Making Nice With the Twilight Princess: 10 Years Later


Image by cary -- sorry for the terrible screenshot! The best I could to with a TV and a phone.
Image by cary — sorry for the terrible screenshot! The best I could to with a TV and a phone.

This November marks the tenth anniversary of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Earlier this year, Nintendo released an HD version of the game on the Wii U. Although Breath of the Wild is what’s in the news, it’s really been the year of Twilight, and that’s a big part of why I decided it was finally time to give the another chance. The other impetus behind me playing Twilight Princess was Xenoblade Chronicles. Completing that game last year renewed my interest in the Wii itself. I had long ignored the console in favor of non-motion control games, but Xenoblade Chronicles showed me the best the console had to offer. So I felt like it was time to give the Wii another shot, a shot with a game that had long burned in my subconscious as one that I simply had to complete: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Having now finished game (late, at least according my initial goal of finishing the game by mid-May…oh well), I want to offer up something of an epilogue. Something that will allow me to put the game to rest for good, because…well…tl;dr I loved the game, but I never want to play it again.

The Good

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess takes place in an alternate universe many centuries after the Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. It tells the story of Link becoming the hero he was meant to be in order to save the land of Hyrule from darkness, the Twilight. When I first played the game some eight years ago, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees in terms of Twilight Princess’s story. I got so wrapped up in everything that I didn’t like about it that I just didn’t care about what Link was doing or why. As it turned out, the story was the one thing that kept me going. The game is incredibly well-written.  Just as with the mechanics of the game that switch between lightness and dimness, the story has its bright spots and its dark spots, intensely dark spots that are almost shocking at times.

The one thread that binds it all together is Midna, because she’s the crux of the whole game, though you wouldn’t clearly know that from the start. In fact, the story initially starts out as any other heroic adventure game, and Midna is relegated to the role of sidekick. Since I didn’t get very far into my first playthrough the game, then I mostly found Midna to be very annoying and sarcastic. This time around, I still felt somewhat annoyed by her backhanded words at first, but gradually, as Link opened Hyrule up to the light through attaining three fused shadows, and then three pieces of the Mirror of Twilight, Midna’s attitude shifted. It was subtle but clear as she came around to caring about Link and Hyrule. And what started out as skepticism became full-blown adoration by game’s end. And she became a hero herself. Her transformation from mischievous imp to the Twilight Princess was nothing short of brilliant, and I think Midna’s now my second favorite Zelda character (behind Tetra from Wind Waker).

Besides the story, I also came around heartily to the look and feel of the game. When I first played the game, I really disliked the browns and grays that permeated Hyrule in the Twilight, and I disliked having to traverse around as Wolf Link with a limited sensing ability. I also didn’t like that Hyrule itself, even in the light, looked washed out. I can only guess that I must have been playing on a terrible television back then, because things looked quite different this time around. That’s not to say that everything suddenly turned into a Super Mario game, but the graphics were much better than I remembered. Though I remain firmly in the cel-shaded Zelda camp, I didn’t dislike Twilight Princess‘s graphics. It did take me a little while to get used to the “fuzzy” look of the land as it was in Twilight, but I didn’t harbor any lingering ill feelings that prevented me from playing. Plus, having paid so much more attention to the game’s story, it was obvious that the shifting environments were necessary. And having learned better about how to travel around Hyrule, if I needed a break from a dark space, I could easily get to an open field or a town for a change of pace. I’ll admit that I didn’t explore Hyrule extensively outside of where I needed to be for the purposes of the main story, but I certainly liked what I did see.

And finally, we can’t talk about a Zelda game without talking about special items, and Twilight Princess offered up some really great ones. My favorite remained the Hawkeye, which served as a scope on you bow in order to precisely fire arrows. I knew from my first playthrough that was the one item in the game I had to get, even though it wasn’t necessary to finish the game. The Spinner was also quite fun to use. I enjoyed the time I got to use it to travel and make times jumps along geared paths up and down walls. The Dominion Rod was another good item to have. Though its use was limited to moving statues around, I had a fun time using it when it was called for. But of all the special items, I ended up relying on the Clawshot (and eventually the Double Clawshot) the most.  It was extremely useful for getting Link to and from far places. And, as I discovered by accident, it also came in handy when dealing with some enemies — it could be used to snatch away some weapons/armor and deal out stunning blows, thereby giving Link a little extra time to make an attack.

The Bad

Motion controls.
Motion controls.
Motion controls.

If you followed along with my playthough series, you probably caught wind of the fact that I did not like the controls of the game, especially the motion controls. In fact, it was the one thing that weighed down the whole experience more than a dozen wet blankets.  And it’s the one reason I don’t ever want to play this game again…at least not on the Wii. Every single ounce of negativity I went though stemmed from the Wiimote and the nunchuk, and nothing else.

Why did it take me nine months to get through a 60-hour game? The motion controls.

Why did I nearly rage quit on several occasions? The motion controls.

Why did I not care one iota about finding all the Poes and hearts and bugs and whatever else? THE MOTION CONTROLS.

