The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, developed by Nintendo EAD Group 3, was planned to be the GameCube’s last big title but late in development, it was ported to the then upcoming Wii console as a launch title. Ultimately, the GameCube version was strategically delayed a few weeks, all advertising directly referenced the Wii version, and far fewer copies of the GameCube version were produced. The game was eventually released in North America on November 19, 2006 for the Wii and December 11, 2006 on the GameCube. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, an enhanced HD remaster with new content and some gameplay changes was released in March 2016 for Wii U.
During its initial development, it was intended to be a direct sequel to the previous GameCube Zelda title, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. This went as far as internally referring to the game as “Wind Waker 2,” but this was changed later in its development; the original storyline, which picked up shortly after The Wind Waker ended, was later used for the Nintendo DS title The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess sold very well, with the Wii version moving 4.52 million copies and the GameCube version selling 1.32 million.
The game begins with the latest incarnation of Link living in a small town called Ordon Village. After a few introductory escapades, including rescuing a lost child from a nearby dungeon, the adventure really begins when mysterious creatures come out of the darkness and kidnap the town’s children. As Link tries to save them, he is pulled into a wall of black energy, where he is magically transformed into a wolf and locked in prison. Luckily, a strange imp named Midna — who lives in the strange shadow world the dark creatures come from — frees him and tells him that her people are called the Twili, and they are being unwillingly led by their evil king, Zant, who wants to merge Link’s world of Hyrule with their alternate dimension, called the Twilight Realm, into one land that only he would control. Link and Midna must work together, both in the Twilight Realm and in Hyrule, in order to save the land from eternal darkness.
The gameplay in Twilight Princess is essentially identical to that in other recent 3D Zelda games, as the player navigates a series of complex, puzzle-oriented dungeons to acquire new weapons and abilities, and track down the ultimate source of evil threatening Hyrule. Many of the traditional Zelda items are present, such as bombs and the bow and arrow, as well as new items, such as a rod which controls statues and a bizarre spinning top-like weapon. The Wii version allows the player to use the console’s signature gimmick, motion controls, to control Link in both of his forms. Swing the Wii Rmote to make Link slash, shake the nunchuk to slam Link’s shield forward and stun enemies, and aim the bow and arrow with the Wii Remote’s pointer function. The player can also transform into a wolf who offers his own unique moves, such as digging to uncover items and passages, speaking with animals, picking up the scents of objects and enemies, and moving more swiftly than Link’s human form.
This menu is brought up by hitting the button on the Wii Remote, allowing the player to view and equip swords, shields, and armor. The player can also view Wallet and Quiver upgrades, Golden Bugs, Poe’s Souls, Hidden Skills, letters and fishing records, as well as the scent fresh in Wolf Link’s memory. The Game Options and Save feature are also accessed through this menu.
Swords, Shields, and Armor
- Wooden Sword
- Ordon Sword
- Master Sword
- Ordon Shield
- Wooden Shield
- Hylian Shield
- Hero’s Clothes
- Zora Armor
- Magic Armor
This menu can be brought up by hitting the Minus (-) button on the Wii Remote, allowing the player to swap item assignments on the D-pad and B button. Some items (not listed here) are only held temporarily.
- Clawshot (upgrades to Double Clawshots)
- Dominion Rod
- Ball and Chain
- Hero’s Bow
- Iron Boots
- Gale Boomerang
- Fishing Rod (upgrades to Fishing Rod w/ Earring)
- Hawkeye (combines with Hero’s Bow)
- Bomb Bag x3 (hold Bombs, Water Bombs, and “Bomblings”)
- Bottle x4
- Horse Call
Near the beginning of the game, the children of Ordon Village are kidnapped by Shadow Beasts. As Link is searching for them, he encounters a wall of darkness separating him from the land of Hyrule. As he passes through the wall, he is transformed into a wolf, instead of a spirit-being like the other inhabitants of Hyrule.
