A dungeon by any other name…
The Legend of Zelda is one of my favorite franchises in gaming. Twilight Princess was one of the most divisive games in the series. It was the first to launch on two systems simultaneously, and even that was controversial. Having motion controls tacked on for the Wii version, in addition to flipping the entire world. Now almost a decade later Twilight Princess gets a second shot, with a new coat of paint, new features, and a few tweaks that make it the definitive version of a criminally overlooked Zelda adventure.
Twilight Princess is also a bucket list item for me. For some reason I have never completed the game. I got frustrated with the motion controls in the Wii version, and the GameCube version quickly became a hard-to-find title. I just never went back to it, so I was excited when they announced the game was getting a second go-around for the Wii U. Being able to experience it the way it was intended, along with the spiffy new visuals and tweaked mechanics, it was finally time to check the final unfinished Zelda game off my list.
Platforms: Wii U
Price I’d Pay: $49.99
This ten year-old Zelda game still holds its own. While it takes a while to get going, the first hour or two can feel a bit sluggish, once it kicks in, it never lets up. Twilight Princess has some of the best dungeons the series has ever had. The biggest point of contention was always the wolf portions of the game. While I remember not being a fan, returning to the game they don’t bother me nearly as much. They also become optional once the first three dungeons are tackled, which is nice.
I always forget how large the 3D Zelda games truly are. Tackling the first three intro dungeons took me nearly ten hours, and then the true game starts to kick in. There is a lot of content here, but it doesn’t come without padding. There are sections and tasks forced on the player that truly feel arbitrary. The world also feels empty at times. Hyrule Field is gorgeous with the new coat of paint, but there are stretches of it that feel absolutely barren.
The visuals are the most noticeable change, and once again solidifies that the GameCube was a monster in its day. This game has aged well, and the new touched-up visuals really help shine a light on the intricate design Nintendo has become known for. Link looks excellent, but the other NPCs don’t fare so well. Enemy designs are varied, and the dungeon bosses are some of the most detailed and terrifying creations in the series history.
In addition to the slick coat of paint, there are several new tweaks added to this version. While it isn’t as game-changing as those made to Wind Waker HD, they are appreciated. Wallet size has been increased, which for anyone who played the original knows was desperately needed. There are also now stamps to collect for Miiverse posts. The limited edition also comes with a Link Wolf amiibo that unlocks a new mode called Cave of Shadows. It pits Wolf Link against a host of enemies from the game, akin to a horde mode.
Other amiibos also alter the game in various ways. Scanning Link or Toon Link will refill arrows, while Sheik and Zelda refill hearts. It can only be done once every 24 hours though. For those wanting punishment, scanning a Ganon amiibo will make the game harder. These are neat, but nothing game-changing.
Playing with the Gamepad also offers up some quality of life enhancements. Players can swap items by dragging them to the quick menu via the touch screen. For the later dungeons utilizing multiple items, this is a godsend. Pausing the game constantly to switch items was always a pain.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is a must-have for players that enjoy the series. It is a lot better than my memories led me to believe, and I cannot stress how good the dungeon design in this game truly is. The wait for a new Zelda game has been painful, but Wii U owners now have two remastered adventures that beg replaying. This timeless series never fails to impress every time I dive back into one of them.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.