The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

This past weekend I finally sat down and played a marathon session of Twilight Princess. I still haven’t actually finished it off, but I’m in the final dungeon right before the final encounter, so unless my prize for winning is a grey screen that just says ‘The Day Is Save!’, I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp of the experience.

Not the real ending

I bought the game shortly after it came out, and was pretty excited about it. It was supposed to be the game that really showed off what the Wii could do. You got to run around swinging your arm around in real life which equated to swinging the sword around in the game. And while that sounded pretty awesome it didn’t quite work out how I had envisioned somehow, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

I was told that this game took place between the Ocarina of Time and the Wind Waker games, but I didn’t really see very many references to either of those games in here. But, it’s a Zelda game, they’ve always been pretty loose with chronology, so it’s not that big of a deal. But the game stars you, as Link, on a mission to figure out what’s going on with this mysterious ‘twilight’ that’s taking over the land.

What all that means is that you’re going to be doing a lot of collecting things.

I guess that the Zelda games have always been about collecting things, so this shouldn’t have come as too big a surprise to me, but the collection was just starting to feel tedious. For instance, the first set of three things you have to collect sends you to to these odd parallel versions of certain areas. In those areas you have to collect something like 20 bugs before you can even get to the dungeon where your real quest item is located. Sorry if that sounds a bit vague, but I’m trying to not spoil it for the three or four people that have yet to play this game.

As much time as you spend collecting items, you’re going to spend about as much time doing puzzling fetch quests. For example, I just finished some dungeon or other and went back to the Castle Town to see where the next plot point was. They told me to go to the village (which is a good several minutes away). I go there, have a small cutscene and am told to go back to the Castle Town to talk to the same person that told me to go to the village. A few minutes later I’m on a scavenger hunt for a statue in the town that I have to take back to the village. I was able to warp around at that point, but even that has some pretty obnoxious restrictions. Chiefly that I couldn’t do it when people were watching me, and in populated towns, that’s kind of difficult.

I really had some troubles in this game with the controls. Swinging the sword doesn’t really work like I thought it might. The actions on the screen don’t match your motions with the Wii remote, but that’s actually probably a good thing. Instead you just kind of waggle the controller around a bit and Link swings away. You can also waggle the nunchuck around to do the classic ’spinning attack’, but I couldn’t get it to work more than about 20% of the time. You also unlock this ability to smack people around with your shield by thrusting the nunchuck forward, but I could only get that to work about 20% of the time, too. In fact, trying to do the shield bash triggered the spin move more often than anything. I didn’t figure out until about 30 hours in (!) what the problem was: I was being too vigorous with the nunchuck. It turns out that while you’re in the heat of a battle that wildly flailing the nunchuck around is not the way to actually do moves. You have to kind of lazily bob it forward or lethargically swish it from side to side. Doing things lazily is not something that I really excel at when I’m trying to make an elf-guy kill off three armored lizardmen all at once.

I also had a real problem picking things up in this game, for some reason. When you get near enough to something that you can interact with, a little yellow arrow will appear over it as your cue that you can press the ‘action button’ and something will happen, usually that you’ll pick it up. Unfortunately, that little arrow doesn’t mean that you actually will do anything once you press the button until you’re in some kind of ridiculously short ‘range’ of the item. This is a little maddening since there’s a puzzle kind of early in the game that has you killing monsters that turn into lit bombs. You have to run up to them, pick them up, and then place or throw them into the right spot to continue. I would walk up to and it looked like I should be able to pick it up, but I couldn’t. I’d either roll forward at it or not do anything at all until it was too late and the bomb exploded in my face. After I died a few times because of that I went ahead and finished the dungeon but didn’t come back to the game for a few months.

There’s also this whole thing where Link turns into a wolf for parts of the game, and later you can (and must) do it at will to make progress. It’s kind of a cool idea, but I just found it to be tedious to have to switch back and forth all the time to move on. What’s really weird, though, is that you use the wolf form pretty extensively in the beginning of the game, and by the end it’s almost an afterthought.

But once I let a few months go by and picked the game back up I still wasn’t smitten with the game like I had been with past incarnations of the series. The dungeons were way too long, the overworld, while absolutely huge, had precious little to do, unless you like running a few miles through mostly empty fields on foot.

Beyond all that, though, there is a solid game in here, even if it is a little bit on the long side. And for all the hullabaloo that GameSpot raised when they gave the game what amounts to a B+ in their review, I’m going to have to agree with them, though for slightly differing reasons.

2 Responses to “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess”

  1. The American Mutt says:

    This makes me happy I’m playing the GC version.

  2. [...] I know, but that’s why I make the big bucks. The game takes place in various locations around Twilight Princess and has a few different goals, depending on the area you’re in. But it basically boils down [...]

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