I’d never been much of a fan of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. At least not compared to other Zelda games. As far as the 3D Zelda games go, to me Twilight felt like the least dynamic of the bunch. At its core it’s something of a spiritual remake of Ocarina of Time, a game that I personally consider to be not only a masterpiece, but perhaps the most well crafted video game in history. Twilight follows a similar formula, and reuses many of the core themes and elements found in OOT whereas Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker and Skyward Sword have standout settings, themes and characters that make them feel more original. I’ve often joked that Twilight is Ocarina of Time with a Wolf.
As someone who foolishly sold their Gamecube as a youngster to buy an Xbox (one of the worst mistakes of my young life), I did not play Twilight Princess until I got my hands on a Wii. Now, while the Wii was wildly successful, I actually look back on it as being easily my least favorite Nintendo console. Despite it containing some hefty crackers, the Wii’s catalogue of games was held back by those darn motion controls. Honestly, as lazy as it may sound, I don’t really enjoy playing games that require me having to flail my arms around like an imbecile. While an invigorating gimmick, it quickly lost its luster and ended up a bane for the development of many future Wii games. When specifically applied to Twilight Princess, the Wii Remote and Nunchuck acted as defacto weapons. Moreover, this made executing some of the moves difficult. Moves that are thankfully now easy and satisfying to unleash on your opponents.
I’ve been quietly anticipating this remake for some time, I expected it, and I knew I would purchase it. But in terms of true hype, my priorities had been placed elsewhere. It came as quite a shock to me when I booted up my game and delved into Ordon, just how blown away I was by a game not only 2 generations old, but one that I’d played before. It was like I was seeing it through new eyes.
Those of you who have played the Wind Waker HD will know the kinds of improvements made to the playability of the game. The HD graphics have shone up like a nice shiny penny and there are subtle improvements to the combat systems among other things. You can especially feel a difference when riding Epona, which is faster and more efficient. There’s even a brand new item. An extremely helpful lantern that will assist you in catching poes.
One of the things I’d most like to highlight is the Wolf feature. For those of you who have been living in a cave, the non-spoiler heavy version is that Link gets cursed upon his entry to the Twilight realm and has to deal with a pesky little problem that sees him transformed into a Wolf. While it becomes a tool for use in the later part of the game (think of it along the lines of say, the Boomerang or the Bow), it is involuntary at the start of the game. In fact a large part of the tutorial entails learning to use this new feature. It is intrinsically the defining characteristic of this game. One that never appealed to me in my previous encounters with Link’s battle against Isabella Swan. While previously I had disdain towards this feature because you are exacted into becoming the Wolf on multiple occasions (which have now been reduced thanks to a fewer amount of bugs to collect). I now find myself completely fine with the Wolf feature, and I never thought I’d say… ENJOYING the Wolf feature.
A rather large criticism has been aimed at this game for years because of its length. Hell, the tutorial alone takes approximately 3 hours to complete. A complaint that I fully understand, but don’t fully agree with. I’m of the opinion that a good game is never too long. While simultaneously a bad game is never too short. Twilight Princess’ length defines it. It’s used as a device to assist you in feeling a stronger emotional connection to the happenings of the game. You may be wrapped up in a 3 hour tutorial, but as a result of it Ordon feels like a genuine home. When you return there in later parts of the game, you are filled with a sensation that you couldn’t possibly have if not for the length of that tutorial. You’re coming home.
It’s not to say that this game is still without flaws. Difficulty is something of an issue in places. Don’t think
you’re going to get through that water temple without a guide (unless you’ve got all day). And May god have mercy on your soul if you’re using your Ganondorf Amiibo on hard mode while attempting some of the more difficult temples. You’re a braver man than I am!
As far as I see it, any Zelda fan should pick this up. And if you’ve never played a Zelda game (how dare you, go fix that right now) then this is an as perfect as any entry point into one of the juggernauts of gaming greatness.
If you’re like me and did not enjoy the Wii version of Twilight Princess, but consider yourself to be a Zelda fan, then I’d advocate it as being well worth your time. Its huge array of improvements have completely turned my former opinion on its head. I have a new appreciation for the characters, for the story, the settings and for everything in between. Most of all, for the Wolf feature. It really goes to show how important the way in which you are able to play a game can effect your enjoyment levels of said game. Here’s to a Skyward Sword HD remake for 2017!
