The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess continues to mesmerize me. I jumped into the game directly after finishing Super Mario Galaxy a couple weeks ago and I’m still loving every minute of it.
What’s great about this game is that it’s full of surprises. Adventure. And as anyone that’s played Zelda would know, adventure is what Zelda is all about.
I just completed the 5th dungeon and so far the items have been mostly new to the series. New items = new puzzles so that’s definitely a good thing. I don’t recall many new items with Wind Waker. I felt like its puzzles ended up being rehashes of Ocarina of Time’s so there was little to no challenge to solving them. But Twilight Princess is definitely something new.
The story’s nothing to write home about. If you’ve played Zelda games before, there’s not much new as far as evil plots go. Much of the game takes place in the Twilight World, which is basically the Dark World and the Future from the other games. The catch with this game is that you turn into a wolf while in the Twilight World. Your wolf form limits you in many ways but it also grants you new abilities. You have a special sense that allows you to follow scents in the air and see the unseen. In addition to that you can dig, use a special attack, and dash.
In a world full of sandbox games, you might expect Nintendo to follow suit with this game. Nah… This game is incredibly linear and I have no problem with that but what they’ve done to improve it is making traveling from A to point B as fresh as possible. Instead of simply going directly from dungeon to dungeon as you usually do, some sort of side quest will break out along the way. There’s an awesome part where you have to fight off bandits as they attack a carriage with flaming arrows. It was surprising to see such excitement in a Zelda game.
Despite nothing being super-special about the story, they’ve put together some awesome cinemas for this game. You can tell from the credits, that they had a big team of animators specifically for these scenes. And it shows. The cinema scenes remind me of Metal Gear Solid, without the voice acting. The animation’s great and I’m loving the new character Midna, he’s very cool addition to the Zelda series. Watching the cinemas in this game, I envision Nintendo approaching an animated show with these characters. Indeed, it’d be great to see. In comparison, Super Mario Galaxy had horrible cinema scenes which didn’t have much character.
Twilight Princess benefits tremendously from the Wii controls. It feels awkward at first, but it becomes natural after a few hours with it. It’s now second nature to shake the controller to swat at whatever enemy pops up in front of me. Using the B-trigger to aim at the screen and fire weapons is intuitive as well. I wouldn’t want to go back to playing this game with a regular controller. Smash Bros Brawl is another story, it controls terribly with the Wii controller. On my first impression, it doesn’t compare to having a Gamecube controller.
The music’s great. The dungeon music’s what I would call “thinkin’ music”. Ambient music, fitting with the theme. Looping but never repetitive. A cool musical touch is in the Snow Dungeon. When you enter the rooms with the friendly people in them, with no enemies, another layer is added onto the music track. Sort of like the drum beat when you jump on Yoshi in Super Mario World but incredibly subtle, I barely noticed it. Almost like they didn’t even want me to notice it.
There’s so many little touches of polish all around. The Snow Dungeon takes place in a crumbling mansion so the doors with locks on them in this dungeon have a unique lock asset, one that fits the design of the doors in that area. Up until that point in the game, all the door locks looked the same.
The puzzle design is amazing. In addition to the usual key-searching and trick-solving, there are some clever sliding-style puzzles in the game. They don’t show up very often but I was caught off guard by their difficulty! Definitely not Tomb Raider, I really had to sit and think to solve the ones I encountered. What was interesting to me was the puzzles were both completely 2d, they could easily be executed in an overhead view. They isolated the puzzles to rooms with no distractions so you could sit and think about it. They felt like a game within a game. The type of puzzle gameplay is something that a Flash developer might run with and make a 50 stage game with, but I think it’s incredibly strong how Nintendo uses it so sparingly to enhance the gameplay. Not necessarily making it seem like a chore — memories of FFX’s painful Cloister of Trials segments come to mind.
In other news I got Smash Bros Brawl but I can’t connect to anyone online with it! But that’s another story… I’m trying to commit to beating Zelda for the time being.