Somewhere between light and darkness, there is this HD remaster.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was always an odd one for me. I was never that in love with it, but the experience was enjoyable. I played through it to completion on the Wii during its launch period and found it a fresh and new way to control a Zelda game. Looking back at it, I was more forgiving of its faults and just took it at its fun face value. Daan in 2016 has a different set of expectations though, in particular when you are going to call something a new HD version. The previous Zelda remakes perfected games so much, which made me excited to give this game a look. While there are some improvements, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD left me wondering why it exists.
On paper, an HD re-release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess sounds like a fantastic idea. If there is one thing I adored about the game, it is the development throughout its story. You have a Link that is not experienced with the outside world, who has to become a hero that saves everyone. The variety of story threads explored in this title feature some of my favorites, even if the execution leaves something to be desired. The young lad has to travel a compact but sizeable world to seek the mysteries of a brand new evil threatening the land. All in all, it’s not vastly different from past Zelda games, but it’s a shining example of all this, at least to me.
Like the original version, there are some pacing issues, especially in the beginning. It bounces all over the place, from unspecified chores to chasing a monkey into Faron Woods, in a way that doesn’t gel with me. Once it gets good though, everything flows together naturally and it is a smooth experience. It just takes its sweet time getting there.
The Wii U version feels a lot closer to the Nintendo GameCube release than the Wii game in any given way. You use very similar button prompts, which feels nice at first glance. Using the Pro Controller makes this feels almost indistinguishable from the classic Cube version. If you want to play on the Wii U GamePad, you get the ability to use motion controls to fine-tune slingshots and the like. The motion controls are optional, and I preferred playing the game with the Pro Controller mostly due to the bulk of the GamePad.
Although the GamePad is a little more viable because of some of the touch screen elements. There is an inventory screen for your item management and a mini-map that shows you the direct surroundings. There are no crazy Miiverse functions like in The Wind Waker HD, but there are stamps to collect throughout the game to brighten up your posts. I do like the functionality of the Wii U GamePad, but it’s just not as comfortable as the Pro Controller. You can keep the GamePad in front of you, but I am not sure that is not perfect in every household.
Many of the basic actions are still the same and I have not felt many improvements while going through Twilight Princess HD. Both regular and Wolf Link still feel pretty solid, with the roll and dash being my best friends in the entirety of the universe. There were articles out there claiming that the horse riding has improved, but it felt the same to me. There has been no discernable difference in gameplay in my playtime thus far.
One thing that is included now is Amiibo support. When you touch Link and Toon Link, your arrows will be replenished. Zelda and Sheik do the same for your hearts, but Ganondorf is your health’s worst enemy. The damage done by enemies will be doubled, making one hellish ride from the beginning to your untimely death. There is no real reward for using this functionality, which makes it sort of pointless. There is also a brand new Wolf Link Amiibo, which I got to toy around. With the Wolf Link Amiibo, you can link a save file. By holding it to the NFC reader on the title screen, you will instantly start that game. It also unlocks the brand new Cave of Shadows, in which you have to clear rooms of enemies. Once you cleared it, you will save your remaining heart score to the Amiibo. This score can be constantly improved upon, which makes it quite a neat score attack challenge. After your initial victory, you are also presented with a nifty prize.
The biggest bummer of this whole package are the graphics. They barely got an upgrade at all and the textures have just been slightly upscaled to a higher resolution. Thanks to this change, some of the faces look way worse than the originals. Some of the environments also really show their age, which is clearly shown in Faron Woods. The trees look a little sparse and the ground has seen better days. My favorite moments were in the Twilight Realm, because it seems to hide the problems a lot better. You can clearly see the effort in The Wind Waker HD, but I need more time to see that in Twilight Princess HD's case.
The basics are still there. A lot of the gameplay and storylines will still hold your interest, but all of that is mixed with boring moments and barely any improvements. There is nothing really absurdly wrong with the game, but The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is barely better than its Wii and GameCube counterparts. In the Zelda remakes, that is sort of shameful, because I know there are capable of doing just a lot more. It is a shame that Tantulus and Nintendo didn't take any risks with this one, but if you are in the need of playing the game on the Wii U, you can likely do a lot worse.