After all these years, Midna still shines the brightest in the twilight.
Over the past few years, Nintendo essentially created a new sub-genre of video games: the Zelda remake. The latest one, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD on Wii U, is the fourth remake in less than five years. We’re at a point where Nintendo is running out of games to remake in the series. So, with so many before it, that makes looking at Twilight Princess HD a little different. We’ve seen the wonders Nintendo can do with Zelda remakes in the past as they elevate great games to higher levels. With Twilight Princess HD, that’s not really the case. This remake seems more akin to a remaster as it doesn’t do that much to make a great game better. It does however, offer the definitive version of a 10-year-old game and in the process, makes it control and look like a modern game.
Regardless of whether Twilight Princess is on GameCube, Wii, or Wii U, it is an absolutely fantastic adventure. Replaying the game now made me remember why that is. The dungeons, of which there are numerous, are some of the best in the series. Arbiter’s Grounds and Snowpeak Ruins are especially incredible, but truth be told, I can’t think of an underwhelming dungeon in the bunch. While every Zelda game has noteworthy dungeons, I don’t think any single game is as consistent or magical as Twilight Princess. The way each dungeon makes use of different items and weapons in unique ways is wonderful, and you can see the kernels of Skyward Sword’s deliberate focus on blending dungeons and the overworld together developing here.
Outside of the dungeons, I’m not as hot on Twilight Princess in comparison to other games in the series. While Hyrule Field is lightyears beyond what it was in Ocarina of Time, it is still rather barren. None of the side quests were that compelling to me back in the day and nothing’s changed to make me like them much more now. While the entrepreneurial baby is a hysterical concept, that’s about the extent that I cared for any of the Ordon cast, despite the gorgeous musical pangs telling me otherwise. Still, Midna is as compelling as ever as the driving force of the narrative, primarily because of her snappy writing. While the overall cast might not be too gripping, Midna might be the single best developed character in Zelda history. The spectacle of Twilight Princess’ locales holds up visually and while it isn’t a cutting-edge graphical masterpiece, it doesn’t look dated. If anything, Twilight Princess HD makes me appreciate the game’s unique art style and direction way more than I ever did before.
In the HD version, the tweaks and changes outside of the visuals are very minor. The Wii motion controls are all gone (save for optionally tilting the GamePad to aim projectiles) and the normal mode is based off of the GameCube version. The mirrored version (aka the Wii version) is found in Hero mode, which makes the enemies hit twice as hard. Nestled throughout are some nice enhancements, most evident in the Tears of Light quests that only required you to collect 12 tears instead of 16. Those looking for major changes will be disappointed. Nothing in here compares to the reformed Triforce hunt and Swift Sail in Wind Waker HD or the fine-toothed comb that refined Majora’s Mask 3D.
The major additions are found in Amiibo support. The Wolf Link Amiibo opens up the Cave of Shadows, which is an amusing score-based combat challenge. It lets you screw around with the wolf combat more, but it’s just a little bit more than a neat bonus. The most underrated part of the Wolf Link Amiibo is that you can tie it to a game save and instantaneously load your game when you tap it to the GamePad at the title screen. The other Zelda Amiibo from the Smash Bros. line all add to Twilight Princess a bit as well, with the Link Amiibo refilling arrows, the Zelda and Shiek Amiibo refilling hearts, and the Ganondorf Amiibo adding double damage that can be stacked with Hero mode for quadruple damage.
And aside from that, this is just Twilight Princess with a new graphical sheen on your Wii U. It runs fine, though I ran into an issue where it took an unusually long amount of time to load up my save file (no word from Nintendo about this yet, though I theorize it might be an external hard drive issue). Playing through this 2006 Zelda game, though, made me rekindle my love for it. This is a fantastic game, even with the lame side quests and overworld. If you missed out back in the day or only have fuzzy decade-old memories, this Wii U remake is, no doubt, the new and best way to experience Twilight Princess.