The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is an HD remake on the Wii U of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, originally released on GameCube and Wii. It’s another 3D adventure game in the Legend of Zelda series. This review is actually going to be somewhat of a re-review of Twilight Princess as well as a comparison between the original version on the Wii and this one. I’m not personally familiar with the GameCube version, but I’ve seen that it’s more or less the Wii version except not mirrored and having the gameplay functions mapped to buttons instead of using the motion controls. So that means I’m going to assume you know something about the Zelda series by now and that you’re somewhat familiar with Twilight Princess in general at this point. I won’t give away tons of spoilers, but mild ones are bound to happen and probably more than in my previous review of the game so consider checking that one out first and going from there. If you’re cool with all of that then let’s get on with this thing.
So it’s a typical 3D Zelda. You get the drill by now. You can explore a large open world to find dungeons, caves, towns, and other fun things during your adventure. Along the way you get new items that give you abilities that help you solve puzzles, fight monsters, and generally progress through the game. There are also minigames and sidequests you can try out. The basic plot is that Link is about to make his first big outing into the world, but before he even sets out the village is attacked. The children from the village have been kidnapped along with what one would assume is the only person that could potentially be Link’s love interest. He takes off after them and find himself in front a strange wall of darkness that pulls him in. He awakens to find himself transformed into a wolf and locked inside a prison. Here he meets with Midna, an impish creature (that’s totally not oddly really sexy or anything… heh heh…) that informs him he is in the Twilight Realm and offers him a deal. He needs her help to get free and in return he must obey her commands. So the stage is set. The game then has you going back and forth between wolf and human forms, in and out of the Twilight Realm, and slowly unfolds a larger story as you progress.
I feel like this time around I appreciated some things a bit more. I always liked the darker, more serious tone of Twilight Princess compared to other entries in the series, but I also feel like the strange and often ugly looking character and creature designs fed into that in a great way as well. The atmosphere of the whole game feels heavy, ugly, and depressing. That’s pretty fitting for the things going on. Not to mention the great music and catchy motif worked into nearly all of the themes. Plus, the cutscenes and in-game cinematics are well-crafted an add some extra punch to the story as well as the overall feeling of this world. Even a lot of the puzzles and boss fights are very cinematic. That’s another thing I didn’t really fully appreciate. The whole game as an experience feels great. It just FEELS really awesome to do things in the game, even if they aren’t the most impressive feats to accomplish. I want to give extra praise to Midna. She’s not a guide character so much as she is a character that guides you. She is an independent character that needs your help. It’s a reluctant partnership on both ends. But as time goes on you grow a bond with her and start to actually really care about her. She has very emotive expressions and body language, from being sad and distant to being cheeky and mischievous. And Link has some very appropriate reactions to her through these same techniques. It’s something I doubt I properly appreciated before, but feeling for this character and having Link react appropriately to how I feel in these situations made for a great level of player connection. And now I think Midna would probably rank even higher on my list of favorite Zelda characters… but still just imp Midna. Don’t judge me! Oh, and I also would like to give props to the optional environmental puzzles and secrets that you can find. A lot of them just have some sort of vague visual oddness to make them stick out or show you a chest and make you wonder how to get it. So you mess around the surrounding terrain and try to figure out how to get the treasure. It just looks really natural and feels super cool to figure it out because it feels more like you just discovered something rather than being presented with a puzzle in plain sight for you to solve. It’s cool and again, it just FEELS great. A lot of the items and locations are pretty cool as well, but I’ve already done a few videos and articles explaining these things so I won’t go into full analysis mode on you, but just be aware that there’s a lot to love in this game, especially for Zelda fans.
