• The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess


  • Action-Adventure


  • Nintendo


  • Nintendo

Release Date:

  • November 6 2006 (Wii, US)


  • December 11 2006 (GameCube, US)


  • Wii, Nintendo GameCube

Box Art Credit:

  • Wikipedia

Systems Used:

  • Windows running on MacBook

Fun Fact:

  • Twilight Princess was released in the U.S. BEFORE Japan!

On Wikipedia:

  • Yes (Warning: Spoiler is at top of page)

The year was 2005, and the Nintendo faithful were suffering. Just 10 years before, Nintendo was at the top of its game, with the Super NES still going strong, the "Nintendo Ultra 64" on the horizon, and the competition, Sega, leaving behind the 16-bit wars after competing head to head with the Super Nintendo but eroding its own base through gimmicks (the Sega 32X). In many ways, 2005 was a dark reprise. Nintendo GameCube was just as old as the SNES was, except not nearly as successful, especially with the fact that the biggest Nintendo exclusive of 2003 was Pac-Man VS. (arguably), the Nintendo Revolution on the horizon (not nearly as exciting or inspiring consumer confidence, at least the N64 had a then-powerful processor behind it), and this time it was Nintendo with the stupid gimmicks. The GCN/GBA connector, anyone?

Compared to the Nintendo 64, there was a lot more third party support for the GameCube (though most of the games were available on other systems, even Capcom "exclusives", which were released on other systems, I'm looking at you Resident Evil 4 and Viewtiful Joe), and more troubling, even the first party titles were nothing more than shadows of their N64 predecessors. Super Mario Sunshine and Luigi's Mansion (which I think I read started as one game) were no match for Super Mario 64 despite their superior graphics, Star Fox Adventures was a re-skinned version of an original title, Dinosaur Planet, so instead of blasting baddies in the classic aerial combat that made Star Fox famous, we got mostly 3rd person adventuring, a new character, and between that and the disappointing follow-up Star Fox Assault dealt the franchise a near-fatal blow. Mario Kart 64's GameCube counterpart was Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, which could've been great had it not been for some very lame battle courses (at least the concept was still mostly intact, sans bomb) and the "two man kart" gimmick. The lone franchise that improved under the GameCube's reign was Super Smash Bros. Melee, and of course, the re-booted Metroid Prime series, which wasn't even developed in Japan (it was done by Retro Studios, in Austin, Texas) and did not have a Nintendo 64 counterpart...and even that didn't escape the Wii era unscathed.

Of course, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was the "follow-up" to Ocarina of Time, but the cel-shaded visuals didn't exactly win back the crowd, so by the end of the 6th generation of video games, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was the last thing left. Stunning visuals, Wolf Link, an intriguing black and white "other world", this was the thing to look forward to. The "Nintendo Revolution" was there too, but all that it entailed was a black box (essentially the same design as the modern Wii, but black) and no one knew what it was, or how it would save Nintendo.

Well, what ended up happening is that the Wii was revealed in early 2006, with the GameCube getting the forgotten ChibiRobo! and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess ultimately being released on both systems, providing a promising start to the Wii era (which would be a disappointment if you didn't consider yourself a "casual" gamer) and a merciful ending to the GameCube (DK: Bongo Blast and Super Paper Mario did not get the same privilege). So, Twilight Princess! I remember playing it in 2011 when I first got it, and then more recently when I picked it up after finishing up The Wind Waker.

