The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Review

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Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo

Platforms: Wii, GameCube
Reviewed on Wii

One day, Link shall lead the village of Ordon, but for now he is merely a boy who herds goats and practices the craft of war with a wooden sword. Just when Link is about to venture out of his village to bring Ordon's tribute gift to Hyrule castle, the world is suddenly plagued by foul magics. While the villagers are terrified by the onset of shadowy monsters, Link is transformed and begins his journey as the latest incarnation of the Hero that periodically manifests to save Hyrule from the horrors of power-hungry madmen.

But first, he must regain his true shape.

Kyle Ackerman

Games bearing The Legend of Zelda name have been around for much of the history of home and handheld consoles. They've been consistently good, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is no exception. Personally, I'm one of the millions of fans thrilled to jump into another Link adventure. If you aren't excited, you've probably never owned one of Nintendo's platforms.

In early 2003, fans of The Legend of Zelda got The Wind Waker. Until recently, Twilight Princess has been tantalizingly out of reach. The game's release was finally pushed back to match the launch of the new Wii console, and what was originally a GameCube game became a flagship Wii title (as well as a GameCube game).

So while the game can still be played on the GameCube, Wii owners can take advantage of the new control scheme and a 16:9 image. So you can point the Wii remote at the screen to use the classic clawshot or bow, and wave the remote around like a rod to go fishing. While fighting a lot of battles (or tackling the Cave of Ordeals), I found that waving the Wii remote and nunchuk made my wrists hurt, but connected me to Link's physical exertion and effort. In this new console generation, it would be nice to have even fancier, more detailed graphics. But that's not what the Wii is about. So it's hard to fault the game for not chasing the HD graphical experience.

The Latest Link in a Chain of Heroes

The Legend of Zelda is even more refined than past Zelda games, providing an incredibly long and world-ranging experience. You guide Link to help two princesses save twin worlds from the powers of shadow, and face a familiar foe along the way. The game is also, thankfully, devoid of sailing. If there's anything that made me (and everyone else) tire of The Wind Waker, it was the time wasted spent traveling from one place to another. Twilight Princess sports an enormous world, but Link can easily warp from nearly anywhere on the map (at least, anywhere out of sight of others) to unlocked warp points all over the map.

What's really new is that when Link encounters the powers of Twilight, he is transformed into a sacred wolf, capable of following scents, sensing ghosts, and with an uncanny knack for finding everything buried around the landscape. Early on, Link is either forced into human or wolf form, so players won't have to choose the shape in which they want to tackle puzzles. Later, the freedom to pick shape gives players even more tools to solve ever-more complex challenges.

Fortunately, the Zelda games are remarkably good at giving players just enough hints to make every puzzle easy enough to solve quickly, but hard enough to feel like a real accomplishment. That's particularly remarkable when you realize how long this game is. Certainly, if you want to justify your purchase of a Wii, the Wii + Twilight Princess combo is nearly enough. You'll get as much quality play out of Twilight Princess as you would from four or five top-notch console games.

Through most of the game, the impish Midna serves as Link's guide and a source of hints for those who become stuck. Her true nature is unveiled in time, and is critical to the resolution of Twilight Princess, but for most of the game she hides in Link's shadow, only emerging to transport or advise Link. In wolf form, Midna rides Link's back, manipulating objects with her hand-like hair and helping lead wolf-Link's leaps to ledges and perches that will grant him access to otherwise impenetrable places.

Yet Another Bottomless Pit

That's not to say that Twilight Princess is entirely devoid of problems. The biggest issue with Twilight Princess is its somewhat erratic difficulty level. For the most part, it follows the typical Zelda formula. For much of the game, the challenge is an intellectual one – players have to explore and solve puzzles. Combat isn't difficult, and while bosses can take time, most players will have enough life to figure out each boss' vulnerability and defeat it with ease (at least until the final swordfight). However, there are a few sequences that turn out to be irritatingly difficult to complete. And they always take place at bottlenecks that keep you from advancing through the game.

For example, at one point Link has to escort a carriage past archers with flaming arrows and bomb-carrying birds. While the Wii remote and the Twilight Princess interface are unbelievably clever, they just aren't quite responsive enough to make that sequence anything other than frustrating.

There are also problems with the game's platforming elements. Most of the jumping puzzles aren't hard, but Link's momentum makes him take a second to turn around. Combine that with the sometimes awkwardly shifting camera angles and jumping puzzles in areas like the Goron Mines, the Palace of Twilight or the Snowpeak Ruins, and jumping can get annoying. There's nothing like falling in a bottomless pit during a simple jump because the camera shifted, to make a good gamer grumpy.

A Sense of Style That Touts Really Big Hats

While I know many fans were demanding a more adult-looking Link, I personally miss the cheerfully cartoonish link of past games. Even when annoyed by the few difficult moments in The Wind Waker, the happy-looking Link never failed to make me smile. Link from Twilight Princess is a bit too... metrosexual for my taste. I can't imagine how he has the time and energy to look as he does while constantly crawling through dungeons and transforming into a wolf who burrows underground. Most of the time he looks like he's ready to go clubbing with some of the guys from the recent Final Fantasy games.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is not a brilliant leap in gaming to new realms of play, but it is a polished refinement of a classic franchise that has always delivered entertaining games near and dear to our hearts. Twilight Princess offers several dozen hours of fun and clever puzzles to anyone who appreciates the pinnacle of modern gaming. The visuals are decidedly last-generation, but the Wii's new control scheme offers a new way to experience the timelessly popular Link's adventures.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 9, 2007 5:21 PM.

Dragon's Lair Blu-ray Review was the previous entry.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (DS) Review is the next entry.

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