As the wolf, the user has the ability to use Link’s ‘senses’ and search for hidden areas and items. Doing this can solve some of the game’s puzzles and
is a good source for acquiring some extra rupees. Another of Wolf Link’s abilities is ‘digging’. This is how hidden items discovered by using the ‘senses’ are recovered. In combat, by holding down B, Midna allows Wolf Link to create a circle that encloses around nearby enemies, making it so that Link will attack all of those enemies at the same time when the B button is released. This is the only way to defeat some of the enemies in the game, because when in groups they can revive one another by screeching. Another ability that only Wolf Link can execute is walking along thin platforms such as ropes. This allows Link to access new areas. Wolf Link can also interact with other animals in the game. Animals often know secrets about their environments and are willing to share all the information they know with fellow animals. The final new ability gained by Wolf Link after his transformation is ‘howling’. This is similar to the ocarina concept in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Link uses howling to interact with certain objects and characters in the game.
Later in the game, Link becomes able to transform into a Wolf at any time. This is very useful because the Wolf also has the ability to use the Twilight warp portals to travel around Hyrule without having to walk or ride for miles.
The Two Versions
Previously, all the various incarnations of Link were left-handed. Since most players of the Wii version would be more comfortable with the Wii Remote (representing Link’s sword) in their right hands and the nunchuk (representing Link’s shield) in their left hands, Nintendo made the Wii version’s Link right-handed. In one of the more exaggerated reactions ever seen in video games, under the premise of preventing any conflict between the environments (which had been designed for a left-handed Link) and the right-handed character, Nintendo also reversed the entire world of the Wii version. As the GameCube version is played with a traditional controller, Link retains his left-handedness.
The soundtrack of the game was composed by Asuka Ohta, Toru Minegishi and Kōji Kondō. Minegishi designed the overworld and dungeon music under the supervision of Kondo. The official soundtrack was published by Nintendo Power in 2006 and it contains seven tracks:
- The Legend of Zelda: Orchestra Piece #2
- Hyrule Field Main Theme
- Ordon Village
- Kakariko Village
- Death Mountain
- Midna’s Theme
- Ilia’s Theme
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD was announced in a Nintendo Direct on November 11, 2015. The enhanced remaster of the hugely successful original is mostly based on the GameCube version of Twilight Princess and developed by Australian developer Tantalus Media, who had already proved themselves capable with the Wii U versions of Mass Effect 3: Special Edition and Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut under their Straight Right label.
Important to note is the fact that this remaster is based on the GameCube original, not the Wii version which mirrored the entire game world and featured a right-handed Link to compensate for the intended setup where players hold the Wiimote in their right hand. Twilight Princess HD thus features the traditional left-handed Link and reflects the world of Hyrule oriented the original GameCube way. The right-handed world layout, reflecting the Wii version, can be accessed by playing in Hero Mode.
Most notably, the game comes with fully redrawn high-resolution textures, some of them completely new and slightly different looking from their originals. Some objects in the game have also received higher quality 3D models such as certain pillars or the exit door frame to Malo Mart in Castle Town. The strong bloom lighting from the original has been toned down in some areas, along with minor lighting changes and new graphical effects such as floor reflections, for example. However, a new dynamic lighting system as found in The Wind Waker HD was not implemented. The same upgrade to a native 1080p rendering resolution (while keeping the 30 frames per second refresh rate from the original) as found in The Wind Waker HD is in effect in this game, too.
User Interface & GamePad Support
Similar to The Wind Waker HD, the Wii U GamePad shows the inventory and allows for touch-manipulation such as assigning items via drag and drop along with quick access to some shortcuts. The HUD has also been adapted to resemble that of the previous console remaster with a cleaner style, smaller icons and +Control Pad shortcuts. Items can be equipped to four slots (X, Y, and R with ZL being saved for a specific yet to be revealed function) while the L button summons Midna. The touch-screen also features a dedicated shortcut icon that instantly triggers the wolf/Link transformation without having to summon and talk to Midna.
