Review by pandaramaster

"This should be called "Stunning Princess" instead!"

The newest Zelda to hit the GameCube and quite possibly the best one yet! Read on to find out what makes this title, Twilight Princess, a finale fitting tribute to the GameCube!

Story:- Everyone knows the basic plot line that makes the Legend Of Zelda story. You start off as a young teenage boy named Link (of course, in each and every Zelda game you can easily change his name) in a village that dwells in the land of Hyrule, usually ruled by the king and his daughter, Zelda. All is peaceful throughout the landscape and everyone is happy. But of course, you don't buy a game just to dwell in virtual happiness and be merry. This happiness will not last and pretty soon some evil tyrant comes and takes over Hyrule and imprisons Zelda! Oh no! So it is up to young Link, who somehow always manages to get himself involved, to liberate Hyrule from the darkness and to free Zelda. In this title, Hyrule is covered in a darkness called Twilight. The only way to rid of this Twilight is to... I'm not going to you! I really do not want to spoil it for you! . That's the basic storyline for this game. I will not spoil any of the surprises for you. That would be unfair. For an action-adventure game this has a superb story and is well written.

Gameplay:- The Legend Of Zelda series has always implemented great gameplay. Be it from the very first title on the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Ocarina Of Time on the Nintendo 64, this title is no different. Granted, this title doesn't offer anything as astoundingly innovative as Ocarina Of Time, however this title is an excellent game that builds on the foundations that was made in Ocarina Of Time and then some. Basically, the game is about combat and exploration.

The combat is gloriously simple to execute and offers depth and tactical situations throughout the game. The combat system is all in real-time and is a simple case of locking onto the enemies with the L Shoulder button and hammering away with the B button or with the A button if you wish to land a more powerful move. Of course, reading that last sentence makes the combat sound like it's repetitive and mundane. But it's the complete opposite. Remember, I said the game offers depth and tactical situations throughout the game, because one strategy works with one type of enemy will not necessarily mean it'll work with the other types of enemies. It's all about studying the enemies' pattern of attack and defence, and deciding where their weak point is and adapting your ways of attack. This game will constantly challenge you and keeps you on high alert with all enemies. Blocking is done automatically when you lock onto an enemy and you don't move. Easy. You can also strafe and roll out of the way of the enemy when you're locked on. You simply move in the direction you want to go and you jump with the A button.

And it's not just swords you'll be using. You'll be using all manners of weaponry that range from the typical bow and arrow to boomerangs, and to slingshots. And of course, I hate to spoil this bit for you but there is simply no hiding from it, you play as a totally cool looking wolf.

When you play as a wolf the combat is near enough the same as when you fight as a human. The big difference is you can't use weapons or items. You can still lock onto an enemy whilst dodging and strafing, but you can't block an attack. You also can't effectively attack aerial enemies so you have to wait for the right time to attack. See, this game always keeps you on your toes.

Naturally, you learn new moves for both Wolf Link and human Link but it's with human Link that you must look far and wide for new secret moves. They are extremely helpful and powerful and it's always worth checking them out! This is where the game excels in, its exploration.

Exploration: The exploration in every Zelda title is always a joy. The exploration in the game is balanced, near enough, perfect. The game gently eases you to the next stage of the plot. However, you can also leave the story path for a bit and start exploring Hyrule and the many towns and villages. The developers always reward those players who take time to explore the world with extra trinkets, for example, rupees (the game's currency) and more importantly, Pieces of Heart. If you collect five pieces of heart you gain an extra heart to your life bar. Believe me, in the later stages you're going to need every health point you can get! There are golden bugs to collect, much in the same manner as the Gold Skullatas from Ocarina Of Time. When you collect so many you're rewarding with.... I'm not going to tell you that! That's what so great about the exploration, not only does it encourage you to find these secrets and the lands, you also come across some fantastic surprises along the way. But that's not all. After you have collected everything nothing beats that feeling of personal accomplishment.

During the course of the game you have the means of travelling from your trusty horse, Epona. Travelling on Epona across the plains of Hyrule never gets old, especially when you're mowing down enemies and bushes to acquire those elusive rupees. The feeling of riding Epona feels great and is definitely easier to navigate with her then she was in Ocarina Of Time. You don't always use Epona to travel though, in fact, later on in the game you don't really need to use her at all. But that's beside the point. You need to savour the excitement of travelling on your horse and when it comes to fighting on horseback, it doesn't get anymore exciting or thrilling then that!

