Unlike PC gaming, one of the major drawbacks to console gaming for some users has been the inability to easily modify the games to create customised content. This is slowly changing as games like Super Mario Maker and LittleBigPlanet offer the user the chance to create and share content built on the consoles themselves. There is, however, another way to modify in-game content for games built for consoles and that is through the use of emulators. Emulators have been around since the dawn of computing, and seek to translate code between different types of hardware. Since trying to edit and rewrite code and deploying code to a Nintendo Wii can be difficult, an emulator can provide a great way to customize and even play backups of your favourite Nintendo games.

Nintendo recently re-released Twilight Princess for the Wii U with updated graphics and textures (and you can read our review). Nintendo’s primary focus over the years has always been about the core gameplay over polygon count, and some fans were disappointed by the way Twilight Princess HD turned out, especially considering that The Wind Waker HD looked so stunning. However, instead of just getting on the internet and complaining about the flaws in Twilight Princess HD, some fans spent the time and effort creating some amazing texture packs for the Dolphin emulator to give Twilight Princess the graphical overhaul it deserves. A lot of these texture packs are works in progress and some look more complete than others, but all of them really do look stunning. Here at Zelda Universe, we decided to produce a helpful guide on the best texture packs around to help our fans see what it is like when the community starts creating their own in-game content.

Fans created some amazing texture packs to give Twilight Princess the graphical overhaul it deserves.

Fundamentally, the game is the same as the original 2006 GameCube release. You still have to rescue Princess Zelda, you still have to beat Zant and you still have to collect Rupees to buy a slingshot (unless you use the Action Replay codes, of course!). And since it is the GameCube release that’s being modified, Link is a lefty. It can also be very difficult to insert brand new models or increase the polygon count of the game so the number of modifications that can be made is limited. With that in mind, the focus of this article is to see how the textures and other customizations improve the “feel” and player immersion of the game compared to both the original and the HD remake.

For the purposes of testing these mods, a legal copy of the game was used and run on the Ishiiruka variant of the Dolphin emulator, running on Windows 10 and an Intel i7 5820k@3.3GHz, AMD HD 7990 6GB VRAM, and 16GB GDDR5 RAM hardware specification with emulator settings maxed out.

Insane Slug Texture Pack

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Ty Anderson, better known on the internet as Insane Slug, is a fellow Zelda fan and creates many different mods for Zelda games. The Insane Slug Twilight Princess HD texture pack is the most complete package out of all the texture packs being reviewed here. Every texture that you can probably think of has been updated and looks gorgeous: footprints in the snow, the woven threads in characters clothes, the finite rough surfaces of rock statues and the reflections on the water surface create a more intense and vivid world that’s amazing to inhabit.

One of my favourite aspects of this texture pack (and there are many) is that Mr. Anderson (sorry, couldn’t resist!) even went the extra mile to change the font that appears during conversations and replaced the moon texture with the one found in Majora’s Mask. One thing I did find totally bizarre, however, was the textures used for the eyes of all of the characters, which made looking at Talo or Milo very creepy. Ty Anderson is currently working on an amazing project to recreate Link’s Awakening using the Ocarina of Time game engine. Check out his Patreon page for more information and to donate.

Victor Rosa

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The Victor Rosa texture pack and shaders pay homage to the original style of Twilight Princess. A lot of the textures closely resemble those found in the original game, however, the added details give the game a much more immersive atmosphere. The extra details shown on Wolf Link’s fur, the rock and grass textures, and even the amazing detail on Midna’s helmet show the care and attention to detail given to the re-texture.

Since this is still a work-in-progress (as of writing), many textures have yet to be updated, which retracts from the experience somewhat. Still, I can’t wait to see how this texture packs evolves over the coming months. Check out ZeldaTPHDT’s Blogspot for more information on the project.

Tomoya Hamasaki

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Tomoya Hamasaki is actually an original games studio consisting of texture artists, programmers, composers and designers. Although not an original IP, the studio is currently working on this amazing Twilight Princess mod, and it looks absolutely incredible. While some textures remain the same, the textures that have been updated have an incredible amount of detail. Also, working in conjunction with the custom shaders, the textures are vibrant and sharp, making the game a genuine work of art that even rivals the visuals of Skyward Sword.

The Hamasaki mod contains many different assets and even overhauls the music with orchestral recordings. This is definitely not one to miss. Go to Hamasaki Productions’ website to find out more information on the project, and be sure to check out the livestreams to catch a glimpse of the Kakariko Village remake in the Twilight Princess engine!

HDTP

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Simply known as HDTP, the details of this mod are scarce, save for some comparison videos found on YouTube. Put simply, however, this mod is beautiful and deserves to be mentioned as one of the best texture packs currently available for Twilight Princess.

The difference in textures do really change the mood of the game and definitely brighten things up a bit. Gone is the dark, grimy fur found on Wolf Link and replaced with a bright spanking new black-and-white coat. The grass and rock textures also look like they’re straight from Claude Monet’s paintbrush. If you find that the original Twilight Princess‘ dark and drab colours are just too depressing, then definitely give this texture pack a quick spin.

Conclusion

So there you have it: a quick look at some of the texture packs currently available for Twilight Princess created by some truly dedicated fans that deserve to be acknowledged. Tomoya Hamasaki’s mod is definitely my personal favourite, but everyone’s taste is different, which is one of the reasons why this is so fun: you can practically replace any of the textures to match your mood!

Many of the fans that create these wonderful textures are doing so in their free time and rely heavily on donations to help them produce better assets. Most of the sites have donate buttons, so if you do love the texture packs then please donate whatever you can to the teams. Sound off in the comments below about which of these is your favourite, and whether you know of any better ones that are worth checking out.

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  • Justin Graham

    Sorry, i don’t like any of them.

    There’s something weird and off about each one. They don’t have the same sense of art direction as the original textures. These definitely don’t give Nintendo a run for their money at all.

    • Noah Nator

      I think it’s because the models don’t really match the textures

  • qmystery

    Does not look better than Nintendo’s own HD work

  • wmbell

    Did you really just refer to Tomoya, as “Tomboy”?
    http://www.hamasakipro.com/about/#bio

    • Kaushal Odedra

      Corrected. Thanks for pointing that out, spellchecker kept swapping it lol.