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Oops. I got bored again. So here's another old review of mine.
Ah no, Wolf Link's got no legs!
Do you remember when The Wind Waker was released? Neither do I, but from what I've heard, a lot of people hated it. Not because of the epic, but tediously long and repetitive sea-faring adventures you had on your demonically possessed magical sailing boat. Not because the series still hadn't moved on to fully orchestrated music, and instead still relied on MIDI. Not because of the fact that it was (and probably still is) widely considered to be the easiest game in the series. Nope, none of those actual, intellectual points that you could bring up to say this game sucked (which it didn't). No, instead, the main point of criticism was the graphics. The frickin' graphics. It's not that it was ugly and looked dated, but the cel-shaded style it used. To this day, I see Zelda "fans" on various forums that still complain about them. One of them even said that he played the game for 5 minutes and stopped because he couldn't stand the graphics.
To that person, I say you deserve to be eaten alive by Gohma.
Everyone then complained that Zelda would die because no one would buy something with graphics like that (these people were soon eaten by Dodongos, by the way). Of course, Shigeru Miyamoto, being the perfectionist that he is, responded to the criticism with a trailer at E3 '04. This trailer showed a realistic Link engaging in combat across gigantic fields on his horse, in dark forests, and dank dungeons. The reaction was complete and utter insanity.
Ya see? See how insanely everyone cheered? And how one guy said "Who's the man?!" twice? Aside from gigantic fields you could explore which was a Zelda fan's dream ever since Ocarina of Time, but it made the switch back to a realistic style, pioneered in OoT, as well.
When more and more info circulating the game was released, the hype grew more and more crazy (except the Wolf parts. Everyone was sceptical of those). When people found out about the Wii port and how you could swing the Wii Remote to slash your sword, everyone simultaneously wet their pants. Once it finally hit store shelves, everyone realized something... the graphics didn't make the game, and a majority of fans claimed that The Wind Waker was better, despite fixing most of the things they hated about it. This, children, is a phenomenon known as the Zelda Cycle, in which people claim that the newest Zelda is the worst one, and that the one before that was the best one, and this happens for every single game. Now that Skyward Sword has been out for over a year, does Twilight Princess continue the tradition? Or does it break it by sucking so much? Tune in next time, same bat time, same bat channel, to find out! Let's take a look then, eh?
Uh oh... Navi's sneaking up on Link! She's gonna break his neck!
Now, before we dive into the storyline, let's discuss Twilight Princess' place in the timeline. I do believe that talking about it's timeline place will give you a better grasp of the story. This part is mainly being written for padding purposes.
Before the credits of Ocarina of Time, when Zelda sends Link back in time with the... err... Ocarina of Time, she creates two parallel universes. In the timeline she's still in, Ganondorf was banished to Hell the Evil Realm by Link and the Sages. However, a few years after, Ganondorf breaks free from the Evil Realm and wreaks chaos upon Hyrule. Since Zelda sent Adult Link back in time, no one was able to stop him. The Goddesses then decided to flood all of Hyrule to make sure he couldn't rule it. The survivors of the flood soon settled on islands, which used to be Hyrule's mountains. In this timeline, referred to as the 'Adult Timeline', The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks take place.
The other timeline, called the 'Child Timeline' starts at the very end of Ocarina of Time, where time has gone back to before Link ever drew the Master Sword. Navi, for practically no reason, leaves Link forever. Link then goes to Zelda to inform her, which Zelda then informs the king, that Ganondorf plans to overthrow the Hylians and rule Hyrule by himself. After a trial, he's found guilty and sentenced to death, making all of Adult Link's actions never occurring in this timeline, therefore, there isn't a Hero of Time that passes on into legend, instead, the legend of the Triforce, the Master Sword, and a hero chosen by the Goddesses all but faded from memory, leading to Majora's Mask (a direct sequel that subtly deals with OoT Link's sadness over all this stuff, at least according to crazy theorists), Twilight Princess, and Four Swords Adventures.