There were also a few things I probably gave more of a pass to when I first played. The game can be quite linear at times. It’s not like it holds your hand necessarily, but it often wants you to go do the story thing right away. So you might want to go try to explore only to have the game stop you and say you shouldn’t do that right now. I don’t mind when progress is dictated by your items. Like say, you need bombs to blow up a wall to this next part or a hookshot to get across to this next section. Those things feel natural and related to what you can do. When the game has no reason to not let you explore and just says not to do that right now with a text box and THEN unlocks without direct consequence of your actions… well it feels really annoying and lazy. It’s an adventure game. Let me explore, damn it! It also has a lot of story custscenes and tutorial stuff in the beginning that gets tedious. The scenes are cool later on when they mean more to you and you’ve got some attachment to the game since you’ve played. When they are placed to heavily between such structured gameplay it just bogs down the start and makes you want to just skip it all and get to the real game already. Along with that, while I DO really like the overall experience with these custscenes and cinematic boss battles and such for how it all FEELS, the things are so easy to do that they won’t offer hardcore gamers looking for a challenge much satisfaction. Very few parts are all that difficult unless you bump up the difficulty. I also think that some of the secrets are dumb. The hidden caves and stuff on the overworld are cool, but there are many hidden caves you need to dig your way into using the wolf senses… which you will only see when you are very close. While they are optional, they are a real pain in the neck to find for completionists out there unless you use a guide. I found these to be a rather cheap lengthening of playtime and expansion of the world size. Also, a minor complaint is that I think the game could have some method of changing between day and night at some point. Some things are only open during the day and most Poes can only be found at night, so having something akin to the Sun’s Song from Ocarina of Time would’ve been very handy for completing some specific tasks. Not a big deal, and perhaps there IS a way to do it that I just didn’t find, but as far as I know you’re stuck waiting for the correct time of day when you need it. I also would like to once again bring up how being in wolf form becomes less and less exciting. It’s really interesting and different at first, giving you abilities that your human form doesn’t have. However, as the game goes on you get more and more items to use in human form while the wolf form stays the same. It’d be nice to have some progression for the wolf form as well. Oh well, maybe in the sequel. What I’m really getting at is… Nintendo, please bring back my imp Midna. I miss her.
So how does this new HD version change the game? Well, there are plenty of ways that are much more significant if you’re used to the Wii version… which is my frame of reference. I may not have noticed ALL the little tweaks and changes, but I’ll let you know what I personally noticed and/or confirmed with online information. The obvious change is making the graphics HD. There’s also gamepad support now which can display items and maps on the touch screen for fast access and can also use the gryo controls to aim. You can even choose between first person or third person aiming. And hey, there’s now a button on the touchscreen to quickly switch between human and wolf forms. The game is done in the GameCube’s orientation to keep Link left-handed, though it can be mirrored on the hero mode difficulty. There is amiibo support now. I personally only used the only one I had for it. You can use a Link amiibo to refill your arrows, a Zelda amiibo to refill your hearts, and a Ganondorf amiibo to double your received damage at any point during the game. You can also use the limited edition Wolf Link amiibo to try a new dungeon called the Cave of Shadows, which I did. It is similar to the Cave of Ordeals from the original, but it has you fighting entirely in wolf form and does not allow you to use healing items. Instead, you must take on the dungeon multiple times, starting at the top each time but being able to go down further and further with each attempt. The number of hearts you have at the end of your last run is recorded on the amiibo and can be used once during your next attempt in order to refill your health up to that same point. Another addition is the addition of Miiverse stamps in many of the game’s chests. Collecting them allows you to use them in Miiverse posts, of course. Some of these show up new chests but many replace chests that previously contained rupees. The rupees in chests situation has also been changed to be more like other titles. In the original, you would need to have room for the rupees in your wallet or else you’d be forced to put them back. Now you automatically take them regardless of if they will be used or wasted. There have also been some tweaks to the HUD in order to make it smaller and less intrusive. I’ve also read a bit on the Poe souls changes, in that they have reduced the number of souls to find and added in a lantern that can detect if a soul is in the current area. Other than smaller details I don’t think are worth mentioning or details I didn’t notice, these are all the changes I noted.
