The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Reader Review
To date, I've only ever completed four out of fifteen Zelda titles: A Link To The Past, A Link To The Past / Four Swords, The Wind Waker and now Twilight Princess. And with each one, I have felt pleasure, frustration and exhilaration in equal measures. There is nothing to test your nerve and staying power than a Zelda game (maybe now with the exception of Twilight Princess) as they usually involve traipsing around and remembering where you should be going and who you should be talking to, with little help or guidance if you haven't played in a while and forget what's to do next, or just because there's nothing that shows itself as the direction to explore further. The thing I find the hardest is remembering where everything is, just in case I find something further into the game where I'll be needing to bring it back to so-and-so to be able to continue the story. Ah Gahd, it's all just so confusing.
But there's something about Twilight Princess (TP) that reduced the frustration and upped the other two emotions. I don't know if it's been slightly 'n00bified' or whether they've made good connections between events or that there's someone you can speak to to hint at the next location to explore. Or maybe because it's actually a fucking great game that had got me so hooked since launch date to around mid-January (when I finished) that I never lost track of any events throughout the game(world). TP is truly a game that allows most people to enjoy an adventure without the frustration of continued dying or vacant wandering. And as expected in a Zelda game there are certainly enough side-quests away from the storyline that can be pursued at leisure, providing not only rewards of Rupees or Heart container pieces, but also a sense of proper exploration which you might not otherwise bother with. Blazing through the storyline is possible but there are enough nooks and crannies to add on many hours of gameplay without you noticing. In fact, my sister was playing recently and had found the Lure Fishing area - I had never seen it before even though I've passed the door many a time through my 40-hours of play.
I don't know whether I should really tell the story or just to leave it up to you to find out through playing the game. I only knew what I read in the Edge magazine and as usual they don't actually talk much about the story, more of what you can expect to be doing and the play experience. I actually found that unravelling the story as it was intended by the designers (and not knowing what was going to happen) made for a much more fulfilling gaming experience. It's thoroughly enjoyable to go through the twists and turns without any expectations and that is what I love about adventure gaming. No doubt you'll have heard about Hyrule land succumbing to the Twilight world with evils coming through portals spreading their disease. And with the help of Minda, a strangely cute female imp-like creature from the Twilight world (whose assists for reasons to be told over the story), you're yet again in need to save Hyrule and the Twilight world also. Maybe one misconception is of being able to jump between the Light and Twilight worlds - it's not like that, more you'll run into areas of Twilight that need to be banished in order to regain Light to that section of the world. Switching between Link and the Twilight Wolf-Link at will is only possible half-way through the game, with the first half being predetermined. But the design is perfect for it eases you into the limitations of the Wolf but also the benefits of being four-legged. As you progress through the Twilight areas, you'll learn to spot level design for the intention of Wolf interaction and such knowledge will be used subconsciously when you're able to switch between the two forms of Link.
It's been so well pieced together; it flows amazingly and I can't think of a time where I was bored of playing and would just turn off the Wii. I had to stop myself from carrying on into the early mornings because there really aren't any times where it denotes itself as being the end of a section. Sure, you'll beat down a dungeon boss but then it's followed-up by the story leaving you outside of the dungeon in the open world to proceed as you wish to wherever you please, providing the ever-so-slight hint of the next destination. It's like that in every Zelda game and it's its prescribed drug to get you to continue your adventure. I mean, why would you even consider stopping when you've only one more piece of something to find to continue the story, unwitting to the fact that the final piece to the puzzle never is what it seems to be. And then there's something else to find to progress, except you'll notice that there's a glowing bug nearby so you trot over there to pick it up (there's a girl who collects bugs for her Bug Tea Party and pays you for them). Followed by what looks like platforms along the side of the cliff that warrant an inspection. And then deciding it might be worth donating some Rupees to help fund a bridge repair - especially seeing as you've got some much that's not really used for anything. So you decide to ride Epona to the nearest town, and get side-tracked with slicing the enemies down. And then leading you to explore the towns and buildings, and then...
Really, it could just go on and on. Play sessions will not be short and you wouldn't want them to be. That just isn't Zelda-like. And don't think that my 40-hours seem a bit short. I didn't exactly go from A to B to C (as you can tell from above) but there were still a few things that I didn't fully pursue that could have easily add another 5-10 hours more gameplay. I should think that the most enjoyment (and time spent) will be had outside of the dungeons. There's nothing bad about the dungeons - most of which are easily completable saving you grinding your teeth in frustration - but it's unlikely that you'll ever return to them unless for completeness sake.
And as already mentioned, there's the horse riding to take you between locations - all under your control to speed up and slow down, to divert track, to dismount and get back on, to jump fences and small ledges. It makes for a great break in gaming pace; you can still explore as if on foot, but it's just that little bit quicker. And then there are the proper horseback fighting sections that see you pursue and slash and bow-and-arrow the fleeing enemy, or even a bit of jousting on a bridge. Lovely, just lovely. (I will just mention one thing; Rare's Kameo, according to new299, got the horse gaits spot on - four different gait motions for four different speeds. Unfortunately, Zelda could only manage three.)
For the Wii-specific TP players, we get the waving-ability to draw out the sword and slash, to execute the shield attack, and thankfully (and perfectly done) the ability to aim the bow-and-arrow and hook-shot to bits of scenery in no time at all. This latter is truly excellent and could alone be the reason to buy a Wii and Zelda - I've played Wind Waker on the GameCube and hook-shooting is okay, but once you've played it the Wii (and probably, the proper way) you will wonder how you ever coped in the first place. It's so quick that it'll seem some the puzzles and bosses were made with the Wiimote aiming in mind.
Twilight Princess is put together so well: the level design and layout; the quick ability to change between Link and Wolf to complete puzzles; the puzzles themselves that are classic Zelda making you leave things alone to be pieced together later on; the numerous items that you collect and use in and out of dungeons; the NPCs in towns and their stories and side-quests; the detail in animation; the connection between Minda and Link/Wolf; the dark storyline and reasonings behind the events; and the enjoyable manner in which it can be played smoothly and without halting pauses to gameplay and storyline.
There really is nothing else you could ask for; it's near perfect and as Zelda games go, it's one of the best, if not the ultimate one. That is, until the next proper Wii Zelda.