I finished playing The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess last night. Wow.
Graphically, the game looks great. No, there are no XBox 360 graphics here, but things still look good. There’s a very warm, cozy feeling to all the graphics that makes you feel right at home almost immediately. In terms of sound, there’s nothing really special here - most of the music is rehashed from Ocarina.
What really needs addressing is the gameplay, which is excellent. My biggest joy was that they significantly upped the action over Ocarina. Whereas in Ocarina, you might get into one or two good battles per dungeon, in Twilight you’ll frequently be having fun duels. The combat system has also been greatly improved - it’s more akin to Wind Waker here, with different battle techniques (that you learn as you progress). The wolf is interesting, but I’m thankful they don’t make you use it excessively - though it’s fun, it’s still not as interesting as doing things with Link’s toys. Speaking of Link’s toys, the set here has some awesome additions. The ball and chain makes me feel mighty. The spinner is wicked cool, although limited in its use. The double hook shot made me feel like a freaking ninja, and I wish they had introduced it earlier in the game. The boomerang has been greatly improved, adding a great new dynamic. The usual set of stuff is all there mostly unchanged.
I was notably worried about the use of the Wiimote, but they shut me up quick. The basic gist is this: they weren’t stupid about it. Sword fighting is limited to some simple gestures (admittedly, I could’ve used a few more), and aiming was done naturally. I heard rumors that when using the bow, you’d have to pull back with the remote and engage in other outlandish actions - thankfully, that was absent. Granted, I might’ve enjoyed performing the motion for spinning the ball and chain, but that would’ve no doubt got old quick.
Dungeon design feels different than the other Zeldas, and I enjoy it more. Puzzles are more localized - there’s less searching through arbitrary rooms trying to figure out where one switch had an impact. As such, there’s more a sense of progress. The puzzles are sometimes very clever but are never ridiculously mind-boggling. My only quibble is that once you get the dungeon item, they drive it into the ground, and sometimes you may never see that item again. This is demonstrated with the Spinner and Dominion Rod. The dungeon where you get the Spinner is awesome, but then I barely ever had to break it out again. A real shame, since it was one of my favorites.
Story-wise, Twilight is, well, Zelda. There’s a bit of improvement - a few interesting characters (Midna, notably), and the story of the Twilight Realm is pretty cool. But in the end, it comes down to Link, Ganon, and a fancy sword.
I like this game better than Ocarina, hands down. I never really played Wind Waker because watching Zach sail around nauseated me, so I’m going to say I like it better than that, too. The only Zelda that comes close in comparison is A Link to the Past, and to be quite honest, Twilight may take over the #1 spot.
I got a sword through me chest.