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Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Video Game Review by animevgirl

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: November 19, 2006
Rating: T (the first Zelda game to receive this rating)
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Genre: Action adventure
Mode: Single player

Note: The game's graphics are much sharper than they appear within certain screenshots.

Our hero, Link, has humble beginnings, as always.

The lovely Ilia.

Perhaps it is his simplistic, unassuming existence that makes him such an enticing candidate. Or it may be divine intervention. It could even be an innate, extraordinary power, coupled with an instinctual inclination to help others, that prompt his assumption of the role. Regardless of the circumstances preceding their selection, heroes abound within both anime and video games. Nowhere is the concept of heroism more pronounced than in the renowned The Legend of Zelda series, whose legacy began nearly 20 years ago and continues with its newest installment, Twilight Princess. Displaying striking visuals, expansive environments, a compelling, mature storyline, and innovative gameplay, Twilight Princess maintains the epic splendor of its predecessors while bestowing new merits upon this already enchanting franchise.

What a cute little feral wolf you are, Link!

Midna looking slightly perturbed.

Our eminent hero Link commences his journey in the tranquil Ordon Village years after the events that transpired in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask (we're likely dealing with a different Link here). Within the village's small, humble community of affable adults and spirited (if not obnoxious) children, a dastardly creature abducts the young girl Ilia, Link's close friend, and renders Link unconscious; he awakens to find himself imprisoned, transformed into a wolf in what is known as the realm of twilight. Here he becomes acquainted with the sardonic and mysterious Midna. With her assistance (as she rides on his back as a wolf), Link learns of the Twilight Realm and of a tyrant named Zant who seeks to shroud Hyrule in darkness using twilight, causing the kingdom's deterioration. At its most basic level, the game details the exploits of Link and Midna as they strive to dispel various areas of Hyrule that are shrouded in twilight and salvage Princess Zelda from destruction.

Even in distress, the majestic Princess Zelda retains her splendor.

Zant and his evil minions.

Twilight Princess is astounding on several levels, particularly through its storyline. The series is exalted in part due to its consistently apocalyptic, intricate plot; Twilight Princess follows suit, offering more intriguing, mature plot elements. The prevailing notion of twilight within this game itself insinuates an "in-between" state (as twilight is a period of transition from day to night), which many of the aspects of the plot nicely reflect. Within the Twilight Realm, Link must assume the form of a menacing wolf, becoming human only when the twilight within a certain area is dispelled. Link himself embodies twilight or an intermediate state; he is both an empathetic, valiant hero and a powerful wolf wielding darker abilities. Good and evil aren't quite so clear-cut, and the game raises some interesting issues through language and dialogue that are delightfully intelligent. The title is subtly tinged with philosophical notions of light and darkness (reminiscent of Kingdom Hearts) and the ultimate question: is someone a hero because he is unique and chosen by higher beings (in otherwords, he really has no choice), or is it because he chooses to save? Is it fate or something more?

This picturesque forest returns to normal as the malevolent
twilight is dispelled.

A sweeping view of the intricate mechanisms of the Goron Mines.

It may not rival the complexities of time travel found within Ocarina of Time, but Twilight Princess also emerges as an intelligent, solemn game by exposing certain realities of heroism. As Link's companion throughout the entire game (who claims she helps Link only because she has something to gain), Midna is actually a rather complex character. Since much of the game revolves around her enigmatic background and ostensible attachment to the evil" twilight realm, I'll spare you major details. But it is Midna who seemingly suggests that being a hero is not an ideal fantasy; the role is littered with disappointments and loneliness. The hero is characterized as an anomaly, an outsider, one who must embrace powers of twilight in order to dispel it (a concept familiar to fans of Kingdom Hearts' Riku). And as a wolf, Link is often misapprehended as a malicious being and incites fear within others; even his own friends fail to recognize him or acknowledge his heroic deeds. I would say that Midna represents the darker aspects of heroism, though there is more to her than this. Much of the game's strengths rest within the developing relationship between Link and Midna, as well as Midna's own development. Unfortunately for devotees of Zelda, she is not seen much (though she is significant to the general plot).

