after a marathon weekend i finally finished the legend of zelda: twilight princess on wii a couple of weeks ago. as with any zelda game there has been a ton of discussion about it, but overall i’m going to have to agree with the folks at nintendolife.com: although this was a pretty solid release, it just feels too familiar (this article at gamespite.net, an interesting discussion of the common criticisms against the game, alludes to this problem by jokingly referring to the game as “super ocarina of time turbo”, which is coincidentally apropos seeing as how my previous post was on super street fighter II).
the feeling of déjà vu is somewhat surprising given the amount of new features that were added, but for me compounding the sense of familiarity was that the game feels overly long and very few of the new features felt really worthwhile, particularly since everything is repeated at least twice. the wolf gameplay wasn’t nearly varied enough to sustain those sections, and i found myself getting bored with the look of the twilight world, much as i got tired of the dark world in metroid prime 2. some people loved the emphasis on the new horseback combat mechanics, but i found those sections to be fairly tedious; getting knocked off your horse really brings the battle momentum to a grinding halt. i wasn’t big on the “wild west” settings, or the washed-out, blurry visuals that were clearly taken from prince of persia: the sands of time. it’s interesting that this was the first zelda game to get a T (teen) rating, and in many ways new elements like the inclusion of more “set pieces” and the large-scale boss battles feels like the creators were trying to make the game more like blockbuster hits from other studios, such as sony’s god of war. in doing so they lost a significant amount of the nintendo feel that i (and i’m sure many others) love. the game certainly feels epic, with its huge world and what must be a record number of dungeons and items for a zelda game, but there wasn’t much charm, humor, or surprise, although midna was a great character (and i’m glad to see aonuma supposedly hasn’t completely ruled out bringing her back). there are other minor quibbles as well, such as the dull combat (repeatedly z-targeting in wolf form or waggling for sword attacks usually does the trick) and the fairly useless special sword skills, the usual pointless collectathons (golden bugs instead of skulltullas this time around), the dodgy shield attack nunchuk movement, the now-infamous cannon room glitch that completely ruins your save file, and some atrociously designed puzzles near the end of the game. it’s also too bad that zelda herself is barely in the game.
this isn’t to say that there weren’t some distinct moments of enjoyment. the dungeons are generally excellent; the twilight realm and characters offered opportunities for a unique, memorable style of visuals not seen before in a zelda title (e.g. the teleportation sequences); fishing, usually a chore, was actually more fun than in any other game; the oocca mechanic was added to allow for pausing progress in dungeons (although i never used it); and as with most zelda titles link has some new weapons that are quite fun to mess around with. like majora’s mask (the “other’ mature zelda game) the game is atmospheric and provides a definite sense of foreboding (or melancholy, as this article at zeldauniverse.net suggests, while also positing that the game itself is a comment on the direction the series as a whole is headed), that in the end proves to be almost more memorable than the actual game itself.
with all the excitement swirling over the next zelda, skyward sword, the thing i’m most looking forward to is the promise of the series moving in a different direction. knowing nintendo the differences will probably be much smaller than i would hope, but i’ve started playing some of phantom hourglass and i’m enjoying it despite having ranked wind waker at the bottom of my list of favorites of the series. i’m getting closer to being caught up on the series as a whole though. makin’ progress!
what? more zelda links again?
– a lot of trophies in brawl were for characters in twilight. now i know who the heck all these people are!
– official site with a lot of info including the characters and monsters. this site has the list of the things to click on the site to unlock the special wallpapers and icons.
– zeldawiki.org has tons of info on the game, including some interesting theories about the twili.
– 2006 E3 trailer
– and just for fun, here’s an entertaining use of the fishing rod in the game.