Fancy graphics are fine, but all gamers know in their hearts that nothing will ever top the drama of Final Fantasy VII or the pure physicality of Super Mario Bros. 3. Playboy’s Retro Gaming articles look at why we love the classics and give you your nostalgia fix.
The Legend of Zelda is one of gaming’s biggest franchises, with each release in the series being eagerly anticipated and usually met with immediate praise.
But every entry is hotly debated by fans in a constant attempt to rank which Zelda game is the best. And Twilight Princess has always existed in a weird space. When it was originally released in 2006, it came out on two systems; first as a launch title for the Nintendo Wii, and shortly later for the GameCube in that system’s final days. Twilight Princess was a total 180-degree shift from the cute and cuddly animation in the previous Zelda game, Wind Waker, but wasn’t as groundbreaking as, say, Ocarina of Time. The Wii version’s motion controls haven’t aged well, often leaving Link’s shadowy adventure by the wayside in discussions over the best 3D Zelda title.
But, for better or worse, I’ve always thought Twilight Princess was quite underrated by fans, and the HD remake coming out soon will give people a chance to revisit one of the black sheeps in the Zelda family. So here’s six reasons why you should give Twilight Princess a chance.
6. BIG WOLF IN HYRULE
Twilight Princess is unique from every other Zelda game in one very furry way: Early on in the adventure Link gets cursed and transformed into a wolf. Yup, a wolf. While in wolf form, Link can’t use his sword, but that doesn’t mean that he’s useless. Far from it. Instead, being a canine offers its own all-teeth approach.
There’s a satisfying feeling to biting, chewing and tearing at enemies, and you’ll even be able to lock on and attack multiple enemies at once. Playing as a wolf might feel a bit weird at first, but eventually taking down bad guys will come just as easy in this form as it does when you have a sword.
5. A DARKER TONE
Twilight Princess takes a dark and gritty turn for the Zelda series. Long gone is the big-eyed and cute young Link from Wind Waker. In his place is a darker, more adult Link. Zant—the main bad guy this time around—has taken over The Twilight Realm, and is invading Hyrule with dark and grotesque creatures—no pirates or giant cartoon birds this time around.
Wind Waker’s bright ocean blue landscape has been traded for a Hyrule literally cast into shadow. Princess Zelda has surrendered to the threat instead of risking seeing Hyrule destroyed by war. Link has to go deep into the Twilight Realm to try to, you know how it goes, save the world. But there’s more to the evil of Zant than meets the eye, and the whole adventure really takes the shadow theme quite seriously.
4. DUNGEONS & BOSSES
Puzzle-filled “dungeon” levels with locked doors, keys, and bosses are integral to the Zelda experience, and Twilight Princess still has some of the most interesting and unique locations in the entire series. One of them—Snowpeak Ruins—isn’t really a traditional Zelda-style dungeon at all, at least in the typical sense. The ruins are instead the run-down home of yeti-like monsters, and you’ll explore inside and outside of the mansion in one of the series’ more memorable destinations.
Another area, Arbiter’s Grounds, is a giant prison in the middle of Gerudo Desert where Hyrule’s worst criminals were kept, and the prisoners who were sentenced to death were sent directly to the underworld. What a happy and cheery place!
And of course, let’s not forget the bosses. There’s the Twilit Fossil: Stallord, a battle that takes place in a giant sand pit and has some really unique twists. Not enough? How about the Twilit Dragon: Argorok, who Link battles atop the City in the Sky as he swings from the area using the Double Clawshots? Nothing like some good dragon battles to turn things up a notch on the epic scale.
3. GOOD TIMES WITH WEAPONS
It’s not quite the precision motion controls that the later Skyward Sword had, but Twilight Princess’s combat system was a step toward making swordfighting in these games feel like actual fighting with a sword. It’s the cool attack abilities—called Hidden Skills—that really make the fights so fun. You can use an Ending Blow to smash downwards into an enemy, the Back Slice to get at baddies from behind, or the Helm Splitter to attack the enemy right at their noggins. There’s even the deadly Mortal Blow. You can probably figure out what that one does.
And one of the biggest points: It’s the first Zelda game in which Link could ride his trusted horse, Epona, and use his weapons at the same time, which makes for some great horseback battles. It’s pretty sweet.
Twilight Princess also had some of the most badass weapons in the series, like the massive Ball and Chain, which Link swings above his head and uses to crush obstacles and enemies alike, and the Spinner, which is essentially a giant top that Link can ride around on.
2. THE MAGNIFICENT MIDNA
Midna is hands down the best companion Link has ever had. Sorry, Navi! Midna is a fiery little imp who doesn’t take any of Link’s shit. She’s been cursed and cast from her throne by Zant, and joins up with Link to try to help him save Hyrule and the Twilight Realm. She also lends her power to battle: she can use her hair and magic to help give enemies a good beatdown, including a pretty huge display of power near the end of the game.
Her story also has a touching ending, which I don’t want to spoil, but needless to say Midna is one of the most developed characters that Link ever meets. I also named my cat Midna, so, yeah, there you go.
1. SHINY NEW FEATURES
The brand new Wii U version of Twilight Princess has a bunch of new features, aside from the fancy fresh high-definition graphics. For those scared of motion controls, you need not worry—the game instead uses the WiiU GamePad, no swinging required.
One new feature for this game is support for Nintendo’s new “amiibo” figurines—the game comes bundled with a Midna and Wolf Link amiibo, which can be used to open up a new bonus area: The Cave of Shadows. The amiibo will also apparently work somehow with the brand new Zelda game that’s currently in development, but Nintendo is being mum on that one at the moment.
There’s also a Hero Mode—selectable from the start—which makes the game harder: Link takes double damage, and there won’t be any heart drops to help you heal. And, of course, the Wii U GamePad is also used for quick-switching into wolf mode, item management, and seeing your map, freeing up menu space—welcome additions that make this classic and underrated Zelda game even better today.
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