The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess HD review

The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, to many people this Wii/ Gamecube gem means many different things, some people hate this game, while others adore everything about it. For me Twilight Princess is the most important game in the Zelda franchise, it is the game that actually got me into this franchise that I now truly love. I will admit there is a lot about the original game that I didn’t like, but it did what no other Zelda game had done before, it showed me the potential of the franchise. Now with the game being remastered for the Wii U I have to question is the magic of the original game still here?

The short answer is of course yes, Twilight Princess HD is a mixed bag when you think about it, from my playthrough it is easy to say that those who didn’t like the game the first time probably won’t change their mind. However those who liked the game still have what is essentially the same game in this remaster, in itself this is the strongest aspect of Twilight Princess HD the game makes a few changes but ultimately keeps the spirit of Twilight Princess alive in just about every form.

About ten years on Twilight Princess is still an amazing game although it does seem to provide the nagging question, for as good as the game is does it offer anything to those who played it before? I would love to give a great answer to this question but the truth is I can’t, there are many changes which overall assist the experience but will veterans honestly find themselves willing to jump back in? Personally just because I liked the game originally was enough for me but in terms of the added value of new additions and changes nothing is really added that will give reason to return unless you really want to. Overall Twilight Princess HD is a game for those who never got the chance to experience the original, but still for this review I will mostly be discussing the changes found in the game.

First though the story of The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess sees Link living a peaceful existence in the small town of Ordon, however Link is thrust into his destiny when the children of Ordon are captured. Following this Link ends up in a mysterious world known as the twilight which has blanketed Hyrule where he is turned into a wolf and guided by his new ally Midna. This character clearly has her own agenda at first and overall she is riddled in mystery building up the incredible story that is to follow, Links journey through the twilight to save Hyrule sees him having to stop a new evil force from the shadows and deal with many of the familiar traits of the Zelda franchise. First off the story in Twilight Princess is one of the games strongest elements and still even in this high definition remaster ten years later it is still wonderful.

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One thing that will likely annoy old players is the game’s opening, unlike prior Zelda’s the opening seems to go on for far too long which of course annoyed many people. Unfortunately for them Nintendo and Tantalus have not changed this in the slightest, however I would argue that this is a great thing, the slow pace of Twilight Princesses opening meant you had to learn the mechanics at a steady pace and even get to know and understand some of our major characters. Without the length of the opening I don’t think Twilight Princess would be as good as it is, so I am glad it was left intact even if it will annoy some potential players.

When I played the Wii game years ago one of the nagging things that constantly got in my head was the games graphical design, arguably it wasn’t bad but the slight muddy look among other things detracted from what could have been an amazing design. Twilight Princess was before its time when it arrived, it was a game that was really meant to be in high definition all along, but technical limitations regarding platforms held it back. This was the first thing I really looked at with this game, I wanted to know if my impressions were right, and honestly I was, some slight issues aside this game was clearly meant to be in high definition and if I didn’t know better I would have always thought it was.

This game just looks great but I have to say that you need to look at the game with your eyes in action to fully appreciate the level of detail as a whole. While the trailers certainly showed off an excellent level of detail in the game I appreciated it more in action, things looked clear and nearly every place I encountered was honestly jaw dropping.

Speaking of the Wii version entering the standard mode of Twilight Princess HD can be disorienting, this version of the game runs off the Gamecube copy, whereas the Wii game was simply a flipped world. Coming to this version meant I really had to learn where to go all over again and in a way this made the game feel fresh as my usual patterns were not much to go on. However if you still needed a more native version of Hyrule the flipped world is actually in the games hero mode.

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Hero mode features a much more difficult game which is actually a relief when a good portion of Twilight Princess HD is honestly very easy, like any Zelda game before it hero mode doubles the damage we can receive and makes it more difficult to get hearts back. However a big difference has been made for this version compared to Wind Waker HD, hero mode is no longer an opt in then opt out when things get tough, instead once you enter hero mode you cannot switch back to the standard difficulty without deleting your game file. Again I liked this, it really forces the player to make a commitment and not switch back to the easier version like a coward.

The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess HD features a handful of minor changes which help to make certain things easier or not quite so long winded. My personal favorite change was in regards to the wolf form, in the original game we needed to talk to Midna to transform which while manageable was annoying. In the high definition game this has actually been shortened down to a simple tap of the screen on the gamepad making the transition easier than ever, and it really speeds up the game however slightly.

Another change I really appreciated was to the tears of light quests, again these were long winded and honestly really annoying and even boring to do, and I can’t say that much changes in this version however a slight improvement does make things more tolerable. Each of the twilight sections only require you to seek out twelve tears now rather than sixteen, honestly it was a small change but one I felt benefited the game.

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The final change that I really liked was the gamepad integration, admittedly I did like the system in the original game but with this version the gamepad takes on a usage that is similar to Wind Waker HD. The gamepad makes it easier to access and map your weapons to the varying buttons, this really made it easier to access items as needed with a simple slide of the finger and without having to pause almost constantly. The other side to the gamepad usage is the map, this side is nothing special especially when a minimap still appears on screen but I will admit it made it easier to find certain details when I was needing them.

Amiibo’s are also usable in Twilight Princess HD, in the game you can utilize your Link, Zelda, Shiek, Toon Link, Ganondorf and Wolf Link amiibo’s for varying effects. Two of the amiibo’s in the game I was honestly impressed with and really enjoyed their usage, the other four however did not really do much for me. The Link and Toon Link amiibo’s simply replenish your arrows once per day, meanwhile the Zelda and Shiek amiibo’s replenish your hearts once per day, I really hated how these were incorporated and they simply felt like Nintendo just decided that they have these amiibo’s out there so they had to use them. I felt like these amiibo’s took away from the experience and offered to much of a lifeline while not offering anything important to the game as a whole, they are not necessary to play but they really only cater to those who struggle with simple ideas.

However I was really happy with the Ganondorf amiibo, unlike his heroic counterparts this amiibo actually adds something to the game by simply raising the difficulty. In a standard mode adventure scanning the Ganondorf amiibo turns your hearts blue and make it so you take double damage, this made the game a lot more fun and made bosses actually seem somewhat scary. In addition the Ganondorf amiibo can also be used as an extension of hero mode, no heart drops are available to restore live and with this amiibo scanned you are in for a real challenge receiving four times damage. Ganondorf really added a lot to the game and makes this experience not seem so easy.

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Wolf Link on the other hand does something else for the game, when you scan this amiibo you are brought to an entirely new dungeon known as the Cave of Shadows. This is essentially a gauntlet where you go room by room defeating enemies and hoping not to get taken out, the catch however is that you have to complete this challenge as Wolf Link which does make certain battles that occur in the dungeon a lot more difficult. Admittedly this dungeon does feature some frustrating issues with the game only allowing you to go so far on each visit then forcing you to have to go back in and fight from the top all over again. I shouldn’t complain but this did annoy me when it unnecessarily forced me to have to start all over again, either way this still added something to the game with a new challenge and there is certainly plenty of replay value provided by this simple idea.

Returning to The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess in this remaster really reminded me why the game is so special to me, as well as why it was this game that got me into the Zelda franchise. Even without the beneficial changes made in this remaster Twilight Princess is an incredible game, but with the changes, new additions and upgrades Twilight Princess HD shines as what the Wii and GameCube originals should have been. Whether you are looking to replay the game, or try it for the first time this Wii U version is the ideal way to play, this game is magic and Twilight Princess HD reminds me more about why the Zelda franchise is just incredible.

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