Game Review: The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess HD (Wii U)

Everything old is new again

WiiU_ZeldaTPHD_scrn_01The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is a title which we’ve been looking forward to. Although the game first saw release as both a Wii launch title and Gamecube title back in 2006, it’s one of those games that gamers still talk about as either one of the greatest in the series or one of the most average. As is the case with other games, sometimes the only way to find out if the game holds up is to release it again to a new, fresh audience. Rather than compare and contrast with what was better before or is better now, let’s treat this game for what it is; a new release for Wii U. As always, our review is written in a way that avoids as many spoilers as possible.

Zelda BoxFirstly, for Amiibo collectors, a Midna Amiibo comes packed in with the game. Who’s Midna you might ask, well you’ll have to play the game to find out. Amiibos also play a key part in the game, but again, play the game and you’ll see what they add to the experience.

Twilight Princess begins as Link, the protagonist, awakes in his small village of Ordon to a beautiful day. He leaves his home to find that one of his friends had given his horse, Epona, a bath. This little girl goes on to tell Link how she loves Epona and is so glad to know him. Following this opening scene Link is asked to complete a few tasks such as helping a friend herd his goats,  buy a slingshot for local kids to play with and help a friends’ mother find her baby basket. This is a portion of the game that some will find tedious, but it is a great introduction to what the Legend of Zelda is all about; exploring the land.

The game opens up after about two hours after Link is asked to deliver a piece of mail to the great castle in Hyrule; a land that no one in in the village has ever seen outside of the mailman. Once in Hyrule, the adventure begins when the princess of Hyrule is kidnapped and Link is tasked with saving her from Ganondorf, the evil prince who is obsessed with uniting the Triforce, the energy that keeps Hyrule in peace.

The world of Twilight Princess is beautiful. Displayed in full 1080p and flowing at 60fps, it runs very smooth and has an incredible draw distance. The entire world can be seen with absolutely zero pop in. It really shows that the Wii U console isn’t nearly as underpowered as some think. Lighting effects are a well done feature in the game as well as it makes players feel as though the world is authentic and immersive.
What’s not so beautiful is the dark world. In a flash Link can change into a wolf and visit the dark world, a haunted alternate universe of Hyrule that’s gray and gritty. It’s a sad world that thankfully only comes in small bits. The majority of the game is spent in the light world.
ordon_villagers_by_avatarus_one-d5ezx0bHyrule is a living, breathing world. It shows in every person you meet. Each character in the game, no matter how ordinary they seem, plays a role in the world. Some people you can only meet at certain times of day, some stores are closed at night and most people lock their doors when they aren’t home. It’s an amazing thing and a staple in the series. It’s great to meet someone in the game and know that there is a reason that I need to meet them, it makes players want to explore the world instead of just making a bee line to the next task.

On the topic of going from task to task, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess does not hold players’ hands through the game. There will be times where players will complete a task and have no clue as to where to go next. This would seem annoying by today’s standards, however playing this way feels refreshing. It’s a beautiful game and Nintendo wants you to see it.

Link controls beautifully. It will seem a little clunky by today’s standards but for the most part serves it’s purpose well. An exception to this is controlling Epona. Link is free to ride his horse throughout the game, however the control seems to be a little too sensitive, making it difficult to navigate Epona through narrower corridors. Overall, however the controls are spot on.

The Wii U GamePad is used in a beautiful way. The map is displayed on the screen as well as inventory, which frees up a ton of space on the main screen by removing most of the HUD (Heads Up Display). This allows players to see the world of Hyrule in it’s entirety, not just in places that aren’t blocked by a mini map or an inventory menu.

Link_vs._Ganondorf_(Twilight_Princess)The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is epic in it’s scope. The main adventure clocks in at about 40 hours and while this title doesn’t contain nearly as many side quests as other games in the series, players will still have hours of nooks and crannies to explore and records to set, such as catching the biggest fish in the pond.

Some find the Legend of Zelda series boring. It’s a peaceful world where Link simply explores a huge world and to some people looks like there’s nothing to do in the game. The truth is that there’s plenty to do, but even more to see. The series must be experienced to be understood.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a must play. It’s a refreshing take on the open world concept as everything in the world has a purpose. This feels great in that it’s always time well spent. Players won’t spend hours trying to finish a side quest only to get a thank you for the task. The quest itself always leads to a key component in the game. That is the essence of video games.