I recently replayed Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Nintendo GameCube. It’s my first time playing through the game since I beat it when it first came out in late 2006, and I must say, it still holds up rather nicely.
Back when it was released, a lot of people (well, fanboys) complained that Twilight Princess tried too hard to be an Ocarina of Time rip-off and could never live up to the lofty standards of the N64 classic. But those same fanboys were complaining that Wind Waker wasn’t enough of an Ocarina of Time rip-off, so really, there’s no pleasing anybody.
I don’t really see Twilight Princess as a “rip-off” of Ocarina of Time. If anything, I see it as the evolution of Ocarina of Time — it takes all of the elements of the original, and for the most part, refines them and makes them even better. However, a decade from now, will Twilight Princess be regarded in the same way Ocarina of Time is today? No, probably not, but that’s only because the initial “Holy Crap, it’s Zelda in 3D!” moment that can never be duplicated.
That being said, here are a few of my observations from my replay of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
- When I first played the game in 2006, I thought the wolf segments were long, tedious, and somewhat difficult. However, playing through the game again made me realize that the wolf segments aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be and are overall a very brief portion of the game as a whole.
- Link’s advanced swordplay techniques are simply great. Building off of what Wind Waker started, each battle in Twilight Princess can be fought in a variety of different ways. For a series that is famous for a main character wielding a sword (often of the Master variety), it’s about time Link learned a few new moves. Plus, nudging enemies over a cliff and to their doom using the Shield Bash is just too much fun.
There are far too many neglected items. In particular, there are far too many items that are only used in the respective dungeon, and then perhaps once or twice on the overworld to get a treasure chest. Spinner, Ball and Chain, Double Clawshot … I’m looking in your direction. The worst offender, however, is undoubtedly the Slingshot, which I used maybe twice during the entire game — first when you have to do some target practice with the kids, and then at the very start of the Forest Temple to kill some spiders hanging from the wall. After that, it was never used again. What a waste.
- Speaking of items, I was struck by how infrequently I used the classic Zelda items, such as the Boomerang and Bombs. Obviously, the Twilight Princess Gale Boomerang had a more dungeon-oriented purposed, but in other Zelda titles, the Boomerang was a very useful tool for collecting loose rupees, stunning enemies, etc. In this game? Not so much, thanks to the emphasis on using swordplay to stun and counter enemy attacks.
- Bombs are even more useless. In most other Zelda games (especially the 2D incarnations), it is common practice to bomb random walls in hopes of opening up new passages. Twilight Princess will have none of that, limiting the use of bombs to a couple of caves on the overworld and blowing up rocks for rupees. Would it have killed the designers to replace some doors and force the player to blow up some walls in a few of the dungeons? That’s part of the very essence of Zelda, and it was sorely lacking in this game. However, I will give credit where credit is due — Bomb Arrows rule.
- The overworld is awesome and a sheer joy to traverse. It’s huge, it’s varied, and it’s full of life — unlike the bland and dreadfully boring Hyrule Field found in Ocarina of Time. Yes, you eventually cease to explore the map and simply warp everywhere you want to go, but that’s the case in every Zelda game.
- Dungeons are incredibly linear. With the exception of perhaps the Lakebed Temple, there are very few puzzles to be found and the dungeons are far too easy. Compared to classics such as the Water Temple or Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time, or the Stone Temple in Majora’s Mask, the dungeons in Twilight Princess are rather unremarkable.
- The game is still a lot of fun on a second playthrough — something that can’t really be said for its predecessor, Wind Waker. While I absolutely love Wind Waker‘s visual style, the dungeons and overall gameplay are severely lacking (mostly due to the sailing), and it gets to be a bit of a chore when you get to the last couple of dungeons where you have to escort some stupid jerk around the place. Twilight Princess, on the other hand, was fun right to the very end. While the game starts off rather slowly, it does build steam all the way to the end and the climactic battle with Ganondorf.
- Ganondorf is a total badass (albeit with rather limited screentime). Dying standing up? Yeah, that’s awesome.
All in all, if you haven’t touched Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess since you impaled Ganondorf with the Master Sword back in 2006, you owe it to yourself to play through the GameCube’s crown jewel one more time. It’s a classic that doesn’t get the respect it deserves simply because it didn’t come first.