“Help me Link!” She screamed. I watched in horror as my best friend was carried off by a grotesque Goblin riding a giant boar, grunting and snarling as they made their way to Hyrule Castle. Without a moment’s hesitation, I whistled for Epona, my horse, to come to my aid. Mounting my steed, I raced after them, dodging flaming arrows from the mounted goblin archers who sought to keep me from my prey. I galloped faster and faster through Hyrule field, determined to catch them before they escaped. We met on the Bridge of Eldin with nowhere for him to escape. The two of us would settle this now. With a few fast strikes from my sword and some fancy footwork from my horse, the Goblin fell and I rescued my friend. This was the moment I fell in love with Twilight Princess.
As I mentioned previously, Zelda games and I have a rocky history. After finally completing Windwaker earlier this year, I waited eagerly for my copy of Twilight Princess HD to arrive in the mail. I was excited for the game, sure, but I’m a little bit of an amiibo-holic and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Link/Midna amiibo. It did not disappoint. It’s a beautiful addition to my amiibo collection and absolutely should be a part of yours. What surprised me, however, was that it was not my favorite thing in the package. Twilight Princess was a joy to play through and experience on Wii U and is currently my favorite Zelda game.
Twilight Princess HD is not a terribly pretty game from a purely graphical standpoint. The textures are clean and the framerate is silky smooth, but overall it did not age as well as Windwaker HD. However, don’t let that detract from getting into this game. The story, as per Zelda standard, is told through text without full voice acting, but the characters are so well animated that you won’t mind. There are going to be genuine moments when you look at this game and think “wow, that’s really gorgeous” and that’s a testament to the strong art direction.
Where this game really shines is in the characterization department. There are so many wonderful characters that you will grow to love over the course of your 40+ hour journey and I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to them after I finished. I still think I will go back to the game and do some more exploring.
Gameplay and Level Design:
Let’s get the mediocre out of the way first. If you don’t like how Zelda games play, this won’t change your mind. For the vast majority of the game though, it handles well and everything works as you’d expect it to. I had a few frustrations though getting Z targeting to lock on to something behind me in a quick fashion which hurt me on one of the bosses and Epona isn’t the most responsive horse in gaming. Jumping, as usual, is hit or miss too. As long as you’re careful though, you shouldn’t have too many problems.
One thing I adore though is the Wii U gamepad for Zelda games. Item switching on the fly, transforming from wolf link to regular link and having a scroll-able map at your literal fingertips is amazing. I don’t know how I’ll ever play a Zelda without a second screen again.
I don’t normally include level design in my categories, but I think I need to start because it makes all the difference in the world to me. The dungeons and overall design of this game is brilliant. Everything, every puzzle, hidden treasure, and secret is laid out so logically that you can just get it. I found very few times that I needed to consult the strategy guide and when I did, the solution 9/10 times was “hey, dummy, look above you.” Expert design. The bosses are fantastic, only one of them was even a little frustrating, and without spoiling it, this game has the most unique version of a “boss rush” I’ve ever seen. It was so refreshing to not rehash the same bosses at the end of the game. There were also a couple of mounted battles that were among my favorite gaming moments ever.
If you have never played this game, you owe it to yourself to. It’s safe to play around the kids (outside of one scene that was almost too creepy for me) and the amiibo functionality can either make it easier (Zelda=heart refill, Link=arrow refill) or much harder (Ganon=2x difficulty) depending on your preference. I don’t know that it’ll make you see the game in a new light if you’ve already beaten it, but for a first timer it was a treat.
If you have played TP before and thought it was just “ok”:
If you have never played TP before, loved it the first time you played it, or have an Amiibo addiction and want the Link/Midna Amiibo: