The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

January 19, 2007

Well it has been a long, strange journey for [i]The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess[/i] for the Gamecube. When the first screens of a new Zelda game were shown when the Gamecube was announced, fanboys around the world cried in joy. However those cries of joy became shameful attacks towards Nintendo when [i]Wind Waker[/i] was shown to the public. Even though the game still played just like a Zelda game, some gamers wrote [i]Wind Waker[/i] off just because of the cartoon visuals. Nintendo decided to appease the masses by announcing a new Zelda game, [i]Twilight Princess[/i], which was similar to the original footage shown when the Gamecube was announced.

Even back at E3 2005 Nintendo was letting gamers play a demo of this new Zelda. I was fortunate enough to play the demo at E3, and I was amazed at how incredible the game was turning out to be. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the game and immediately paid off the game in full when I returned home from E3. But I had to wait and wait and wait until late in 2006 before the game was finally released for the Gamecube. It seems that Nintendo wasn’t done baking [i]Twilight Princess[/i], in fact the game shifted over to a new console, which we all know as the Wii. I’m happy to report that even with all of the waiting (and playing second fiddle to the Wii version) Gamecube owners are treated to one of the best Zelda games ever released.

By now I’m sure most of you are aware of the basic plot of [i]Twilight Princess[/i]. The game centers upon you (aka Link) and your journey to save Hyrule from the grips of evil. Sure, Princess Zelda is involved, and the game does focus on saving the Princess, but the main plot centers on saving Hyrule. Parts of the kingdom have been plummeted into darkness, the Twilight, and it’s up to you to release Hyrule from the darkness. Along the way you will meet up with Midna, a strange and obnoxious character who helps you after you’ve changed into a wolf. The Twilight has a strange effect on all of the inhabitants of Hyrule, and the strangest effect is turning you into the wolf. The rest of the plot/story will remain left to you to discover because this game has hours upon hours of gameplay ready for you. I would say you will need at least forty hours of gameplay to get close to finishing the game.

I know, 40 hours of gameplay might seem like much especially to other AAA titles that let you off the hook after 20 hours. But those 40 plus hours will have you playing through some of the most gripping gameplay included in a videogame. The dungeons in this game are probably the most expansive I’ve ever played in any Zelda game. The same premise of previous Zelda games is followed, (find keys, beat mini boss, find boss key, beat boss) but all of the dungeons will have you sucked in trying to find all of the secrets and solve the puzzles. Besides the dungeons the scale of the entire game is truly massive and will leave some of you speechless. Almost all of the locations you find and explore in the game are truly epic in size. Just exploring the entire world could take several (twenty or thirty) minutes, but thankfully you do unlock warp points as you progress in the game. So no, you don’t have to spend ten minutes boating to the next town or dungeon.

The gameplay in [i]Twilight Princess[/i] is still a classic example of 3D gameplay done right, but I need to address a few items. The first item is to say that this game still plays just like [i]Wind Waker[/i] and Ocarina of Time (released as a collectors pack on GC). The same lock-on targeting system is in place that we love, and most of the standard items from previous titles are included as well (boomerang and bow & arrows just to name two). Even when you do play as the wolf the combat can still be played with the lock-on targeting to help you. There are a few differences in searching for items as the wolf but the combat, surprisingly, still “feels” the same. With the combat being identical to the previous titles, you still get a few clunky moments with the camera angle. At certain points in combat the camera angle gets funky and has a hard time locking on to a good angle to view the action. It happens out in the field fighting, and it happens in the dungeons, especially when you’re fighting multiple characters. You can quickly adjust the camera, but these moments have been happening for years now, and it was surprising to see them show up again in [i]Twilight Princess[/i].

Another issue to discuss is the differences between the Wii version and the Gamecube version (come on, I know some of you want to know). The big difference that you will see immediately (at the title screen) is the layout of the Gamecube version. The Wii and Gamecube version are opposite of each other. If the Wii version has something on the right side of a stage, then the Gamecube version will have it on the left side. I spent a ton of hours on the Wii version, and the layout change to the Gamecube version is still disorienting at times.

Another difference between the two versions is, of course, the controls. Obviously the Gamecube seems limited when controlling Link since you’re not using the motion activated Wiimote. But Nintendo didn’t just limit the Gamecube controls with no motion sensor technology; the game is limited in the number of open item slots. The Wii version lets you place four items in the Action Icon holder while the Gamecube only supports two items. Using ranged weapons, such as the bow & arrow and slingshot are a little more time consuming with the Gamecube version. I had more of a dependency with the lock-on system when using range weapons in the Gamecube version. But the GC version does win regarding one difference, free camera control. You can use the C stick to move the camera angle at any time while the Wii version has the camera locked.

Graphically this is one of the best looking Zelda games ever released. It definitely won’t win any awards for best graphics, but the game is gorgeous in its own way. All of the dungeons are exquisitely detailed with attention to everything. Patterns in the ceiling, paintings on walls, enormous structural features such as columns and arches are littered throughout the game. The only bland portions of the graphics I could find were the textures used in rocks and grass when viewed up close. Not pretty by any means. As far as looking different from the Wii version, I didn’t notice any differences. I played the GC version on the Wii and on the Gamecube. Since my official Nintendo component cables haven’t arrived yet for the Wii, I do think the game looked just a little clearer on the Gamecube (with the official Nintendo component cables). But that could be a cable issue and not an actual difference between the two systems. There wasn’t any special effect or graphic features found in the Wii version that are not in the Gamecube version.

Well in the end [i]Twilight Princess[/i] is another classic title from the folks at Nintendo. The game is an epic that will have you clutching your Gamecube controller saying “just a little more” as you keep playing to the point of exhaustion. The graphics are top notch, the gameplay is still incredibly engaging, (even without the Wii controls) and the puzzles/secrets will keep you busy for hours. Sure there are some issues, such as the goofy camera angle issues, but those are minor and shouldn’t convince you to not play this game. If this is supposed to be the swan song of the Gamecube, then you better not miss out on this game.

Score: 5/5

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