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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Review

By Brian Beck, 11/30/2006

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Ah, The Legend of Zelda. One of the most well-known and well-loved series of games of all time makes a return on Nintendo’s new system, the Wii. The whole series has seen Link transform from a small block of pixels into a more detailed block of pixels and then into a fully-realized 3D character. Some details never really change, though – Link has always been a boy, he has always worn his green outfit and just loves his sword and shield.

However, the jump to the version on the Wii was seen as a somewhat significant jump for the series. Originally a Gamecube game, Twilight Princess also ended up coming out as a Wii launch title. Featuring the ability to aim your projectile weapons with the Wiimote and to swing around like a madman to chop up enemies, Twilight Princess was looked at as one of the strongest titles to launch with a system – ever. Did it end up fulfilling the hype that so many fans of the series placed on its shoulders or did it falter?

First things first – the game has a very similar introduction to that of Ocarina of Time. If I remember right (and it has been ages since I’ve played OoT), Link rode in on Epona while a rendition of the famous Legend of Zelda theme played in the background. You’ll see much the same here, and that is actually a good thing. Each Zelda game, while not being a continuation of the past story, is tied in with every other one through various things.

When you actually start the game, you’ll again be greeted by familiar music. Pick your save slot and go on to play. The story starts pretty simply, with you learning the basics of the game while in the starting town. You’ll learn to move, to swing your sword and to aim a projectile weapon among other things, namely how to ride your horse, Epona. The game does a pretty good job of working this tutorial into the introduction and it doesn’t really feel like you’re playing a tutorial but instead like you’re just starting out on an adventure.

After a bit of time learning the game, you’ll be dragged into the Twilight World. It is here that you’ll discover Link’s new form – a pretty damned cool looking wolf. You’ll also meet Midna who, much like Navi in previous installments, will accompany you and offer advice. One thing here – I really enjoyed Midna – the character was fun and expressive throughout the game and Nintendo did a damn good job of showing emotion with facial expressions (particular since, as in previous installments, none of the dialogue is truly spoken). Midna, however, also provides assistance in navigating some puzzles – you’ll find this one out early on when you have to traverse what looks like a set of impossible jumps. Midna, however, helps you out and allows you to hit a couple of buttons to get over those gaps without having to do some crazy jumping puzzle that’d make you want to beat yourself senseless.

Essentially, if you’ve played through Ocarina of Time, you won’t need to spend much time getting familiar with most of the controls. You’ll know how to get around and stuff like that. The big thing you’ll need to get used to is the Wiimote. Instead of hitting a button to slash your sword, you can swing the Wiimote. To do your spin attack, you just shake the Nunchuk. On paper, this all sounds pretty simple and easy to learn. And, really, it pretty much is.

However, the implementation of it seems to be somewhat sketchy. I tried turning myself, turning the TV and moving the sensor bar but the Wiimote still had issues picking up many of my sword swings. I could go crazy and make huge swings or just try to take little swipes – the system just didn’t seem to want to pick up my movement. In a game where highly precise control is key to being successful, the lack of precision really hurts your ability to control the game

Now, I can’t pinpoint the cause of the issues. It could have been a ton of things, including other lights in the room or a sensor bar placed a bit too far back. The issues, though, bring up an even bigger question – is the implementation of the Wiimote control really necessary? That, again, is a mixed bag. While some of the things it allows are awesome (finally, bow shooting on horseback doesn’t majorly suck), other things will just serve to annoy you. The sword swings are canned swipes that don’t have much relationship to how you swing the Wiimote – I’ve taken a huge swipe from the upper right to the bottom left of the screen and had link swing three times through that swipe in varying directions. The sword controls feel really tacked on and unnecessary. They don’t follow your movements and, until they do, I don’t think they’ll be nearly as fun as just hitting a button to swing the sword.

Outside of the controls, the game is just excellent. While the graphics are decidedly late-gen GameCube quality, the art direction is excellent. Each of the character’s facial expressions do a great job of showing emotion and the character seen in the design of each of the massive temples is excellent. The sound is very similar to what we’re heard before – you’ll find very familiar tunes along with some you’ve yet to hear. Their quality is pretty good for what they are (MIDIs) – I’m really eager to see what Nintendo can do with a larger disc and, potentially, more space for higher quality music.

Overall, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is an excellent game and worthy to carry the title of being a Zelda game. The controls can be problematic at times and feel tacked on, but they don’t do too much harm to the overall experience. The world is expansive, the art direction is excellent and the story is, as usual, awesome (though a good bit darker than previous Zelda stories). Twilight Princess definitely was not a disappointment, though I really wish there had been a traditional control scheme offered. I’m hoping we get a second Zelda game this generation, designed solely for the Wii. The potential I’ve seen in Twilight Princess tells me that Nintendo still has it over 20 years after the original Legend of Zelda.

Overall: 93%



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