Review by DustyShouri

"Long anticipated, trying to live up to the hype"

Ah, the much anticipated Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has finally graced the Nintendo Gamecube. The game has been delayed countless times and has only made everyone who has been waiting for it only anticipate it that much more. There is a lot of controversy on the Wii versus Gamecube version, but as far as this review goes, there's no need to compare. The game is just about the same, save some minor differences such as controls and wide-screen support on the Wii. What this version does have is full support for the camera on the C-stick, though. As far as the actual game goes though, this is the same down to every nook, cranny, and bugs.

Gameplay [9/10]
This is what you're going to be looking for in a Legend of Zelda game. The gameplay has stayed true to the 3D games of the past in ways most Zelda players will recognize. Your goal is to travel the land searching for whatever goal-oriented items are needed at the time, venturing through dungeons and grotto's until you have such. Along the way you will come across many secrets, side-quests, and games. If you liked any of the Zelda games, you're going to like this one. You brandish your sword and fight against various enemies, new and old, and master using whatever new items you find along the way. What brings more life to this game is the way the game is played in old, but feels so new. Even though you may, or may not, recognize items you've used in the past, there are going to be new ways to use them that you would have never even considered in the past. One of the downfalls of the gameplay is the admittedly confusing difficulty. While dungeons and puzzles will boggle your mind, maybe for hours on end, the action lacks in such department. Dungeons will have you running back and forth with rooms wondering what you've missed, if you've missed anything, should you have missed it. Though throughout the game you may find small parts of the game surprisingly hard, and others surprisingly easy. While bosses have an amazing design to them that makes each battle, even mini-bosses, a joy to go through because of their sheer uniqueness, they just aren't hard enough. This could have simply been remedied through higher damage from monsters, as most only do a quarter or half heart worth of damage, even the later enemies. If you're looking for a difficult action challenge game you'll be disappointed, but overall this game makes up with it when it comes to the overwhelming dungeons and other small things you'll find yourself passing time doing. The game is fun without a doubt. It plays true to what fans begged for, even if it is easy. You'll also have a lot to do besides the dungeons, exploring the huge overworld for hidden secrets. What you may shed a frown for though is the seemingly lack of interaction and involvement in the world. While you may find many a boulder to come back to with a new bag of bombs, you'll only come back and find you've wasted your time as it was only a boulder to drop a handful of rupees. While some places may seem to be a fountain of life, you'll only find that most people won't even talk to you, others won't have anything useful to say, and most of the places are inaccessible. Besides playing in human form, you'll soon in the game find yourself transformed into a wolf. In this form you lose all ability to wield your items, but gain some canine instincts. This was done very well in the game, making the transition from human to wolf easy instead of a drag. You will have the ability to dig, trace scents, sense spirits and other hidden things that Link in his human form can not see. This adds something completely new to the game, but sadly does not expand upon it. The only times you'll really find yourself needing to be a wolf is when it is called upon you by the game, leaving much to be desired. Overall, the game plays true to what many wanted. While it may seem like something you've played in all the other Zelda games, it offers so much more new variety to it. You'll have many dungeons to crawl, more items to play with, and an even more huge overworld to explore. While some could have been polished, it's nothing to break the game, only wish upon it.

Controls [8/10]
Besides the actual playing the game, there is the controlling of the game -- which deserves its own section. The controls have also stayed just about the same since the dawn of Ocarina of Time. The controls feel fit in your hand, as you most likely won't feel the need to think about what you're doing as you play, it comes natural. There are some downfalls though, through the changes made to the control scheme from past Zelda's. 'Start' is now considered your collection screen, not your inventory. So this means all items you collect that you can not use will be shown here. That's it. Yes, not your actual item inventory. That has now been oddly moved to the 'up' button on the directional pad. This can be considered a very confusing change whether you've played Zelda or not, just for the fact that most games assign your inventory to the 'start' button. Even late into the game you may find yourself opening your collection screen instead of your inventory, giving you lapses of momentary frustration at the change. As well, you can now only assign items to the 'X' and 'Y' only, not 'Z'. This means you'll be toggling more than fifteen items on two buttons throughout the game. Though this may seem bad, it's not as awful as it seems. Throughout the game you won't really be switching from many items back and forth, but as you start exploring different possibilities you may notice the burden. However, the rest of the controls are smooth and dead-on. The camera is probably the best you're going to find in games aside from static and first-person. With the addition on camera control to the gamecube version, you'll most likely never have a fight with it.

