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

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD: Member Review

Nintendo Wii U 2,439 views 5 likes 17 comments
Reviewed by Alex McAuliffe, posted Mar 6, 2016, last updated Mar 11, 2016
Mar 6, 2016
  • Release Date (NA): March 4, 2016
  • Release Date (EU): March 4, 2016
  • Release Date (JP): March 10, 2016
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Tantalus, Nintendo EPD
  • Genres: Action-adventure
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Twilight Princess was an ambitious and confusing game to say the least. Is it good enough to warrant a third version, and does that version remedy the confusion of the original?
Alex McAuliffe
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People had been expecting this game for years, some believing in a 3D version, others wanting a true HD remaster. But, as always, people had a beef with this game when it was announced and all the way up to its release, claiming low polygon counts, horrible screenshots, and above all, claiming it looked no different from the original version. To arbitrate these claims, I'll divide this review into two sections, judging the game as a standalone experience and as a remaster of the original.

As a standalone game

Twilight Princess is a roller coaster, full of ups and downs. It's the game that sees you jousting a massive hog rider, escaping from prison into Hyrule Castle's filthy sewers, sumo wrestling a massive Goron chief, and single-handedly slaying an entire goblin army in a hidden village. But it's also the game that takes two and a half hours to get to the first dungeon, that constantly taunts you with treasure chests filled with a whopping 10 rupees, and that gives you items which have absolutely no use outside of the specific dungeon you get them in.

Twilight Princess seemed like a $50 box of gimmicks when it first was released, boasting wiggle-waggle Wii Remote controls, werewolf Link, and an "edgy" atmosphere compared to its predecessor. It was released on the Wii alongside of the GameCube as a last ditch effort to give the console a decent game to launch with. To confuse things even more, the Wii version was entirely mirrored from the GC version to accommodate motion controls. Fans were utterly perplexed. But what came out of it was an actually good game which succeeded to tell its story in a way that constantly fit its self-proclaimed dark atmosphere. Its central gimmick, Link's wolf transformation, actually ended up mixing up the gameplay a significant and refreshing amount in the second half of the game. Its puzzles were perfectly designed and the combat was fantastic and complex even with its ridiculous motion controls.

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At its center, Twilight Princess is a fantastic and long game, but unfortunately there's a huge amount of fluff in it. Instead of making some side-quests optional, Nintendo decided to make them mandatory. They are stuffed in between the dungeons and leave the player wishing he could actually get to the dungeon without having to backtrack all the way across Hyrule Field. That said, the game really picks up after the first three temples. The ability to freely transform from human to wolf and back provides the layer of depth that the game could have had from the start; for the length of the first three temples, the game provides a formula of a wolf section, then a human section, then a wolf section and so on. The wolf sections are monotonous and long, and the human sections are short but sweet. But once you pass the third temple, you can switch forms at will, warp wherever you need to go, and experience some of the most fun dungeons the series has to offer.

The second half of this game is absolutely fantastic, addicting, and fun. The game is very long and has tons of areas to explore. Exploring is half the fun, as there are tons of secrets and caves to be uncovered and spelunked around the massive Hyrule Field. It has genuinely emotional and frightening moments, with a large sense of uncertainty always present in the air. The music is fantastic at every moment, from the somber Midna's Lament to the extravagant and exciting Hyrule Field theme. This version of the game finally presents Twilight Princess in a way that eliminates confusion and brings out the best in the game. This is Twilight Princess as it should be experienced, and it's a ton of fun.

As a remaster

There was a similar outlash against this game as there was against Wind Waker HD. No doubt you have seen the countless complaints on numerous message boards arguing that this version looks no different at all from the original. But the facts are simple and easy to see. This version looks amazingly clean and ten times better than the original would ever look on a HDTV. The environments look beautiful. It's hard to show with screenshots, but in motion this game looks absolutely fantastic and is definitely worth a buy if you're itching to replay the original. The lighting is miles better than the engine of the original, and the game succeeds in matching its atmosphere graphically at every point. The models are polished, and there's actually a decent amount of anti-aliasing in the engine. This is what the original developers set out to achieve, and it is probably the best-looking Zelda game to date. Watch a gameplay video, and the results are clear that Nintendo greatly succeeded in reviving this game graphically.

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The controls are much better than the original, entirely eliminating gimmicky motion controls and greatly simplifying inventory management using the gamepad. Item combos are made much more easily, and switching items is an absolute breeze. There's even a button on the gamepad to instantly switch Link's forms. The minimap has greatly improved as well (by the way, the map is not mirrored like the Wii version). Rather than being forced to stare at the tiny map in the corner to see relevant information, the gamepad shows a full map of the current area including chests, doors, attractions, and many more points of interest, which were an issue in the original. My only problem with the map system was that you still have to pause the game to see a map of all of Hyrule rather than just the current area, which would have been nice to look at while travelling. The problem is mostly mitigated by warping later in the game, however. The gamepad is put to full use in the game, featuring inventory and map management similar to the original Wii U Zelda demo shown at E3. Gyro aiming is an absolute godsend as well; it is much more accurate and quick than using the control stick.

But outside of graphics and controls, not much else has changed in this remaster. There is a single extra dungeon unlocked by tapping the Wolf Link amiibo, an optional Hero Mode which resolves this game's easy difficulty by making enemies do double damage and eliminating heart drops, and other amiibo functions which restore hearts and arrows by tapping various Zelda figures. The Ganondorf amiibo causes enemies to do double damage on top of the hero Mode increase, providing the ultimate challenge for the Zelda hotshots out there. There are also 50 extra collectible Miiverse stamps which give completionists a bit more of a run for their money. I wish some of the more annoying parts of the game (as previously stated) would have been eliminated. For example, it infuriates me that the game still reminds you what a blue rupee is once every new play session. It seems like Nintendo was intent on keeping the game mostly intact for the most part, but unfortunately there are some annoyances that really should have been changed regardless of how the original game presented them.
Verdict
Pros
+ Fantastic graphical improvements
+ Great controls
+ A superb base game
Cons
- Lacks some necessary changes
- Too much filler
- Very slow start
9 Presentation
This is probably the best-looking Wii U game to date and certainly the best-looking Zelda game. I would even say it outclasses emulators and HD texture packs on most computers. Its atmosphere always matches its story, which is dark and well-told.
7 Gameplay
Twilight Princess has tons to explore, great combat, and wonderfully designed dungeons. However, there is so much padding in between fun parts of this game that sometimes I want to throw my controller in frustration. The HD version put no effort into fixing this flaw.
7 Lasting Appeal
The game is only fairly long, and there's a lot of unnecessary filler. However some extra collectibles were added in the HD version as well as more difficulty modes to satisfy more hardcore fans of the series and provide an extra challenge for new players.
8
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Twilight Princess was a confused and under-appreciated game in its time, but this version is definitive, updating its overreaching graphics and making it an absolute blast to play and explore. This is a worthy remaster of the original; while it leaves some critical annoyances unchanged, it brings the game to a modern age and shows that even after ten years , it's still a fantastic entry in the series.
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