If you’re looking for a weighty diversion from Splatoon–and let’s be honest here, we’re all still playing Splatoon–then Nintendo’s next Wii U exclusive certainly fits the bill. You can embrace the darkness so as to restore the light in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, a solid update to an old fan favorite available at retailers nationwide this Friday, March 4th.
Here’s what you need to know.
This is the same game I played on the Wii, right?
More or less. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was originally released in 2006 as a Wii launch title. It garnered nigh-universal critical acclaim and it’s been said that, during the earliest days of the console, nearly three out of every four Wii owners also purchased a copy of Twilight Princess. So yeah, odds are pretty good that you’ve played this bad boy before.
Wasn’t there already a remake of this one?
No. I mean, yes. I mean… it’s complicated. Originally, Twilight Princess was a GameCube title that was delayed (in part) so that it could be ported to the Wii. Technically, however, the Wii release made it to market first, with the GameCube version hitting stores the following month–at least here in the States.
How much does it cost?
MSRP for the eShop downloadable version is $49.99, with a physical version that’s bundled with an exclusive amiibo coming in at $59.99. (Though, and I can’t stress this enough, Amazon Prime subscribers can currently pre-order the physical release for a nicely discounted $47.99.)
An exclusive amiibo?!
Yes, and it’s a beauty! This Midna and Wolf Link figurine might be my new favorite. The sculpt is awesome, and aside from a slightly awkward gait–quadruped Link is twice as wide as the amiibo’s NFC-chipped base–it’s easily one of the sharpest looking releases to date. Plus it unlocks some in-game bonus content.
What kind of content?
The amiibo can be used to unlock a special “Cave of Shadows” challenge dungeon in Twilight Princess HD, and it can also be used in the upcoming Wii U Legend of Zelda title. Oh, and your older Smash Bros. LoZ amiibo can be used for in-game bonuses too.
Which version should I buy?
As much as I enjoy the convenience of digital downloads, the amiibo factor definitely makes me favor the physical copy. Prime subscribers should purchase it via Amazon for that sweet discount, but, if you’re going to have to pay full price anyway, you may as well hit up GameStop for the exclusive bonus CD.
Wait, so there’s a soundtrack CD and it’s a GameStop exclusive?
Their site actually lists it as a “GameStop Exclusive Sound Selection CD“–whatever that means. Also, you’ll want to note that tricky asterisk that reminds us that supplies are limited.
What are the controller options?
Twilight Princess HD offers support for both the Wii U GamePad (with touchscreen maps/inventory management and an off-TV play option) and the Pro Controller. I know some folks are straight-up anti-GamePad, but it’s definitely my preferred setup for this game… and pretty much everything else on the Wii U. GamePad play leans heavily on the gyroscopic aiming feature, which can seem a little touchy early on, but traditional dual stick controls work wonderfully for ranged combat.
But how does it look?
Ok, this one is kind of the elephant in the room. While the original Twilight Princess was designed in part as an olive branch to fans turned off by the cartoony look and feel of Wind Waker, Twilight Princess HD, ironically enough, suffers from one of the same issues as 2013’s Wind Waker HD in that it trades previous-gen jaggies for new-gen haze. Lots and lots of haze.
Overall, the game is kind of hit or miss, with principle character designs, building interiors, and many environmental textures coming through sharp and distinct, while others appear even muddier–and some of the secondary characters even uglier–than I remembered. And atop them all? Haze! It’s not exactly the most novel trick for gussying up the visual presentation of an HD remake, but, be it smoke or fog or looming darkness, it is pretty effective at adding depth and helping to smooth those rough edges.
Can I play it with my kids?
That really depends on you and the kids in question. Like I said, Twilight Princess was sort of a reaction against Wind Waker, so it rather revels in its thematic darkness. I imagine a lot of geeklings will, like my own 11-year-old, mostly just be into it for Wolf Link–who is, l have to admit, still pretty badass. More timid children, however, might find its themes of corruption and sacrifice (not to mention the occasional impaling) a little hard to handle. As such, the ESRB rates this one T for animated blood and fantasy violence.
Of course, to get to all that exciting stuff players first have to contend with what I like to think of as “Link’s Ordon Ranch Chore and Close Quarters Horseback Riding Simulator,” which may do more to dissuade younger gamers than any stern parental warning. Still, despite its slow opening and some visual hiccups, it’s a worthwhile adventure for those hearty enough to rise to the occasion.
Review materials provided by: Nintendo of America