Story (4 out of 5)
Set a few hundred years after the events in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess takes place in Hyrule (like almost every Zelda game to date). This time Link is a farm hand living in Ordon Village. Monsters attack his village, kidnap some of the town’s kids and his friend, so he goes to find them. However, as he’s leaving town he is pulled into a mysterious wall of darkness and blacks out. He wakes up in a cell under Hyrule Castle with an imp named Midna. She helps him escape and they go on a journey to rid Hyrule of the Twilight (which is trying to take over) and restore peace to Hyrule and the Twilight Realm.
Zelda games are formulaic, but we as fans rely on the formula to give us something new and amazing each time. When Link finally pulls the Master Sword from the stone, we know something cool is going to happen. In Ocarina of Time, he goes forward in time seven years! Twilight Princess’ Master Sword scene is anti-climatic at best. Where is the pay off?
Gameplay (5 out of 5)
If you played Ocarina of Time or Wind Waker, you already know the control scheme for Twilight Princess. The ‘A’ button controls talking, picking up items, throwing items and many other movements. ‘B’ is generally attack, and the joystick controls movement while the yellow joystick controls the camera. ‘L’ targets enemies and ‘X’ and ‘Y’ control extra items like the Clawshot or arrows. Even if you haven’t played another GameCube Zelda title the controls are so intuitive you will easily figure it out within a few minutes.
One of the added features to Twilight Princess’s gameplay is Link’s ability to turn into a wolf. As a wolf, you can sense smells and ghosts of objects. Also, Wolf Link can dig and fight as well. Sometimes you even need to use Wolf Link to fight instead of human Link. This is probably one of the best parts of the game, although it does take some getting used to.
Another great feature of the gameplay are the added items to Link’s inventory. There are two brand new items (a ball and chain and a spinner that Link rides on), some combination weapons (bomb+arrows=awesomeness!) and two (yeah, I said two) Clawshots (same as a Hookshot), and a boomerang that creates wind. There is also a lantern, which is a throwback to Link to the Past.
The set up of Twilight Princess is the same as other Zelda games too. There are a few towns, a large (and I mean large!) overworld map to explore either on foot (which would take way too long) or on your horse Epona. Also, there are nine dungeons Link must complete to fulfill his quest. Many of the dungeons follow the same themes as dungeons in past Zelda titles. There is a forest dungeon, a Death Mountain dungeon and a Water dungeon. However, there are also some nice new locations thrown in, including one that takes place in a crumbling mansion in the snow.
All in all, the gameplay is good old Zelda with enough new stuff to keep even the oldest fans interested.
Graphics and Sounds (5 out of 5)
Even on the GameCube, Twilight Princess looks beautiful. From the perfectly rendered water, to the shifts between night and day the graphics really shine here. It just might be one of the best looking games on the GameCube. Hyrule Castle town in full of NPCs that mill about like real people, and while some of the characters are strange looking, many others are very realistic. Link himself has had a makeover. He’s not the pink haired chibi boy from Link to the Past. He’s a young man who’s ready to take on the evil threatening Hyrule.
Sound wise, it is also heads above most games. Each area has its own music, which fits with the mood the developers were trying to set. The quite music of the forest is as relaxing as it should be. Even the slightly weird techno music in the Temple of Time seems to fit. Also, the sound effects are spot on. Each arrow that flies through the air and each cackle from an enemy sounds like a Zelda game should.
Fun (4 out of 5)
Of course it’s fun! It’s Zelda! That being said, it’s also kind of frustrating at times. Some of the puzzles, while not hard to figure out, can just be annoying to complete (the entrance to the Sacred Grove anyone?). Also, there are fewer enemies in this Zelda title, and it is a little too easy. Some of the most challenging battles take place on bridges (and also some of the most frustrating). I like battles that are fun and challenging, but there seems to be a lack of that in this game.
Overall (5 out of 5)
I’m not sure how impartial I can be about this. I love Zelda games, and I have played nearly all of them. The hype surrounding Twilight Princess went on for years, and while the game they released is great, I’m not sure it’s the best Zelda game of all time. There is a lack of a payoff in the plot which is disappointing. Get it. Love it. But know that this reviewer still has a huge soft spot for Wind Waker.