The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

excellent
key review info
  • Game: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  • Platform: Wii
  • Gamepad support: N/a
  • Reviewed on:
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Beautiful princess

I was born in the same year when Zelda first surfaced, changing the gaming world forever. To some, it had the same magnitude as Mario did, the first time it became known as a hit. 20 years have passed and the Zelda-mania got so bad that fans were making queues in front of the stores to buy the Wii and the Zelda Twilight Princess game. Zelda is not just a pleasant return of a classic, but it's also my first game on the Nintendo Wii. Feel free to check out the review on this wonderful piece of equipment that gave me hours and hours of entertainment through Link's adventures. Nintendo struck gold with their release titles and this is one of their best, if not the best of the whole lot. It doesn't even matter if you've played shooters your whole life, you might not even be a gamer... just have a look at this version of Zelda and you'll want to play it forever, or at least till you finish it. In case you can't, you might want to check out the tips and tricks section for a couple of helpful hints.

Story
Link is a funny name for a main character, but who dares to make fun of Mario, for example? If you played Ocarina of Time, you might want to know that the events in Twilight Princess happen a hundred years later. Link is a blond fellow who lives in the Ordon Village and takes care of the villagers' goats. No one would predict that a thin boy like him would be the savior of this realm, considering his shyness and looks. He was chosen to deliver the Ordon Sword to the Hyrule Castle as a gift and the boy hopes that one day he will meet princess Zelda. Things go berserk when a couple of monsters kidnap the mayor's daughter and knock Link down. That doesn't discourage our brave hero and he pursues the monsters getting transported to the Twilight Realm. There, he is transformed into a wolf and he must escape the castle in which he is being held captive. A cute goblin-like character called Midna appears and explains the whole situation to the newly-transformed wolf.

Things will become pretty clear in the moment you'll see the beautiful princess Zelda that will pet the wolf version of Link and explain the whole situation to him. Twilight Princess is a true fairy tale, told in a way that's appealing to children and adults, not to mention the die-hard fans that already posses some pieces of the whole storyline. I won't reveal any spoilers, but I can tell you that: princess Zelda wants the kingdom of Hyrule back from the aggressors that merged the Twilight Realm with it. Considering that she's imprisoned, there's not much she can do, as the shadows have already taken over the realm. Their sole purpose is to steal the "lights" or souls of the ones that are alive and cover everything with eternal Twilight. Pardon my enthusiasm, but what makes you become addicted to Link's adventures is not the story itself, but the way it's told. You'll be transported to the Twilight Realm and back all the time, and have the chance to navigate between those two universes in an attempt to defeat the shadows and rescue Princess Zelda. Link's companions will be Midna, a shadow creature that turned against the Shadow king and Epona, his horse (every Prince Charming must have a horse, or at least a pony).

Concept
The original Zelda games were platforming productions that required you to collect coins and all sorts of pickups while hopping all over the place. Things have changed drastically and Mister Link will have a lot more things to do than collect coins. The currency in this game is the rupee and it puzzled me to see that there are more Hindus culture references in the game: the dot on the forehead of some characters or the swimming style. As this was my first Wii game, I had to adjust to the controls and I have to mention that this happened pretty fast, thanks to the fact that they are extremely intuitive. Being a single-player game, you'll use a Wiimote and a Nunchuk to get around the huge world of Hyrule and the Twilight Realm. You'll use the Nunchuck's analog stick to move while doing all sorts of actions with the other buttons, specially the ones on the Wiimote.

Controls were implemented in a pretty good way, and the camera buttons will ease your task, so there won't be any camera angle problems, like those we had while playing Playstation 2 games. There's a quick action menu on the screen that lets you choose the things that you need to do fast by pushing a single button. You'll usually assign the quick actions to the directional buttons on the Wiimote. The upper button calls Midna for advice or for her huge red helping hand, while the others equip weapons or use abilities, like Link's senses when he's in the wolf mode. The player might shake the joysticks violently and look like he's having a seizure in front of the TV screen while trying to hit the opponent, or he might use the lock-on button on the Nunchuk and hit the A button on the Wiimote to perform a targeted attack. Your character will climb a ledge automatically if he approaches it or he'll hang on it if he barely landed. This game is for kids, I know that, but even in the fairy tales, the hero must have some sort of weapon, the usual sword, bow or stick. Link is satisfied with a slingshot at first and then he'll pass to more serious war equipment like a bow, a metal sword, a boomerang or some sort of grappling chain.

