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

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Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Main Review

Review Context: I’m a longtime fan of The Legend of Zelda series. I played and beat the GameCube version of Twilight Princess when it was first released. I finished the story of this HD version within 25 hours.
Date of Playthrough: March 9, 2016

The Legend of Zelda franchise is a very cherished franchise by gamers, young and old. A legacy spanning thirty years that captured the hearts, minds, and inspired a lot of creativity. Of course, over the years we’ve had very strong entries and some weaker titles. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was originally released on the Nintendo GameCube and was also launched on the Wii with motion controls. Like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Nintendo has given Twilight Princess the HD treatment with improvements the original game needed.

When The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U) was announced, the immediate question that came to mind were the controls. As there were two versions of the game, how would Nintendo handle this? Some fans preferred or had only played the Wii version, while others preferred the more traditional GameCube version. Well it’s clear when playing the game that the GameCube version was the foundation of the HD version. Going on more traditional controls a few additions were added to improve the game’s quality, like in The Wind Waker HD, the gamepad will show the mini-map as well as the inventory, so you can change out items without navigating through menus. Motion controls are used when doing precision aiming with the bow, boomerang, slingshot, etc., though you can still use the camera controls to adjust as well. The Wii U’s Off-TV gameplay is still as easy to access with the simple touch of a button, so you can play while catching up on your favorite show. Another change that was claimed was that Epona’s controls were improved. This doesn’t seem to be the case, as riding and fighting on your trusty steed is probably the worst part of the entire game, especially when there are segments that require you to fight on horseback to make progress in the story. Luckily, later in the game you don’t need Epona as much to traverse Hyrule’s large map.

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Other updates in the game include very improved visuals. While the art style and tone of the game are more realistic and darker than a typical Zelda title, the game is much more clear and sharper than the original titles with improved textures. The Hero mode that has appeared in the more recent Zelda titles is now available from the start for those who want a challenge, as Twilight Princess is one of the easier titles in the franchise. The Tears of Light you need to collect in each area to erase the Twilight have been reduced from sixteen to twelve, although that doesn’t make these sections any less annoying or clearly put in for filler content. Lastly, a new item called the Poe Lantern makes it easier to collect Poe souls, since the only way to do it previously was to be in Wolf Mode and use your sense ability. They didn’t mute or quiet the chain of Wolf Link’s foot, as anytime you move you hear a loud and quite annoying rattling. A unique addition to the game is the Hylian Stamps. These neat things are spread throughout the game, giving you the entire Hylian alphabet and some other pictures to use to post to Miiverse. The idea behind these is neat, and of course the users of Miiverse wasted no time putting them to use in their ever expanding creativeness of Miiverse. They are a bit of a let down, as The Wind Waker HD had Tingle Bottles that you could actually find notes and pictures in game by Miiverse users. This unfortunately did not return in Twilight Princess HD for the stamps. Even with a very creepy mail man running around, the stamps could have been used in a similar fashion to send friends letters or tips. So while the stamps are interesting, unless you are a regular Miiverse user they are a bit of a letdown. While the music wasn’t updated, the music in Zelda games is fantastic and Twilight Princess HD is no exception to this.

The story of the game has always been okay compared to other titles. The twilight realm is invading Hyrule and quickly taking over. Link is a farm boy in a small village of Ordon. The village is invaded by goblins and some children are kidnapped, though it’s never truly made clear as to why. Link is off to the rescue when he is pulled into a barrier between the world of the light and twilight. Because of the power of the goddess, he is saved from being turned into a monster and is transformed into a wolf. Our annoying partner Minda explains all this to us when we first meet her. The game follows the typical Zelda formula in terms of story. The opening of the game is really long and tedious, taking up to an hour and a half to actually get to the first dungeon. While it’s trying to give us the basics of gameplay such as fishing, riding, fighting, etc., it gets repetitive as you need to round goats up a few times which serves no purpose after the first time they teach you riding controls. The fishing mini-game was cut in half, as you now only need to catch only one fish in order to bring the shop owners cat back to her.

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Boss and dungeon design have held up over the years with some of the best dungeons included in this game. If you have played Twilight Princess before then you know what you are in for, but newcomers are in for a treat, as most dungeons are fun and engaging. Of course there are some exceptions, as the notorious Water Temple returns to be frustrating, but Snowpeak Ruins, an ice themed dungeon, shows up to one-up the frustration factor of the Water Temple. This is saddening, as the Snowpeak Ruins is not your traditional dungeon and the concept and design is fantastic, but most ice enemies can nearly kill you with one hit and sliding ice puzzles are simply terrible.

Amiibo support is included in the game. The physical copy of the game comes bundled with an attention-grabbing Wolf Link amiibo. This amiibo is the spotlight of amiibo support, as you get an exclusive dungeon, the Cave of Shadows; a challenge mode where you are exclusively Wolf Link fighting your way through stage after stage of enemies. Though how far you can progress is dictated by progress through the game, and by the time you can finish it the new item you get at the end, which has no effect on gameplay so don’t worry if you didn’t get this, is a bit pointless. One of the fantastic features that was not really talked about is the ability to have it quick start your game. By registering your save to the amiibo you can simply touch your figure on the gamepad at the title screen and go straight into the game without having you go through a few menus to start. It may only be saving four or five button presses at the menu, but it’s so quick and a nice little feature to have included. If you are the owner of the other The Legend of Zelda amiibos then you can use those to support your gameplay. Link and Toon Link will replenish your arrows, Zelda and Sheik will replenish your hearts, and Ganondorf will double your damage. To be clear, these can only be used once a day and the double damage does stack with Hero mode, making the difficulty even harder.

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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is something Zelda fans and Wii U owners should all be playing. While it’s still an okay title compared to other titles in the franchise, the overall improvements in this HD version have made it very well worth the playing through again. By itself it’s a fun journey and has a lot of content to be enjoyed for a long time.

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