls at points.

Graphically, the game was pretty amazing on the Wii, but seeing this level of graphic quality on one GCN disc is even more impressive. I seriously now ponder just how good a Wii game can look if Nintendo utilizes more of that Wii disc capacity, or how much bigger the game could have been. Except for Resident Evil 4, I've not seen a game as good looking as Twilight Princess on the GameCube. Still, at points, it seems like textures or areas are too much like Ocarina of Time's. The Wind Waker nicely masked these shortcomings with Cel-shading, now they're more visible. But these low points are not too often, and the majority of the game is rendered very well. I still had thoughts that some scenes were pre-rendered (sometimes cinematics are cued by a pause and a few seconds of black screen), but nothing on the level of FMV so it's probably all in-game graphics. Seeing some of the characters faces up close is awesome, like Princess Zelda or Ganondorf. Many of the bosses are also very epic in scale and size, truly showcasing some the visual capabilities of the GCN.

There is a debate going on as to whether or not Nintendo should ditch "MIDI" in favor of digitally recorded live audio, or basically, "why doesn't Zelda's music sound like Metal Gear Solid's or Final Fantasy's?" I believe the Wii's storage capacity makes it more capable of delivering superior sounding audio, but the GCN version of Twilight Princess is really awesome in terms of the sounds. Only a few tracks really sound last-gen, but the vast majority of the music does not sound like a MIDI. Princess Zelda's theme, the final music when you battle Ganondorf, Midna's theme, even Hyrule Field all sound really awesome. At points, some of the music was very Square-Enix-esque, like when you have to race back to Princess Zelda when Midna is near death. An added bonus is the lack of the Wii Remote speaker. I understand Nintendo was trying to be innovative with that speaker, and at points, it does aid in the gameplay with Midna's laugh letting you know something is up, but overall, it got rather bothersome and the sound quality is very poor on the Wii Remote speaker. These are not present on the GCN.

Much has been said about the story now that many have finished the game. While I share many of the sentiments, I acknowledge most are petty fanboy complaints in the grand scheme of things. Yeah, the game didn't end with a huge tragedy (there's no flood, get over it). Zelda and Ganondorf do not have really well-developed characters, and are rendered mainly absent for most of the game. Yes, the game really confuses...if you look at it in regards to the entire Zelda storyline. That's not how you should judge the game's story, and one should look at it in terms of just the game itself, as a stand-alone story. In that regard, Twilight Princess has the best overall story of any Zelda game, and it is noticeably darker and more mature. Only Majora's Mask comes close to the level of characterization given to some of the NPCs in Twilight Princess (some players need to take more time checking in with NPCs to get this - if you breeze through the game, of course you're going to think the NPCs were horrible). The game also has and ending that is very ambiguous and lends itself perfectly to a direct sequel. And as most fans should know by now, Zelda titles come in pairs (The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, and The Minish Cap and Four Swords/Four Swords Adventures). Direct sequel? Count on it.

You're going to be playing this game for a long, long time. When Miyamoto and Aonuma said the game would be 70+ hours, or even have up to 100 hours of gameplay, I misunderstood what they meant - as did most of us. Just by looking around message boards and sites, the average completion time for Twilight Princess is around 50 hours, with better players taking around 30-40 and those who take their time (or, sorry, aren't that good) taking 50-60. This is the "internets", and the "internets" is full of nerds. Think about average players or non-gamers. They will take 70+ hours, easily. If you go back and do everything, even the most skilled gamer is going to take over 40 hours their first time through, at least. For those who truly love Zelda and great gaming experiences, you will spend a 100+ hours, minimum, on Twilight Princess. It is a massive game, and those complaining it is too short are just playing it through once to get to the end and not really appreciating everything else the game has to offer.

Another big gripe from the Wii version was how easy the game was. The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link were hard games, yes. But I was 6 and 9 when I first played each, and to any 6 or 9 year old, those games would be very hard. Most of us have grown up, and we know Zelda, and we know games. Perhaps if you are playing Twilight Princess as your first ever Zelda game, it will be damn near impossible to beat without a guide. For seasoned veterans, it is not a hard game. It's harder than most Zelda games, and except for Majora's Mask, it's probably the hardest 3D Zelda game. Some of the difficulty is also gone as a result of better game design. Most of the older Zelda games were more difficult due to limited gameplay mechanics and the constraints of a 2D environment. Sure, some of the boss battles in Twilight Princess were very easy, but they delivered on entertainment and they gave an epic feel. So many fans have said how awesome the Stallord battle was, skating along side the grooves on the Spinner...that has to be one of the best Zelda boss battles ever. Fans also finally got to face a massive, fire-breathing dragon in the form of Argorok...and all of this battle took place in the sky. Enemies put up more of a fight, and bosses were more fun rather than tedious. Sure, a difficulty option would have been nice for more hardcore gamers, but for the general populous, Twilight Princess was superbly designed and extremely fun to play.