While you must have guessed that the bow and slingshot need ammo, there's no telling how much damage your sword and boomerang can take. Those weapons won't break, but the shield will have some weaknesses, because it's made out of wood and obviously, it could catch fire at some point. In a world that takes 50 hours to explore, a map is a must and you'll benefit of such assets that will appear at the left part of the screen. I could say that the map is a bit too big and there are some actions that require you to remove it from the screen by pressing the 2 button. Press 1 to bring up a more detailed version of the map where zooming is available. This installment of Zelda can be played in more ways and you need to comprehend that the game's action is split into two parts: the action that takes place in the Twilight Realm and the one that takes place in Hyrule. Also, you have the chance to complete many sidequests and minigames that usually get you many rupees, but the tasks won't be compulsory. Players will not get bored with all the locations they'll have to explore, believe me, even if you'll have to pass through the same place twice, the normal version and the Twilight version. Things will be radically changed in the dark alternate universe, because lakes will be mauve, they'll stink and instantly kill you.

Not only will the looks be changed, but also the enemies and the NPCs. You may encounter various locals while playing as Link that you'll meet again as spirits in the Twilight Realm. Their story is quite sad actually, because they're dead and they don't even know it. It's like this: talk to an NPC now, and a few minutes later, you'll ask his spirit for hints and the poor fellow will tremble when he sees the shadow creatures. Speaking of which, you might wonder what horrible creatures await you in the depths of the Twilight Realm. They can be spiders, carnivore plants, shadow creatures, orc-like monsters and many other such critters. Eventually, there will be some swordplay in the game, on the rare occasions you meet a foe that needs more than two hits to die. I'm not implying that Zelda is an easy game; no game would be if it had a 50-hour gameplay, but the AI is a bit bad, for the regular enemies at least. Things get nasty with bosses and sub-bosses, because they require a lot of Wiimote action from you in order to perform the finishing moves needed to defeat them.

Gameplay
While being in the wolf mode, Link will have the chance to take a couple of bites out of the monsters and it will be funny to watch him as he grabs and bites carnivore plants, bats or birds. It's pleasing to see the evolution of a character and that makes a gamer grow fond of him, so I guess that Nintendo found out Square-Enix's secret for the longevity of the Final Fantasy series. While in the first hour of the game you're playing with a quiet boy and your tasks are herding goats, fishing or other errands, you'll notice that, as time passes, Link will become a true hero, slaying demons and freeing light spirits. I had so much fun with the fishing minigame that I did it for hours and I called a couple of friends around to admire the catch. It beats many of the fishing games out there and there's nothing like the Wiimote vibrating in your hand when you've caught "a big one". Just remember this: you won't have to wait till the fish leaves with the bait, just see the lure move a bit and take the fishing rod out of the water.

Nintendo had a choice while making the game, it could be just another platforming title, or the best Zelda game ever, packing RPG elements, action ones and some adventure games features. They chose the second option, but there are no experience points or abilities, magic or such notions. You'll have, however a pretty large arsenal and a nice way of recharging health. Link will drink from bottles filled with milk and each sip will award him with more health. The boy can also fill the bottle with a red mushroom potion that replenishes the hearts at the top of the screen. Since I mentioned them, you must know that Nintendo stayed true to their lifelong hearts indicator, present even from the first Mario game. Each hit you take may "break a heart" or more and if you lose all three of them, you're dead. What's interesting is that the three hearts are not only a symbol of Link's health, but also the retries you have left. Since we were talking about shopping, we might as well talk about the currency of the game, rupees, that are usually found in the grass. I know that Link is some sort of an elf, but he's not a hobbit and I'm puzzled by the fact that the grass is so tall compared to the hero's height.

Getting over the horizontally-impaired complexes, that vegetation I mentioned earlier is the perfect place to find coins, all you need to do is cut it. Also, you'd better keep an eye out for the chests that contain keys or golden rupees as they will be needed for the shopping you'll do later on. Midna seemed a pain at first and the annoying character of this game. You know, each game has a little critter that annoys everyone, he's not good or bad, he just gives hints and evil comments. Usually, in the end he sacrifices himself for the good of the other characters or reveals his kind side of the character. Midna remains annoying and ironic the whole game, but she's the best help you can get in the Twilight Realm. Call her with the Up directional button and she'll instantly appear and give hints or pull you up from places that you can't reach. Because she won't be there all the time, you must realize when the perfect time to summon her has come. While reaching a ledge or a place that has something you haven't been informed about, you'll hear a childish giggle coming from the Wiimote.

