NS Review – The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Nintendo Wii U)
The Legend of Zelda games are staple Nintendo titles that will likely never die. Brand new games and flashy remakes look to be part of Nintendo’s hand held and home console line up for years to come, and in all those that have to come to pass up to this point everyone has found their favourite. From the classic that is Link’s Awakening, to Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, the cel shaded fun of Wind Waker and Skyward Sword, each one has been a classic, essential title, each a joy to play and an experience to behold. For some, including me, the GameCube and Wii remote wielding Twilight Princess was their favourite. So, when the inevitable HD, Amiibo supporting, perhaps release schedule filling? (Zelda Wii U will arrive eventually; this will keep fans quiet until then), Twilight Princess remake for Wii U was announced, the majority of the Nintendo playing community howled with joy.
How much you enjoy Twilight Princess may depend on how long ago you last played it though. Whilst there’s nothing new to see here in terms of story or content, other than the option to start the game in Hero Mode for extra tough enemies, what you do SEE during your time prowling in Wolf form and lumbering in human form around Hyrule really will delight you. Whether you’re new to the game or you’re revisiting it whilst waiting for Link’s next brand new adventure.
Dungeon maps are quite useful
And after all, in this HD remake, it’s the visuals that are what it’s all about. From the moment the title screen comes to life you really will appreciate the new HD sheen; the extra polish that brings the world, if not sometimes just a little grey and brown, smack bang into 2016. If, like me, you haven’t played the game since its original launch on Wii and GameCube in 2006, and, like me, you don’t really remember it; you really are in for a treat. With extra glossy effects, sparkle and high resolution fur.
Following the story of Link and his mission to prevent Hyrule being engulfed by the corrupt parallel dimension known as the Twilight Ream, both in Hylian and Wolf form, Twilight Princess is not just your standard Legend of Zelda fare. As you’d expect, there’s the familiar sequence of ‘visit dungeon, get weapon, progress through the open world, visit dungeon, rinse and repeat’. Or so you’d be forgiven for thinking. You see, this game is full of classic, iconic Zelda moments; the first time you walk out onto Hyrule Field, that music, riding Epona at full speed, slicing and shooting at enemies as you go. But there’s also plenty of unexpected events to experience; like warping from place to place, taking bridges with you, learning to Sumo wrestle, snow boarding; the amount of game changing sequences and events is really impressive.
But it’s the Wolf transformations that really make this title stand out from other adventures though; combined with some of the greatest dungeons, boss battles and puzzles to make one of the best LOZ adventures you’ll ever play. Even if it’s not for the first time.
Forget the low res, dull screen shots you’ve seen, as they really don’t do this game justice. On your TV the lighting effects really are very nice, crisp and clean, albeit highlighting somewhat blocky visuals. Sword attack animations shine, chest opening sequences sparkle and beautifully animated, albeit blocky, cut scenes (swoon at the HD sheen of Zelda’s pretty face the first time you meet her) will have you transfixed as the story plays out in this newly rendered world.
You can assign items to buttons using a drag and drop feature on the Gamepad
You will take your eyes of the screen regularly though, as following in the footsteps of Wind Waker HD before it, the touch screen is put to great use once again. Quickly and easily assign weapons or tools to gamepad buttons with the handy drag and drop system or use the Mini-map on the screen with the option to zoom in and out – it feels natural and I couldn’t imagine playing the game without these functions now. Using motion control to aim your arrows or boomerang feels like second nature too. You have an optional mini map to use on your TV if you prefer, plus off TV play solely on the gamepad, you know, if you feel you don’t want to experience the visuals in big screen HD for any reason. If none of these features appeals, then you can use the Pro Controller if you prefer of course.
Whilst it does happen at quite a slow pace the first hour of the game is a joy to play through, gently easing you in and doing a great job of establishing lots of plot points and ideas. Initially asked to deliver a package to Hyrule castle, in what felt like an unfamiliar set-up, you’ll soon grab yourself a wooden sword, a lantern and a sling shot and then before you know it you’re burning down spider webs, slicing up plants and rats and smacking goblins around the head with a satisfying thud.
