Despite announcing The Legend of Zelda for Wii U a while ago, Nintendo has yet to show us too much from the game, and speculation is that it may end up being an NX launch title. Surely, the game will be worth all of this wonder, speculation and time, but it’s unfortunate that the Wii U has yet to receive its own Zelda game like the Nintendo consoles before it. Then again, it at least has its remasters, including The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD and the soon-to-be-released The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD.
I still remember the wait, anticipation and fanboy fervour that accompanied Twilight Princess a decade ago, and it’s honestly hard to believe that so many years have passed since it hit store shelves. Time flies, but classics are remembered forever, and there’s a reason why this game was anticipated so much. After all, not only was it scheduled to be the first new console Zelda game in years, but it also promised to return the series to its more accepted, ‘realistic’ art style. Not that I have anything against Wind Waker, myself.
Being in college at the time, and taking the same program with my best, Zelda-loving friend, allowed us to spend hours talking about the game and the upcoming Wii, which was all the rage back then. We both bought them day one, too, and spent hours immersed within what is quite possibly the longest Zelda game out there. It lived up to its hype, for sure, and had us transfixed.
Now, a decade later, Nintendo is attempting to help its struggling Wii U console by equipping it with another Hyrulian remaster. Last time, it was Wind Waker, and now it’s this epic, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. The excitement is noticeable, but the question remains as to how good of an update job this is.
Thankfully, it’s a really impressive one, which means that those who’ve never played Twilight Princess before are in for a treat, and those who have completed it in the past can expect a nice upgrade on their previous experience(s).
For the uninitiated, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a unique and interesting game that took a risk with the series’ tried and true formula by creating a Twilight world wherein Link is turned into a wolf. An interesting and daring choice, it’s something that is explained well within the game’s plot and manages to work quite well overall. You still get a lot of the traditional 3D Zelda gameplay, too, so there’s no need to worry.
Things begin on a sunny day in a small town where Link resides. A popular figure, his help is quickly requested at the local ranch, and it’s also noticed that a young female friend has taken his horse (Epona) to be washed in the forest spring. Things are idyllic and normal, but it isn’t long before that changes and the world becomes affected by a strange bout of Twilight, with its weird-looking portals and perpetual darkness. Friends are also kidnapped and feared dead, forcing our hero to don a sword and shield and go off in search of their location.
To succeed in their quest, gamers must traverse both the real world and the Twilight world — wherein people remain in limbo, and a princess is being held captive at the top of a castle — while discovering new items and completing both objectives and dungeons. It’s traditional Zelda fare, and is akin to games like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask in a lot of ways. However, there is, of course, the big difference: Wolf Link and his Twilight guide, Midna.
This has always been a very good game, and even a decade later, it continues to be just that. Jumping back into this expansive world and its very familiar mechanics was a breeze, and it wasn’t long before I found myself immersed within its timeless quest and well crafted dungeons. There’s little rust to be found — although some of the on-horse combat is still unnecessarily frustrating — and that’s a testament to how well these games are made.
What’s new in this remaster — outside of some very impressive visual upgrades — is second screen support (which allows you to manage your inventory and maps on the Wii U’s GamePad), off-TV play, gyroscopic aiming, Miiverse stamps and a heart-drop eliminating plus damage doubling difficulty option called Hero Mode. Link also gets the ability to use something called a Ghost Lantern, which is a new item that aids him in one of his spirit-finding quests.
Amiibos also factor into The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, whether you love them or hate them. Thankfully, they’re not an integral part of the quest, although a wave-based dungeon (wherein you must battle enemies and attempt high scores as Wolf Link and Midna) is locked behind the game’s Wolf Link amiibo, which comes as a pack-in with its limited edition version. Others refill your hearts or arrows, or go as far as to unlock an even harder difficulty mode, but for the most part they’re all cheats. They’re also completely unnecessary if you just want to experience the core game.
Of course, the updated visuals will be a huge selling point for many, and they thankfully don’t disappoint. Things have been impressively updated, allowing the game’s unique art style to really pop, and main character models like Link, Wolf Link and Midna all look great. The world is also more vibrant and detailed, with improved sound and better lighting that is easily noticeable. Needless to say, Nintendo didn’t rest on its laurels with this one.
Everything runs well on the Wii U, too, and it feels as if Twilight Princess was designed for this console from the start. The second screen content is also a great asset, although that’s not a surprise given that the mechanic was dreamt up with these types of games in mind.
Honestly, there’s no way in which one can go wrong by picking up The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Though it’s not the brand new Zelda game that we were hoping to have had by now, it’s a lovingly updated and improved upon version of an already great and memorable experience.
This review is based on the Wii U version of the game, which we were provided with.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is a masterful update of an outstanding Wii and GameCube game. Those who've yet to experience this epic quest are in for a treat, while folks who've previously completed it can look forward to doing so again with updated visuals and improved mechanics like second screen support.