The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess HD Review: New Light


With a fresh coat of high-definition paint, does The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess hold up after all these years?

Developer: Nintendo EAD

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Wii U

Release Date: March 4, 2016 (NA, EU); March 5, 2016 (AUS); March 10, 2016 (JP)

Though Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask will probably crown lists of best Legend of Zelda games forever, Twilight Princess has its place among the greats, too. Originally debuting on GameCube and following close behind on the Wii, Twilight Princess was chock full of everything Zelda fans wanted from the series–an open world, lots of puzzling dungeons, and a strong plot that deviated just enough from the regular formula to keep things interesting, but familiar. Now that the classics, plus Wind Waker, have been paid their dues with HD remasters, Twilight Princess gets a turn on a current gen console, and just in time. The goodness that is Twilight Princess appropriately builds the hype for the new Legend of Zelda Wii U by showcasing the strengths of the franchise in loving detail.

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Heroes As Usual

Twilight Princess places a darker twist on the standard series format. As a mysterious twilight falls over Hyrule, Link must help an impish creature named Midna release the land from the dark specters haunting it, and regain control of the twilight from the evil Lord Zant. Ganondorf, Zelda, and many other familiar faces appear along the way, but for once there’s no gathering of Tri-Force pieces or rescuing sages. You’ll still be delving into dungeons, though, and their puzzle-filled interiors remain as intricate as ever. Link’s dungeon toolkit is expanded to include interesting new items such as the Spinner (that dungeon boss is one of the best I’ve encountered in a Zelda game!) and double Hookshot, and he gains a new wolf form with separate abilities.

The base game of Twilight Princess itself loses nothing in moving to Wii U and remains a worthy journey to take ten years after its original release.

It’s no wonder the original Twilight Princess was received so well. Though perhaps small in comparison to the open world games we know now, Hyrule still feels vast and full of secrets. Combat is fluid and varied–aside from the basic sword moves, you have all your item arsenal to select from in dispatching enemies, plus seven “secret skills” learned from a mysterious tutor throughout the game. Constant appearances of new enemy types means fighting can be as much a puzzle as dungeon traversal, often asking you to be creative with how you handle your weapons. I love games that rely on player observation and deduction over in-game hints, tutorials, and signs, and Twilight Princess delivers well. However, at times, the puzzles were too vague. Occasionally I was reduced to firing every tool in my inventory at a problem, hoping it would go away. These times were not fun and often resulted in time-wasting backtracking, trying to find what I missed.

Quirky dialogue, plenty of sidequests, a plot rather moving for a Zelda game, and tons of space to gallop about in means you’ll be playing Twilight Princess for a long, long time. I easily clocked in 40+ hours sticking mostly to the main quest, and if you want to do everything you’ll easily top 50 or more. Map traversal is quick as it all unlocks, so I never felt my time was wasted moving around, but sometimes it’s nice just to call Epona and trot along. The base game of Twilight Princess itself loses nothing in moving to Wii U and remains a worthy journey to take ten years after its original release. In fact, with new gameplay additions in the HD remaster, the Wii U incarnation may be even better than it’s original.

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Changing color

Most obvious in changes from original to Wii U is the graphical detail. The 480p to 1080p change is noticeable, clearing up the field of view and making long-range attacks and target spotting immensely easier. Textures are sharp and clean, and cutscenes look lovely. Admittedly, there is something odd about some of the very clear models on the rather plain and uninteresting backdrop of Hyrule Field (with its chunky mountains) and other areas, but given that this is a remaster and not a remake, that’s to be expected.

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Other minor shifts include a reduced HUD that makes uses of the GamePad’s controls for better play. Items can be set to X, Y, and A–L calls Midna. The GamePad shines with utility in Twilight Princess–you can use it as a mini-map, an items screen for quickly swapping without pausing, as a way to change into Wolf Form at will once unlocked, and of course as its own screen if someone else in your house is using the TV. The GamePad also adds gyro controls to aiming with items such as the bow and the hook shot, though these are optional, and the right analog can be used, as well.

Along with controls and graphics, there are some minor adjustments to gameplay worth noting. Epona has been tweaked to make her easier to ride. A special lantern that alerts you to the presence of Poes has been added as a reward for helping Jovani. There are new wallet sizes to hold rupees up to 9,999. Hero Mode is available from the start, which allows you to play taking twice as much damage and never receiving hearts from drops. And, my personal favorite addition, special Miiverse stamps were added as rewards from various chests that previously contained rupees.  These Hylian Stamps are of various alphabetical characters in Hylian, as well as characters such as Midna and Ooccoo. The stamps provide a nifty extra collecting incentive that you can show off via Miiverse, far better than more rupees you won’t use. Nice!

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Light Into Shadow

While scanning other Zelda series characters such as Link and Zelda will replenish resources such as arrows and hearts, two specific characters offer some extra content. Scanning a Ganondorf amiibo causes Link to take twice as much damage (four times as much in Hero Mode), and Wolf Link amiibo adds a dungeon of sorts. Retail bundles of Twilight Princess come with a Wolf Link amiibo, featuring Midna riding atop Wolf Link. This amiibo can be used to access a save file directly from the title screen (a nice save of about 20 seconds), and also to save a “checkpoint” of Link’s health for restoration at a later time. Tapping this amiibo on the Collection screen sends you to the extra dungeon, the Cave of Shadows.

Some may balk at a dungeon’s worth of content being gated by amiibo purchase, but fret not, because the Cave of Shadows is possibly the least impressive thing about Twilight Princess HD. Cave of Shadows is essentially a reskin of the Cave of Ordeals that was already in the game. The differences are that you get a Colossal Wallet for completing the Cave and that you are locked as Wolf Link for its entirety. Aside from being the only way to carry around enormous wealth, the Cave of Shadows was frightfully dull for a supposed “extra dungeon.” But, given that it came unasked for in an HD remaster, it’s hard to complain too much.

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final score_8_5
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Twilight Princess was a great game to begin with, and does not suffer in the slightest for receiving an HD remaster. The quality of life changes are small but noticeable, making for a more enjoyable experience all around. Though the amiibo content is disappointing, that’s fine because it’s just that–amiibo content. If you have it, it’s there, and if not, you’re not missing much.

If you loved Twilight Princess originally or didn’t get a chance to play its original incarnation, it’s certainly worth a look now. If nothing else, Twilight Princess will whet your appetite for the upcoming Legend of Zelda Wii U. Seeing the beauty, the shortcomings, and the previous-gen system limitations play together in the world of Hyrule made it all the more exciting to speculate about what Nintendo will do with their creation. But while we wait, Twilight Princess remains an enjoyable, challenging, and moving diversion.

A copy of this game and its accompanying amiibo were provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.