Did you understand all that? ...No? *hands you a pizza* How about now? ...You do? Good. Onto the actual story.
South of Hyrule lies a quaint little village, known as Ordon Village. It is here that Link has lived all his life as a goat herder, because that's sadly the only job in the village that didn't require someone to talk (you should've seen his job as a shopkeeper *shudders*). One day, after causing a ruckus with a slingshot, Link saves both one of the kids of the village and a... monkey... Okaaaay... The next day, Link sets off to go to Hyrule Castle, because he needs to make a delivery to Zelda. The package? A poorly crafted sword and a shield made out of wood. These were apparently made as an offering to her as a sign of gratitude or something like that. Just as Link is about to set off, Ilia, Epona's caretaker, notices that she has a sprained ankle. After losing her ♥♥♥♥ and taking Epona away, Link talks her into giving Epona back, and just as he's about to leave, giant boars invade the village and kidnap Ilia, Epona, and all the kids. Link pursues, but is stopped by a gigantic black and gold wall. After being dragged into said wall, which is actually a portal to another realm (I think...), Link is transformed into a wolf, and is later imprisoned for dozens of counts of vandalism. Link then breaks out of prison with the help of an imp named Midna, and he finally gets to see Zelda. She tells him about Zant, the usurper king who has covered all of Hyrule except the Ordon province in Twilight, a realm where everyone who's in it becomes a blue ball of fire for some reason. Link finds out that he's the Hero chosen by the Goddesses, and that it's him and him alone that must stop Zant's crazy antics.
Link's first job however, was gardening. It didn't end well.
After The Wind Waker, where most players boycotted the game purely because of graphics, Nintendo took a drastic turn for this one. Twilight Princess, as you probably know by now (if you still don't know, go see an eye doctor), takes a stylised realistic approach to it's graphical style. Why do I say stylised? Because some characters are... let's just say... uniquely proportioned.
Yeeeeeah... let's go with uniquely proportioned.
Not to mention some people's eyes are comically huge. So yeah, in a way, it's stylised. On the Nintendo GameCube, this game practically pushed the limits of the system, offering some of the most detailed textures and polygon counts for the lil' Cube. The Wii sadly, despite being a bit more powerful then the GameCube, saw no graphical improvements. The Wii version, however, has the ability to play in widescreen, which makes a huge difference if you got a big-♥♥♥ plasma, like me.
In terms of design, Twilight Princess thrives. The new designs for some recurring enemies are some of the best they've been seen as. The Dodongo returns as a gecko like critter, having the ability to stick to walls. Bokoblins are creepy as hell looking imps who look like they haven't eaten in weeks. Skulltulas are even bigger then before and scarier then ever, and rather then stick to the ceiling and constantly expose their backs like idiots, they'll crawl around and attempt to whoop Link's ♥♥♥. But it's not just the enemies that get the sexification, Link in this game is by far the prettiest he's ever been, same with Ganondorf, who's beard is what makes him in this game.
Gandalf is quite jelly.
But the game isn't at it's prettiest when it's doing some simple close up shots of Ganon. Nope, that would belong to the Twilight Realm, a place that basically looks like the sunset on steroids. With it's intense orange hue, gold n' black clouds and bloom lighting, the Twilight Realm is truly a sight to behold. Every area you visit that has been covered in Twilight almost feels like a whole new world when you compare it to it's non Twilight variant. Not only does the world look completely different with this simple colour change, but every enemy has a unique design exclusive to the Realm. Of course, you can't mention the Realm itself without talking about it's citizens as well, the Twili, which are the creepiest things I've ever seen in the Zelda universe, with their glowing red/yellow eyes, white complexion and skin-tight black clothes. Screw Majora's Incarnation, this is where it's at!
