It is a bittersweet joy, to finish a Zelda game. A sense of victory, a sense of accomplishment and pride, but tempered by sadness at knowing that it is now over. It has always been so. How many of us are able to just jump straight back to normality after watching those last names go by, hear the final note of the amazing soundtrack, and watch as “The End” shows up on our screen and the music stops? Not I. The end of such an experience deserves more. It deserves a few minutes of reflection. It deserves time to seep into your mind, marking it indelibly with all that is Zelda.

I admit it. As I played through Twilight Princess, I worried. I loved every minute of the game, reveled in its beauty and magic and, of course, cut the grass and liked it too. But despite all that, it did not feel as strongly of Zelda as I thought it should, not even when I first turned on the game and got see this new Hyrule. Am I too old, too lost to such youthful wonder, to immerse myself in Zelda? Had I grown to the point where even a new Zelda game fails to touch me like they once did? And so on.

I just finished the game about ten minutes ago. When the credits finally stopped rolling, leaving me in a powerful silence with the echoes of that final note ringing through my mind and the words “The End,” I sat there and looked at the screen for a good five minutes. Drinking it in, reassembling my scattered thoughts and wishing that the game were not over. And I had my answer, resounding loud and clear from the quiet of those two words: Twilight Princess is still Zelda, possessing all of the magic and artistry that the series has always had. It still has the power to touch and inspire me. Experiences like this are why I play video games. They are why I love the Zelda series in particular. I go out and run fansites so that I can relive this, and share it with my readers. It is moments like these that have shaped my life and made me into who I am today. My ultimate goal, my dream, is to be able to someday help create games that can inspire this in others.

Yes, I definitely just finished a Zelda game. And if you have not yet done the same, do not read on.

But, as I said, it is a bittersweet thing. Throughout history, all of the greatest victories are accompanied by sadness, that lingering sense of sacrifice that makes you treasure the victory even more. Would the ending of Link’s Awakening have been so powerful and moving if Koholint had not disappeared, taking all of its denizens and the world you just grew to love with it? Would Ocarina of Time have had such a lasting impact on us all if the celebration at the end had been everything, without the sadness of seeing the Sages stand apart and alone from the world they just saved, without the clear grief in Zelda as she sent Link back in time? Majora’s Mask ended happily for almost everyone – but what about the Deku Butler, who we last see grieving over the petrified body of his son, all or the sadness and heartbreak we watched Termina go through? The Wind Waker is perhaps the biggest culprit – we defeated Ganondorf, but at what a cost! We watched as Hyrule, both land and King, were buried beneath the sea to the accompaniment of those stark piano notes. The world of Hyrule bleeds and sacrifices so that we may emerge triumphant, and it is these things that temper our victories into something more, something to cherish and remember. Something to stick with us, leaving us with emotions that can be very difficult to name, let alone share with those who don’t understand. I’ve been told that I’m too obsessed, that I take the Zelda series too seriously. I shrug it off; if these people want to dismiss the power of such an experience, then that is their choice.

Twilight Princess certainly carries on the tradition. I think it is safe to say that this is one that will stick with me, carrying it into the ranks of the true Zelda games. What an ending it was! So many sacrifices, these characters giving their all and more. Seeing Midna’s involvement and passion during those final scenes was a powerful thing; when Zelda awakens and Midna’s face is quivering, on the verge of tears, I know that I felt a distinct sympathy for her. And I’m not someone who cries easily.

Things ended pretty well for Hyrule, in the end. The world is saved and healed, everyone is rescued, and even the moblin lord continues to harass Hyrule field in peace. But… the goodbye between Link, Zelda, and Midna fulfilled the Zelda series’ need for bittersweet endings. I never like goodbyes; the emotions involved are too charged, even in a video game.

And… why Midna, why? I am still struggling to understand why she decided to cut off the worlds of light and shadow forever. It fit the game, it was powerful, but the part of me that sympathizes with the characters and the game is still crying out. That’s skilled game development there, to get such a response.

The music during the final parts of this game was amazing. Throughout the Zelda series, it is always the music that takes all the elements of these amazing endings, the sadness and triumph, and cements them into place as the amazing moments in gaming that they are. Think back to the Ocarina of Time ending. Remember the final scene, when Link walks into the castle garden, and Zelda turns around? Link and Zelda stand there, looking at each other, worlds of meaning storming through the screen. Everything goes still, the screen turns golden, and “The End” comes up. And the music takes all this, and turns that scene into one of the most lasting and powerful endings in gaming. Twilight Princess’ ending works the same way.

