GAME NAME: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
PLATFORM(S): Wii U
GENRE(S): Action, Adventure
RELEASE DATE(S): May 4, 2016
Considering it was a game made specifically to imitate and then one-up The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the first release of Twilight Princess had a lot of surprising originality going for it, and the recent HD remake brings that into sharper focus with upgraded textures that highlight the visual side of one of the darkest Legend of Zelda adventures.
You know the tried and true formula for 3-D Zelda games by now. The world is in peril, and the ever-humble Link is out to solve some puzzles, fight some baddies, and save the day. You probably also know that Twilight Princess has the usual excellent dungeon design, content-rich world, and what is possibly the greatest item in Zelda history: the Spinner.
Being the most graphically “realistic” title in the Zelda series, Twilight Princess’s world is more dull and uninspired than certain other entries in this series. Yet trust Nintendo to turn a rather unimaginative art direction into something that is still compelling thanks to attention to detail and a universe rich in lore. The visual themes for each dungeon go above and beyond expectations; the “ice” dungeon, for example, is actually a mountainside mansion inhabited by yetis. And the Temple of Time’s clean, immaculate look is nothing short of stunning in high definition.
Not everything translates quite so well, however. Environmental elements that had a blocky look to them in the original game still have a blocky look to them here. Transitional effects with water sources, especially where Zora River meets Lake Hylia, look frankly horrible, prompting me to wonder if this was an issue in the original release; it’s not something I remember.
There is simply no denying Twilight Princess’s superb design, though. Some of the most unique and interesting items in the entire Legend of Zelda series made their way into the game’s intimidating dungeons, and almost every one is used to superb effect…except, in many cases, during boss fights. Twilight Princess has a relatively small percentage of standout boss encounters. Still, you won’t be left wanting after solving the variety of devious and tricky puzzles leading up to those bosses.
Sadly, that far from describes the scant amiibo implementation in Twilight Princess HD. The Wolf Link amiibo will be one of the best-looking in your collection, but the bonus dungeon it unlocks, the Cave of Shadows, is simply a glorified Cave of Ordeals (a side dungeon in the main game that is bare-bones to begin with). The Cave of Shadows requires you to play as Link in wolf form, which actually hurts the gameplay, if anything, thanks to Wolf Link’s limited moveset. Other amiibo that represent the Zelda universe either give the player small gifts in Twilight Princess HD’s main campaign or, in the case of the Ganondorf amiibo, make the game more difficult by having Link take double damage.
On that note, though, Twilight Princess HD does offer a Hero Mode, and fans are sure to appreciate the fact that it’s available right from the time the game is freshly booted. For those who don’t know, Hero Mode, like the aforementioned Ganondorf amiibo, causes Link to lose double the hearts when taking damage from enemies. Recovery hearts are also more scarce. For the ultimate challenge, though, using the Ganondorf amiibo within Hero Mode does, in fact, cause quadruple damage to our poor hero.
Helping the combat immensely in Twilight Princess are 7 special sword maneuvers learned throughout the game. Link typically displays a fair amount of versatility in his movements, but Twilight Princess puts you in direct control of his usual acrobatics, and these special skills are simple to learn and easy to perform. Plus they feel great! Taking down a heavily armored enemy with a series of shield strikes, overhead jump attacks, and more is just plain satisfying.
Finally, what would a Zelda game be if it didn’t add anything to the history of Hyrule? Twilight Princess features one of the best storylines in the series, with some emotionally-charged cutscenes, great new characters, and music perfectly suited to each mood.
With more time and dedication on Nintendo’s part, Twilight Princess HD could have showcased what a true remake can be. The original game, released on Wii and GameCube in 2006, really could have used a total overhaul in environments and models. The upgraded textures in Twilight Princess HD are nice, however, and the fact that the game and it’s high quality Wolf Link amiibo figure retail for $59.99 means that Zelda fans have some alright reasons to revisit the game with its new coat of HD paint. Those who missed out on the game during the 10 years since its release, on the other hand, have no excuse to miss out on this solid entry in the storied franchise.