At the time of writing this review, I have yet to revisit one of my favorite games of all time, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I used to make an effort every two years or so, since I was 10 years old, to replay the masterful game to completion, each time going above and beyond with how I played. But in the last three years, my old WII console has taken a beating, and I haven’t been able to experience Twilight Princess in quite some time. In this review, I’d like to talk about my favorite childhood classic, and why it means so much to me, and why you should look into it for yourself.
Twilight Princess was released in 2006 for the GameCube, and met with mixed reviews by fans and critics alike. Many praised Nintendo for taking the Legend of Zelda in a whole new direction, while others felt it led fans of the series astray with its dark and gritty themes and aesthetics. Legend of Zelda’s prior release to Twilight Princess was Wind Waker, which was beloved by fans for its rich and impactful story, all the while balancing such a cutesy and chibi art style. When Twilight Princess was announced, fans went wild with the grunge aesthetics, but critics were mixed, saying the dark was “dark” and “edgy” even before its release date in 2006. Time would only tell for what the game was actually like, when it would be released to the GameCube, and again later for the Wii and Wii-U.
I remember very vividly my first experiences seeing Twilight Princess being played. It was 2008, and my family had the game on the Wii. My dad was sitting in the basement playing the game, and I remember feeling overjoyed and excited to watch him play. Everything I had been exposed to up until this point had been very different. I was exposed to Barbie and Monster High, Pokemon and very little action in video games. Watching my dad play Twilight Princess is a memory I’ve never been able to shake, and has stuck with me for so long. I remember being fascinated, and inspired as a creative minded child, by the game. It opened the door to a very huge part of my creative journey, showing me to a world outside of obnoxious pinks and purples and friendly little creatures with matchsticks for tails. It showed me actions up close, and figuratively, made me wield my own master sword and shield to journey into the depth of my mind with creativity.
Twilight Princess is a strong addition into the Legend of Zelda franchise, with a memorable story, simple combat, and rich atmosphere and drive. It enhances gameplay by turning storytelling tropes on their heads, and immersing the player in the world of Hyrule, and in the footsteps of the Hero once again. Everytime I replayed Twilight Princess, I became so immersed in the rich atmosphere of the game and sucked into playing Link all over again. You start the game as a humble farmer, and rancher, and as you work through the game you become the hero of legends, destined to save the world from evil. The game gives you slow beginnings instead of thrusting you into combat, and gives you purpose and care in the world. It attaches you to characters from your home village, and gives the player reasons to fight the fight and follow the journey laid out before them. Your attachment to characters as both the player, and Link, determine the road ahead. While many characters, NPCs, are lovable and stick close to the player overtime, many have the issue of becoming repetitive and annoying. From my own perspective, at least. Despite that, you are able to fit into Link’s shoes fairly quickly, and still find yourself attached to the characters in question you have grown to dislike. You can find a way to fight for their safety and complete your goals to see them get home again alongside you, even if you have spent half an hour screaming at your tv out of frustration.
Twilight Princess isn’t just about its character though. The atmosphere, story, and music takes everything you could ever want from a Zelda series entry and amplifies it. The soundtrack is one of, if not, the best Zelda soundtrack I have come across. Performed by live orchestras and put together with dazzling pieces that range from horrifying to whimsical to strong and heroic, the soundtrack completely sucks you into the game play and keeps you fighting for more as the story progresses. The story, much like every Zelda entry, is a journey through Hyrule with tricks and twists to keep you on edge and constantly pushing for more. I won’t enter spoiler territories, because the game is truly something to experience for yourself, but there are a few story elements that leave players in shock and amazement, and flip conventional Zelda aspects entirely on their head.
While it is one of my favorite video games, I can’t say that it’s perfect. I don’t think that any game is inherently perfect either. My favorite game of all times, Borderlands 2, has many flaws, and so does Twilight Princess. I’ve seen many playthroughs of the game that have led to players acting quickly, rushing through the intro segments to get into the adventure, and in turn they call the game slow and frustrating. And, as much as I love the opening of the game with how it manages to give you purpose for everything you do, and immerses the player, many people who like to speed-run games, or find enjoyment in solely the adventuring aspect, will find that the story begins incredibly slowly, and the pacing is a little all over the place when you start. There are many missions in the main story quest that leave players feeling frustrated, or defeated, or downright enraged and dreading to continue as well. I’ve come to realize over many years of experiencing Zelda games, that this tends to be a staple of every Zelda title. But with Twilight Princess’ slow start and pacing issues many players experience, these frustrating missions are amplified to 100. As much as I love the game, I have fallen victim to rage quits and frustrations over the gameplay. But what keeps me coming back is the experience.
The experience of playing Twilight Princess is incredibly rewarding. Defeating big bosses, and killing monsters; honing your skills as a swordsman and traversing Hyrule are all rewarding and mesmerizing. Twilight Princess has stuck with me over so many years due to the way it’s managed to stay ingrained in my mind through the experiences I have had. The experiences I have had playing the game with family, and friends, over almost a decade now. Would I recommend this game? Absolutely. 100 percent. It’s such a creative and rewarding experience, with so much passion clearly poured into it around every corner. The game is a solid 9/10 for me, and I couldn’t recommend it enough for the way it sucks you in with its rich environment and story, and flips video game tropes completely on their heads. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has cemented itself inside my mind and memory for many years, and many more years to come.
Written by Noah Kot-Vox, Lethbridge College
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