There is one aspect of these bittersweet endings that I am happy to see was not continued. In every other Zelda game, Link stands apart from the world he saves. After doing all this, after saving the world and reaching such heroic heights, how can he return to normal life? I always get a sense of sadness about Link’s situation. In Link’s Awakening, everyone and everything you knew from the game disappears before your very eyes. In Ocarina of Time… Link has nowhere to go. He could never fit in among the Kokiri, or any place else. Majora’s Mask… he leaves the world of Termina behind him. Even the Wind Waker ends with Link sailing away from his home. But our final view of Link and many of the other characters in Twilight Princess is of them returning home, to a village that is welcoming them back. Finally, a Zelda game that ends with Link being accepted into Hyrule as a person, and not raised on some untouchable, lonely pedestal. A small touch, but one that was very important.

In the end, I loved Twilight Princess and its ending. I am proud to name it one of the series’ greats.

Addendum: It has been a few weeks since I published this article, and I have received several emails pointing out a mistake I made in the last paragraph: Link is riding away from Ordon at the end, not towards it.


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This retro article was originally posted January 13th, 2007.
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  • 最强 Dragon

    Awesome post, it was touching.

    I have played Phantom Hourglass and it didn't have an emotional ending in my opinion. It's true that you left the Ocean King's sea, but you weren't actually as emotionally attached to it as with Koholint. What I liked was how you felt like the real adventure started right at the end of the game. Epic.

    I hope The Minish Cap has a great ending too. 🙂

  • Am I seriously the only Zelda fan who just thought that Twilight Princess ending was a direct ripp off from The Minish cap ending? When I saw Midna leaving forever the only thing I thought of was "Oh hey this is the exact same ending as in the minish cap where Ezlo leaves Link through a portal and Link can never see him again."

    Twilight Princess story was an uninspired story of the Minish cap.
    Midna = Ezlo
    Zant = Vaati
    even the connection between Zant and Midna resembles a lot like the connection Ezlo had with Vaati. Not to mention both got cursed in a different form and needed help of Link.

    So in the end, no Twilight Princess is one of the least inspiring Zelda titles. Maybe if it had it's own story, maybe then it could stand on it's ground.

    But many Zelda fans tend to forget that the Minish cap was before Twilight princess.

    • Hello

      ..What? first of all, Zant wasn't the final boss. Second, why does it matter at all if Nintendo rips off endings from their own games? Besides, the fact that they ripped it off anyway is debatable.
      Third, TP DID have its own story. Midna was an awesome character, and not at all like Ezlo except for the fact that something similar to what happened to Ezlo at the end of MC happened to her at the end. And it also makes sense that Midna leaves forever. How would you end the game?

  • Athelstan

    Was I the only one who didn't care about Midna? :O

    • ChainofTermina


    • LinkFan

      I didn't like her at first, but towards the end of the game i thought she was cool

    • To me, she was another Navi. Don't be worried. You are not alone. I too am sick and tired of people thinking Midna is the hottest video game character on the planet.

  • kokiri kid

    … i hated TP ending. Zant goes all sycotic baby rant. ganon…dies…standing up?! WTF man.

    • Peter

      It was a very good ending, but I was disappointed that they completely ruined Zant. He was so awesome until the end…

    • falconfetus8

      I agree. What they did to Zant was not cool. But atleast it gave Xanauzumaki an awesome character for his abridged series 😛

    • víctor zeppelin

      I agree, what the heck with Ganon dying standing up in the middle of the field? And then we never see what happens… does he just stand there with the Master Sword, slowly decomposing?

      Did they really just left him standing there… really?

      • Gebora

        I looove how Link takes a step towards him and then stops, like ".. Can i have my sword back?"
        But yeah, it is wierd. Dies standing. Can you really do that? … Maybe he didn't die…

        • LinkFan

          I hope he did, maybe they'll make a new villian in the next game

  • See this article proves that Skyward Sword should be the longest game although the longer it is…the harder it is to see the words The End.

  • This is my favorite retro article that's been posted thus far. For once I'm at a loss of words. Lord-of-shadow has caught my my interpretation of Twilight Princess perfectly. So rather than write a shorter version of the post, I'll leave it all to him.

  • ???