I liked a lot of the changes. Being able to aim with both the control stick and gyro controls together were nice for precision and the menu/map integration on the touchscreen was a nice touch… pun slightly intended. The change in controls was a change of pace for me, but certainly not an unpleasant one. Not necessarily better than the Wii one, just different. Oh, and the the quick transformation button is HIGHLY appreciated. I absolutely loved the integration of Miiverse stamps. I don’t really use the Miiverse, but just having a new collectible in the game made me even more eager to explore to try and find everything there was to find. Replacing the rupees in many chests, along with the reverted rupees in chests mechanic, made the game’s overabundance of rupees a little less ridiculous. The Cave of Shadows is a fun challenge that gives the wolf form a bit more of a presence. It’s totally optional and other than the reward you get for winning the whole thing you won’t be missing out on much. It’s a nice thing to have, but the game will be just as fun even if you don’t get that reward. It’s a bonus. I think the lantern for finding souls was a helpful thing to add too. The extra draw distance allows you to see a lot more from a distance which, along with added visual effects, helps make a lot of exploration easier… ESPECIALLY bug hunting. The visuals in general look very crisp and colorful and vibrant. Everything is just popping with color and detail, which I personally really like. However, that also leaves me conflicted.
As much as I prefer more colors and vibrant visuals, I think it goes against the tone of the game. The original was more drab and depressing, which worked wonders for the atmosphere. The new Poe soul lantern is a little iffy at times. It’s inconsistent. Sometimes it will glow in an area if a Poe is hidden in a sub area there… but other times it won’t. I don’t know why and it’s frustrating, but it seemed to be so. Granted I didn’t use the Zelda, Link, or Ganondorf amiibo in the game, I don’t think they add much. The extra challenge with Ganondorf sounds good for the hardcore crowd, but the other two with their refills seem a bit unnecessary. You can usually get those things replenished easily anyway and it’d be even more of a hassle to keep them handy for occasional uses. Maybe that’s just me. The gyro controls are nice, but one big omission is the ability to use the Wii remote and nunchuk to play. You can use the gamepad or a pro controller, but that’s it. It just seems odd since other Wii U games still use these anyway AND people are likely to have them for playing Wii games as well. Not to mention that it would make it the definitive version of the game with all the options. Even if it’d be too hard to fit that mode onto the disc with everything else, I wouldn’t have minded a limited run that came with it as a bonus disc or something. It just seems like a missed opportunity to me personally. Then again, I’m one of the few people that actually liked those controls. They at least made aiming great, so give them SOME credit, would ya? And I could see people not caring about the Miiverse stamps if they don’t use the Miiverse or care for completion. The stamps don’t really DO anything in the game itself aside from serve as incentive to explore. Oh, and I did notice that some of the shadows were kinda funky here, showing up in places that didn’t make sense with where I was standing. Very minor, but I did notice a few times.
So I guess when it comes down to it, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is pretty great… mainly because the original was already great. The overall experience is one of the best the series has to offer, along with a serious, dark tone that is refreshing. The hard part is recommending the game. It partly depends on what you prefer. Do you want more convenience? Do you want colorful, HD visuals? Do you want a bonus dungeon and amiibo support to try and justify your obsessive collecting addiction? Then Twilight Princess HD is for you. Or… ya know… if you’re a Legend of Zelda super fan. However, the Wii version is pretty cheap now. It might even be in the eshop. So you could get that for less, especially if you like Wii motion controls. Or if you already had the Wii version and traded up to get a Wii U… well it still works there, man. Now, if you have the GameCube version but want to sell your Wii to get a Wii U instead then this will cover that in much the same fashion as you’re used to. Basically, I’m mainly recommending the HD version to anyone who hasn’t already played Twilight Princess or no longer has a copy. Maybe pick it up as a backup copy of the game that’s technically a different version, if that helps you justify it more. Honestly, whatever version of the game you have will be great, so take what you can get. No matter how you slice it, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a great game that I recommend to generally all audiences, whether they are new to the series or hardened veterans. There’s something for everyone to love in this game. Except Midna. Don’t you be getting any ideas about her. That sexy little imp girl is MINE!