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 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.
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.
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.