Whenever I’m asked which Legend of Zelda entry is my favorite, the answer I always give is Twilight Princess (at least since it released back in 2006). Though Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, and the recent 3DS entry, A Link Between Worlds, trail close behind, Twilight Princess’ art style, darker tone, and impressively complex dungeon design have always been my Triforce-filled cup of tea. A little over 9 years later with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, the game remains at the top of my list.
For a bit of background, Twilight Princess launched alongside the Wii in November 2006 (and a month later on the GameCube). Though the Wii version utilized the system’s motion controls in a variety of exciting new ways, the GameCube version is where the game felt right at home thanks to its traditional controls. So the lack of motion controls on the HD release is no biggie.
When a high-definition remaster of the game was officially revealed during Nintendo’s November 2015 Direct, it was exciting because it had been a little over two years since Wind Waker’s gorgeous remaster graced the Wii U. Enhancing the gritty graphics, and bringing the updated Twilight Realm to Nintendo’s current generation console was a great idea. But, as with most remasters, the question that’s been on a lot of people’s minds is: is it worth picking up again (or for the first time ever)? Luckily, for new folks, and those returning to the Twilight Realm alike, the answer is yes.
For starters, there was a significant update in the graphics department. For the most part, the game looks stunning in 1080p, however, sadly, there are times when it can’t help but show its age. Admittedly, it doesn’t happen all of the time; the designs of main characters like Link, Midna, and Zant, have certainly benefitted from the graphical overhaul. It was most noticeable with the enemy character designs (we’re looking at you, moblins!), and the lighting, especially when it comes to shadows.
That said, the dated look has more to do with the source material than the remastering process. It’s something that a lot of games from that era would face if they made the same trek. The reason Wind Waker didn’t face the same plight has a lot to do with the fact that the original game used the cel-shade art-style, which usually ages better.
Aside from aesthetics, the controls have also been tweaked to better suit the Wii U GamePad. Controlling both Link and the camera is a breeze with the GamePad’s (or Pro-controller, if you decide to go that route) thumbsticks. The GamePad’s second screen is used for managing your inventory, checking the map, and for off-tv play. Having it separate from the onscreen adventure not only made switching out items less annoying, but made the TV screen less cluttered. If you played Wind Waker HD this is all old-hat by now.
Where it differs from the original, however, is with amiibo support. Though only the Wolf Link amiibo launched with the game, there are several others that play their own part; Zelda and Sheik refill hearts, Ganon makes Link take double the amount of damage, Toon Link replenishes arrows, and the new Wolf Link/Midna combo unlocks a new challenge dungeon called “Cave of Shadows” (which is basically the same thing as the “Cave of Ordeals” quest in the original game), stores saved game data, and will work with the upcoming Zelda Wii U game. While the way the amiibo are used is interesting, it should be noted that Ganon, Sheik, Zelda and Toon Link can only be used once a day. Wolf Link on the other hand can be used whenever you want to gain entry into the “Cave of Shadows,” but because of its simplistic design, and the fact that nothing new was added, trekking through these levels is pointless. The good news is, you aren’t forced to use the figures.
Hero Mode is another new addition that’ll certainly interest Hyrule vets. While this is something that’s been done in previous versions, the option in Twilight Princess does a bit more. In addition to doubling the damage that Link takes from enemies, playing in Hero Mode also means that you won’t be finding any dropped recovery hearts along the way. Considering your respawn point is at the beginning of whatever room you were in when you died, this is definitely the way to go, especially when you consider how simple the game is to begin with. You can even stack the Ganon amiibo on top of that to make it even more of a challenge.
Just like in Wind Waker HD, tweaks have been made to certain annoyances in the game to make the adventure smoother. Upgrading your wallet is now easier, and the number of tears of light you need to collect has thankfully been reduced. Both were tedious tasks in the past so it’s certainly nice to see them fixed, if ever so slightly. New treasure has also been added in the form of the Hylian letter stamps that are peppered throughout Hyrule. Once collected, you’re able to share them on Miiverse.
The dungeons and story remain the same, which is good because they were great to begin with, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Looking at the Legend of Zelda series as a whole, Twilight Princess‘ storyline is by far one of the most cinematic, and features a friendship that’s fun to watch unfold. The unique tools that Link comes across (like the Ball and Chain, Dominion Rod, and Double Clawshots) make navigating Hyrule’s treacherous dungeons a true delight.
At the end of the day Twilight Princess HD brings something to the table for everybody. While the existing story, complex dungeons, and creative items are enough reason for fans to experience the game for the first time, the updated graphics, streamlined controls, and the all-new Hero mode are sure to sit well with returning veterans. Despite its flaws, it’s the best way to experience the classic Zelda game.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Burritos
- Gameplay has been streamlined
- amiibo integration adds fun features to the game
- The game looks better than ever before, especially when it comes to the main characters.
- Story, dungeons, and items were already great.
- It has a tendency to look dated at times
- The “Cave of Shadows” is disappointing
This review was completed using a Wii U copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD provided by Nintendo. The game hit shelves on March 4, 2016.