For this month’s GameClub, we received two submissions! First, Zebei discusses Skyward Sword. Then, Kenith talks about his thoughts on Twilight Princess:HD. Let us know what you think in the comments!
[su_spoiler title=”Zebei, SS” style=”fancy”]
In part for game club, but mostly because of Chuggaaconroy’s new Let’s Play of the game, I decided to pick back up where I left off with Skyward Sword to add to my Zelda repertoire for the month. Previously, I had started the game and enjoyed it, but seemingly just lost interest at one point. When I started the game again this month, I was sitting inside the Ancient Cistern, the game’s 4th dungeon. Admittedly, this is pretty far into the game, and normally I would just start from the beginning if I’ve already missed so much for a return, but I decided to make the best of it and just keep playing. And I had a lot of fun with what I played. The Ancient Cistern wasn’t particularly exciting but I enjoyed it but the sections after it were extremely enjoyable, with the Lanayru sand sea being my new favorite area in Zelda, from both a visual, and gameplay standpoint.
Honestly, the whole game is beautiful. The artstyle is amazing, and while a few faces look a bit strange, the gorgeous areas more than make up for it. The music also happens to be stellar, but this is a Zelda game so that is par for the course. I’m a particularly big fan of the Ballad of the Goddess. Thankfully it made it into Smash For along with Skyloft! Speaking of Skyloft, I love there too. It isn’t the best HUB area I’ve ever been in, but I still love it. It’s just big enough to feel large, but not too big that getting around is a hassle. Everything is nice and compact, but spread out enough that the area can have a personality, along with the villagers that populate it. The sky surrounding it is less enjoyable though. One of Skyward Sword’s big gimmicks is flying around on big birds in the sky. And while conceptually it is pretty cool, in practice it’s pretty boring. There is almost nothing to do in the sky, and it’s pretty much just a tool to get from one area to another. Nothing to fight, only a few islands to explore, and not much variety. Just an empty sky. It doesn’t help that flying is pretty slow, so even getting around winds up just being a test of patience and is unfortunately your only option to get around.
Once you get off your bird things get back to being fun though. Running around the levels, fighting monsters, collecting items. Sounds like a Zelda game to me, but it still is just as fun. The areas on the surface are all fun, and so are the characters that inhabit them. I’m personally very fond of the Mogma that are found at Eldin Volcano. Impa was a dissapointment again since this is the big reason that Impa gets pushed for smash. But it feels like she didn’t do very much in her young form, and once again relied on being an old woman for nearly every relevant action. Groose and Ghiarhim however, were amazing though. I don’t mind Fi very much, just like I didn’t mind Navi very much. A few annoyances here and there but overall more helpful than annoying. It was nice to have the Master Sword feel more than just a weapon though, so I’m a big fan of her at least conceptually. I even got a few laughs out of her. A few enemies have gimmicks designed around the new motion control combat, but most are simple to understand ad the motion controls are pretty accurate so it just makes things more engaging. But collecting items is problematic because of a strange design choice. For some reason, everytime you turn off the game and turn it back on, every item based tutorial resets. Which means every time you play the game, you have to get a reminder about what every individual bug or material is. They are only a few seconds long, but it is just long enough to really kill your flow. Thankfully rupees and ammo don’t do this.
The game’s new gadgets are all pretty cool and do have some motion control based flair. Some barely are like the whip, while some take the motion controls full force like the Beetle, a remote controlled flying robot bug. Personally, I’m a big fan of the beetle and how all of the items are used in the game, and being able to upgrade them to make them better helps make them useful throughout the game, which is pretty cool. And while I can’t say I remember every dungeon in it’s full glory since 3 of them were a long time ago, I will say my general opinion of them is positive. Like I said earlier, the Sandsea is one of my favorite areas, and the dungeon there is my favorite in the series. The only dungeon I don’t think I liked was the Lanayru Mining Facility. If my memory isn’t failing me, I would have rather skipped that one, but I enjoyed the other two. But one misstep isn’t enough for me to condemn the rest, so the dungeons, still the main attraction, get my seal of approval.