Ever since the Wii U tech demo for Zelda back in 2012 a large number of people have been hoping for a HD remastering of the GCN/Wii Twilight Princess. This hope became much more real after The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD was announced and then in November of 2015 Nintendo revealed that Twilight Princess HD was in the work. And the impact was not that great. Nintendo and Grezzo had been making ports of the older Zelda games since the Four Swords Anniversary edition and with every remake (counting four currently) we have been getting a graphically improved game that still feels like the original but much more streamlined and improvements across the board (along with the occasional new features). Twilight Princess HD did not look like this however and that was because the game had been handed over to a new developer called Tantalus. Tantalus has not just made a straight up-port though and there are improvements across the board. However, is it worth repurchasing? That’s what is important here.
Let us start with how it plays. It plays like a Zelda game. It plays like Twilight Princess for the Gamecube.
So the game plays like the Gamecube version of Twilight Princess with some of the Gamepad features found in the Wind Waker HD. On the Gamepad players have quick access to their items and a mini-map. Players can also instantly swap from Wolf and Human form at the press of a button rather than having to waste time going through Midna. That is really it though and apart from the transformation button it really doesn’t make a difference. I found swapping items to be more annoying than it was in Wind Waker HD, especially when it comes to creating bomb arrows. In addition, the mini-map is pointless as it also appears on the TV. Now players can zoom into the map on the Gamepad which gives it some use but that’s about it. There is also a collection screen but this is not mapped to a button. Players will need this screen in order to save and use the Wolf Link amiibo so players may find themselves pausing a lot anyway.
As we are talking about the Gamepad it is possible to play the game exclusively on the Gamepad, but the framerate drops and I just never found it worth it. Especially as the low-polygon models look even worse there.
Graphically I find that Twilight Princess HD has the same problem as the Xenoblade games. From a distance everything looks really good (except the desert) thanks to the updated textures on everything. However when players zoom in they may begin to notice how dated the models are as they have been ported straight from the original. This is unlike the other HD ports where the models have been worked on and improved. This is a shame as had the models looked like the original tech demo or even that CG model of Link discovered last year then this could have looked gorgeous, but that does not happen.
There are only four brand new features in Twilight Princess HD: two that are minor, one that is a bit bigger and the last one that is pretty huge. The smallest feature is a new item called the Poe’s Lantern which allows human Link to find the secret Poes scattered across the world. This makes searching for them easier but you still need to be Wolf Link in order to get the Poe’s Soul so you have to transform anyway making the Poe’s Lantern somewhat redundant. The other minor feature are the Miiverse stamps which are a new collectible found all around the world. This is better but ultimately, it’s just a collectible.
The next new feature is the amiibo. Each of the difference Zelda amiibo figures do something, with the two Link’s filling up your arrows, Zelda and Sheik filling up player’s hearts and Ganondorf doubling-the damage player’s take. The last one is particularly fun as it makes what was a somewhat easy game a little bit more challenging. A new amiibo was introduced for this game with the Wolf Link and Midna amiibo. This amiibo unlocks the Cave of Shadows which is nothing but a gauntlet of fights that players can attempt throughout the game. The further players progress in the game the more floors they can cover. It is OK but nothing amazing and the end prize is pretty mediocre.
The final new feature is the biggest and that is Hero Mode. Hero Mode in Twilight Princess HD takes some elements from Ocarina of Time 3D and Wind Waker HD. In Hero Mode the world of Twilight Princess is flipped to mimic the Wii version of the game. It also doubles up the damage players take and halves the damage they do while removing any heart pick-ups along the way. This along with the Ganondorf amiibo essentially gives the game an ultra hard mode. This is the mode I personally played and I got a lot of game overs with one minor boss taking out 8 hearts in one shot and killing me instantly.
So to the opening question of whether Twilight Princess HD is worth buying….I would say it depends. This version of Twilight Princess is 100% the definitive edition. There is no doubt in my mind and if you have ever wanted to play Twilight Princess then buy this. Despite not fixing any of the issues of the original game, like the pacing problem and the music in a certain section, it is still a Zelda game and a good one at that. However, if you own the original, especially the Gamecube version, then there is very little here that may appear to players. I outlined everything new above and if you weren’t personally interested in those changes, then it might be best to stick with the original. Otherwise, I’d suggest buying this remake and let it tide you over until the eventual release of Zelda Wii U at the end of this year.