Review: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

“What is your favourite Legend of Zelda title?”. It’s a question that most people will answer with “Ocarina of Time” or “Majora’s Mask”. Both of those particular titles are hallmarks of excellence. They were technological marvels of game design and storytelling at the time of their launch. It’s easy to see why so many people revere them, going as far as to say they’re “the best games of all time”. However there is a Zelda title that I’ve always loved more than either of them, and that title is The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Originally released on the GameCube and the Wii in 2006, Nintendo has seen fit to re-release Twilight Princess for the Wii U, upping the resolution of the game to 1080p and utilising the Wii U gamepad in a number of beneficial ways.

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Reviewed on: Wii U
Release Date:  Available Now


As many will know if they’ve ever played a Zelda title before, you play as the iconic hero – Link – a young boy destined for greatness and chosen by the goddesses. The story of Twilight Princess HD is slightly darker than most Zelda games – aside from Majora’s Mask – as it sees the land of Hyrule plunged into an eternal twilight inhabited by dark creatures. As Link, you’ll journey from your home in the Ordon Village, travelling through forests, deserts, lakes, mountains and more in order to lift the twilight and restore light to the world.

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Twilight Princess HD has a massive amount of collectibles and items, as well as amiibo support.

As you progress you’ll find new items and weapons to aid you such as the bow and the hookshot, most of which are found within many of Twilight Princess HD’s dungeon puzzles and which often times aid you in the particular puzzles a dungeon has to offer. The dungeons in the game are often the culmination for you to put all of the items you’ve acquired and skills you’ve learned up until that point to the test. The game never really gives you much direction at these points and the puzzles may feel daunting to new players but can definitely be worked out through trial and error. It provides a genuine and fair challenge and even after a decade and numerous playthroughs, Twilight Princess HD managed to stump me once or twice.

Twilight Princess HD is a journey filled with memorable locations, characters and plot twists that still make for an entertaining story nearly 10 years after its original launch. One such character you’ll become acquainted with very early on is Midna, and imp with her own agendas who tags along with Link for the duration of the game and who offers helpful abilities. One staple of Twilight Princess was the inclusion of Wolf Link. After entering twilight for the first time early in the game, Link is cursed and can only adopt the form of a wolf when inside the twilight. Midna assists Link in his wolf form by giving him extra attacks, the ability to climb impassable ledges and also teleport throughout Hyrule using portals. Later on in the game Link gains the ability to transform between human and wolf forms whenever and wherever with some help from Midna.

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Wolf Link is a staple of Twilight Princess along with Midna, your in-game companion.

Upon starting a new game you’ll be asked to select either normal mode or hero mode. Normal mode plays exactly like the game would on the GameCube, providing a reasonable challenge. Hero mode on the other hand takes the mirrored/flipped world from the Wii and adds an extra layer of difficulty on top of it.

There are no differences in the story, Twilight Princess HD is the same game you played years ago. At the same time it also feels completely different playing on the Wii U. The main difference you’re bound to notice right away is the upped resolution, now sitting at 1080p. Twilight Princess on the GameCube and Wii looked grainy and often times quite washed out due to the limitations of the time, only managing a maximum of 480p on the Wii. The graphics are the same as the GameCube and Wii versions with the exception of a few textures re-workings. The game looks smooth and crisp on the Wii U and Hyrule has never looked better.

Aside from a general resolution update, Twilight Princess HD also makes good use of the Wii U gamepad. The second screen allows you to manage your inventory and switch items on the fly without having to pause and access a menu. You’re allowed three items equipped to the “X”, “Y” and “R” buttons respectively. If you need to switch any items out you simply need to move them with your finger on the gamepad. The benefit to this is that it doesn’t break up or slow down the combat, something that happened frequently in Twilight Princess when you realised you didn’t have the correct item equipped. The gamepad can also be used to switch Link between wolf and human forms – once you reach that point in the game – on the fly, without having to talk to Midna every time.

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Dungeons are challenging but fair tests of your skill.

If there’s one thing the gamepad does wrong though, it’s the integration of motion controls by default. Using the gyro in the gamepad to attempt to aim arrows and other items is clunky, imprecise and can sometimes feel uncomfortable to use. Your best bet is simply to turn off the motion control functions in the options and use the analog sticks to aim instead.

Twilight Princess HD also has amiibo support. If you own any of the Zelda franchise amiibo from the Super Smash Bros. collection then they can provide a number of benefits and challenges. The Link and Toon Link amiibo refill your arrows, Zelda and Sheik restore your health and Ganondorf makes you take double the damage if you fancy a challenge. You can also use a new Wolf Link amiibo to open up an entirely new challenge area called the Cave of Shadows. They’re nice little additions and bonuses if you happen to collect amiibo.

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Twilight Princess HD benefits greatly from the upped resolution.

As Twilight Princess HD is an upscaling of the original game, the cumbersome controls are back in full force. Horse riding in particular is still a nightmare, and horseback combat is still as frustrating as it was a decade ago. It sometimes feels like you’re controlling a tank rather than a horse at times.

However, the clunky controls are something you get accustomed to after a while. At its core, Twilight Princess HD is an old game with a fresh coat of paint, it’s unrealistic to expect it to control any different than it used to.

The sweeping orchestral score is still here as well, with iconic tracks such as the Hyrule Field theme and the hauntingly beautiful Midna’s Lament.

Crisp and smooth with updated textures
Wii U gamepad functionality is great
Still one of the greatest and most memorable tales in the Zelda series
Controls are a bit dated

The original Twilight Princess might not have been to everyone’s tastes, but revisiting it after so many years was such a joy. The characters, the world and the music topped with the enhancements of the Wii U gamepad and a 1080p resolution, everything about Twilight Princess HD is damn near perfect – horse controls aside. I was sceptical that I wouldn’t enjoy myself having played it many times before, but playing through it again was a nostalgia overload and I loved every second of it. But there’s more to it than simply nostalgia. Twilight Princess HD is a must for any Zelda fan, but is also a must for those younger gamers who have never experienced it before. Twilight Princess HD is by far the best way for old and new players to experience an incredible and memorable adventure through Hyrule.

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The review copy of this title was purchased by the author.
Official Game Site

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