We all have that one game…
That one, special game that we’ve played dozens of times, spending many hours per session, struggling with those few segments that pissed us off, just because we loved it so much. We’ve had many good years with that one game – we’ve even considered making it our favorite game of all time, even more so than that other favorite game we’ve had up there for so long (you know which one).
And then, we start to notice something is wrong.
We don’t enjoy the game as much as we did. We find those moments that were once fun, become tedious; those rewarding challenges, pyrrhic. Even after we take lengthy breaks from the game – to play other games, no less – we come back to find a certain lack of enjoyment still exists.
In this installment of Thanks For The Memories, I will discuss why I feel this way about a game I still regard as my favorite game for the Nintendo GameCube – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was released on the Nintendo Wii in November 2006, with the GameCube version being released a month later. I’m only reviewing the GC version because it’s the one I played through completely. Also, the Wii version is pretty much the same, except for slightly better sound, the motion control gimmick, and left is swapped for right in terms of direction, not to mention Link holds his sword with his right hand.
Story wise, it’s not your typical Zelda title. This time, instead of saving a princess, you set out to save your friends and your horse from monsters. Immediately, you get pulled into the Twilight realm, and then find out you can transform into a wolf. When you are imprisoned, you team up with a magical imp (who is more important to the story than you initially think), and set out to save the land of Hyrule from this Twilight menace.
Also, you do have to rescue Princess Zelda in the end, but it’s not a major plot point in the beginning – she’s as much a prisoner as anyone else who is stuck in perpetual twilight.
The evil wizard, Zant, is the villain trying to take over Hyrule. Although he’s not the final boss, I liked him as a main villain. He is intimidating in both his appearance and demeanor, and he has an interesting back story; wanting to conquer Hyrule out of revenge, not just because. When you fight him, he will keep changing the stages to previous boss rooms, and his fighting tactics will change to follow suit – when you’re fighting him in Snowpeak Ruins, for example, he will mimic the boss fight from there, and be a giant trying to crush you. Regardless, he is fun to fight in every form.
Every inch of this game is beautiful. Whether you’re taking in the haunting magnificence of the Arbiter’s Grounds, staring over Lake Hylia from a watchtower, or even climbing Death Mountain, there is beauty to be seen in it. My one complaint regarding this would be that certain areas, like Hyrule Field, just feel empty and boring to traverse. Still beautiful, but needing something to make you want to go there. Like a wizard’s house.
My favorite area in the game has to be Snowpeak Ruins. If you were to ask me where I would want to live in the video game world, it would be there. It’s a giant mansion, surrounded by cliffs and mountains, on a snowy peak (hence the name). The downside is that the repairs would be a bitch to complete, and ice creatures keep trying to freeze you. The upside is that you get to live with a yeti… with a charming personality, and a penchant for cooking. Also, the boss fight is fun, and has one of the best music tracks in the whole game, perfectly conveying a sense of dread, with pipe organs.
Least favorite: Lakebed Temple. First off, the underwater maze segment was more disorienting than it was challenging. Then, getting the Big Key was a pain in the ass, because it required some precision clawshotting to clear the area with those giant gears. If you were smart, like me, you’d just save and then reload your game to start at the beginning of the temple, as opposed to going through all that shit again, just to get back to the central area.
Also, the boss, Morpheel, is a disappointing water temple boss. Sure, when you piss him off enough, he will climb out of his hole and swim around, but that’s it. If you’re dumb enough to try and swim to his mouth, he’ll eat you, and you’ll lose health. He doesn’t shoot fish at you (like his first phase), or summon whirlpools, or anything else. He’s just disappointing. Just swim up behind him, clawshot his eye, and stab. Repeat two more times, and he’s dead.
Even water slides couldn’t save this temple.
Aside from Link’s basic attacks, he can also learn seven special attacks – like the Finishing Blow and the Back Slice. Some of them may seem overpowering, like the Mortal Blow, but they are very useful in dangerous situations, like trying to clear the Cave of Ordeals. Interestingly, the spirit who teaches Link these skills is actually his descendant, the original Hero of Time (from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask). He does this in order to ease his regrets and pass on his knowledge, something he was unable to do when he was alive.
Like every Zelda game, there are many secondary weapons you can collect. Some have been seen in Zelda games before – like the Bombs and the Bow and Arrows. Some are interesting variations on classics, like the Gale Boomerang, and the Clawshot (which become the Double Clawshot late in this game). There are also some new weapons introduced in Twilight Princess, which sadly, barely get any use out of the dungeons you get them in. It would’ve been fun to use the Spinner to reach new areas, instead of just getting a few Heart Pieces, or Poe Souls.
I do wish the difficulty was a bit more balanced. Most of the game seemed a little too easy, especially fighting bosses whose big attacks don’t take off much damage. Or, maybe that’s because I’ve beaten the damn game at least 13 times, and have it committed to memory. The Cave of Ordeals is still challenging every time I play it, but that’s a bonus dungeon.
Also, every Zelda game has at least one puzzle that pisses me off. For this one, it’s the statue puzzle right before you get the Master Sword. You have to maneuver two statues back to the spots where they were standing. Your movements affect how the statues move, and if you’re not careful, you could get crushed, or worse, you may have to start over. At least the game gives you that option.
The music in this game kicks ass, much like every Zelda game in existence. I’ve already mentioned how much I loved the boss fight track from Snowpeak Ruins, and the Temple of Time dungeon theme is another one I really enjoyed, because it’s a wonderful mix of old and new. My least favorite would be the Arbiter’s Grounds theme. It seemed very underwhelming for an otherwise enjoyable dungeon. However, the boss, Stallord, is a fun fight, especially the second phase, when you’re chasing him with the Spinner.
There’s also a bunch of little things I enjoyed about this game, such as gaining the ability to freely transform into a wolf, in order to dig shit up, talk to animals, and run through boring areas. Also, it wouldn’t be a Twilight Princess review if I didn’t mention that you can sumo wrestle Gorons. This blew my mind when I first found out, and it is fun as hell!
So, after giving you my likes and dislikes about the game, why have I decided to retire it? Well, aside from beating it no less than 13 times, the game just got boring to play. Which does say a lot, because I’ve beaten Streets of Rage 2 at least double that amount, and I’m still not bored of that game.
Most of the enemies are pushovers, as well as a good chunk of the bosses. This was something that really dragged down my enjoyment with my last few playthroughs, because it felt like vacuuming my house every day – loud and boring. Also, I’m a bit of a “completionist” when it comes to Zelda titles, because I like to get everything. Doing so in this one – such as getting every Heart Piece – doesn’t feel very rewarding, mostly because of the aforementioned enemies, and the ease at which I could dispatch them. You’d be better off trying to do a minimalist challenge, but that is hard to do for a Zelda title because the more you play it, the more you want to get out of it.
I am hopeful that an updated port (or HD edition) gets released in the near future, much like The Wind Waker did for the Wii U. However, I will only consider playing it if they tweak the difficulty level, and make it more challenging. Also, another bonus dungeon would be nice, or a Boss Rush challenge.
I have no intention of wiping this game from my memory though. It was a blast to play when I enjoyed it, and it also helped me pass the time when I was recovering from eye surgery, and couldn’t work for two months. Well, I had to wait for the headaches and dizziness to go away first, that is.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, you are superb, and you deserve to be played!
Thanks for the memories.