Review: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Published by Jack Taylor May 30, 2016
Hyrule returns in a breathtaking remaster of one of the finest Zelda games ever made.
History primarily remembers The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for a couple of things. The first is the incredible reveal of its very first trailer at E3 2004, which resulted in a crowd reaction unlike any that's since been experienced at the expo. The second is that, after being touted as a Nintendo GameCube title, it was pushed back and given a simultaneous release on it and Wii, which launched in November and December 2006 worldwide. Fortunately, it resulted in an overwhelmingly positive reception for the game, which quickly went down as one of the series' best entries. It's now time to add something else to the history books, as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD breathes new life into the game, giving us the best version of an already incredible experience.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is set in the kingdom of Hyrule, a prosperous land full of different races and creatures, all of whom exist together in peace - mostly, at least. You take on the role of a young farmhand called Link, tasked with making a delivery to the royal family at Hyrule Castle, but who soon gets pulled into a Hyrule covered in a veil of twilight. The game sported what was fairly easily the deepest and most cinematic storyline in the series at the time of its original release in 2006, and there's no doubt that it remains as impressive and engrossing to this day - a testament to the long-lasting high quality of the game.
If you're not familiar with the Zelda series, or the action-adventure genre in general, a quick overview of what the gameplay entails might be in order. Throughout the course of your adventure, you'll find many different and unique dungeons, each of which will hold many monsters, puzzles, and a key item which will be vital in progressing not only through that dungeon, but also the rest of the game. Travelling across Hyrule, you'll come across a number of locations, including the historic Kakariko Village and the Castle Market Town, and you'll meet people who will aid you in your quest. Hyrule is filled with hidden secrets and collectibles, and you can easily spend hours adventuring to find as much as you possibly can.
You'll have a wide range of items available to you, with each being useful in a number of different ways and benefitting from easy-to-learn controls, something the game does very well. Your inventory is shown on the Wii U GamePad if you're using it, and you can easily assign items to one of three buttons with this. It's also possible to combine the bow with certain items, such as bombs or the long-range Hawkeye, which can also be managed on the same screen. You can use a number of items on horseback this time around, such as your sword and bow, as well as some others such as lanterns when needed. Aiming items such as the bow and the slingshot can be done with motion controls if you prefer, simply by moving the GamePad around for highly accurate aiming. This is optional, but worth a try for all players, since it can be hugely intuitive.
As one of the most visually realistic Zelda games, Twilight Princess HD can be often gritty, but always beautiful, as shown throughout its many landscapes. Hyrule itself is massive, taking a good long while to gallop around on horseback, and you'll have your trusty steed Epona to help with that. From the shabby buildings of Kakariko Village to the splendour of Zora's Domain, and the medieval feel to the Castle Market Town, every location in Twilight Princess HD is as impressive as the last, fitting the game's theme pretty perfectly. Its gorgeous soundtrack adds plenty of atmosphere with new and recognisable tunes throughout, which is even more impressive when you consider how it has to suit every location - and they're hugely varied, making the quality and consistency of the soundtrack even more remarkable.
There are plenty of collectibles throughout Twilight Princess HD aside from the vital items, too. Link's life meter can extend up to a total of 20 heart containers, and if you want the full complement, you'll need to collect 45 pieces of heart, with each five making up one new container. You can also find 24 different bugs around Hyrule to return to Agitha, the self-proclaimed princess of the bug kingdom, in return for rupees aplenty, and there are 60 Poe Spirits scattered around Hyrule which need defeating and collecting as well. Taking some time away from your main goal every so often to go on a collecting spree - especially after you've found one or two new items for your inventory - is always a good idea, since there's plenty to be found all over Hyrule, and having handy items and upgrades with you will help no end. New to the Wii U version of the game are Miiverse stamps, of which there are 50 to find throughout the game, and these can be used when making in-game Miiverse posts.
This new version of the game adds more to the experience as well, as Miiverse stamps are just one small part of a bigger list of changes. You can use the Wii U GamePad in conjunction with the TV screen to manage your inventory without having to pause the game, and you can do the same to check out interactive maps as well. Most locations have their own maps, with points of interest included, while dungeons will show full maps, chests, and more upon collection of the dungeon map and the compass. If you're not in control of the TV, you can also play in off-TV mode on the GamePad as well. There's also a new item called the Ghost Lantern, which makes it easier to seek out Poes at any time of the day. There have been a few other improvements as well, such as shorter Tears of Light segments at the beginning of the game, larger wallets for your rupees, and other additions for general convenience.
Fans of the original releases are still likely to find plenty of enjoyment here; after all, the additions don't just boil down to the above. A new Hero Mode has been added, which can be selected when starting a new file; this flips the game world akin to the Wii version, and doubles damage taken by Link while removing recovery hearts from the game. It also makes use of amiibo, primarily the Wolf Link amiibo, which can be used to enter the new Cave of Shadows and quick-launch a game save from the title screen. You're able to save your records from the Cave of Shadows to the amiibo as well, and the challenging new area includes the Colossal Wallet at the end, allowing you to carry a whopping 9,999 rupees. As for the other amiibo, Link and Toon Link can be used to replenish your arrows once a day, while Zelda and Sheik can be used to replenish your hearts; Ganondorf can be used to double all damage taken, effectively making Hero Mode four times as painful - for Link, at least - than the normal play mode.
Featuring a good chuck of content - nine main dungeons plus two smaller dungeons, then side-games and tons of collectibles - Twilight Princess is one of the longest-lasting games in the Zelda series. The journey to the end credits is likely to take you anywhere up to 40 hours, assuming you're doing the odd bit of adventuring here and there; getting 100% will likely take you around 60 in total, though it's all relative depending on how quickly you play games and whether or not you like taking things steadily. For sure, Twilight Princess HD is the right game to play if you want to go at a more leisurely pace - with much clearer visuals than before, the entire game is more vibrant, more colourful, and far more attractive than it was a decade ago. Every small detail has been amplified, and not only can this be of great benefit, it also makes for some amazing sightseeing.
As one of the finest games in the Zelda series, the opportunity to put Twilight Princess in the hands of a new generation of gamers was one wisely taken. It remains one of the series' most cinematic experiences, but rather than take away from the gameplay, the excellence of the story and the ways in which it's woven through add to what is already an incredible game. It also remains of an outstanding quality throughout, and with a number of impressive new additions, it's worth fans of the original giving it their time all over again as well. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD proves once again that the series is forever timeless and is yet another must-have game in the Wii U library.
The Nintendo Channel would like to thank Nintendo UK for providing a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for review.