The Wii U GamePad’s gyroscope can also again be (optionally) used for motion control-enhanced aiming of projectile weapons. When aiming projectiles, players can switch between first-person aiming and third-person aiming (like in the Wii version) in the settings menu. While it initially appeared that third-person aiming was exclusive to the mirrored Hero Mode, it turned out both view styles are available in both game modes.
New Item: Ghost Lantern
The Ghost Lantern is a new item available in this version of the game. It resembles the lantern that Poes carry around with them and it functions as a more convenient detection method for Poes which can be used by Link in human form. The lamp starts glowing if a Poe is detected in the area.
Tears of Light Collection
The number of Tears of Light that players have to collect to revive the Spirits of Light and dispel the twilight has been reduced from 16 down to 12. Additionally, the spawn animation has been sped up and the tears now appear closer to the player.
A harder difficulty is available again as well. Hero Mode can be activated right from the start, without having to finish the game first (like in Skyward Sword or A Link Between Worlds). Hero Mode has Link take twice the amount of damage from enemies and eliminates heart drops. Additionally, Hero Mode presents the game world in its mirrored form as it appeared in the Wii version of the original with Link even holding the sword in his right hand.
It can be further enhanced by tapping a Ganondorf amiibo to increase the damage intake from enemies to four times the usual amount. In fact, the Ganondorf amiibo effectively allows for three types of “Hero Mode” while only one of them is officially called that.
- Hero Mode: receive 2x damage + right-handed Link mirrored Wii-version layout + no health-replenishing heart drops.
- Hero Mode + Ganondorf amiibo: receive 4x damage + right-handed Link mirrored Wii-version layout + no health-replenishing heart drops.
- Normal Mode + Ganondorf amiibo: receive 2x damage + left-handed Link original layout + health-replenishing heart drops.
All Zelda-series amiibo are supported. The most involved features naturally comes with the Wolf Link amiibo which was specifically made for and released alongside this game.
This Wolf Link amiibo grants players access to the Cave of Shadows, a new combat dungeon centered around Wolf Link which rewards those who master all of its 40 levels with the new Bottomless Wallet (given they do so while possessing a full Giant Wallet) which can store a maximum of 9999 rupees. The Cave of Shadows can be accessed from certain places across Hyrule and players can save their remaining heart count to the Wolf Link amiibo to try and beat their own record later but also use those stored hearts to replenish some life during the regular game.The Cave of Shadows is unlocked as players progress through the game with the first section becoming accessible upon completion of the first Tears of Light collection.
Additionally, the saved progress on the Wolf Link amiibo lets players skip the save file selection screen and jump directly to the associated game file from the title screen after scanning it in.
As a bonus, the Wolf Link amiibo is compatible with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the data stored on it from Twilight Princess HD can be imported to that game.
Additional amiibo features:
- Link / Toon Link – Fully replenish arrows (can be used once per day)
- Zelda / Sheik – Fully replenish hearts (can be used once per day)
- Ganondorf – Receive 2x damage from enemies, can also be combined with Hero Mode for a maximum of 4x damage taken. Active until the player dies or restarts the game.
The game features 50 Miiverse Stamps hidden throughout Hyrule and the various dungeons, replacing some of the chests that previously only contained trivial amounts of rupees. Players can also post to Miiverse directly from within the game. The stamps include the full Hylian alphabet so players can write out messages in the game world’s language.
- Certain animations have been speed up such as Link’s sideways climbing animation.
- Rupee chests now remain open if the player encounters them with a full wallet.
- Mobility while swimming has been improved.
- Epona’s handling has been improved.
- The Giant Wallet now holds a maximum of 2000 rupees instead of 1000.
- During the opening section, Link only has to catch one fish for the cat instead of two.
In North America, the game is only sold physically in a special edition bundled with the Wolf Link amiibo. Ordering at select retailers also nets customers a Twilight Princess HD Sound Selection CD in a cardboard sleeve.
In Japan and PAL regions, the game is also available without a bundle as a standalone release and the amiibo bundle option in those regions comes bundled with the Sound Selection CD in a standard plastic case for all copies. The Sound Selection CD features 20 tracks from the game and two orchestrated pieces from early trailers.
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