The first thing I noticed that it took a long time to get up and rolling. Barring Majora's Mask which is weird in its own right and I actually haven't played yet, nearly all Zelda games start in a similar way: talk to folks in your village, procure a sword and/or shield (usually, one of these comes free, and the other you will buy), and it's off to adventuring. Not so fast in Twilight Princess. You (as in, Link) start out by goat herding (a way to introduce horseback riding early on in the game), and there's a convoluted series of things you need to do to progress. You first have to collect enough rupees to buy a slingshot. Sounds simple, right? However, the shopkeeper won't sell it to you until you bring her cat back, and the cat wants fish, which requires a fishing rod. So you have to do some jumping, blow into a bird-shaped piece of grass to get a hawk to come, send it toward a monkey, collect what the monkey was holding (a cradle) and return it to a woman to get a fishing rod, then it's off to fishing for a mandatory plot event. Unfortunately, it's incredibly poorly instructed without a guide of some sort, and that was one mark against it. Then you demonstrate your skill with a slingshot, get a sword, run after a kid through some caves (you also get a lantern), defeat a minor enemy, another cut scene or two, return to a pond to get your horse (default name is Epona, but you can name it whatever), but not before you give up your sword to some kids, though it's not like you can use it because after yet another cut scene, you find yourself in a dungeon, transformed into a wolf, and a floating cat-like creature called Midna finds you suitable to be ridden on as she makes vague promises to get you out of there. And if you followed that grammatically correct run-on sentence, you're still halfway to getting to the first dungeon, and you only have 3 Heart Containers still! So you're in the "Twilight Realm" now, which is an over-contrasted green, gray, and yellow mix that replaced the in-development black and white version. While the black and white was a bit more striking, after seeing it in person, I think it was a better change overall, since in video games black and white is usually reserved for flashbacks or other "things of the past". Heck, even The Wind Waker kind of did it when Link wanders into Hyrule Castle for the first time.

So you reach the top, and there's Princess Zelda, and she recognizes Midna. At this point I want to pause because I remember all the crazy theories pre-release, like Zelda holding a sword and that creating all sorts of off-the-wall theories, including the popular one that Midna was in fact Zelda. Anyway, Zelda explains that the place Link and Midna explored was Hyrule, taken over by the Shadow Realm and a dude we later find out is named Zant, though he looks a bit like Oracle of Seasons's Onox.

Then you escape from Hyrule, return to the Ordona Province, find that the other kids (not just Colin and Ilia, who were taken earlier) are gone and the villagers are trying to attack you, sneak around to find a sword and shield (the REAL sword and shield, the Wooden Sword having been a fakeout to teach you how to fight), which of course, you still can't actually use. Then you go into the woods to collect some "tears of lights" from the twilight insects, then you finally become human again in classic Link garb (at this point you addressed as "Your name is Link" in case you decided to name the hero Farthead or something, at least that's what I presume, since I didn't go that route and named him Link to begin with...though the default name was my Mii name), and that's when you finally grab your sword and shield and are off to the first dungeon. That's right, kids, nearly 3 hours of set-up. One thing I discovered is that you should wait until your lantern is just nearly run out before you re-arrive at the poisonous fog, then buy from the bird.

As of this writing, that's as far as I've gotten, but I do know that TP is a textbook case of "Hijacked by Ganon" (if that term is unfamiliar to you, look it up), it would've been kind of cool (and done the series good at least storyline-wise) if this was the point when Ganon returns but the Hero does not. "Farm Boy" Link attempts to save the day, Ganon handily defeats him, and is written out of Hylian history as the gods flood Hyrule. That would put a bit of damper on the "coveting the wind" bit from The Wind Waker unless him lying was canon.

Admittedly, this review is kind of incomplete because I just haven't spent that much time tooling around with it. I wrote the review for other games long after I had completed them, or at least knew where the plot was headed (when I originally published the review for Ocarina of Time, I had not yet completed it though I knew where the story was go). You'll also notice that this review is a bit devoid of screenshots, much like a few of the earlier entries. This is not a mistake, because of the fact that I'm not playing it on a computer or emulator, I can't get screenshots that I want.

To make up for that, here's a link with the E3 2005 impressions, and shows some of the interesting things discussed, such as the black and white imagery, an early Midna (not yet named), and some crazy theories (the hawk being Zelda, namely). At some point I may decide to expand this review through a second "link" that describes more of my thoughts when playing the game.

July 19 2015