2016 is a big year for The Legend of Zelda. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the franchise, hot off the heels of finally releasing the much-requested Majora’s Mask remake for the Nintendo 3DS and a spiritual successor to Four Swords, Triforce Heroes, has plenty in store for its big three-oh. Not only will the much-anticipated open-world Zelda release this year, but fans of Twilight Princess are in for a treat.
Nintendo has been quite fond of remakes, reviving plenty of games from the Super Mario Bros. franchise for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. The Legend of Zelda has had far less remakes, but the few that have released have seen rave reviews, including Ocarina of Time 3D and Wind Waker HD. With the release of Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess is, to date, the only 3D Zelda game that has yet to be remade. Until now.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was announced in E3 2004, debunking Eiji Aonuma’s previous notion that the sequel to Wind Waker would also feature a cel-shaded world starring young Link. Plenty of Zelda fans, including this writer, were astounded at the SpaceWorld 2000 demo that featured an adult Link taking on Ganondorf in a more realistic, grittier environment than is usual for the franchise.
Until then, that vision was never realized, with Aonuma opting for a more kid-like game in the form of Wind Waker. Twilight Princess featured an adult Link and more realistic looking enemies. It looked like the franchise finally grew up.
The announcement was a raving success, with many fans going wild and pledging to buy the game as soon as it released. The fact that it encountered a couple delays to the point that it was released around the launch of the Wii cemented its success and the success of the new console.
Never before had a Zelda game, often noted for the delays of each installment to ensure the game comes out critically acclaimed, been placed in a launch lineup. The PlayStation 3, which released at around the same time as the Wii, had few titles to shift units, its best title at the time, Resistance, a little-known IP at the time.
It was the overwhelming popularity of the Wii and Twilight Princess that ensured that the console was sold out for at least the first half year of its life cycle. This writer bitterly remembers calling game stores almost every day since the release of the Wii the inquire if they had any, only to be disappointed time and time again.
While the game was held back by Nintendo’s conservatism, such as last-gen graphics and a stubborn adherence to midi file background music, it received critical acclaim, Game Informer even going as far as to say that it ‘rivals the best Hollywood has to offer.’
The game could be enjoyed as a typical Zelda romp on the Gamecube akin to Wind Waker, or Ocarina of Time, but it also introduced revolutionary concepts such as one-to-one sword motion, further immersing the player in the game by making him feel like he is swinging the sword himself. This idea was later expanded upon in the game’s sequel, Skyward Sword, utilising the Wii Motion Plus accessory.
Some might even go as far as to say that the game is the best in the series, citing the 30 or so awards it received in 2006, the fact that it holds the highest rating of any Zelda game on Metacritic, 94/100, but proponents of this theory point to the game’s story.
The game went further than any Zelda installment in fleshing out Link’s character and story. Link was usually a blank slate for the player character to project himself onto, developers even stating that they call the protagonist ‘Link’ because of the link between the player and the character, but for the first time, he was not the hero simply because the game told him he was the hero, he was a hero because the circumstances put him in that position.
The stakes were much higher. Of course, reversing the damage done by a mad warlord and saving a realm from a moon crashing into it in three days is a tall order to top, but there was a sense of danger and loss. The Gorons and Zoras underwent grueling hardships and the twilight realm had an atmosphere filled with fear.
So the game finally makes its way, after nearly a decade, onto the Wii U, as Twilight Princess HD. The game comes bundled with an amiibo of Midna, a companion that Zelda fans are not annoyed at, for once, and depending on where the player may pre-order, the game will come bundled with a soundtrack. If the reader has never played Twilight Princess before, the 4th of March, 2016 would be a great time to pick it up. This writer knows he definitely will.