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Action Adventure
November 19, 2006

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

At last year's E3, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was Nintendo's star of the show. Nintendo probably expected the same response for the title this year when they revealed functionality for the game exclusive to Wii: they devoted more Wii kiosks to Twilight Princess than even Super Mario Galaxy.

While the lines to play this enhanced version were long (usually about an hour if there were ten people in front of you), an anti-climactic air hung over the proceedings. For months internet gossip predicted remote-specific functionality for Twilight Princess, and while Nintendo's implementation of this functionality handily decided for many which version of Twilight Princess would be must-have (Wii, of course), many of us were more excited to play the new stuff. After all, how could Mario play second fiddle to Link? Yet make no mistake: Twilight Princess remains a must-have game, even moreso on Wii. Just don't expect the remote will make for an easier trip through this darker side of Hyrule.


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As detailed elsewhere, two gameplay examples were on show in Los Angeles this year: fishing and a traditional, scaled-down dungeon made more accessible for E3. Fishing was the gentler, more forgiving of the two exercises, and nearly any participant who chose it faced another decision: fishing while standing on the beach or rowing out to deeper waters. Rowing out was chosen time and again, and with as beautiful the lagoon was, we couldn't find fault for answering the call of the rowboat.

While the only significant upgrade to Twlight Princess' visuals on Wii is the support of high definition 16:9 ratio visuals, the fishing lagoon was still gorgeous. A mist was suspended over the gleaming and gently rippling green waters of the lagoon. In one cove a large waterfall fell, casting a rainbow in its mist at the right angle, and tall, rust-colored columnar rock formations dotted other areas of the lagoon.

No gimmicky rowing movements were required to move Link's canoe: instead the player just aimed and held down the B trigger. Once he reached a good spot to fish, the woman accompanying him in the boat would tell Link to stop rowing. At that point, the gamer would then raise the remote as if raising a fishing rod, and then flicking forward to cast the lure into the water. After this, the lure could be realistically twitched across the water surface by flicking the remote back and forth. If maneuvered well enough, a fish would snatch onto the lure, requiring the player to then hold down A to reel the fish in, yanking the remote back repeatedly to land the fish into the boat. The woman in the boat would then comment on the size and rarity of the fish, and Link, ever the environmentalist, would then gently release the fish back into the lagoon before another round.

The sample dungeon offered up a meatier experience with much more remote-specific actions. Like most games on Wii so far, Link's swordplay doesn't mirror a gamer's movement of the remote; instead sword attacks are initiated by "gestures," such as twirling the left analog peripheral to make Link perform a sweeping spin attack. Basic sword thrusts and parries were handled with button presses. A sufficient amount of button mashing and wrist thrashing was usually enough to take out any group of enemies.

The bow and arrow and boomerang were not as forgiving, however. Unlike Super Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess uses a much smaller on-screen dot to represent Link's aim of these secondary weapons, which makes sense given the distance they often have to travel to hit a monster or target. Yet such precise aiming reticules need precise hand movement, and after being spoiled by several auto-aim Zelda titles on N64 and GameCube, being forced into accurate aiming was a big departure.

Adding to the difficulty was the counter-intuitive button use, probably a symptom of the fewer buttons the remote has: the same button to pull up the bow and arrow (in this case, down on the remote's D-pad) was the same button used to fire the arrow. Conceptually it makes sense: the D-pad is a great, typically Zelda place to hold secondary weapons, and conceptually the idea of grasping an arrow tail in your thumb and forefinger to pull it taut in a bow matched the idea of holding down on the D-pad. However, the last few console versions of Zelda also touted Miyamoto's "one button" game design philosophy, so those of us trained to think of "A" as the action button will be constantly putting away their bow and arrow (or boomerang) when they believe the weapon will actually be used.

This is nothing a little practice and "re-learning" won't cure, and those clearly turned off by the extra work the remote requires can always play the game on GameCube. And in spite of the added difficulty and dexterous requirements, Zelda is more engaging than before on Wii thanks to these added motion sensitive controls: gamers will just feel even more that they're within the world of Hyrule. Who knows? Once well practiced in firing the boomerang, arrow, and grappling hook with the remote, getting through Twilight Princess may be smoother on Wii than GameCube.

All that aside, Twilight Princess is rumored to provide us with more dungeons than Wind Waker, and the dungeons themselves may be even trickier thanks to clever puzzles and boss challenges. The crowd-friendly E3 dungeon seemed to confirm that. What at first appeared to be a small set of paths within a canyon-like environment proved to be a complex journey around and upside down, all while taking out on-coming (or sniping) Moblins. Midna, the cat-like girl from the Twilight Realm, would also pop up to help you in a very Peter Pan way: Link's shadow would yank off his feet, and then turn into Midna. In Midna's presence, Link suddenly had no shadow, until she finished whatever she had to say and then zipped back down to his feet. It was a very fun effect to see in action.

Most amazing of all was the boss awaiting Link at the end of the dungeon: tucked away in a giant stone chamber ringed with columns was a giant shadow beast wearing a stone headdress very similar in design to Midna's. Ambling around like a cloven-hoofed gorilla, the beast was many times larger than Link and attacked with both fire attacks as well as swinging the chains that initially restrained it. While not as elaborate in design as some of the bosses from previous Zelda titles, the boss was ferocious, intimidating, and dark. We can't wait to see what other monstrous challenges Nintendo has cooked up for the other dungeons.

word on the street

Twilight Princess may be the most anticipated Zelda title since Ocarina of Time. The hype is enormous and Nintendo appears to make good on all the fire-fueling claims of "best Zelda ever." That the title hasn't been constrained to be Wii-exclusive-- a surprising decision to many-- suggests how proud Nintendo is of the title and how much it wants all its fans to experience the game, be it on GameCube or Wii. Yet as stated before, the most engaging and challenging version of this title is the one that is the most engrossing: the Wii version.

press release notes

When an evil darkness enshrouds the land of Hyrule, a young farm boy named Link must awaken the hero-- and the animal-- within.

  • When Link travels to the Twilight Realm, he transforms into a wolf and must scour the land with the help of a mysterious girl named Midna. Using the power and unique control of the Wii console, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess features incredibly precise aiming control using the Wii Remote.
  • The Wii Remote and the Nunchuk controller are used for a variety of game activities, including fishing and special sword attacks.
  • Players ride into battle against troops of foul creatures using an amazing horseback combat system, then take on massive bosses that must be seen to be believed.
  • Many puzzles stand between Link and the fulfillment of his quest, so players must sharpen their wits as they hunt for weapons and items.


While not guaranteed to be as much a system-seller as it could be, thanks to its dual-platform release, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a solid, challenging quest for any new Wii owner looking for a meaty game.

Staff Avatar M. Noah Ward
Staff Profile | Email
"Death narrowly avoided, thanks to another friendly NPC."

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