Published by Nintendo
Developed by Nintendo
By Curtis Westman
The story has always been simple but engrossing: Princess Zelda has been kidnapped by the evil Ganondorf, and it’s up to a young boy named Link to save her. This scenario has repeated itself over and over. But after twenty years and a dozen games later, the series remains in high demand.
It has now been over two months since The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was simultaneously released with the Wii launch that compounded excitement and had everybody in the gaming community talking. Even though the game was released a month later on the Gamecube as well, news of highly touted Wii-exclusive control options created a substantial hype around the game that would finally let fans actually swing a sword as if in Link’s hands. But was it worth it?
At first glance, Twilight Princess is simply beautiful. Though graphically, the title is just a port from the Gamecube version, the Wii disc offers a true 16:9 widescreen output, much like the majority of DVD movies, which delivers the epic cinematic experience a Zelda game deserves.
One major thing that sets this new installment apart from previous titles is thatTwilight Princess is the first Zelda game in which Link does not start the game as a young boy, but rather as a teenager. Overall, this makes the tone much darker – and the storyline definitely cements this new direction. Rather than a quest to save the Princess and thus the world, Twilight Princess begins with the world already in ruin outside of Link’s quaint little village. After the children of the town are kidnapped by monsters, Link finds himself trapped in a dungeon in a strange world of darkness, and what’s worse, he’s been transformed into a wolf.
The gameplay is fairly varied as a result of the transformations between wolf and human, and new items that have never before been featured in the series make an appearance, adding to the sense of discovery that made The Legend of Zelda so intriguing in the beginning. The Wii controls are interesting, but feel much like an afterthought (unsurprisingly, because they were), and often it feels as if certain maneuvers would be much easier to perform by a button-press, and not a motion sensitive gesture. This might be a side effect of learning a new control system in general, though, because as the game progresses, it definitely becomes more instinctive.
As far as difficulty goes, this is standard Zelda fare. New gamers will have no problem getting used to the universe and game mechanics, and while the game will challenge them, it won’t be off-putting and frustrating. For experienced gamers, however, Twilight Princess rarely presents situations you’ll have to attempt more than once. That said, there are several side-quests and mini-games that will offer a more complete game play experience. Furthermore, the length of the story and the number of dungeons are enough to keep anyone occupied for quite a while – from start to finish, that is, around 40 hours of game play.
Overall, though there are some flaws in control and ease of play, this is definitely one of the best games of 2006, and undoubtedly the best Legend of Zelda game to date. It’ll be hard for Nintendo to top, but word has it that they’re already on the way to developing a truly native Wii Zelda. With any luck, they’ll continue to provide the kind of updates to the series that both hearken back to the mechanics of the original games and simultaneously innovate those mechanics, and the series will continue to sell out in stores all over the world.