Review: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo Wii)

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Genre: Platformer/Adventure
Release Date: 11/19/2006

The Wii launch has come and gone, and now itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s time to look back and review the title that stood out more then any other title on the Wii (or any other launch title for any system) and see if it lives up to the hype. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s no secret Nintendo has worked long on this and they are expecting that work to equate to dividends and dollar signs. So far, at least from sales, it seems like things our working out. But then again sales can be deceiving. I can take a cardboard box and write The Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy on it and it would probably sell. The question we here at Not a True Ending seek to answer is whether or not this is more then just a game that will use the Zelda moniker to get by, or does it really live up to the hype that it has created. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve got my Wii and Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve logged the hours in and I can, without a shadow of a doubt, say I was highly impressed with Twilight Princess. However, letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s break it down piece by piece and see how Twilight Princess stands up to the notorious Inside Pulse games review standards.

1. Story

The standard formula for the Legend of Zelda series has always centered on the hero Link rescuing the kingdom of Hyrule and Princess Zelda from the evil Ganon/Ganondorf. Twilight Princess tries to present a different twist to it, but even the new cast of characters and plotline canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t escape the generic plotline I outlined, and it also canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t escape repeating storylines, but once again this is not necessarily a bad thing. A Link to the Past and Twilight Princess, despite being over a decade apart really reminded me of each other, which by the way is nothing but a good omen. So here is the gist of whatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s going on in Twilight Princess. You start out in the small village of Ordon where you live the simple life of a farmhand who is popular with the neighbors and generally considered a hard worker. Ordon is about as small as a village as you would expect, but donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t worry things pick up pretty quickly. What starts as an adventure to save one of the lost children and a monkey will end up sending Link on his latest epic adventure. In Twilight Princess the main antagonist for much of the game is Zant, otherwise known as the Twilight King. Link must, at first free Hyrule from the twilight that has incased it. But what is twilight? Simply twilight is a realm, suited for the twilight creatures, and a realm where humans only exist in a ghost like state unaware of what has truly happened to them at the hands of Zant. This all starts when Link is rendered unconscious and some of his friends are kidnapped. Once unconscious Link gets pulled into the twilight world where he awakens as a wolfâ┚¬Â¦So area by area you will rid the world of twilight and try to restore light and the balance to Hyrule. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m not one for spoilers but suffice to say the strings are being pulled once again on the villain, and behind it is you know who.

However; even though things are pretty much by the formula Twilight Princess does introduce some interesting characters. Midna is a really interesting addition to the Zelda universe and her character does grow quite a bit (at least as much as such a plot will allow a character to grow) throughout the game. I did enjoy Zant and the Twilight realm along with its characters for what they were. Letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s be honest though, Twilight Princess is not a game that sets out to tell a classic tale. Instead it is another, and solid, addition to a storied franchise that seeks to satisfy its fan base and also bring in the casual gamer to Nintendoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s new Wii. Most people who buy Twilight Princess will not be buying it for the story, instead they will buy it for the name and for the game play.

Story Score: 7/10

2. Graphics

For a Gamecube port that doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t even use the Wii to its fullest potential Twilight Princess looks pretty damn good. One of the biggest complaints I hear about the Wii is that it can not match, graphically, the Playstation 3 and the X-box 360. No arguments here, the Wii canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t. Regardless Twilight Princess still looks amazing. It is by far the best looking Wii game at launch, and it is also the best looking Gamecube game I have ever seen. The attention to detail each character is given is nothing short of startling. Each character you meet has a look to them that gives them a sense of not only being different but also having a little depth to them as well. This goes a long way to making up for the lack of voice acting (which is not to say that Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m criticizing that decision, but it is worth mentioning). The enemies of Twilight Princess also look great. I was amazed to see the bosses of each dungeon. Each gives off that larger then life vibe to it through the imaging, and as a result each battle really does feel epic as you play. When you fight Morpheel in the Water Temple itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a real rush just seeing this massive beast swim around you. However, while the characters look great, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s the environments of Twilight Princess that really shine. Each environment is simply stunning because of the amount of work that went into them. From Faron Forest and Zoraâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s Domain to Castletown and Gerudo Desert; it all looks great.

The Wii may not be the most powerful next generation console, but Twilight Princess is still the best looking game any Nintendo system right now, and definitely the best looking game on the Wii as of this moment. Judging it on that criteria you canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t help but appreciate the work that went into creating the expansive and detailed version of Hyrule that appears in Twilight Princess.