I don’t know if worth me breaking things down further, but the game’s aiming function was awful. Maybe my Wii’s motion control sensor bar is starting to go south, but it never, ever seemed to want to let me aim correctly. Then again, the Wiimote itself is just an unnatural device. I just don’t think about having to point my gaming controllers in a certain direction, and having to constantly do so with the Wiimote was unpleasant. And the stupid, constant “point Wiimote at screen” reminder in the game just ticked me right off. I am pointing the darn remote at the darn screen, darn it! RECOGNIZE IT! Without fail, this issue made for terrible times during nearly ever boss battle (Stallord in the Arbiter’s Grounds was the only exception), every mini-boss battle, and any time I had to aim at anything or anyone, ever.

The End

My overall frustration with the game’s controls is what led to me having that “just be OVER” feeling by the time I reached the ended stages of the game. The City in the Sky and the Palace of Twilight the worst of the lot. As I said in my last post, I was so exhausted with the game by then that I just wanted to be done with them as quickly as I could. The same nearly went for the final battle with Ganondorf. Though it gave me trouble, I just couldn’t quit in the middle of things for fear that I’ve never return. I didn’t want this to be a repeat of Metroid Prime. I simply had to barrel through.

As the ended cutscenes rolled, I’ll admit that I shed a tear or two, partly out of sheer relief that I was actually done with the game, and partly out of seeing Midna free from her curse. Her true form was nothing short of beautiful, and I was happy for her. And for Link. And for myself that I could now put this game to rest.

Good night at last, sweet Twilight Princess.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt says:

    I have only played the GC version of Twilight Princess, and I love it. Sure, Hyrule is rather empty overall and some of the wolf segments can be boring, but I think it is an excellent game packed with remarkable items and dungeons.

    I have always liked Midna as a character. As far as the writing goes, I think the plot, Midna, and Zant are great, I am just bothered by the poor character development of Link’s village friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I didn’t get Link’s friends/companions at all. Other than Ilia, none of them played major roles and hardly contributed to the story. (And I’m still not sure I fully understand Ilia’s part either.) I was actually surprised to see the group from Telma’s bar save Link’s hide at the very end — I had forgotten they existed! It is too bad that most of the game’s extras were little more than moving scenery. Well, I’m glad that Midna’s story prevailed anyway. It was pretty awesome to see her develop a kinship with Link. Despite everything else, playing the game only for that makes it worth the headaches and dullness.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Matt says:

        Yes, Midna is a wonderful character with quite a story. And to think that Twilight Princess is preceded by Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask, two games that had big casts of memorable characters with plenty to say.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mr. Panda says:

    Great article! I didn’t mind the motion controls since it was kind of fake. I mean, yes, aiming required some actual work, but you could play the game by waggling. I guess, that in itself is kind of lame. Otherwise, I don’t think I had that much trouble with aiming and the sensor bar, but that’s just me. There’s always the Wii U version which takes away the motion controls (though I suppose there is still some gyroscope aiming albeit more accurate than the Wiimote). Regardless, I hope the good was able to outweigh the bad for you here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I’d like to think that if it hadn’t been for the motion controls, I’d have been done with this game months ago, and much happier besides. But who knows? Maybe I’d have just as much trouble playing the GC or Wii U version! (I considered the new version of the game, but seeing as how I already had the Wii version, the extra purchase didn’t make sense.) I never really enjoyed the Wii’s motion controls all that much to begin with, so maybe the relationship was doomed from the start. For the most part, I really did enjoy the game. It’s a solid adventure game with wonderful puzzles, a great story, and an array of different environments. Though I’ll always be a Wind Waker fan, this game at least made me a little more excited for Breath of the Wild. And that’s a good thing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul-NL says:

    Great article! I remember when I first got TP on the Wii, I thought it was the coolest thing ever! Aiming by pointing? Gooooodbye archaic control stick! Then I kept playing and playing and I the waggle controls started to bug me more and more. I ultimately did finish it, but didn’t love the game as much as I wanted to. It’s only recently with TP HD was I able to really enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Goodness, maybe I should have tried the HD version after all! Someday, maybe. For now, I’m happy to lay to rest my Link/Zelda fixation. I’m also ready to put the Wii to bed, at least in terms of using the motion controls. No thanks. I’ll just use it to play my N64 virtual console games with a real controller, thankyouverymcuh. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Paul-NL says:

        Haha I know what you mean. Motion controls can be fun, but I think for now a standard controller will be my choice of gaming. 😛

        Also, do you share your articles with any other video game websites? I work over at Now Loading and I enjoyed this content. If you were open to the idea of posting on our site in addition to your blog, I’d be more than happy to help you get started. My e-mail is 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. cary says:

        It was cool of Nintendo to attempt to taking gaming in a new direction with the Wii, but its motion controls are tough to get past (for me, anyway). It’s fun to play around with what they can do, but they just don’t have much staying power.

        Thanks for the kind words! Since this site is a shared one and my articles belong to the site, I’ll have to check with the other admins first about sharing the post. I’ll get back to you about that.


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