Nintendo Australia The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
- The visual style and artistic direction is top notch; sense of humour, the epic feel of adventure, and the deep and engaging storytelling
- It takes a while to get used to the controls; the secondary sound source from the Wii-mote speaker is a little gimmicky
If there is one Wii game to own at launch, this is it, but we're guessing we didn't need to tell you that.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
First off, let us begin by stating that after 20-plus hours of playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, we have not beaten the game. In fact, we're going to guesstimate that we have another 10 to 20 hours of the main story and countless hours of side quests left. Why the broad range? Well, as we all know, the Zelda series is well-known for its unexpected plot twists and unfolding story arcs, which, at any time, may send you on a wild goose chase from the shores of Lake Hylia to the distant planes of the Gerudo Desert.
It's important to note that Twilight Princess is bigger than Wind Waker. From the start of Link's epic adventure in Faron Forest to the highest peaks of Death Mountain where the Gorons dwell, the legend never seems to end. And that's a good thing because this is one Zelda game you'll wish could go on forever.
Despite the Zelda pedigree, we had some initial misgivings about the game. After reading the hype, seen the screens and footage, even took it for a quick spin at E3 but still, the doubt persisted: was this just Wind Waker with fancier graphics and a kooky control scheme? And when you come down to it, the answer is...well, yes. At its core, Twilight Princess isn't anything new. We've all seen the grassy fields of Hyrule and experienced the somewhat frustrating dungeon filled puzzles before. But, there is something that sets Twilight Princess apart from the other Zelda game. Something sincere. Something different. It's hard to put into words, so why try? You'll see what we're talking about once you start to play.
The story, like most Zelda games, involves the land of Hyrule, which is on the brink of chaos. A darkness known as the Twilight has begun to creep over the land, turning the people of Hyrule into spirits and it's your job to help series stalwart Link restore light to the land.
As series vets can expect, the game starts off slowly, introducing characters, familiarising you with the core gameplay mechanics, and on the Wii, learning the new control scheme. Expect at least an hour or more before you'll be completely comfortable with the controls. Compared with more responsive Wii games, such as Wii Sports, the Wii remote functionality in Twilight Princess feels slapped on and somewhat flawed, but eventually, the freedom of having the nunchuk in one hand and the Wii remote in the other will feel like second nature.
Let us do a quick and dirty primer on the controls: the nunchuk's analogue stick moves Link around, the Z button auto-locks onto enemies or targets and the C button lets you free look around. Shaking the attachment also executes Link's spin attacks. The Wii remote is used for item selection, menu navigation, and weapon aiming. It also controls Link's sword: you equip it by swiping the Wii-mote, then slash away.
The best looking Zelda game ever
From an artistic standpoint, the graphics in Twilight Princess are the best we've seen from any Zelda adventure. Similar to The Matrix, the realms of light and Twilight are clearly distinguished by drastic colour changes, which perfectly sets the overall mood. And as to be expected from a Zelda game, the character design is superb. Link is appropriately heroic and the familiar green tunic and cap will instantly transport gamers back in time to the days of the original NES game. The supporting cast is fleshed out by some truly memorable characters, including, of all things, a tribe of monkeys who lend Link a helping hand...or is that paw?
But the real surprise is Princess Zelda, who is portrayed in a brand new and wholly unexpected light. No longer is she the damsel in distress much like the series itself, she's matured and grown up. The visuals are, sadly, nothing compared to some of the titles emerging on the Xbox 360 or PS3, and if you're playing on a high-definition widescreen display, the component cables are a must, but regardless, the visual style and artistic direction is top notch.
Not much has changed in the sound department, however. The haunting score and useful audio cues are all familiar stuff. The only difference is the integration of the speaker on the Wii-mote. It'll act as a secondary sound source that aurally adds to your experience. It's somewhat gimmicky and the sound quality is horrible, but it's fun nonetheless.
Take me back to the good old days
But enough about the controls and how it looks: at the end of the day, what matters most is that Twilight Princess is still a Zelda title, through and through. The most amazing thing about the Zelda series is that, while they all share a core foundation of gameplay mechanics and design sensibilities, each proceeding title has added something new that makes it unique and compelling. Twilight Princess retains the trademark Zelda touches: there are hidden secrets to uncover, rupees to collect, and chickens to harass.
Also present is the delightful sense of humour, the epic feel of adventure, and the deep and engaging storytelling that brings to mind the genius of Hayao Miyazaki and hey-day Disney. But Twilight Princess is its own game, easily stepping out of the large and imposing shadow thrown by the previous pinnacle of Zelda-dom, The Ocarina of Time. The unique controls have much to do with this but even without it, the game would standout for its seamless blend of action and storytelling. It's a potent brew, crafted from a formula that Nintendo has been perfecting for years, and while the flavour is familiar, it somehow manages to feel new and refreshing at the same time.
Undeniably an epic adventure
From start to finish, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is an extraordinary addition to the legendary series. The key to Twilight Princess' genius lies in its ability to evoke, and fulfill, a feeling of nostalgia, to return you to the bygone days when you first played a Zelda game. Whether it was the classic 2-D overhead adventures, or the later forays into the brave new world of 3-D that first got you hooked, Twilight Princess brings back all those fond memories, then creates some of its own. If there is one Wii game to own at launch, this is it, but we're guessing we didn't need to tell you that.
After Windwaker, the Zelda franchise makes a welcome return to the realistically detailed graphics of past games.
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