Graphics Rating: 9/10

3. Sound

You know for as much pomp as Nintendo is trying to put behind this soundtrack by including it in gift sets and as a gift to Nintendo Power subscribers I was a little under whelmed by it. Donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t get me wrong, the music in Twilight Princess is good, and at times it really can border on great (especially in some of the larger fighting sequences), but on a whole it doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t leave me with the kind of feeling a soundtrack for a game like Twilight Princess should have. Not one track is truly a standout that will leave you remembering it after you have completed the game. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m really not sure why a better soundtrack or at least a more memorable one didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t materialize. Certainly there was a lot of fanfare attached to Twilight Princess on all fronts, and the sound was also one of them. I am certain there are gamers out there, who will disagree and they will say Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m crazy because this soundtrack is the best Zelda music ever, but I just canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t bring myself to believe that. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve played Zelda a long time and this doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t leave me with the same feeling the soundtracks of those games did. Hell it doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t even leave me with some of the same feelings even more recent game soundtracks have, and those games are not nearly of the high profile nature that Twilight Princess is.

One of the things I thought long and hard about was Nintendoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s decision not to include voice acting in Twilight Princess. The old school gamer in me agrees whole heartedly with this decision. A Link with a speaking voice just feels out of place. I always viewed Link as a hero that transcended timelines and storylines in games and therefore never saw the reason for him to be deluded with personality traits that a voice actor would give me. However, the more rational gamer in me wonders why the other characters in Twilight Princess didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t get voice acting, or at least give us the option of hearing voice acting within the game. Ultimately, after examining the dilemma I think I can say that Twilight Princess does not suffer any ill effects from not having voice acting. Voice acting may have made it a more realistic experience but would it have meant sacrificing some of that Zelda-esque feeling we are used to? I think it probably would have and that would have made me much, much more unhappy.

Finally, one of bright spots for sound is the sound effects. They are top notch, especially all the sounds Link makes in both human and wolf forms during fight scenes. The Wii-mote is especially used effectively here as it will make sounds as you fight. It will also play the classic Zelda jingle that happens when you uncover a secret. It really does add a little extra something to the game and it helps make up for a good, but uninspired, soundtrack effort.

Sound Rating: 6/10

4. Controls/Gameplay

And this is why Twilight Princess is a MUST own for any Wii owners. Right here in this category. Forget the storied franchise. Forget the names and faces. Forget everything you think makes this the game to buy. Because Twilight Princess makes the Wii-mote and all itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s uniqueness shine in a way that will make Wii owners smile and Wii doubters convert to Nintendoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s new motion sensing console. First off letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s explain the basic set-up. Both the Wii-mote and the nunchuck are used, and frequently at that, in Twilight Princess. The nunchuck acts mostly as your targeting device and also is exclusively used for general movement. For easier fighting when you are in range of an enemy, pressing Z on the nunchuck will lock on. Pressing Z will also take you into a battle control scheme of sorts that allows Link to do back flips and side step/jumps as well. The nunchuck always plays a factor in exploring as well since the C button will allow you to look around from a first person camera angle. However; the main part of the nunchuck is movement. By using the control stick on the controller you move Link around. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s very easy to learn and actually cuts down on a lot of needless and complicated control issues I feel previous 3D Zeldaâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s had. The nunchuck also has a couple other smaller purposes such as being the way to use both your wolf and human spin attack, and also for hidden skills such as the shield attack, helm splitter, and back slice. While all this seems awesome, and it is, the real beauty is how seamless it blends in with the Wii-mote in terms of how both work together to make one of the best control schemes every designed.

The Wii-mote has a lot of features. For one the diagonal pad is where you hold the slots for your side weapons and all you way to talk to Midna. The bottom numbered buttons allow you to view the map. The plus/minus buttons show the two main menus of the game and the B button on the back of the Wii-mote is used for your main secondary weapon at the time. Using weapons like the clawshot, bow and arrow, and gale boomerang sounds a bit complicated with that set-up, but within 10 minutes you fully realize just how easy it is to master. The main function of the Wii-mote; however, is the sword play obviously. First to even unsheathe your sword all you have to do is flick the Wii-mote and it happens. The A button also plays a big role in Twilight Princess. It will help you do certain actions while walking, in battle, or running (like a tuck and roll or a back jump), talking with NPCâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s, and also putting items away. You will use it to perform certain special attacks and thrusts, but the main way youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll attack is by moving the Wii-mote around to have Link use his sword. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s really amazing how fluid it feels to, and it never once felt clunky to me when I was fighting. Even the fishing aspects of the game are cool with you pulling up with the Wii-mote to hook the fish and then pull it in. One last spot worth mentioning is the rumble features which also help bring a sense of realism to the battles of Twilight Princess. This is the Wii done right, and if Nintendo manages to produce more games that utilize the Wii-mote this way then things will be looking very bright for the Wii. I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t give tens oftenâ┚¬Â¦but in this case anything less would be an insult

