Game: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Platform: Gamecube, Wii, Wii U (version played)
Release: Original 2006, remaster 2016
Despite already owning the game in both its previous incarnation, Twilight Princess is one of the Zeldas that slipped me by. I was put off by the motion controls on the Wii version and when I finally got round to it on the Gamecube I found the opening incredibly slow, leaving me easily distracted to contemporary (for 2012) releases; as such, both versions still sit on my shelf of shame. Now, though, it’s 3rd time lucky thanks to the Wii U HD remastered version released earlier this month.
Each Zelda game follows the traditional dungeon-heart-rescue formula that the series is famous for, while also throwing its own unique mechanic into the works. This time masks and musical instruments have been superseded by the concept of Twilight and the ability for Link to transform into a wolf-version of himself while in this realm. Due to this, the games aesthetic can feel a little gritty and colourless for an adventure in Hyrule, but it is entirely keeping with the story. While not overly grim (this is Nintendo after all), there’s definitely a darker tone present and more emphasis on character than any of its predecessors, something found most noticeably in Midna but there’s also intrigue to be found from the side stories involving regular NPCs.
The main draw of Twilight Princess, though, comes from its dungeons. For all that this installment can sometimes be overlooked, for my money it has the most well-designed dungeons of the whole series, full of varied, ingenious puzzles sewn from simple concepts. This is particular noticeable later in the game as you get to use brand new (at the time) tools such as the spinner and ball and chain, which allow for new ideas to be explored both in the form of puzzles and boss fights, all without the each new weapon feeling like ‘just another item’.
The idea of Wolf Link is sound and it can be quite interesting to deal with scenarios in a different way, without having your utility belt of goodies to help you out. It’s a shame then that combat as Wolf Link (what you’ll be spending a lot of time doing) can get rather tedious as time goes on. Similarly, the vast world you’re presented with feels very empty apart from a few key spots, and there’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing either on foot, as a wolf, or on horse. A note on the latter, the controls for Epona feel a little ‘off’ in the Wii U version (nowhere near as tight as when controlling Link) and can lead to some very frustrating stalling as the game thinks you’ve made right on a narrow bridge when glancing an on-screen edge.
Twilight Princess can feel a little formulaic at times (even at the time it was criticised for being a slightly prettier Ocarina of Time and not offering much innovation), but it’s still an enrapturing and worthwhile experience if you haven’t already played it, thanks to its dungeons and a roster of interesting characters