Overall, with my skewed opinion from only playing the late game, I would have to say I’ve enjoyed this more than Ocarina of Time. Ask some folks over the Source Gaming Discord, and I think they would expect that from me. I’ve been talking there about how much I’m enjoying this or that all month. It certainly is not a perfect game by any means, but it is one I’ve enjoyed quite a lot, and I’ve been happy that Source Gaming and Chuggaaconroy gave me a reason to pick it back up. There are a few strange design decisions to be found, but it isn’t enough to massively detract from the overall experience. In the end, Skyward Sword gets positive marks from me, and has definitely made me a bit more excited for playing all the other games in the series I’ve missed.
And one more haiku just for fun:
In the land of sky
There is much fun to be had
Fuck the imprisoned
[su_spoiler title=”Kenith, TP:HD” style=”fancy”]
When The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD was revealed back in 2015, I was sorely disappointed by the seeming lack of visual upgrades compared to The Wind Waker HD a couple years prior. I secured my preorder immediately of course, since there’s no way I wasn’t going to have that Wolf Link and Midna amiibo, but I was still apprehensive about whether it would be a worthy remaster of a game I considered to be one of the best Zelda titles. Nevertheless, upon finally getting to play it, I was taken aback by how changed it felt – and for the better! Twilight Princess HD is not only a great remaster but a great Wii U title to own in general.
Twilight Princess had a lot of hype around it when it was first revealed. Fans were clamouring for a more mature and realistic Zelda installment after The Wind Waker’s cartoony artstyle. After seeing the trailers, I was excited for it, and even as a kid who enjoyed The Wind Waker, when I finally got to play Twilight Princess, I was blown away. The visuals, the story, the combat, Midna (it’s no secret at this point), everything. It was the first Zelda game I beat on my own and when I finally did it became an instant favorite.
Of course, other people did not have such a graceful experience with the game. Most complaints came from the game’s slow pacing, limited proper use of dungeon items (such as the Dominion Rod), and forced Twilight Realm sections (where you had to play as Wolf Link and hunt down a bunch of Shadow Bugs, it was pretty boring honestly), and the retreaded elements from Ocarina of Time. And, I never had this experience since I played on Gamecube, but the Wii version’s waggle motion controls were pretty…unintuitive. Coupled with the realistic visuals aging very poorly and you had a game that, over time, became one of the more forgettable Zelda experiences to many people. Twilight Princess HD created an opportunity for them to fix what went wrong with Twilight Princess. Did they achieve this?
Well, yes! For the most part. The first thing I noticed when playing Twilight Princess HD was how sharp it looked. Not the jagged edges from the original models being untouched – I mean the game actually looked very clean, crisp, and clear. None of the comparison videos did it justice. Twilight Princess HD has incredibly impressive texture work which does a good job at making the decade-old models look decent. The streamlined, shrunk-down HUD and UI and the increased resolution also do wonders for the visuals. Looking at the original Twilight Princess on Gamecube after playing the HD version is like looking at the world through a glass of water. I think they should have left the original’s lighting alone, such as removing some of the haze from the Twilight Realm, but otherwise, it’s a genuinely good looking game. Certainly not on par with Nintendo’s other Wii U offerings, but I think the work they put into it really showed.
As for the other improvements, they range from incredibly convenient to…well, not really noteworthy improvements at all. But they’re there. The biggest change to the game’s progression is the reduction of Shadow Bugs you need to collect as Wolf Link. It’s convenient for newcomers, but as someone who played the original extensively, I end up just visiting the original locations of the missing bugs only to find nothing, haha. The other major change is the controls – thanks to the GamePad, not only do you get extra buttons for more items, but like in The Wind Waker HD, you can quickly switch items, view the map, or even switch between human and wolf Link on the touch screen. The extra item button is actually very helpful, but due to it and the fact I’ve never had issues with opening and closing menus, plus not liking looking down at the GamePad every few seconds, the touch screen features never were that convenient to me, but I did enjoy being able to swap between Link’s forms since talking to Midna every time was pretty annoying.
