REVIEW | The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess HD – Defined and Refined

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By: Jeffrey White

It was a little over 11 years ago when e3 2004 took place. The Electronic Entertainment Expo. By far the largest gaming convention at the time. Home to Sony, Sega, Microsoft, Electronic arts, Ubisoft, etc. These companies come every year to show off to the world what they are working on. To gamers this event is like Christmas in June, or at that time Christmas in May.  There was one company that shook the building and internet that E3 and it was none other than Nintendo. After countless hours of online discussion boards, speculation and rumors the company revealed their most anticipated title of all time. The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess.

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In order for a game to be released today as a remaster it has to meet one requirement. The game must have aged gracefully. In aesthetics, mechanics, gameplay. In such an non-intentional way Nintendo never fails when being an able to create a game that can be played for years to come. The introduction of the game (which some say can be a  nuisance on multiple playthroughs because of its length) is a prime example of world building. Link begins his quest similar to every Zelda title. An everyday young man just living life. Herding goat, watching children, fishing just a few of the activities Link deals with day to day blended into the gameplay and story so seamlessly. Non-Playable characters are enjoyable to talk to. You get a close to home feel in the beginning and I feel like that’s what makes you feel connected, that the actions you choose to take and follow through on this journey has a purpose. In most games, especially those based on cinematic cutscences or rely heavily on story you feel as if you are going through the motions when you are playing the game. Not necessarily playing the game to further your imagination or discovery but to watch the next movie. Twilight Princess excels in offering you great gameplay as a reward. Notoriously the Zelda series does a great job of doing that on its on with its prize being a step to further your quest in story and imagination through dungeons.

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The dungeons in Twilight Princess are probably one of the most enjoyable sections of the game. Not just twilight princess though, any Zelda even to this day. They are made with years of perfecting this formula Nintendo has seemingly patented as no company has yet to deliver an equal experience to in almost 30 years. Clever designs in puzzles, causing the player to learn their surroundings, explore every nook and cranny, thinking outside of the box. Just when you think you have understood how a dungeon has played out you discover and item that you recognize before but with a twist. A boomerang that carries wind that may put you in reach of the boss key by extinguishing flames or iron boots that once helped you walked underwater now aiding you while walking upside down on a magnetized ceiling to find an area previously out of reach. Consistency of creative uses of items is what this Zelda game throws at the player every dungeon and through playing you’ll discover this yourself.

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In every Zelda title you play as Link throughout the entire game. You control Link sometimes riding his horse Epona or even through a boat. When you disband from using these components in the game you return to Link. Twilight Princess is a bit different this time around. Link actually turns into a wolf, and its probably one the more interesting approaches the developers have decided to go with. Wolf Link may appear to look different than link, cosmetically for one hes on all fours, there is no shield or sword. There are some advantages as to being able to travel much more quickly but that pretty much ends there. There aren’t a whole new array of moves you have to learn and that isn’t a bad thing. Its just that Wolf Link feels like Link. You can flip backwards, attack enemies by pressing the same button used when attacking with a sword and even do an all out attack holding the attack button, just like Link’s infamous sword spinning attack. It is hands down one of the most graceful transitions into playing the same character in a different form in video game history.

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When Twilight Princess originally launched in 2006 it released on the Wii and Gamecube. Both console incapable of pushing a standard high definition output. The result was muddy, literally. Muddy textures were an eye sore on non-CRT television sets. Blurry text, and annoying ghosting effects on HD televisions did this game no favors. In 2016 these issues are thankfully all cleaned up. The art style, while still polygonal thanks to the lack of hardware power at the time surprisingly holds up very well. New higher resolution textures to fit the standards of today, clean sharp text and respectable image quality thanks to the full high definition resolution of 1080P. While the game still shows its age through its Gamecube remains, this remaster places itself number one unarguably as the definitive version of the game.
Story, gameplay and art style all play a huge role in every Zelda title. These games create atmospheric experiences in every entry and this one, like the others finishes it off so well through music. The Twilight Princess soundtrack is incredible and keeps you coming back for more. Hyrule field plays a triumphant upbeat selection that fuels your inner completionist to search everywhere. Faron Woods feels elvish and whismical with subtle dark undertones. The Twilight Realm makes you feel uneasy every single time you dip inside of the alternate world. Playing this game 10 years ago only adds to my appreciation of the music and overall sound design. The music is so memorable that feeling nostalgic is less than making you feel like you’ve been to some place before but more like a return to home after a long hiatus and eating the food your mother cooked and it tasting and smell just how you remembered.

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With so many remasters being released on consoles in the past couple of years one may feel jaded towards the release of a game that visually does not even keep up to par of last generation games. Needlessly to say Twilight Princess HD overcomes age, and that’s all that matters. Like any remaster title if you have played the original not to long ago there is little use to you playing other than for the graphical overhaul. But for such an older game the chances of one playing it recently are very low and if you fall under that category and enjoy Zelda games as much as I do I insist you give it a shot. It doesn’t have to be today, or even this year but as the definitive version of Twilight Princess for at least the foreseeable future this is a must own title as the updates on their own will provide a sense of satisfaction and appreciation on your next play-through.

REVIEW SCORE: 9/10

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