The ethereal Twilight Realm.

Link poses in wolf form with Midna upon his back, Hyrule Castle looming behind him.

The gameplay excels as well, introducing several interesting, enjoyable facets. Personally, I love using the Wii remote, which facilitates natural and instinctive combat. Swinging the remote in succession causes Link to execute useful (and seldom superfluous) combos while the nunchuck is reserved for spin attacks and moving Link with the control stick. At some point I used them all, though I found some moves more useful than others, using mainly the spin attack as a wolf, for instance. But overall, the remote allows simultaneously running and fighting to be quick and effective. Particularly when using weapons such as the bow and arrow, using the remote's pointer permits players to aim with precision and fosters a much more realistic, appealing experience. Using the remote to fish throughout the game is equally executed incredibly well, simulating movements similar to what you'd do if you were actually fishing. The Wii controls heightened the intensity of the gameplay, allowing me to truly assume the role of Link. As you progress, there are several efficient hidden skills that you can obtain in human form, though Link harnesses innovative abilities unique to the wolf form as well, such as emitting an energy field that destroys multiple enemies (a crucial move). As a wolf, you'll also possess the ability to trigger superior senses in order to track or dig for particular items, and Midna is particularly useful in this form. At one point, you'll be given the opportunity to alternate between wolf and human form at will, which is necessary to complete certain areas. Midna will prohibit you from transforming directly amidst people to prevent a frenzy, however, which contributes to the realism (though it's quite fun to transform in a corner and run rampant as a wolf in Hyrule's Castle Town, sending people shrieking in tumultuous panic).

Hyrule shrouded in a veil of twilight.

Link stands reverently within the Temple of Time (which is a dungeon this time around).

It was also the array of weapons that I truly enjoyed. Nostalgic fans will appreciate the return of trademark weapons such as the bow and arrow, iron boots (with which you can scale certain walls), boomerang (which is now designated the Gale Boomerang and allows you to hurl tornadoes), Master Sword, and bombs. But others such as the ball and chain (which allows you to break ice), the spinner (with which you can traverse desert landscapes), a double clawshot, and the Dominion Rod (with which you can bring statues to life), are not only immensely creative, but the way in which players must use them is incredibly clever and well-crafted. Players can have up to three weapons or items equipped and can alternate between them conveniently. Weapons serve not only to destroy enemies but are required to complete puzzles, retrieve items, or uncover areas. I truly marvel at the intelligence and ingenuity it took to construct the intricate puzzles and mechanisms this time around, and more than once I found myself perplexed.

Just in time to observe the setting sun from Lake Hylia.

Link enters a silent Kakariko Village.

That said, this is a LONG game. Even without pursuing all of the tedious side quests, it took me 55 hours to complete. The environments are incredibly expansive; nostalgic fans are rewarded with familiar elemental locations such as Death Mountain and Zora's Domain, though there are new areas such as Snowpeak and a sky temple. And familiar faces such as the Gorons and the Zoras make grand appearances, along with new ones such as the Twili race. It's always interesting to see the interrelationships among these different races as well, which enhances the sense of an interconnected kingdom rather than isolated locations. It takes a while to plunder through these vast landscapes and numerous temples, and much of the game is devoted to exploration. It's also a bit frustrating to have to start from the beginning of a lengthy temple if you die or quit, but that's forgivable. It was frighteningly easy for me to assimilate into the colossal realms of the Zelda universe and become immersed in the trials and tribulations of Hyrule's inhabitants, and that's what matters.

It's likely a long way down from the top of Snowpeak.

A portion of the Sky Temple.

Later on, Midna will allow you to warp to different areas, making quests less time-consuming. There are six massive provinces excluding Hyrule Field, each with significant locations. You'll encounter different varieties of exploration as a human and wolf, from traversing lands to breaking into buildings. Certain light spirits preside over these provinces, and it is your job as Link to recover the lost light and destroy the shadow beasts to aid these spirits. You'll be rescuing children and hunting down items or enemies to dispel the twilight within locations quite a bit, though it's never dull.

