Before anything can be said about The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess there are a few points that we need to be discuss. First and foremost, the game is a port of the GameCube version so set your expectations at that level. Second, the game exists on the Wii solely to push product. Nintendo needed a name that guaranteed people were going to overlook the uncertainties of the Wii’s philosophy and that name was Zelda. Unfortunately, as an introduction to Wii gaming, The Twilight Princess is a failure.
Motion controls are bland and often consist of little more then just waving the Wii Remote side to side to swing your sword. One would think that you’d at least be able to swing up and down to do a vertical slice attack, but sadly that’s just not the case. All motion controls act exactly like a button press, nothing more, and were most likely chosen because there simply aren’t enough buttons, not because they were a good idea.
There are a couple of interesting uses of motion control such as using a forward thrust of the Nunchuk to perform a shield bash, but even that is pretty touchy and often you’ll end up doing a spin attack instead.
Aiming, the only truly effective use of the Wii Remote, is smooth and surprisingly responsive. The only downside is that if you’re not pointing at the screen you’ll just sort of be left there, open for attack, unlike with the analog stick where you’re guaranteed to be on screen, centered and ready to fire. In the end it’s really a trade off and comes down to personal preference.
Having played both the GC and Wii versions of Twilight Princess, it’s really hard to say which controls feel better as the classic control scheme feels more familiar and natural, while the Wii scheme gives you a slightly easier time aiming.
Obviously, since the game is just a port it’s foolish to expect full integration of the Wii’s abilities, but there are so few additions that the game that it often doesn’t feel like it justifies its own existence. Fortunately once you get into the heart of the adventure you’ll completely forget about the lack of true Wii-ness in the title and just become captivated with the incredible world director Eiji Aonuma and his team have created.
In many ways, The Twilight Princess feels like the series has returned the master sword. Gone is the cutesy art style of The Wind Waker, gone is the overtly queer Tingle born into the series by Majora’s Mask, and back is the awesome sense of adventure and excitement you felt the first felt so many years ago. Not since the stellar Ocarina of Time, has a Zelda game felt this complete, this consuming. The only thing missing is a “Hey, listen!”
As you leave your humble beginnings as a lowly stable boy and progress on your way to becoming a true Hero of Hyrule, one thing becomes immensely apparent – it’s not the journey but the destination that counts.
For the better part of eight hours you’ll be stuck doing annoying fetch quests in a rather lame attempt to introduce you to both the story and the new game play mechanics. It’s hands down the slowest opening of any Zelda game and even the Twilight realm, while visually stunning, is a particularly boring experience.
The first time you enter the realm it’s kind of cool. The staunch brown earth tones and bloom provokes feelings of hopelessness and depression. You feel the desperation and fear of the trapped souls, but you’re also filled with a strong desire to over come the darkness and return light to the damned realm.
Sounds really fun and exciting now doesn’t it? Too bad the game play in the twilight realm consists of little more then glorified fetch quests. All you really do is run around killing bugs that are highlighted on your map. That’s it. The few puzzles that need to be solved in the realm are also ridiculously easy and provide little entertainment.
Game play as human Link remains pretty much the same as it was in every previous Zelda game. But is that really anything to complain about? Zelda has rarely been known as a series that reinvents the wheel. It success comes from taking the same base and then building upon it to make it look like something else. The story for example, while unique, still follows the traditional Zelda form. The same is true for the games many puzzles. You’ve seen most of them before, but the fact is they were fun and completing them again is hardly going to detract from the experience.
About eight hours into the game you gain the ability to switch between Link and Wolf-Link at will. Suddenly everything changes. No longer can simply lighting a torch solve puzzles. Instead you’ll need to rely on the joint abilities of your human and wolf forms to find the proper solutions and complete the games last few dungeons. Even the final series of battles with Ganondorf require the use of both forms.
Musically The twilight Princess is nothing if not nostalgic. In addition to the traditional scores heard in every Zelda game, it also includes classic Ocarina songs such as Zelda’s Lullaby as tunes the wolf can howl to call upon the spirit of a long dead great warrior. This warrior grants you secret hidden skills that make fighting all the more complex and exciting.
There was initially some concern about the darker tone the series has taken and more importantly the Teen rating it received. In some ways they were right. The game does feature some harsher elements such as the Prince of Zora dealing with his mother’s execution at the hands of the Twilight King, Zant. Though the execution is not shown the ramifications of it are seen and discussed numerous times throughout the middle of the game.
When you take the time to really examine the story it does become apparent that any elements added to the game that brought it up to a Teen rating were done so in the interest of presenting a better story and not in the interest of shock attention. No smash your brains out, kill your parents, overly moody, hard rock, Warrior Within stuff going on here.
When all is said and done after nearly 20 hours of gaming, you’re left feeling a sense of true success. The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess could easily be considered one of the finest games ever produced were it not for the horribly slow opening and tacked on controls that make getting to that ending so hard. It’s a great game, but not the greatest game.
The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Animated Blood and Fantasy Violence. This game can also be found on: GameCube.