Unfortunately, it's not all butterflies and hurricanes rainbows. Twilight Princess seems to suffer a major case of "the jaggies", which causes the outline of everything on screen to have pixelated edges. You've probably seen this before when you last played your Wii. Due to it's standard definition limitations, jaggies can pretty much be seen on all Wii games. However, it appears to be more noticeable in Twilight Princess then any other game. The only way you could cure it is by playing it on a small TV. That way, the picture won't be stretched as much.
Oh, there's also black squares everywhere. They're pretty annoying.
When it comes to voice act-*remembers there's nothing but grunts and wailing* ... ooooh... uuuuhhhh... The voice acting, is... pretty good...? The... grunts that Link does are... the... best yet? And... aaannnddd... the children's screaming is annoying, so... that's good, kids screams are usually annoying, in real life... Ganondorf's laugh is... iiisss... the best laugh he's ever had!... Yeeeeeeeeah... And... Midna's gibberish is... um... uh... it... suits her well, I guess?
Well, now that we got that out of the way, let's go into the music! :D
Let's start things off with the slower, calmer tracks. Ordon Village, the first area of the game, has a relaxing atmosphere possible with, among other things, it's exceptional music. Featuring a string and flute duet that's sure to lift your spirits, it perfectly suits the country-side setting and is a great way to welcome you into the game. Faron Woods, although looking like your average fantasy game forest, has a striking allure of mystery to it thanks to it's musical piece, with it's ever present acoustic guitar, and a variety of string and wind instruments. However, the MIDI really stands out in this track compared to others, especially with the wind instruments. Hyrule Castle Town's bustling and busy atmosphere is perfectly replicated with this track, which has four variations that'll play depending on which district you're currently in, and they sound surprisingly distinct. Ilia's Theme is a beautiful composition featuring practically nothing but an acoustic guitar, with the occasional violin and trumpet... type... thing... (What are those really big trumpets where the pipe goes over the player's head? I forgot...) But the best of the bunch is by far Midna's Theme. Creepy, nerve racking, and somewhat saddening, it perfectly suits her character, although it's fairly short and repeats the same notes quite often. And if you thought that was already super-depressing, then you haven't heard Midna's Lament, possibly the saddest song in the entire series, and it's surprisingly rather simple, using nothing but a piano and a few violins.
Now for the loud and intense stuff! Yay! Hyrule Field finally makes its way back onto the home console secne after an 8 year absence, and it comes back with flair. Not only is it the biggest 3D rendition of the field to date, but the accompanying music is the most ambitious version of the song. Like Ocarina of Time, it'll change depending on what you're doing. Stand still or walk, and the pace slows down and becomes quiet. Run, and it'll pick up in speed and more instruments are used. A tense, faster version will play once you're fighting baddies, and if you're on Epona, all of these variations will intensify even further. I had hours of fun just exploring around the field and listening to all these variants. Each boss fight has their own accompanying music piece that's unique for them. However, they're all just a variation of the same track, a massive step back from The Wind Waker, where each boss had a theme that's entirely unique to them. Still, some themes stand out better then others, like Morpheel's, which starts out slow and, to be honest, quite scary. But then it speeds up and intensifies, while still using the same core instruments, giving that creep-factor throughout the entire battle. And it really helps that the battle takes place both entirely underwater and underground. Blizzeta's Theme is another great example, having the most unique track, not sounding like a rehash at any moment. And you gotta love that choir. Who doesn't love creepy choirs?
(Yes, I know I only wrote about 3 action-heavy songs, but the ones in this game aren't very memorable. The slower songs are what really stand out)
Come down to Hyrule, a serene place at the countryside and a nice place to enjoy a glass of Lon Lon Milk. Oddly enough, we've been waiting for you.
Disclaimer: Our advertising agency is not responsible for any injuries/deaths you may suffer from local monsters/Cuccos.