    Ok ZU. What is up with you, why haven't there been any posts on the 3DS Expo??

    • Was asleep, time zones 😛

  • Hálfdanarson

    Great article and I agree with the most of your points, but I didn't feel that TP was up to power in the same way as Majoras Mask and Ocarina of Time in an emotional way. It is a good game indeed, but it didn't had the same inpact on me as those two games.

    I hope that Skyward Sword can be as melancholic and dark as TP and MM, but at the same time as epic and great as OoT.

  • Lach Menel

    I`ll admit it, I cried when i saw the Mirror in Twilight Princess shatter. That music will haunt me for the rest of my days that is in less I get all timers or something and can think of nothing but prunes.

    But I've said it once and I’ll say it again, we need some Skyward Sword dang it! I am personally ready for another video game that can make me sniffle every time I see its melancholia ending.

  • @BlizzagaLantean

    OMG! Fanfiction is now news? :/

    (To whoever thIS real troll is): GROW BALLS, F0CKSH!T!

  • TrustMe101

    It's really nice to know that someone else takes Zelda as seriously as I do. Lots of people don't understand that video games can tell a story just as well as a book or movie can. Miyamoto has the talent to tell a good story and it seems to me that people can't appreciate that talent – it makes me sooo annoyed. >:(

    • Darkstar

      I totally agree!

  • Scrivs

    even when you finish a zelda game you can always replay it, just wait a few months and it'll seem new. maybe even try the 3-heart challenge

  • _epona_link_

    I totally agree. The ending to most of the Zelda games are very touching, because you can see the emotion that goes on when important characters leave for the last time. I have played and beaten Twilight Princess about 8 times, but even on the 8th time seeing the ending, I still wanted to cry. Seeing Midna leave was heartbreaking. And the ending of OOT when Navi leaves, even though she is annoying as ever in the game, it still makes me sad to see her go.

    • Celesteon

      the thing that chokes me up most about Midna leaving is that sad little smile she gives. And Link's 'gasping' and his face. 🙁 Poor guy. Poor them.

  • Celesteon

    I always thought Link was riding away from Ordon – and Ilia was looking forlornly into the distance watching as he left. I mean, it makes sense, because in the silent scenes – you see Fado yelling for Link, and he is not there – then the camera pans to Ilia…etc.

    As a Link x Midna shipper (sorry if people don't agree) I always like to think he's trying to find another way to Twilight lol…<3 At any rate, it's a great ending. Great article too! :3

    Oh, and after writing this, I noticed that you already realized he was riding away…so…sorry! I'd delete but meh.

  • ChainofTermina

    the endings of all Zelda games are great, but my favorite ending has to be the ending of Spirit Tracks. you know why 😉

    • Cloverplayer

      spirit tracks has a couple different endings depending on how you beat the final boss it's really cool

  • TheMaverickk

    In all truth Twilight Princess didn't do anything new for me. It didn't amaze me or leave me feeling "wow-ed". In all honesty Wind Waker left me more in awe and had me more surprised.

    Twilight Princess' issues for me stemmed from the fact that it was trying to be too much of something that had already been well done in a Zelda game in the past. Every element was borrowed… from the "Twilight Realm" aspect (a poor attempt to emulate the "Dark World") to the Wolf Transformation (the transformation masks of Majora's Mask provided a lot more variety in gameplay and were actually put to good use in solving dungeons and exploring). So in reality these aspects just left me feeling like it had already been done, and better.

    The other lack luster area was the weak characters. There wasn't many key characters in the game, and over all none left any impact on my memory. Midna stole the show for certain and Zant provided a great deal intrigue leading up to his unfortunate reveal (it's not that him being weak and baby-ish was a bad way to portray him in the end, simply that he is completely eclipsed half way through the game by Ganondorf being dropped into the story).

    In terms of the ending, it was solid, but not quite as fulfilling as other Zelda endings. The biggest thing is the anti-climatic demise of Ganondorf. It actually doesn't make it clear what his fate was… we assume death as his limp shadowed figure stands in the setting sun. It just falls flat…. Midna's departure is the saving grace to the end of the tale. It's truly the strongest heartfelt moment in the entire game.

    At the end of the day, I can't say I that Twilight Princess is the shining gem of the Zelda series. It's a game that doesn't know itself, and has no clear identity. If there was ever a game that could be considered fan service, Twilight Princess is it.

