Gaming has its fair share of sacred cows, but it’s also got series that actually produce solid content time and time again. There aren’t many Mario games that are really terrible, for instance, and Ratchet and Clank’s adventures are usually a safe bet. Another of these heavy-hitting series is The Legend of Zelda, the classic console adventure game that pioneered an entire genre. Zelda games are known to move consoles off store shelves, and that’s exactly what The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess did for the Wii (and GameCube) an impressive ten years ago.
Now there’s an HD remaster to check out on the Wii U console while you wait for Link’s next outing, the second such effort after 2013’s updated Wind Waker HD; The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD.
This’ll be an easy review: Twilight Princess HD is a remaster of Link’s Wii-launching adventure through the world of Hyrule and its dark Twilight cousin. If you buy it, you get a cool Amiibo. I’m sold. Review’s over. Time to make the donuts.
What, I need to actually talk about the game? Fine, fine. Twilight Princess follows our green-clad hero Link as he works with the imp Midna to battle the encroachment of the dark Twilight Realm on the land of Hyrule. He’ll need to collect Macguffins galore to make this happen, and it’s hardly a spoiler to say that there will eventually be a battle against ol’ Ganondorf himself.
Twilight Princess took a unique and more mature approach to Zelda back when it came out; the enemies Link faces are a little more horrific than you’d expect, while the Twilight world looks particularly dismal even by Dark World standards. This was an interesting turn given the series’ push toward more cartoony graphics and situations in the preceding game, the cel-shaded Wind Waker.
Aesthetics aside, the biggest change in Twilight Princess is Link’s power to change to and from the form of a wolf. Wolf Link has several advantages over his two-legged counterpart; he’s more agile and can jump to high places, he’s got advanced senses to help perceive the unseen and he can dig around to uncover items or hidden passageways. Wolf Link’s got a mean bite, too, which certainly doesn’t hurt.
Swapping from wolf to human forms and vice-versa is vital to success in Twilight Princess, though naturally there are plenty of classically Zelda items to pick up and use. This game introduces the Clawshot, for instance, which not only functions as the Hookshot did but can be dual-wielded for even more crazy acrobatics. There are plenty of sidequests and pieces of Heart to discover as well, meaning this game should sate any Zelda fan’s hunger for exploration and discovery.
Naturally, the HD remaster’s graphics are generally improved, though there are noticeable framerate drops in some areas thanks to new graphical effects. Other new features in the remaster include a new dungeon that’s essentially a giant battle arena and is only accessible via the Wolf Link Amiibo. This means that if you buy the game used, well, sorry; weren’t we getting angry with companies for doing this kind of thing a few years ago? Other Zelda Amiibo activate little bonuses as well, like offering more arrows, but none are quite as significant as losing a dungeon if you don’t have the necessary toy.
The rest of the game is generally identical with some quality-of-life improvements here and there; in particular, the original agonizingly-long tutorial has been simplified quite a bit. This version is based on the GameCube version of the original, so Link is left-handed and Wii players will find that all of the game’s environments have been reversed. I found the Wii U gamepad’s controls to be vastly more comfortable than the Wii’s wand-waggling nonsense, so that’s a plus as well.
If you’ve already played the original Twilight Princess and aren’t itching to go back to it, you aren’t missing much with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. If you haven’t, this is the definitive version of the game and worth checking out. Link’s adventures are always welcoming and satisfying affairs, and often just as enchanting the second time around.