December 12th, 2006
Okay, first off there are no spoilers here, so unless you’re hardcore about keeping yourself hidden from any information, read with impunity. Also, I’m gonna complain about it some in this review, but that’s just what I do. There should be no doubt in the minds of any Wii or Gamecube owner that they should buy this game, and people without either system should consider getting it to play this game. It’s a near-perfect Zelda game, the likes of which we’ll probably never see again for a long time. Simply put, if you ever enjoyed a Zelda game, you’ll enjoy this.
It’s long, it took me around 50 hours (keeping in mind I went after every side-quest I could get my hands on). There’s lots of interesting weapons, most of them rehashes of older ones but they tried to enhance nearly every one of these in some way. There’s some new stuff in there too, but these aren’t very usable except in specific situations, which is annoying, but they’re fun while they last. Lots of dungeons, lots of side-quests, lots of minigames, lots of things to collect and enemies to kill. It looks fantastic (despite being a Gamecube game), and it’s one of the best games I’ve played in a long time.
The dungeons are fascinating, each is so unique that it never seems to get old despite how many you’ll go through. It’ll probably get hard for you at some points, otherwise it’d be boring, but mostly follows the usual Zelda concepts. They’ve improved the swordplay, and while it’s mostly standard at first, you can pick up nifty tricks that make fighting very interesting (Tip: sheathe your sword right after killing a more powerful enemy, Link does a cool little animation when you do). You get a new sidekick, much like Navi and Tatl, only instead of a fairy it’s a demonic looking imp named Midna. Midna turns out to be darker and more interesting than both fairy sidekicks and does more useful things than yell “Hey!” and “Listen!” whenever you do something.
You spend a lot of your time as a Wolf in the game (while Midna rides on your back). Which is interesting, but gets old – right around the time they stop forcing you to be one though. Hyrule is huge, but there’s lots of warping so you don’t have to spend all your time walking everywhere. Epona (the horse) is back again, and she’s pretty fast too. There’s no musical instrument this time, instead you mostly rely on plants that Link can play special tunes with. They only grow in certain places, but it ends up being more interesting anyway since there’s nothing to play.
I played the Wii version, and in my opinion it probably doesn’t have any real advantage over the Gamecube version. The Wii controls are tacked on, and although they’re interesting sometimes (fishing!) the advantages are slim. Unless the Gamecube version has been neglected in some way, don’t concern yourself with what’s better and buy what you can get.
As for complaints? Why are there so many rupees?! I can’t kill an enemy without triggering a treasure chest loaded with so many rupees Link refuses to take it. I’m not joking, he’ll seriously put it back. There’s nothing to spend all your money on so I simply donate most of it to a man who won’t actually give you anything if you give him enough. The minigames in the game are dirt cheap, sometimes free, and most of the things you can buy are refills (bombs for example). The kind of things you pick up plenty of while playing the game normally. So why am I complaining? It gets really tired checking dozens of treasure chests full of money because you don’t want to miss a key or a heart piece only to find yet another 100 rupees that you can’t have. It’s like Hyrule’s going through a recession.
The bosses in the game are very epic and cool looking, but are usually pretty lame. They’re so easy to beat it’s ridiculous, I beat nearly all on the first try without any potions or fairies to help me out. Their weak spots are usually obvious and they have a hard time hurting anybody who can see them winding up for an attack. One boss (not the first one either) didn’t hit me once. He didn’t seem to even try, I actually threw myself in his way because I thought he’d do something interesting. Instead he ignored me. There’s a couple of exceptions (particularly sword-battle minibosses), but you’re mostly there to enjoy how nifty the boss looks. I’m mostly surprised that the same guy who directed some of the best bosses in a Zelda game (Majora’s Mask had some amazing fights) has managed to create some of the lamest. Keep in mind boss battles are a fraction of the game, you spend most of your time in pure dungeon-wandering bliss.
I can’t shake the feeling this is the last great Zelda game in some way. A Link to the Past defined the series, Ocarina of Time made it amazing, and now Twilight Princess is quite possibly as good as it gets. There were flaws, sure, but how can you improve that much upon something so perfected? The only hope for the series now is probably some drastic changes, because the formula probably won’t work any better than this. Hopefully they’ll think up some new ideas using the Wii, since a new Wii Zelda game is already in the works.