So now you want to know which version to get. The honest answer is it comes down to two factors: economics and preference. If you had the means to get a Wii and TP, you should have done so because any Zelda fan would want to play a new Zelda as soon as possible and not hold out for a later version. If you couldn't get a Wii, or couldn't afford one, then the GCN version was a nice consolation. Because both versions work so well, you're going to enjoy Twilight Princess no matter which version you play. If you have the means, I would suggest getting both just to experience the game in two different ways, to let yourself truly know which version you prefer. Still, for those who have the means to only buy one or the other, but need to make a choice now on which to get, it boils down to tradition versus innovation. If you have loved every past Zelda title, and are hesitant about a new controller interface, than the GCN version is for you. If you've become tired of the controls Zelda has had for the past 20 years, get the Wii version.

The final answer is: The GCN version is the definitive version of Twilight Princess, but that does NOT mean the Wii version sucks or anything. Both are SUPERB titles and both offer their respective playing styles, it's just this reviewer prefers one over the other. Still, I really do hope Nintendo does get "innovative" with more than just how you play Zelda in the future, but rather, how Zelda plays. Because if you just change up how you play Zelda via the controller, in the end, it amounts to nothing more than a novelty. In the end, the only really innovation with Wii Twilight Princess was the aiming. So, here's hoping to a future of more innovation with Zelda.

Gameplay: 10 - It's honestly up to preference, but it appears the GCN controls are more refined than the Wii, which suffered from latency issues in aiming and registering sword swings. Free camera renders platforming issues on the Wii version virtually painless. The aiming features no "pointer", but only those who played the Wii version will really feel a difference here. Lack of a third item button does reduce you to more item switching, but this is a Zelda game, and item switching is integral. Nobody complained about it with any of the portable Zelda titles, so why start now?

Visuals: 9 - The only drawback is the lack of a 16:9 option and there are framerate issues at certain parts of the game. Other than that, this is one of the best looking GCN titles ever made and really showcases how powerful the GCN was. All of this crammed onto one GCN disc sort of makes one wonder just how much better the Wii version could have been had it not been a strict GCN port. Still, some textures are blurry and some areas just don't look as good as the others.

Sound: 10 - After hearing the music over and over, I've become even more impressed with it. Some of the tracks are simply beautiful and will be classics for many years to come. Reused music is nicely redone, with many of the new renditions much better than previous incarnations. There is a lack of certain sound effects due to the GCN controller having no speaker, but honestly, the Wii Remote's speaker wasn't strength with the audio, but more a weakness. Some tracks, though, sound noticeably worse than the others, which is the only main gripe.

Story: 10 - Fanboy complaints aside, taking Twilight Princess as a stand-alone story is how this game must be judged. The cinematics are unmatched compared to any previous Zelda title, and the story is pleasantly much more mature and darker than other games, more akin to Majora's Mask, though it focuses more on an overall story. Midna simply has the best character development of any Zelda figure, and all other characters have strong personalities (should you take the time to get to know them). The ending lends itself very nicely to a sequel, while resolving the plot of the current game.

Replay Value/Fun Factor/Challenge: 10 - Fans who played through the Wii version and breezed through in 30-40 hours have been complaining about the game not being 70+ hours like promised. If you actually take the time to play the game at a decent pace and take everything in and enjoy it, the game does take 40-50 hours for a skilled player. Most average players will take 50+ hours. Doing everything will take longer, and the game is just so engrossing that you will return and play over and over again; whether it is to catch more fish, to finish Roll Goal, get a new high score in the Zora's River game or collect every Poe's Soul or Bug...there's a lot to do and a lot to come back and want to play more. The game is not the hardest, but some people need to realize they're not children anymore playing a Zelda game for the first time. Seasoned vets will find the game easier than expected, though there are some good battles that will take you near death and puzzles that will leave you stumped. Bottom line is, the game is fun, and you will enjoy it.

Final Score: 9.8 out of 10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/18/06

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