When Link transforms into a wolf travelling is somewhat easier and covers greater distances in a push of a few buttons. Obviously as a wolf you can't ride Epona so you have to make do with the Twilight Portal holes that you can access from your map and believe me, you'll be glad that you have them! But it's not that easy to just point an area of map and hope for the best. You first have to activate these portals by arriving in that area on foot, activating is done automatically once you cleared an area from enemies, as an example. Exploring with Wolf Link is just as rewarding and fun as Human Link. The fact that you can't open doors or climb ladders doesn't infuriate you, in eases you into the exploration and that's why it's so good because it's rewarding when you do finally reach your destination in spite of your limitations as a wolf. But despite your limitations as a wolf you do have some unique features that are immensely enjoyable and indeed, helpful. The most important feature is the "Sense" ability. By pressing the X button the screen turns into black with the floor illuminated by a bright blue light. From this screen you can see little gold dust particles rising from the ground, if you do see this you can dig at it with the Y button. There are two types of digging, one is digging for treasure and the other is digging underneath a fence, for example. You also learn the scents of key people from their personal items, but I do not wish to you any more than that. The Sense feature is well implemented and adds more depth to the exploration as a wolf.

Collecting things as a wolf is similar to collecting things as a wolf. The only key difference here is as a wolf you need to collect bright blue orbs known as "Tears Of Light" from bugs that are invisible to the human eye. By using your wolf senses you can see the bugs that contain the light. A simple bite on these bugs is all it takes to release the light within them. Of course, some bugs are slightly tricky to reach, but there not to tricky to figure out after you give it some thought. The reason why you need to collect the tears of light is because after you have filled the container with them, the twilight that surrounds you will disperse and you can return back to human form.

The downside to the gameplay is, excluding the new features; it all plays a bit too similar to Wind Waker and Ocarina Of Time. This is not a bad thing though as both of those games were fabulous as well, but for all intent and purposes don't be expecting an earth shattering innovative experience that Ocarina Of Time produced. However, the game still plays great but I just wanted to make you aware of that.

Graphics: Considering this is a GameCube game, the graphics are fantastic. They may not be breath taking, though in some places they do generally look outstanding, but they are not average either. The game looks more mature than Ocarina Of Time and certainly looks different to Wind Waker, and this suitably fits the game overall. The character designs are great and are bursting with charm and brims of personality. The only downside to the graphics is the repetition on some enemies. But respect has to be given on the attention to detail on the environment and the bosses themselves. Each one of them leaves a long lasting memory, each boss battle is memorable and intimidating because of their sheer size and appearance, each boss and enemy looks suitably evil. This game just looks fantastic, the art direction and style is brilliant, and you can tell the moment the title loads this game was created with such craftsmanship and dedication and respect to the franchise. Link himself looks fantastic from his hat flapping in the wind to Link leaving a pool of water and looking realistically wet. As a last gen game, this game is superb in the graphics department.

Sound:- The music is, as always, superb and memorable. None of the music irritates and some of the tunes will fill Zelda fans with great feelings of nostalgia. So the soundtrack isn't fully orchestrated, that doesn't matter because the game's music is still superb. All of the emotive scenes are backed-up by powerful pieces of music, each theme for the key characters fits their personality down to a tee, the battle music that builds up when you approach enemies is expertly done; the music in all fairness is superb from start to finish.

The sound effects are also good, though you'll recognise most sound effects from previous Zelda titles. Sound effects like finding important treasure from treasure chests to the sound it makes when you pick up rupees. It can be called laziness when you just rehash the same old sound effects in a series, but I believe Nintendo re-used to make Zelda fans more comfortable playing this new adventure. And again, the sound effects provoke feelings of nostalgia in Zelda fans of old.

People still can't talk coherently. They make a few "Hello" sounds and "ARGH" but you still have to read the text. Personally speaking, I don't mind reading text but for this day and age, it's a pity that Nintendo decided not to add voice acting. Perhaps it would spoil the atmosphere and mood of the game with voice acting, but it would have been nice to have it. Link is still as silent as ever besides the few battle screams that have been updated, finally!

Lifespan: - This game will last you because there is so much too see and do! There are items to collect, dungeons to explore, a superb collection of mini games such as finishing and water rafting, horse riding; this game has it all and much, much more. The game is no pushover either, this game is challenging. Very challenging and they're maybe times when you get stuck or lost, but persevere and cool logic will get you going again. If you want a rewarding, challenging and long-lasting adventure then look no further!

Overall:- This a new Zelda that sticks to the tried and tested gameplay of old. It doesn't make it a bad game. It makes it an excellent game. The story is essentially the same but with a few nice added twists and turns, and turning into a wolf with its fair share of new abilities is a nice new addition. If you don't own a Wii but you own a GameCube then I can't recommend this game enough. It has everything to please old Zelda fans and has a fair share of new things to entice new people to the Zelda franchise. It doesn't reinvent the franchise, but what it does do is strengthen the foundations made by Ocarina Of Time and Wind Waker and takes it to a new level. Is this game better than Ocarina of Time? Yes, technically it is and this game has some great moments that Ocarina Of Time could never have produced. If you was put off by Wind Waker and wanted a mature Zelda game, than this is the game you was waiting for. This is a fitting finale to a great console. Zelda is back on form, in the stunning Twilight Princess.

Graphics: 8
Gameplay: 9
Sound: 9
Lifespan: 10

Overall: 9 out of 10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/18/06

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