Story [7/10]
This Zelda brings old and new together, filling in nostalgic desires while throwing in a lot more new into the game. While the story isn't huge and filled with mind-boggling plots and twists, it's satisfying. That isn't to say the game doesn't have a few twists and turns to give you a little surprise every so often. While you may find yourself wanting something more detailed, you might also come to understand that the simple story is fitting for the game, and anymore could kill what many have come to love. While the story revolves around the fight between the Light and Realm of Twilight, you'll soon learn there's a lot more behind it. It adds something new to the Zelda franchise without reinventing it, staying true to what people are familiar with. Some could ask for more, others could ask for nothing more. Either way, you won't find it detracting you from the game that much.

Graphics [10/10]
While many griped over the surprise feature of cel-shaded graphics in the past 3D installment, some loved it. Purely stylistic, it caused a lot of mayhem and controversy. Nintendo has decided to deliver the other end of the coin with Twilight Princess. The graphics have seen a complete overhaul from Wind Waker, where you will see nothing alike, and this is due to the complete change in style. Twilight Princess has returned to the darker, serious realm that Ocarina of Time once was. Link now sports a detailed body, fresh with every stitch in his clothes for all the eye to see. Environments are huge and vast, letting you see far to the horizon, free to gaze at the pure beauty. Twilight Princess pushes the Gamecube to its limits, rendering so much detail, such large settings, and sometimes many enemies at a time. Even the secondary portions of the games are not left out, as many people you will pass look no less detailed than those you encounter in the story. There are also countless emotions being shown throughout the game, never leaving you out of the loop on what's really being felt. Sadistic evil grins, shocking surprises, and caring gazes, it's all there. Besides just giving you detailed models and textures, they throw in a lot of beautiful particle effects, that make oh so much difference. Temples are detailed and each has its own unique look to it, you'll never find yourself being reminded of another dungeon as you play. Besides the pure graphics, the designs are top notch. The layouts are masterfully laid out, making the game so much more immersive, that having these designs any less would not have made it possible. There is some noticeable clipping in the game though, but nothing that makes the graphics look any worse. Sadly, the Gamecube version does not support wide-screen. There is no reason that a game this late in the Gamecube's life should not have wide-screen, other than a business decision, which was the Wii launch. Either way, if you're looking for top-notch graphics on the Gamecube, this is where you'll find them. Twilight Princess definitely shows off Gamecube's true potential, pushing it to its limit, and them some more.

Sound [9/10]
The sound department goes one on one with the graphics. What's the point in making a dark, creepy dungeon if you can't further that mood and setting with gloomy music? In no way does this game disappoint either. While you may not find yourself humming tunes afterwards, they definitely fit where needed. There is a lot of variety of music in the game, ranging from some upbeat tunes that will have you bouncing along with them to some dark and sometimes silent music that will have you wondering what's going to happen next. Many tunes are remixed from previous installments, but still don't feel overused. Some are so well done that you may have a hard time recognizing what song is playing, even if you have had that feeling of hearing it before. You never find yourself out of place with the music, ever so immersive and fitting as the graphics were. The sound effects also do their job excellent. Swords clash, shields clang, and footsteps... step. Even if it sounds mediocre enough, it's done a lot better than it may appear. Your environments only pull you in more as you hear yourself interacting with everything, from the squishing of your feet, to the muffled sounds of being underwater. Though one annoying aspect is the context sensitive awareness that pops up at the bottom of the screen. Each time the function of the 'A' button changes, from picking something up, talking, opening, it will show such at the bottom of the screen. Each time it does this though, it will play a slight sound, just slight enough that it's above the rest of the sounds so that you hear it. The sound itself is not annoying, but after playing so long, and it popping up so much, it begins to dig in, so much that after you stop playing you might keep hearing it. While the game does not support voiceovers, many characters will have their own grunts and 'language,' most noticeable is Midna. While this is a bad or positive choice is to each his own. You may wish it was more, you may not. It does however, do enough that you can feel that they are speaking, even if you're not hearing it.

Replay Value [7/10]
This is what most Zelda games really offer the players. While it may be too early to decide on how many times you might be playing this game over, it doesn't fall short. It may not offer as much in terms of side-quests and exploration, but it still does offer you more than just finishing the game. On that topic, depending on your sharpness, this game could take thirty hours to forty to complete, without focusing too much on anything other than the main quest. If you decide to involve yourself on the side-quests throughout Hyrule, you'll find yourself losing yourself in time. Fishing can be addicting, while repeating some of the challenges to reap its reward will clock in some time as well. While not definitely long, it's fulfilling, especially if you pace yourself.

Overall [9/10]
Twilight Princess has had a lot of live up to, and it does. While not perfect in some aspects, the many other things that are done so well more than make up for it. Twilight Princess is a must have on either the Gamecube or the Wii, and really does a great job on giving the Gamecube one last pure breath before the next generation. Even if you haven't played a Zelda game before, you'll most likely find yourself loving it and only hoping for more. Twilight Princess does excellent in living up to the legendary franchise, and has nearly everything a Zelda game should have.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/18/06

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