Welcome to episode 9 of my quest to replay every Zelda in chronological order up to Link’s Awakening before the remake releases on Sept. 20. For this episode, I played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD on Wii U.
As with Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess is one of the darker games in the series. However, unlike Majora, Twilight Princess is dark without being overly morose in my opinion. Sure, there are sad moments throughout the game. However, those sad and dark moments are often due to some external evil force. Twilight replaces the overwhelming and all-consuming depression of Majora’s Mask with themes more in line with the virtue of self-sacrifice and good triumphing over evil.
Twilight Princess HD was more than a visual upgrade
Just like Wind Waker HD, Twilight Princess HD takes an already fantastic game for the GameCube and improves on it in almost every way possible. To me, the most noticeable change between the HD and original versions of the game was the huge graphics upgrade. Details that were impossible to discern in the past are now sharply defined. The lighting has been overhauled, shadows have cleaner lines, and textures are sharper.
Besides the noticeable graphical upgrades, the HD version of the game comes with some very welcome mechanical changes. For one, the number of Tears of Light the player is required to collect has been reduced from 16 to 10, which speeds things up dramatically. Another welcome change is the addition of Hero Mode. This mode doubles the damage enemies do to Link and prevents recovery hearts from dropping in the wild. Zelda games have never been overly difficult, and Hero Mode helps add a good deal of challenge to the game without going overboard.
Intoxicating gameplay, except for the boring traversal
While the HD version of Twilight Princess improved on most aspects of the original, the game is still way, way too long. This isn’t my first playthrough, and it still took me over 35 hours to complete. Don’t get me wrong; I generally enjoy long Zelda games. Unfortunately, with Twilight Princess, most of the whopping 35+ hours of playtime are spent running from one end of Hyrule to the other, over and over again. Originally, the extreme distance between different primary areas of Hyrule made the game feel vast and immersive. However, that world is quite empty by today’s standards (and by the standards in 2016 when the HD version released). The vastness wouldn’t be a problem if there were at least a few more enemies to fight and caves to explore between Lake Hylia and the Faron Woods.
Overall, I had a great time with this replay. While I definitely dislike the amount of travel time in the game, the experience that Twilight Princess provides is incredibly intoxicating. For one, all of the characters in the game are entirely adorable and have their own, fully fleshed-out and immersive backstories. Moreover, in contrast with Majora’s Mask, those backstories help to move and enhance the narrative of the main storyline. I also really enjoy how challenging some of the puzzles and bosses are, especially when compared to several other Zelda games that I’ve replayed on this quest. In short, to me, Twilight Princess is just a much better game than Majora’s Mask or any of the other more darkly-flavored Zelda titles.
Anyway, we have less than a week left before Link’s Awakening releases for Nintendo Switch, and I still have one more game to play for my quest. And as luck would have it, Nintendo just dropped a port of it on Switch! Next up is my third favorite Zelda game to date: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Hope to see you then!