The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is another installment in the action-adventure series of Zelda games and was released on the Nintendo Wii and GameCube. This review will be assuming you either know about The Legend of Zelda series or that you have read my first review of the first Legend of Zelda game. So by this point you should already know all the basics of Zelda games. It would also be helpful to be familiar with Ocarina of Time specifically. The most basic plot is that you get transformed into a wolf creature, encounter a strange being of the Twilight realm, and decide that you need each other’s help in order to reach your own goals. You want to become human again, and the creature, Midna, wants to get back to her home to save it. In order to do this you will go through the basic Zelda things like explore a large world, go through dungeons, get new items, defeat enemies, solve puzzles, beat bosses, do side quests, find secrets, and ultimately defeat the source of all the evil in the land.
I recommend knowing about Ocarina of Time when reading this because Twilight Princess does a lot of the things from Ocarina Time… but better. The graphics are more advanced. The combat is smoother. The world and dungeons are bigger and more scenic. There are more secrets. The atmosphere is more developed. I could go on and on, but the point here is simple. Twilight Princess took many of the aspects of Ocarina of Time, the first 3D Zelda game, and polished them to the point of near perfection. However, this leaves a question. What’s new in Twilight Princess?
The tone is a part of it. There have been dark things in other Zelda games, but Twilight Princess takes on a serious, somewhat gritty tone that gives the game some extra weight. Even in the visual style it’s less cartoonish. The mixture of dirty darkness in contrast to ominous glowing makes for a strangely compelling visual style. The slight re-imagining of familiar characters like Link, Zelda, Gorons, Zoras… these all just make the game feel more realistic and therefore more serious. The whole wolf transformation thing is also an interesting new development. It acts more or less as being part of the parallel Twilight world, but it also changes your abilities. In wolf form you can run faster, follow scents, and engage in a rather different style of combat than your human form. You also get some interesting new items that create a few new gameplay elements with their increased potential for depth in mechanics. The story is a bit more involved this time around which gives the characters more interesting tales and provides more weight to the events at hand. Your main companion, Midna, is more than just an in-game strategy guide. She has her own personality and exists as a character. She isn’t simply a tool designed specifically to help Link, and you depend on each other’s help to reach your goals. You’re equals. So there are certainly some new additions to this installment, but are they enough?
Well, I personally would venture to say that while the improvement on previous ideas presented in the series is a good thing, there’s still an overall lack of innovation here. That’s not necessarily bad, but there are many people who would find that to be bad in their own opinion. The serious tone can be nice if you’re into that too, but I personally prefer the more cartoonish and lively nature of other installments. The serious tone just takes away a lot of the liveliness and visual appeal for me. I’m also not a big fan of the wolf form. It’s cool and presents some interesting changes to gameplay, but you can’t use any of the awesome items your human form can. It just makes me really want to be human instead. Maybe that was the point. Maybe you’re being intentionally motivated to yearn for humanhood. However, it also means that you’ll end up despising the wolf form in the process, making for a less enjoyable experience. Perhaps giving the wolf more abilities would be nice so you felt like switching between the two was a worthwhile experience. Also the motion controls for the Wii version, something that should’ve been a selling point for a brand new Zelda game being released on the Wii, are pretty shallow. Wiggling the Wii remote will swing your sword, but it only registers the fact that you’re wiggling the remote. There’s a set patter that your sword will swing based on context. It’s not about HOW you swing the Wii remote, simply that you swung it. Wiggling the nunchuk will bring out your shield. Both of these things can be mapped to buttons, as they were in the GameCube version. They just give you the illusion that your motions matter. They’re nothing more than glorified button presses that are less accurate. The only redeeming quality of using a Wii remote is the aiming function, but even this can be simply turned into a controller function so it’s hardly enough to promote the Wii as a brand new gaming experience like one of Nintendo’s biggest IPs should. The mechanics are great, but the game isn’t as revolutionary or perfect as some might have you believe.
Twilight Princess does some things strangely and fails to be the big revolutionary title it was built up to become, but it certainly polishes and perfects many of the ideas first attempted in Ocarina of Time along with a few new ones in the mix. The different tone and atmosphere work very well to the game’s advantage, and the simplified controls definitely make it accessible to even those who don’t care for the Wii and its motion controls. Plus the soundtrack is pretty sweet. So definitely check this game out. If you have a Wii then get it. I generally see it for around 20 bucks. It’s WELL worth that amount if not more. It’s games like these that make me really miss my Wii… the poor broken thing.