Stamps can be found in chests throughout the game
Once this introductory sequence is finished things start to progress quite quickly as soon as Link is pulled into the Twilight Realm. You’re soon bounding across roof tops in Wolf form and meeting Zelda, before sneaking about your own village in the middle of the night to find a handy sword and shield. As the story develops further it gets really quite depressing; the story is built around ongoing themes of death, destruction and the game even features some quite disturbing dream like cut scenes help to set what is a very dark story.
But don’t despair – the game has plenty of highlights. I mean, loads of them. Without wishing to spoil anything for you if you aren’t lucky enough to have played the game before, I assure you’ll have a great time during your adventures in and out of the Twilight Realm. The glorious soundtrack sets the atmosphere throughout, from playing with monkeys in the first dungeon, before grabbing the Gale Boomerang for the first time. Then it’s off to the Goron Mines, kitted out in some clever boots that allow you to walk along the ceiling, activate switches and be magnetically attracted up to moving platforms to get across to new areas. Soon you’ll get hold of the bow and arrow, taking out enemies from afar and cutting ropes to drop down bridges. This is genuinely one of my favourite Zelda dungeons of all time.
The Claw Shot is particularly fun to use
Arbiter’s Grounds is another example of a great dungeon, with the introduction of the Spinner, but the first time you get hold of the Claw Shot in the Lakebed Temple dungeon is particularly exciting, as it means you can now get across to those places that were out of reach before this point. This type of progression is what LOZ games do so well; all the time employing a clever way of teaching you skills you will need to know, revealing how you will progress further as you collect new weapons and techniques, as well as new sword skills, at an exciting, step by step pace. You’ll just want to keep on playing as you realize you can now progress somewhere, or collect something, you remember that you couldn’t before. All thanks to the array of gadgets that include such spectacles as the Spinner, Water Bombs, Double Claw Shots, Ball and Chain…
One change I should make special mention of is that there are less Tears of Light to collect than in the original. This repeating sequence, set between dungeons, sees you killing Shadow Insects in Wolf form in order collect said tears in a Vessel of Light. Once you have collected enough, the Light Spirit who provided the Vessel is restored to full strength, and Light returns to that area, thus turning Link into his original Hylian form. In my mind I really see this change a good thing, as the process started to become a bit of a laborious task by the third time I took it on; a sequence that includes being flown up the Zora river, being carried by a Shadow Bird, in order to get those last few Insects was particularly frustrating to control. Some poor collision detection, resulting in multiple crashes and the need to start again over and over, ensured I was particularly pleased when I had finished the process. Bridge battles and chases around Hyrule Field on the back of an Epona that you don’t really feel you have full control over also contribute to a number of mid-dungeon sections that I was glad to move on from, allowing me to get to the next, far more enjoyable, dungeon.
Just before I finish up I should take this final paragraph to mention Amiibo usage in Twilight Princess HD. You can use all 5 of the existing Smash Bros. series Zelda Amiibo figures in the game, plus the fancy and rather nice looking Wolf Link one to add some extra challenge levels and activate a quick launch feature. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a Wolf Link Amiibo for this review, so once I get hold of one I’ll add something about that here. For now I can tell you that using Link or Toon Link gives you some arrows for your quiver and using Zelda or Shiek replenishes your hearts (the above frustrations meant hearts replenishing was particularly helpful). Both useful features, and both nice and easy to make use of, but only once per Amiibo per day mind you. Scanning Ganandorf, however, will turn your hearts purple and you’ll receive double damage from enemies. Fun if you like that sort of thing. But I’ll stick to standard difficulty myself thanks. So, as is the usual with Amiibo, there’s nothing essential there, with extras that I only tried the once.
As a Zelda fan I genuinely can’t recommend this game enough. If it’s all too familiar to you, simply use the fancy HD graphics as an excuse to pick it up and play through this fantastical adventure again. If, like me, you don’t remember it much, then now really is the time to revisit it. Above annoyances aside, it really does feel like the adventures of Link at their best. So, set some time aside for what I can only describe as one of the best Zelda games of all time. Buy it, play it, love it. Then remember this is only a release schedule filler, and that Zelda Wii U is still to come…