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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess


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#1 linkster

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 06:21 PM

There's a time when pretty much every devotee of the Zelda series wishes they could erase that part of their brain and experience it all over again. The trouble with getting what you wish for is that it generally comes tinged with a little disappointment or regret.

A hint of what to come was there prior to the GameCube's announcement, with a teasing 12 seconds or so of a beautifully rendered Link and Ganondorf slugging it out in some dungeon, all flowing hair & ‘come on' gestures. It was the dream come true, no?

Well, Nintendo didn't think so. Having already shown their sickening talents by taking the OOT engine & assets only to turn out arguably the greatest same generation sequel ever in Majora's Mask, a game that enthralled as many as it instantly turned off with its initially daunting 3 day cycle, it was time to turn expectations upside down again with The Wind Waker. A boat replaced a horse and the jaw dropping look created another iconic title for Miyamoto.

Where TWW left us wanting more was, we hoped, to be answered by its inevitable same-generation sequel. More character interaction. Less padding. The technology was in place, so all that time could be spent on the game, right?

Again, no as it turned out. We'll probably never know why, maybe the kiddie tag GameCube was saddled with got to be too much, but that astonishingly individual look was to be sacrificed for something more akin to that first tantalising glimpse of what we thought we wanted. But there was more. A year out from completion, maybe more, the latest Zelda title was saddled not just with furthering its already daunting heritage, but carrying the launch of a new console.

So, Twilight Princess was to be a return, visually at least, to familiar territory for the Zelda series. Since it set the mould though, pretenders had come along with their own take on console adventuring, from the brief but focused Ico through the shameless pretender Okami to the baffling ordeal that is Oblivion. Twilight Princess needed to show again that Legend of Zelda leads where others follow.

And that's why the opening to this game hurts so much.

While Ocarina of Time spanned the ages, it was as a child that Link began and ended the game, with all that it entailed, as he has always been throughout the series. Here we are introduced to a slightly soppy looking farmhand whose job is to entertain the kids & run (woodenly) menial chores for the residents of his, frankly cramped, village.

After a few joyless tasks, Link is saddled with a companion. No, not Navi, but one which will play the inquisitive role, albeit in a far more characterised way. Not as intrusively as Okami's royal pain in the arse Issun, but in the same way relegating Link to a background character during many of the game's key narrative encounters, such as with the early meeting with a truly gorgeous looking Princess Zelda.

We all know Zelda can be dark. Given the childish state of its hero though, generally this is of the sinister, folk tale type darkness. Almost unbearably, early on it seems like Twilight Princess is going to forgo this in favour of the by now rather clichéd desolation & shadow monsters mastered by Ico and Shadow of the Collosus. An equally unengaging dungeon later, which is I would bet going to be the breaking of many a Zelda n00b, and I was playing through will power alone. Any other game, I told myself, and it would have been back in the box. Could this really be happening?

It was with the return to very familiar territory that the enjoyment that is almost everywhere in Twilight Princess mercifully returned. OK, so it's not original, but if it's got Zelda in the title, it needs its own signature, and that is not long faces and pretentious musings. What evokes the joy of playing this series more than the first footsteps into Hyrule Field? Just as daunting as ever, forcing the player to stick to the boundaries lest they be overwhelmed by what could be out there. Exploring every single inch before moving on towards the horizon with its mountains, castles and sunsets.

Very soon, this adult Link would also indicate that he was enjoying the change of pace. With sword flourishes that would crack the face of the most ardent Zelda cynic, the new model Hero of Time is not someone who's going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into battle. He's one cool mother f*****r, a sly grin replacing the staple wide eyed reaction of old, not even averse to a bit of bare chested sumo wrestling. The lad's truly grown up.

From here on in, it's impossible not to be swept along by the sheer thrill of, basically, re-experiencing the ground breaking Ocarina of Time. Everything is here, but it's bigger and more beautiful, with enough references, visually and sonically, to previous titles to add another level of enjoyment to those who grew up following Link's adventures.

One of the triumphs is the horse back combat which makes crossing the open fields fun but also enables two of the game's standout moments - an escort mission and the penultimate encounter with, well, guess who. Regrettably, there's also the bizarre restriction on the player on the ability to summon their steed until practically the end of the game when most of the leg work has been done.

Mini games are here in abundance and there's no attempt not to stick something in even if it would be more at home in Mario or, hell, 1080 Snowboarding. The fishing mechanic also predictably returns, but like the horseriding with a bizarre restriction - at only one location in the game can you truly experience it, everywhere else it's a cut down version meaning the chance to simply chill out and fish at one of the many random water holes or rivers is ruined by a shallow, unengaging game play. A massive shame.

Bug hunting on the other hand is tremendously compelling. It's a great use of the day/night cycles and the beautiful outdoor world they've created, which basically would merit cantering around in even if it were completely empty. Sadly though it contributes to highlighting one of the game's unbalanced issues, money - completing this very well rewarded task gives you a bigger wallet, but of course you've lost all the money you would have got by then. Not that there's anything to spend your rupees on anyway.