Control/Gameplay Score: 10/10

5. Replayability

Zelda is full of extra side quests to do. Collecting 45 pieces of hearts, getting 24 golden bugs, ripping out 60 souls of ghosts known Poeâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s, and fishing for all the known fish in Hyrule are all pretty fun. The problem is that none of these really (save for the heart pieces) provide an adequate reward, and really are just there for the perfectionists out there who enjoy randomly collecting things Still I will admit it was fun tracking down the Poeâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s and also scouring the countryside for all the bugsâ┚¬Â¦yet I canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t imagine anyone coming back to this game for things such as that. One extra that does provide a challenge for gamers, and will add some replayability to Twilight Princess is the Cave of Ordeals. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a 50 room challenge where in each room youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll have to defeat different enemies to progress. It can be a bit challenging especially when you get to the latter floors. The good news here that Twilight Princess, depending on your own personal speed, will take anywhere from 35-50 hours to complete your first time through. It does have a nice amount of extras and the game play is very, very deep. But after you beat it there will be very little reason to come back quickly to the land of Hyrule.

Replayability Score: 7/10

6. Balance

Twilight Princess plays exceptionally well. With that said this game is not as challenging as I originally imagined it would be. The control system is so easy to learn, and once you do, the rest of the game becomes a fun adventure that will at times test you but rarely daunt you with the tasks at hand. Unfortunately sometimes I do feel Twilight Princess becomes a bit to easy especially at some boss fights where the movements are predictable and you can beat them with very little strategy or effort. Overall, I feel that the majority of the game is very balanced as it does have a lot for all walks of gamers despite the aforementioned shortcomings. Players will be attracted to the ease of which Zelda can be mastered, but more seasoned gamers, despite being a bit annoyed with some of the easier aspects, will enjoy the harder challengers that Twilight Princess will throw their way.

Balance Score: 7/10

7.Originality

Usually a game in a long running series such as this is low on originality and high on satisfying what gamers come to expect from said series. However; the Wii truly changes this fact. The control scheme is so original and so amazing that it feels like playing a Zelda game all over again for the first time. Sure many of the same elements are there The dungeons, plotline, quests, and everything else you would expect to see returns. However, using the Wii-mote transforms the experience into something so fresh and new that you will be delighted with the end results. Twilight Princess is the epitome of what Nintendo is looking to get out of the Wii in terms of using the Wii-mote to itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s maximum potential, and here that experiment pays off in spades in terms of originality. This is Zelda re-invented.

Originality Score: 9/10

8. Addictiveness

I couldnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t put the game down. It consumed my Wii and the better part of my insomniac hours with its charm. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a Game of the Year candidate pretty much everywhere you go, and for once that is very well deserved. Twilight Princess puts you in the position of felling completely immersed in the game. From the humble beginnings to the epic final battles youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll fully enjoy the experience garnered from Twilight Princess. Its appeal and addictiveness not only show up in sales, but more importantly it shows in just how fun it truly is.

Addictiveness Score: 8/10

9. Appeal Factor

New console plus a newThe Legend of Zelda game equals appealing to the masses in very large quantities. Many retailers are reporting a near 1 to 1 sale of Wiiâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s and copies of Twilight Princess. This is the launch game to have and the best launch game since Super Mario 64. Nothing even comes close on either the Wii or PS3 this holiday season when it comes to launch titles. I also like the fact that Nintendo chose to release Twilight Princess on the Cube as well. While it is good business, many fans will find themselves unable to find a Wii this holiday season due to the demand consumers have for the product. This mean an already built in base of millions of console owners will also have a chance at Twilight Princess. Letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s face it: itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a Zelda game, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a launch title for the red hot Wii, and it will also be available for the Cube. That recipe sounds like it has all the appeal needed for gamers.

Appeal Score: 10/10

10. Miscellaneous

The results are already in and Twilight Princess is a big time winner. It does everything right from beginning to end, with a few minor bumps along the way. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve heard some complaints from the purists about this edition of The Legend of Zelda but I just canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t say their arguments even begin to hold water. Twilight Princess is the best game in the series since (in this reviewers opinions, and I may catch flack for this but I never was one to care) A Link to the Past. If you own a Wii there is no reason not to own this game. Hell, if you own a Gamecube it is the swansong for the entire system! It works. Face it: Nintendo got it right when they picked this for a launch title and it shows.

Miscellaneous Score: 10/10

Final Score:

Story: 7/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 6/10
Controls/Gameplay: 10/10
Replayability: 7/10
Balance: 7/10
Originality: 9/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Appeal: 10/10
Miscellaneous: 10/10

Total Score: 83/100 â┚¬” 8.5 (Great)

Short Attention Span Summary
This is the Game of the Year for me. Anyone who has a Wii NEEDS to have this. It is the game that makes the Wii shine and shows us just what potentially could be in store for Wii owners as time progresses. It may be a bit hard to find for the Wii but it is also out for the Cube. One way or another I would try for the Wii version, folks. Playing with the Wii-mote is awesome and it gives Twilight Princess that extra bump it needed to make it my Game of the Year.