As a wolf, Link employs his keen "sense" mode to dig
for treasure. Or a bone

Link enjoys a refreshing swim in the famous Lake Hylia,
Zora armor and all.

Link relishes the rare moment of revisiting his home.

Link and Midna prepare for battle.

In addition, the level of difficulty of enemies isn't high. Using combos and maneuvers, enemies can be quickly destroyed, though they are aggressive and require strategy (and Z-targeting). Boss battles, however, range in difficulty; some are simple and quick, while others take time and deliberation. Inevitably, a weapon you acquire in an area is required to conquer the boss in that area, so prepare to get creative in your usage of them. And if you haven't already heard, I will say that the final boss battle presents something that I've heard many fans have been anticipating for quite some time. And be sure to stay through the credits for the complete ending, which was aptly moving.

Link and Epona traverse Hyrule Field.

Link on his way to the Forest Temple.

A pleasant stroll through Hyrule's Castle Town.

Link's sword often speaks for him.

Unlike Ocarina of Time, music does not play a very significant role within gameplay other than summoning Epona with a specific blade of grass. As a wolf, Link is also able to howl during certain times, and replicating a particular pitch and tune uncovers hidden skills. Don't despair, however, for prominent pieces from Ocarina (such as the majestic Temple of Time melody) emerge intermittently. The background music otherwise ranges from ominous operatic renditions to frivolous, light-hearted melodies to an eerily ethereal tone in twilight that is appropriately neither somber nor jovial. Towards the end music that is initially cheerful is reprised into a haunting, melancholy version, reiterating notions of darkness and light coinciding. However, the dialogue is still conveyed through text, and yes, Link's actions still literally speak louder than his words- he perpetually has no voice. Having been used to this, I've viewed it a trademark of the series and didn't even consider the alternative until I recently read other reviews where this is criticized. I realized that I, too, would like to see others and perhaps Link himself speak instead of spouting out text, which does slightly weaken the pace and undermine the realism. It's difficult to gauge a character's emotions through a bunch of words. And after all, this is primarily Link's story. I want to know what he thinks about it.

Death Mountain looks as volatile as ever.

One of the many boss battles.

A not-so-pleasant frenzy as wolf Link terrorizes Castle Town.

Link emits a massive field of energy as a wolf.

I found little fault with the graphics as well. Ordon Ranch is simplistically done and seemingly lackluster, but as the game progresses, so does the graphical detail. The Twilight Realm is beautifully done, with surreal, almost blurred scenery that feels as though Link is somehow suspended in time. Areas such as Hyrule Field and Lake Hylia, both in daytime and darkness, simply look wonderfully vibrant and detailed. Cutscenes are also fantastically sharp, especially when they involve Zelda (whose design surpasses even that of Link), and the protagonists' facial expressions are quite vivid (which is good, since Link relies on these to convey emotion).

Meet the Yeti and his wife.

Gerudo Desert slumbers under the solemn night sky.

Link launches ammo with his slingshot upon an enemy.

Your friendly neighborhood Goron.

You may not be as enamored as I was, but Twilight Princess proves a worthy addition to the legendary franchise. It's apparent that a tremendous amount of effort went into the game, and you'll find yourselves reciprocating this effort with the time you spend playing it. The game retains traditional elements while suffusing innovations to provide continuity within a series that supposedly has a different hero nearly every time. Zelda has a way of making you observe nuances that suggest just how difficult it is to create a video game. If you enjoy unrivaled and intelligent gameplay with colorful characters (albeit silent ones), you'll be enraptured with this title, particularly if you desire an experience that refines and reinvents the action-adventure genre. There's something that allows even the hackneyed "rescuing the solicitous damsel-in-distress" routine to be persistently captivating; our green-clad hero is a living legacy. This is one legend that I hope is told for many more years to come.

See if you can spot the Zora.

A desolate, frozen wasteland lies at the entrance of Snowpeak.

Scoring Summary

Story: 10/10
Graphics: 9/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Music: 9/10
Difficulty level: 8/10
Overall enjoyability: 10/10

The countenance of a true hero.

Copyright by Anime-Source.Com All Right Reserved.

Published on: 2007-03-03 (48844 reads)

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