Wasteful in other areas, too. Magic armour which never needs wearing. A catapault that is redundant within five minutes. The vastly underused Spinner & Gale Boomerang. Sufficient toys for a game even twice its considerable length. Throwaway locations too - the pointless inclusion of the Zoras in particular hinting that this was another game which simply ran out of time. But most regrettable of all is another Hyrule Castle Market which, post Majora's Mask, looked to promise so much and make up for the mistakes of TWW, but sadly ends up as just so many NPCs doing the same thing, inconsequentially, day in day out.

Then there's your wolf persona. It looked so appealing in that first trailer, but Okami truly stole Link's thunder in that respect. Unlike the masks of Majora, being an alternate beast really isn't that much fun and you're always keen to be back in the green hat again.

Narratively, TP is forgettable. And regrettable, in that your associate, Midna, for the most part simply takes attention away from Link. The twilight world is conceptually very appealing, especially the sinister ability to listen in on those who don't know their fate, and the cut scenes occasionally shocking, but not in any memorable way. It's cheap horror - Iilia, knife in hand, and the evil Links - rather than the stay with your forever moments of MM.

The dungeons are not too challenging but very enjoyable, particularly the Gerudo fortress & the Twilight Realm, which features a short collect & fight section against a robot hand that is just one of the best sequences ever in a Zelda game, thanks to some very subtle but extremely effective audio. Simply wonderful.

Overall then, Twilight Princess does a lot to answer the criticisms levelled at The Wind Waker - it's better balanced, has less repetition, is never anything but fun, and over 72 hours that's some achievement. What leaves a less appealing thought is how little it has done to progress the series in any way. It's a return to very safe ground, where MM and TWW challenged people to love their brave new directions, and it's hard to see that as something to celebrate. But when a game is this good, you're willing to try.
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#2 scottcr

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 06:49 PM

argh - I didn't see the the 'contains major bits' tag...

I spose it's not really that major tho...
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#3 Davros sock drawer

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 09:39 PM

Nicely written Linkster, although I suspect that some of the things that irked you won't bother me.

I see my theory was bollocks then.
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#4 linkster

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 10:13 PM

Nicely written Linkster, although I suspect that some of the things that irked you won't bother me.

I see my theory was bollocks then.

If it's what Stroker said then yeah, sorry.
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#5 Davros sock drawer

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 10:25 PM

I still think it must be a visual reference though, no?
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#6 linkster

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 08:29 AM

Quite possibly. There's a far more obvious MM reference though in one of the later boss battles which you're going to love.

The final battle itself though :wub: Man, it's just a dream come true.
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#7 Davros sock drawer

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 01:09 AM

An equally unengaging dungeon later, which is I would bet going to be the breaking of many a Zelda n00b


Having now done the first dungeon and found it a riot, I'm even more perplexed by this statement. Care to elaborate on what you disliked about it, and why it would break a n00b?
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#8 linkster

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 01:45 AM

Having now done the first dungeon and found it a riot, I'm even more perplexed by this statement. Care to elaborate on what you disliked about it, and why it would break a n00b?

I felt I only noticed the boss key by accident, and while I noticed the puzzle solution straight away I didn't think it was something a new person would.

Otherwise I just found myself getting lost quite a bit, and the boss was ripped straight from TWW. Hey, let's not dwell, despite loving the game I didn't want to let hindsight gloss over what genuinely upset me at the time.
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#9 erhgiez

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 06:06 PM

I completely disagree with the comments on the start, I just loved every minute of it! but I have only ever completed LTTP so maybe its going over familiar territory for you. I was glued to the seat for 8 straight hours before i realised i needed to eat!

I agree with the first dungeon though, it took me a while to remember where the boss key was as I only passed it once at the start of the dungeon. I didnt try very hard but couldnt figure out how to get the map up, it said something about it being under the - button but couldnt find it in the inventory screen, does the boss key show up on there like it does on other zelda's?
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#10 Davros sock drawer

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 09:18 AM

If I'm not much mistaken The Boss Key location has never showed up on the map, just the Boss area itself. The map shows all chests once you have the compass, one of which will be the boss key.

Map is on button 1.
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#11 kensei

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 01:27 AM

The boss key puzzle in dungeon one is dead easy, made more so by the fact that Midna gives you a huge hint.

Also, I disagree with almost every criticism you levelled. Especially this:

". Almost unbearably, early on it seems like Twilight Princess is going to forgo this in favour of the by now rather clichéd desolation & shadow monsters mastered by Ico and Shadow of the Collosus"

The Twilight is fucking excellent.
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#12 linkster

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 06:21 AM

The boss key puzzle in dungeon one is dead easy, made more so by the fact that Midna gives you a huge hint.

Also, I disagree with almost every criticism you levelled. Especially this:

". Almost unbearably, early on it seems like Twilight Princess is going to forgo this in favour of the by now rather clichéd desolation & shadow monsters mastered by Ico and Shadow of the Collosus"

The Twilight is fucking excellent.

Twilight Realm is the only decent bit of the whole thing.

