A little disappointing, but still amazing.
Review written by
A few months back, I was the first person to review a game here on Wii's World, and it just so happened that the first game I reviewed was The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. At the time, anticipation for Twilight Princess was absolutely huge, especially since almost nothing was revealed about it. Theories on the Internet and otherwise ran rampant and the hype was almost the highest any game could have gotten to.
Now here we are, almost six months after Twilight Princess was released on both the Wii and the Gamecube to numerous critical and consumer acclaims from almost everyone... almost. While nearly everyone loved the more mature storyline and classic Zelda gameplay, some of us, including myself, weren't so satisfied.
For the most part, Twilight Princess' storyline is a lot more satisfying than Wind Waker's was. Essentially, the game takes place 100 years or so after Ocarina of Time and involves the tale of a new Link, who much like his predecessors is thrust into the role of protector and hero of the land of Hyrule. What makes this tale somewhat different from before however, is the method in which this happens. Initially, Link is thrust blindly into the ever expanding Twilight Realm, a purgatory of sorts which would make great source material for surrealistic art. Much like the Dark World in A Link to the Past, our hero cannot stay human in this realm. Rather than become a cute bunny however, Link becomes a ferocious wolf, with a cunning little imp named Midna who decides to help him out, although the reason behind this doesn't become clear until near the end of the game. In addition, while Ganon and Zelda make their customary appearances in the game, they don't quite appear in the manner you would expect.
Now while this sounds much better than the typical Zelda story you would encounter, the story is also in some ways one of the game's biggest weaknesses.
While I was drawn in by the story and by proxy Hyrule at first, after the fourth dungeon or so, the story starts to become weak. After expelling the Twilight Realm three times from the land and hearing that Zant, the game's main villain can 'put it back whenever he wants to', you would think that he would show a bit more initiative. No, actually, if it weren't for the dungeons, you'd think that Hyrule was almost completely peaceful after the Water Temple. There's almost no sense of urgency similar to what happened in Ocarina of Time and to a larger extent Majora's Mask (Ocarina: Zora's frozen solid, Gorons imprisoned, Kakariko in ruins. Majora: Moon crashing into the earth among other things) and because of which you don't feel much of an obligation to help the citizens of Hyrule save for the fact that you would be robbed of more game.
In addition, Midna is simply too good of a character. While this may not sound like a valid criticism, the fact that Midna talks and is filled with expression and personality makes you realize just how one-dimensional almost any of the other characters are; Zelda plays the noble princess role almost to a fault and Ganon almost never appears at all until the end. A few more scenes to flesh out his developments with Zant would have really helped matters more.
Finally, many of us were expecting to find out what had happened to the friends Link had made in Ocarina of Time and their fates. Unfortunately, the information is sketchy at best. While the Gorons and Zoras are perfectly fine (for the moment), nothing is said of the fates regarding the Kokiri or Gerudos, and Kakariko village remains a shadow of it's former self. Trust me when I say that the 'official' reviews lie about how this is like a 'love letter for OoT fans'.
Now as far as the game actually plays, I honestly have to say that as far as the Gamecube version goes it honestly isn't that different from Wind Waker or the Gamecube version of OoT or MM. However, the overall gameplay is given some new life with the Wii remote. For the most part, it's a lot easier and more responsive with most of Link's tools and items, especially the Bow. However, the nod has to be given to the Gamecube in regards to swordplay, as it's far easier and more responsive to fight with the Gamecube controller.
The adventuring aspect, again, is basically the same as it was nine years ago which is both a good and bad thing. Players go from place to place, go into dungeons, fight bosses and earn new items. The sidequests actually are kind of lame. There's no new sword to get, no trading item subquest, and far too much rupee collecting. Heart containers are still fun to find, and this time around finding Golden Bugs (not Skullutas, actual bugs) is what will get you the most rupees. Finally, Poe collecting has been expanded to a quest of epic proportions, involving the capture of a whopping 60 Poes. Ultimately however, the quest is also pointless as it rewards you with nothing but rupees, more easily found getting Golden Bugs.
The remaining few aspects of the game involve Link's Wolf form. This is something that was obviously tweaked to perfection, as Link's Wolf form at times feels better to control than his human. Although Wolf Link can't use items, he can use his sense of smell to detect nearly invisible items and places to dig. This is actually used in several puzzles and is quite fun to experiment with.
Riding on Epona is mostly a lot of fun, especially since Link now has the ability to attack while on Horseback. This leads to quite a few cool moments, among which is a joust with an enemy and an escort to Kakariko village. Unfortunately however, very quickly Epona is pushed into the background as Midna gives you the ability to teleport almost anywhere instantaneously. She seems kind of like a little bell or whistle to excite the American fans really.
For the most part, the dungeons in Twilight Princess never disappoint. The first three are definitely worthy of the legacy that their Ocarina of Time counterparts started; the fourth dungeon might possibly be my favorite in the game and the sixth and seventh dungeons are great too. Still, not every dungeon in the game is good; the eighth dungeon seemed a little lackluster in its design and the fifth dungeon especially seems like a throwaway due to its length and overall difficulty. Still, these are much better than nearly any of those in Wind Waker and provide a good challenge. The Sky Temple will walk away with you if nothing else, that much is for sure.
The bosses aren't quite so hit or miss. While most of the bosses are in fact quite easy if you know what item can defeat them, that's an argument that essentially can be used for any Zelda game (save Majora maybe). The overall enormity and design of these bosses though cannot be ignored, and even if they are easy for you, you'll still love the overall epic feel of these fights. Unfortunately, this cannot be argued for the final boss. Ganon is for the most part, the same as he was all those years ago on N64, with many of his patterns and attacks recycled from earlier games. I was expecting something a little more than another 'light ball back and forth' and 'prettied up version of Wind Waker's final fight'.
As for the sound quality of the game, there's not much to be said about anything save the music. Despite fan outcries, Zelda and its characters remain voiceless (although Midna's grunts give you a good guess as to what she would sound like) and I honestly prefer it this way. While the Japanese are utter masters at finding voices for animated characters in games and television shows, the Americans utterly SUCK at such a thing. For those of you who've had to suffer through the dubs that are done for certain RPG games on Playstation 2 (.hack//GU, Final Fantasy 12 anyone?) you can understand where I'm coming from. Seriously, would you want to listen to ear wrenching voices possibly as bad as whoever said 'Excuuuuse me Princess!'? Honestly, for now Zelda is better voiceless.
The sound effects are basically the same as in any other Zelda game and really don't make up that much of the game. However, the music plays quite a significant role. Most music is entirely new and for the most part sounds wonderful in whatever context it's used. Koji Kondo has still got what it takes, and this is especially evident with the catchy new Twilight Princess theme. In fact, it's catchy enough that Midna herself can be heard humming it at one point in the game!
This does not make the music perfect though. As those of us who have listened to the remixed tracks over on ZREO can attest to, Zelda desperately needs to change its tunes over to a full orchestra rather than the Midi music that refuses to die. Head over to ZREO for yourself; after listening, I honestly don't need to make a comment if you hear it for yourself.
Despite the fact that Twilight Princess isn't everything the hype machine made it out to be and is a little disappointing to us hardcore fans, if you're looking for a good game and haven't tried it, by all means do so! Zelda is still better than almost ninety percent of the entire line of software produced in the industry and you won't regret purchasing it. Have fun in Hyrule!
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