But how does it play? Compared to previous titles in the series, Twilight Princess seems to have a heavier focus on combat then puzzles. The combat has perhaps the fastest pace ever seen in the series, and with plenty of ways to attack thanks to the Hidden Skills (More on those later), it's the most in-depth combat seen in the series so far outside of Skyward Sword. I swear, if the game was sped up, I'd honestly compare it to Devil May Cry at times. Most puzzles in the game tend to be either recycled puzzles that every Zelda fan would know how to solve by now, or incredibly basic new ones. Sure, it does have it's fair share of pain in the ♥♥♥ puzzles, but these are much rarer then before. You won't be seeing any OoT Water Temple levels of frustration here. But, ya know, I kinda miss that sometimes... (Time for everyone in the comments to tell me I'm mentally insane) Also, despite having the biggest Hyrule to date, Twilight Princess is surprisingly linear. There aren't as many side quests as previous games, and they tend to be quite short. And Hyrule Field feels like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. There is literally almost nothing to do in it. Not only that, but in terms of health, this is one of the easiest games in the series. You will NEVER come close to dying if you're a series veteran. Newcomers may have a few near-death experiences, but they'll probably survive. And it doesn't help that Midna's advice is actually useful. She'll describe your objective in great detail, severely cutting down on the time you spent lost. She has a lot of dialogue, so make sure you talk to her if you're stuck. Hell, just talk to her for fun. She has a lot of interesting things to say.
Now... I know what's on everyone's minds... you wanna hear about the Wolf, don't you? Well, it's... kinda meh, really. It doesn't feel as revolutionary as Nintendo promised, but it can be great fun playing as it sometimes. Link's Wolf form plays roughly similar to his Human form in terms of movement and combat, basically feeling more like he loses some abilities, but gains some, just like Ocarina of Time with it's time travel mechanic. As a Wolf, Link can't use any items or equipment, but he has a special visual sense... thingy... Using this, he is able to pick up scents which will lead you to whatever it is you're trying to find at the moment, dig holes to find Rupees, Hearts, or secret areas, and can see invisible baddies. During the game's first half, there are predetermined spots in the game that judge whether you're a Wolf or not. In these bits, you have to explore a portion of Hyrule that has been covered in Twilight, and... squish bugs in order to free a deity...? O... kay... These segments just feel tedious and, at times, padding, because for most of these sections, the deity you have to rescue is often far away from where you entered the realm, and the bugs are scattered everywhere. Luckily, for the remainder of the game, Link is able to transform at will, giving the Wolf form much more flexibility. There are even puzzles that combine the two forms for some true insanity (These are those pain in the ♥♥♥ puzzles I mentioned earlier. Took me forever to find out you had to be a Wolf sometimes).
Throughout his journey as a Wolf, Link will uncover Howling Stones, that, when he howls at in a certain way, will reveal the Golden Wolf, an unknown being that can transform into a Stalfos-like knight. This knight will then teach Human Link the seven Hidden Skills, techniques that will surely give you the upper hand in battle. The first, and the only one you need to finish the game, is the Ending Blow, which let's you instantly kill any knocked down enemy or certain bosses with low health via impalement. If it misses, you'll be very vulnerable as Link tries to get his sword out of the ground. The second technique is the Shield Attack, which let's him smash people with his shield, opening up their defences and leaving them open to attack. The Back Slice, which you may remember from The Wind Waker as a counter attack, returns in Twilight Princess, where it's much more effective since it can be used at will. Just side hop, roll, and let her rip. The Helm Splitter also returns. Simply Shield Attack someone, and press A. It's surprisingly great against groups, with its massive reach and the ability to quickly escape if you're surrounded. And now for my personal favourite, the Mortal Draw, an unblockable single slash that kills most enemies in one hit. In order to do it, you'll have to have your sword sheathed and press A next to an enemy. That means you'll be defenceless against the incoming baddy, making it a high risk, high reward move. It can also be performed faster if you roll at the enemy, then slash (I like to call that the Quick Draw). The Jump Strike is an upgrade of the Jump Attack that allows you to charge up the move so then you'll attack in mid-air, and send out a powerful shock wave upon landing. This is the best move for crowd control if you're low on health, but if you do have full health, then you'll be able to perform the ultimate Hidden Skill, the Great Spin. Offering Mortal Draw levels of damage and twice the reach of a regular Spin Attack, the Great Spin is sure to put a frown on any enemy's dead body.