I don't think they did enough to make it unique to this game. I much preferred clearing the infected levels in Okami, both in terms of what you had to do & in the reward you got for doing so.

Just think how easily they could have put in side quests like Majora's Mask where you listen in on people who don't know they're in twilight and follow their stories. Could have been amazing. As it was it went practically nowhere.
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#13 kensei

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 11:50 AM

Twilight Realm is the only decent bit of the whole thing.

I don't think they did enough to make it unique to this game. I much preferred clearing the infected levels in Okami, both in terms of what you had to do & in the reward you got for doing so.

Just think how easily they could have put in side quests like Majora's Mask where you listen in on people who don't know they're in twilight and follow their stories. Could have been amazing. As it was it went practically nowhere.


Jesus. Why don't you and Okami just get a fucking ROOM then.

:)
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#14 Davros sock drawer

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 12:02 PM

I'm glad I've still got Okami to look forward to. It does sound like Okami has "ruined" TP for Linkster, to a small degree.
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#15 linkster

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 12:14 PM

Maybe. My bigger gripe is with the potential missed opportunities this game had to expand on the whole Twilight area. There's an all too brief taste at the end of the game, which makes it even more frustrating!
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#16 kensei

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 12:37 PM

In all seriousness, I appreciate you'd want an 8000 hour game, but it isn't practical.

My one serious criticism is that there is too much stuff in this game. There are enough ideas in here for three games. It does make things varied, but it is bad because it means that a lot of ideas don't get fully fleshed out. I also missed the Twilight later on, as I really liked those sections. But there are plenty of items that didn't get used that much. However, I hope the additions to the Zelda cannon get fleshed out next time round.
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#17 linkster

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 02:18 PM

In all seriousness, I appreciate you'd want an 8000 hour game, but it isn't practical.

My one serious criticism is that there is too much stuff in this game. There are enough ideas in here for three games. It does make things varied, but it is bad because it means that a lot of ideas don't get fully fleshed out. I also missed the Twilight later on, as I really liked those sections. But there are plenty of items that didn't get used that much. However, I hope the additions to the Zelda cannon get fleshed out next time round.

That wasn't one of my criticisms you disagreed with, then?

I don't want an 8000 hour game. Just perfection. Cos that's what Zelda's led me to expect.
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#18 kensei

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 03:17 PM

That wasn't one of my criticisms you disagreed with, then?

I don't want an 8000 hour game. Just perfection. Cos that's what Zelda's led me to expect.


OoT was far from perfect. I always rated it a lot below Lttp and MM. Majora's Mask was brilliant but I don't know if it was perfect. Lttp was close, though it had substantially less to do. Perfection doesn't exist my friend, because no matter what they do you can come up with "But wouldn't it be great if......". And this really is frighteningly good. I'd say up to the midpoint is one of the best executed pieces of videogame ever. beyond that the quality is there but it doesn't tie together just quite as well.

You are also comparing against games like ICO and SotC that have much, much less to do than Zelda. Those games are a single idea spun out a polished. It's a good thing if you like the idea (SoTC turned me off within 30 minutes, never done ICO) but Zelda has some more more to do it makes the comparisons moot.

To be honest, I think the seeds of another Zelda revolution are in this game: some of the cut scenes are excellent, some of the new items are interesting and need developed further; new areas and races could lead off into new directions, the combat has been upped and the game links together much more seemlessly than before and the places where you get a ton of enemies on screen point towards the future. And this is a very player friendly game in design in terms of movement, combat and dungeon's. Pull in some of MM's character interaction and you have the world's most awesome game the question is with Nintendo's new focus whether or not they have the will or caapcity to do it.
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#19 linkster

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 03:32 PM

I compared it to Ico for art style of the twilight zones alone. in the context of it being early in the game when I didn't know what was to come. you're making shit up I simply haven't said.
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#20 kensei

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 04:10 PM

Ico and SotC have been the games you've constantly mentioned here and on the other threads. Apologies if i havethe wong end of the stick, but youa re still wrong <_<
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#21 linkster

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 04:17 PM

Ico and SotC have been the games you've constantly mentioned here and on the other threads. Apologies if i havethe wong end of the stick, but youa re still wrong <_<

You even quoted me saying what worred me about it early on - that it didn't LOOk like Zelda, that it was a follower and not a leader. Nothing to do with the depth or variety of gameplay but an indicator of why the opening section of this game was such a traumatic experience. in terms of how it plays, I've referenced Okami a lot more than either of those two because it's more relevant to those areas.
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#22 scottcr

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 07:21 PM

This is my review of Zelda Twilight Princess by Scott Russell aged 31 and a half.

It's f$%king brilliant.

The end.

Thank you.
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#23 MRHJSIMPSON

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:24 PM

This is the Greatest game ever made. FACT
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#24 final-fx

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 06:16 PM

It's brilliant. Got me into the mood to play through all the other Zelda games too.
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#25 linkster

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 06:33 AM

This is the Greatest game ever made. FACT

Only if you've never played another videogame. FCTA.
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#26 rapstyle

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 01:57 PM

Cool,good game,good review!!!!
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