It can become annoying, because there are locations where Midna needs to be summoned six or seven times. Plus, her help won't be enough to get you through the platforming part of the game, because some of the rocks that the critter will take you to are small or have enemies nearby. The minigame discussion could last a dozen pages as there will even be a howling minigame, a snowboarding one or sumo wrestling. Snowboarding is so much fun, that Nintendo should make it into a proper game, combine it with the fishing one and pull out a minigame pack from the hat. Zelda's hero won't only receive hints from Midna, because while he's in the wolf mode, Link will be able to talk to any animal and they will sniff his true identity and give him hints on what to do next. As a wolf, Link has the ability to sense places that he can dig, crawl through small spaces, smash crates, howl, and see spirits through his sensing ability. This whole "sense" concept I'm talking about can be triggered by pressing one of the right or left direction buttons.

I prefer using the human Link, because he has way cooler abilities compared to his alter-ego beast. The slingshot is a fun item to use that really shows some of the Wiimote capabilities and makes us realize why was The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess one of the launch titles for the Wii. At any time during the game you'll see a blue fairy on the screen, but that won't be an NPC. Believe it or not, it's the Wiimote's cursor, so to say, that's transformed into a crosshair each time you aim your bow or slingshot. Being a pretty sensitive gadget, the Wiimote requires a lot of precision while you're targeting it towards your opposition. Also, don't forget to use the shield by pressing the Z button and create a beautiful combination of attack and counter-attack. There are some arcade features that remained in Zelda and those are: the fact that you have platforming sequences, you can push crates around, you have hearts as health and the soundtrack is made out of midi tunes.

Video
The game looks superb and I even dared to compare it with Shadow of the Colossus during a riding sequence, because of its physics and graphics. After running for a while, good old Link will stop and breathe and his arms and sword will move while he's huffing and puffing. The game looks good although it's not something we haven't seen before and Nintendo shouldn't be criticized for that, because the whole hype behind the Wii and its games finds its reasons in the easy and intuitive controls. Cutscenes and gameplay are quite similar when speaking about graphics and this aspect can only please the eye. Link's green tunic and weird Robin Hood-like hat have become a trademark in all these years and you'll find them here after a bit of snooping around. I must say that Zelda's characters and Zelda herself never looked so good, although I don't quite recall them having such big eyes in the previous installments.

While swimming, you can admire what Nintendo has done for the past years, as the graphics are superb; the water effects deserve a standing ovation considering that this console is not some hyped XBOX or Playstation 3. In wolf mode, you'll be leaving dust trails behind, the explosions will cover everything with smoke and the character animations are sure worth an Oscar. Don't expect a dramatic game, with characters dying and spectacular plot twists. Instead, Nintendo delivers a relaxing game, teen and child-oriented filled with humor. Imagine that you'll pet animals while they walk by, or fly throughout the Ordon Village by holding a chicken and jumping from a high ledge. That sure sounds like fun and I'm not even talking about the fishing and snowboarding minigames.

Sound
I have no complaint about the voice acting in the game, being satisfied with the dialogs that create a pretty nice atmosphere and help the plot unfold as you progress through the game. When it's time for the swordplay, you'd better prepare your ears, because you're about to hear some nice effects. The Wiimote will make sword swinging sounds, at the exact time you do the moves while fighting. Many have complained about the fact that even after 20 years, Nintendo keeps implementing midi songs for their games. Listening to the soundtrack is something that you can do when you want to chill out or listen to some quality instrumental music. As I mentioned before, Midna's presence will be announced by a giggle when you pass near the area where your little sidekick is needed. I felt like a child again when one of the events in Zelda was triggered and the event I'm talking about is a compulsory minigame you'll run across at the beginning of the game. Link will find some grass, which he will use to whistle and call a hawk, but that's not the essential. Try listening to the beautiful sounds that grass whistling makes and also have a little audio fun while doing the wolf howling minigame.

Conclusion
I haven't had so much fun since... I can't even find a comparison term for this production. Nintendo struck gold and it's not the first time they exploit the Zelda franchise. They keep confirming that once you've produced a good game, you can easily use its fame and superb storyline and make sequels or ports till fans get fed up or get old and pass the gamer status to their children. Nobody saw this coming, but we expected the Wii to deliver something great and it didn't fail us.


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story 9
gameplay 9
concept 10
graphics 8
audio 10
multiplayer 0
final rating 9.5
Editor's review
excellent
 
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