E3 2004, probably the single biggest reaction in E3 history was the reveal of Twilight Princess, grown men wept at that trailer, which capitalized on The Lord of the Rings hype still going strong....
Atmospheric Music, Lengthy Adventure, Epona
Dungeon Design is Simplistic, Combat is too Easy
E3 2004, probably the single biggest reaction in E3 history was the reveal of Twilight Princess, grown men wept at that trailer, which capitalized on The Lord of the Rings hype still going strong. Blades will bleed, shields will shatter, it drove everyone watching into a frenzy, myself included. (The music from Conan the Barbarian may have also helped) The delay to become a Wii launch title and the earlier release helped push quite a few people to buy a Wii, just to get the game a little early.
The trailer was pretty accurate, this is meant to be an epic adventure tale, and up through the first three temples, it pulls it off. By the fourth dungeon however, the story has fallen off and all the interesting characters and villains are off screen for long stretches of time. The endgame falls on Zelda cliche heavily, throwing out the last scraps of the interesting story being told. It is quite sad they took the cheap way out as the early plot and the few added developments after the fourth dungeon were a fantastic start and had so much potential.
It was great to finally see a focus on Epona, with a bunch of early gameplay sequences devoted to horseback. The battle at Eldin Bridge was one of the best moments in Zelda history. Sadly, Epona is barely used mid to late game which feels like a missed opportunity. It was nice to have one last epic showdown on horseback during the endgame. It really needed another moment like what was in the reveal trailer, with Link facing down a large army on horseback.
*I will refer to all dungeons as Temples to avoid spoilers
This was the first core game to demonstrate Motion Controls and for the most part it worked great. It really showed with the bow and arrow, which had always been a little difficult to use in combat without lock on, no need for that here. There was one room in the Fire Temple that seem designed to show how quickly the new bow controls could clear a room. Sword Play didn't get the same treatment sadly, devolving into a waggle fest most of the time. The slight lag also makes timing your swings more difficult. Mapping the spin attack to the Nunchuk shake makes some combat scenarios all too easy. The Shield Bash is mapped to a forward thrust of the Nunchuk and it is clumsy at best, barely registering half the time. (tested on several Nunchuk)
Dungeon design is very straight forward, with few puzzles that will make you stop and think, and most of them have a bland design as well. (Obvious exception is the Ice Temple and Sky Temple) The Shadow Temple was a particular letdown, with a very linear path and puzzles that would have been fit for the first dungeon, it offered zero challenge, hardly fitting for the final Temple before the endgame.
It just did not fit with the gameplay style at all, it was like they took the Dark World concept from A Link to the Past and ran with it, but with a wolf instead of a bunny. It felt like padding almost every time. The forced transformations at each of the three main areas and eventually Wolf only puzzles in the dungeons just became tedious over time.
The Wolf is even the musical instrument for the game, using a howling minigame to unlock new sword techniques. Combat did not fit at all with motion controls, using the same swings of the Wii remote to control bites from the wolf. One of the few upsides to Wolf form is that ReDeads are no longer an annoying threat like they were in Ocarina of Time.
Twilight Princess had an engine flaw, there was a constant set of static, vertical lines along the top of the screen that were only obvious at night in game. I honestly thought my new HDTV was defective when I first noticed them. The problem persists even on the Wii U, so it doesn't seem to be a hardware problem or interference. Other than that the game looks very good for a cross gen Wii title, with great character models for the main characters and some striking visuals in the Twilight Realm.
No voice acting unless you count Link yelling. The Music is fantastic, matching the darker setting perfectly, Koji Kondo and his team really know how to craft a fitting soundtrack for a game.
Gamecube vs Wii
Twilight Princess was a cross gen title, with several alterations between versions. The Wii version used a Mirrored world to make Link right handed, which is a fun reason to play both. The Gamecube version is stuck with a 4:3 aspect ratio and has a less stable framerate resulting in occasional slowdown. A few control options are only found in the Gamecube version, like full camera control and the option to run while holding the sword button. (It has little gameplay use, it just looks cool)
Anything that has to be aimed is just flat better on the Wii, pointer controls make the bow and arrow over powered, the third person camera when using the bow is another handy feature on the Wii. It really helps with situational awareness in combat. Swordplay is better on the Gamecube, no lag for sword swings and greater control over your attacks makes it much more fluid.
Twilight Princess was a safe entry in the series, following the Zelda formula to the letter and giving fans exactly what they were asking for. I feel it played it too safe, especially with the story towards the end. I play Zelda for the dungeon design, to be forced to think, and I rarely had to do that at all through the entire game. It was also the only game in the series that I didn't need a guide to find all the heart pieces. As solid of a game it is, it needed a Master Quest for long time fans.
480p Widescreen at 30fps
Played to Completion several times across multiple TVs and sound systems over the years.[/B]