The map screen also tracks a lot of miscellaneous items such as sidequests and the amount of Poes in any area, making finding things without guides easier, and it’s a change I didn’t even realize was added in the HD version because it was so organic. You only need to catch fish for that cat at the beginning once, which is…nice, I guess? Link’s climbing animations are sped up, which looks hilarious. There’s a Breath of the Wild portrait in one of the item shops too. So that’s nice. (You can tell this wasn’t written very close to Twilight Princess HD’s release). You don’t get a notification about a Rupee’s value every time you get a new one (upon loading a save), which should not be the BEST change in the HD version, but it is. Seriously, what were they thinking when they did that?! Anyways, as you can see, while The Wind Waker HD had a few massive changes to the pacing, Twilight Princess HD has a ton of smaller changes that range from convenient to hardly noticeable, but they do add up and help the game flow that much better.
The game also has more NEW things than The Wind Waker HD, and honestly they’re all more of a letdown than the changes. Firstly, Hero Mode is back and now mirrors the world horizontally like the Wii version, which is a cute nod since Twilight Princess HD is based on the Gamecube version. I know it was probably outside Tantalus Media’s (the third-party devs who did this remaster for Nintendo) jurisdiction, but I feel like given how limited some of the late-game items’ uses can be, Twilight Princess could have REALLY used a proper Master Quest with wholly remixed dungeons like Ocarina of Time as opposed to just double damage and no heart drops.
Anyways, there’s also the amiibo support. Wolf Link lets you enter a mini-dungeon called the Cave of Shadows where…well it’s basically just the Cave of Ordeals but you can only play as Wolf Link. It’s not very fun. Wolf Link is one of the weaker elements of Twilight Princess because unlike human Link, you don’t have a massive arsenal of weapon options. So unlike the Cave of Ordeals where you strategically carve your way through hordes of enemies in any way you see fit, in the Cave of Shadows you just kind of lure them into a circle and kill them with the overpowered force field attack. Once you clear the Cave of Shadows you’re gifted with…a bigger wallet. I’m not sure why you’d need 9,999 rupees but if want to be filthy rich in a Zelda game, Twilight Princess HD’s got you covered.
As for the other amiibo, Link and Toon Link give you an arrow refill, Zelda and Sheik restore hearts, while Ganondorf steals your bike and pops your birthday balloons…okay, he actually just doubles damage you take. Coupled with Hero Mode, things start to hurt. A lot. It’s pretty challenging and considering how easy Twilight Princess is, I recommend trying this combo. There’s also the Ghost Lantern, a new Lantern item which glows when a Poe is nearby. It would be a cool item, except that it can’t be used as its own lantern since it only lights up near Poes. Very unfortunate for those who wanted to bring cool ambient blue lighting everywhere with them. Finally, the game has 50 Miiverse stamps. Eh. Nice if you use Miiverse a lot. I don’t, and on top of that, they’re not a new collectable to find since they’re all hidden in places rupee chests were in the original game. Overall, none of these new additions are very compelling or added to my experience, sans the Ganondorf amiibo since I like a decent challenge.
So Twilight Princess HD, while disappointing in some areas, still is a great remaster in my eyes. The few very good changes, such as the visual upgrades, make it all worth it, even if I would have preferred some more of the weaker parts of the game were polished up a bit. The new content is also relatively shallow, but it’s all optional so it doesn’t take away from the experience. Overall, Twilight Princess HD is a solid remaster worth playing regardless if you played the original or not, and reminded me why I still believe Twilight Princess is the best title in the Zelda series.
Until Breath of the Wild comes out. Obviously.