Early last month, I made a promise to myself, and all of you, that this year I would complete The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Bolstered by my previous success with Xenoblade Chronicles, and with a new entry into the Zelda franchise on the way, it seemed like as good a time as any to actually play and finish Twilight Princess. (Plus, it would give our poor ol’ Wii something to do.) I started but stopped the game many years ago, and last month, I started up the game again. How has it been going? In short: great! The long version of that follows.
To begin, I’m currently about eighteen hours into the game, and I’m miles beyond where I stopped years ago. That’s such a good thing! Of those hours, I think I spent the most time exploring Ordon Village, which is where the game starts you as “normal” Link (i.e. without his famous green clothes). As a trusty villager, there are lots of things for Link to do, like goat herding and fishing, and there are plenty of townsfolk to chat up. So I took my time getting to know that lay of the land, as well as the controls of the game.
I mentioned in my last post that I had no trouble with the motion controls at this early stage, and this held true at least through Ordon Village and the nearby Faron Woods. Even with some light combat training, I got the hang of using Link’s slingshot, and later found his first (wooden) sword. However, I had forgotten how the control scheme for the sword relied completely on swinging the Wiimote and nunchuk in various ways. That I do not like…at all. Granted the “swordplay” and “fire and aim” uses of the Wiimote were once true novelties, but now, my wrists just don’t like it. If I harbor one groundless dislike of this game, it’s that it is not compatible with the Wii’s Classic Controller. (It was never made to be so, hence the “groundless” there in my claim.) But I do so wish that I could simply push buttons to use the sword, shield, boomerang, and bow and arrow. Especially the bow and arrow since it’s a two-step process to aim. Oh, how I just do not like that.
Aside from that gripe, the rest of the action in the game…hang on…maybe I have once more gripe. A small one that’s also Wii-related: using the analog stick on the nunchuck to move Link. Maybe my nunchuck is grumpy from being ignored for so long, but placing link the right direction to move or jump has been a terrible hassle. So many times have catapulted Link to his death inadvertently because I’d think he was headed in a safe direction when it turned out he wasn’t. Or I’d fall off a long path and have to start the whole thing over. It’s possible that I’m just overly excited with the analog stick. What I’m forced to do now is to use the C-button to center Link’s view to where I want him to go, and then I move him. As I alluded to, I hate extra steps when it comes to controls, but I can’t figure out any other way to control Link’s herky-jerky movement. (Don’t even get me started on the King Bulbin fight – nearly crushed my controller in anger more than once.)
Okay, these two (mostly personal) issues aside, the gameplay is pretty great. When I first played, I had only made it through the Forest Temple. I enjoyed its puzzles then, and I especially liked those same puzzles now. And how about those monkeys! I can’t say that I was once a fan of character renderings in this game, but those views have softened. If anything, Twilight Princess looks quite beautiful atmospherically, and its characters are acquired tastes, I suppose, but fitting. The people and animals of Zelda games have always looked a little strange and exaggerated, no?
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. As the game unfolded, more familiarity came back. Entering the Twilight, Wolf Link, meeting and teaming up with Midna, finding the first set of Tears of Light. And having all that wrapped up in a short, compelling story. I was a little surprised at how much I actually missed delving into the lore of Hyrule and Princess Zelda. Paying more attention to the story certainly paid off! And I also took extra time to explore Hyrule Castle and Faron Woods. Treasures lurked in every corner.
Back to the Forest Temple, had a good time there, and a decently fun boss battle awaited. (Diababa – lots of bomb and boomerang fun there!). After gaining my first fused shadow, it was on to find the second one. I got myself through Kakariko Village without too many problems (though finding all those Tears of Light was a challenge), and from then on out, everything in the game was new to me.
Before proceeding with the next fused shadow, I took some time to explore Hyrule Field. I had gotten Epona back and had a lovely time just riding around the field’s vast expanse. I didn’t realize just how large it was, and I made note of several “locked” paths. Can’t wait to get back to do some more exploring there.
With horse riding out of my system, it was onto Death Mountain and the Goron Mines. At this point, my failings with the motion controls became evident. The climb up the mountains wasn’t too terrible, but I flung Link into lava in the mines waaay too much. Turned out that the Goron Mines were huge, and having to start over just killed my spirit on multiple occasions. However, the mines did offer up some really fantastic puzzles. And I loved the mechanic of Link’s iron (and magnetic) boots – simple but effective. Putting all that into play with the mines’ boss, Fyrus, was pretty fun too. Though it took me a couple tries to figure out just exactly what I needed to do to beat him.
And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. Here I remain, with two fused shadows, ready to find the third. Despite my problems with the controls, I couldn’t be happier. I managed to get in more play time with the game last month that I thought, which is good considering that, due to other projects, I might have to set Twilight Princess on the backburner for a few weeks. Rest assured, I’ll be back with further updates in the coming months, because this train has left the station, and there’s no turning back now!