Now, what Zelda game wouldn't be complete without a plethora of mini-games? What Twilight Princess sadly lacks in side quests, it makes up for with some of the best mini-games the series has ever seen. Remember those archery games in Ocarina of Time? Remember how exciting those were, effortlessly trying to shoot down those Rupees? Well, in Iza's Rapid Ride, now you're on a raging river rapid, on a canoe, with bombs attached to your arrows, shooting down giant pots that'll net you points. The pace is ludicrously fast, it feels more rewarding, and just overall more fun, the archery mini-game in Twilight Princess has no competition whatsoever. Falbi's Flight by Fowl allows you to do what any Zelda fan has dreamed of; jump off a cliff with a Cucco and land on a target. There's lots of Rupees to be had with this mini-game, since the target is shaped like a pyramid, meaning that if you get the first prize, you'll be able to get every prize if you watch your step. The STAR Game pits you against the clock in an attempt to collect all the shiny balls. Figuring out the best route to collect them as fast as possible is more fun then it sounds. The Fruit Pop Flight Challenge allows you to ride a gigantic bird and pop giant fruit balloons... err... yeah, that did sound quite weird... uh... not quite sure how I could continue from there... umm... next mini-game! Rollgoal tasks you with tilting the Wii Remote in order to guide a ball to it's... err... goal. But it's not as easy as it sounds, as you have to balance it on thin wooden beams, many of which have inclines that force you to tilt the board dangerously far. Fishing also makes its long awaited return. Although you can fish anywhere, this just involves putting a bobber in the water, waiting for it to sink, then holding the Remote up. The real deal is lure fishing, which is just like Ocarina of Time's fishing, but you get a boat. The motion controls work fine, and it's pretty fun, but... there's one thing that breaks it... the pond is as deserted as Hyrule Field. Hope you have a lot of patience, because you'll certainly need it if you want to even hook a fish.
"But Master Spaz", you might say, "what are the differences between the GameCube and Wii versions?" Well, as a player of both versions, I'll be glad to tell you them. The Wii Remote's motion controls allow you to swing your sword by randomly flicking it (Seriously, this is no where near as good as Skyward Sword). Aiming your Bow, Slingshot, and Clawshot becomes easier and faster then ever, allowing you freely aim and strafe at the same time. You can have hours of fun running around Hyrule Field shooting baddies, both grounded and aerial. Whereas the GameCube version allows you to equip two items, the Wii version allows up to four. The GameCube version has a controllable camera, similarly to The Wind Waker, and the Spin Attack in this version is spammable as Hell, to the point where you can do it exclusively and win all your battles. And, of course, the Wii version is a mirror image of the GameCube version. Personally, I prefer the Wii version, due to the aiming controls.
"Um... we're not lovers, okay?"
"Hyaaaaaaaaaaah... (Damn, I thought this would work...)"
When it all comes down to it, yes, Twilight Princess failed to live up to the hype. Back then, we were expecting it to be 2006's version of Skyrim. And for this reason alone, it has gotten quite a bad reputation. Now that we've finally looked past all that and judged Twilight Princess for what it is, I think everyone can agree that it's one of the better entries to the series.
It may not have offered anything revolutionary to the franchise, and at times it feels like an Ocarina of Time re-imaging, but instead it takes everything we knew and loved about previous 3D Zelda games, and tweaks it to near perfection. Navi may have sucked, but thanks to her, we got tons of great, memorable side kicks, Midna being the best of them all. Epona's sluggish movement in Ocarina of Time gave way to the Epona of Twilight Princess, one of the greatest horses in gaming. All this and a stellar story and characters that easily rank up there with the best the franchise has ever seen, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is certainly no slouch, and is one of the best games of it's generation. Screw the haters, they're just pissed there wasn't a talking boat.