  • LadyBastet

    I've gotta ask this at least once (I'll probably ask again), what would you all think if Navi returned as a character to the series sometime? 🙂

    • AcesulfameZ

      I would absolutely love for that to happen. A reunion between to friends would be magical.

      This being said, I also think it would be bad to happen from the story's standpoint. Link has always been a character of few words, I find making a reunion would be sort of awkward. He couldn't say anything and there would be little way to express the emotion of such an event. Also, a part of me sort of wants the everlasting quest to find that lost friend…I don't know why, but I feel like I can connect more because of it.

      • TrustMe101

        Definitely agree! Just seeing an old "friend" in a Zelda game just makes the moment special and nostalgic, you know? 😀

  • Alex

    Wait wait, Link is riding AWAY from Ordon at the end?

    God… 4 years after and I never noticed.

    • AcesulfameZ

      Dang, you and me both…

      • QueenxLink

        Same. I finished the game twice and never saw him riding away from Ordon…

  • Sanity's_Theif

    I have to agree completely, Twilight Princess did borrow elements from other games but put good use to them, it was a great mixture that connected almost directly to OOT and that part about it makes it stand out as one of my favorites, walking into the temple of time again with the same music, it was just a powerful feeling as if I was reliving my childhood.

    By contrast I found Wind Waker completely forgettable, I do not care about the land of Hyrule itself, in fact for some time I've been wanting the games to take place elsewhere, so when it drowned, I simply did not care even the slightest. So as you can see the game had 0 emotional impact on me, it might've been more emotional if the serious scenes weren't offset by the goofy cartoonish graphics and models, sorry but the 2 mixed together horribly for me. To be honest there's nothing that stood out in WW for me, except the graphics which I hated.

    Realize this is all my view and me sharing my own feelings before you start hating, I'm not trying to say my reaction is the norm although it is shared by all my relatives and friends who play Zelda games.

  • If I had read this post a month ago, I actually would have been including in the ranks of naysayers talking about how it wasn't terribly original and how it simply felt like more of the same. However, many Zelda games benefit from a second play through (from a game design standpoint, this is not a good argument, but hear me out). In my case, I recently had a second play through of the game, on the Gamecube version. It was different enough to be new'ish' but still familiar.

    The first time I played through this game was on Wii release weekend. I was disappointed. The multitude of delays coupled with rehashed everything (basically) and uncomfortable 'waggle' controls just felt sooo lack luster to me. Fast forward to many years later, having fairly recently played the 'non-traditional' Zelda games Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks (the latter being one of the best ever, the former being utter piss), I was definitely in the mood for a more ‘traditional’ Zelda experience.

  • (continued)

    I am sad to say that I cannot put into word what a breath of fresh (familiar) air TP was, having come from these DS installments recently and playing it with a Gamecube controller. I loved it, literally. It was like playing a completely different game. I felt compelled to get the perfect game (heart pieces, bugs, poes and upgrades). The story was great, Midna grew on me as I watched her character grow and Zant’s pathetic nature seemed to really fit. My only complaint is that Ganon felt unnecessarily tacked on. I mean it when I say that my opinion of Twilight Princess has never been that high, but that really changed when I played it again. Trust Miyamoto and his team and the decisions that they make (except Wii Music, never forgive him for Wii Music). He’s been doing it right for so many years that it may be more of a problem with our perception than with his performance.

  • Hime

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who sits there and stares at THE END for several minutes. It's a good way to get closure and soak in the game.

    • QueenxLink

      Yeah, I always stare at it… And when I just see those words pop up, I get so sad. Seriously, I'll admit it, I nearly cry.

    • TrustMe101

      I do that at the end of every Zelda game, no matter how many times I play it. 😀

  • Ben

    it would be cool if after u beat the game all ames do like wind wake and alsoo let u coose 1 item 2 have through the hole game

  • QueenxLink

    I really like this article! It actually brings out what Twilight Princess makes you feel. Personally, it's my favorite Zelda game and I just think it isn't appreciated enough. It's such a great game and the ending nearly makes you cry. And I agree, I never understood why Midna would shatter the mirror like that. Yes, it was touching to know that she was the true ruler of the Twilight world, as she said in the game that only the true ruler could shatter the mirror and Zant could not; but it was sad to see her go…

  • Alejandro

    this is such an amzing article cuz i have so much passion for the entire zelda series that i started playing the series when i was 4 and loved even that i didnt understand i never stopped playing it cuz i always wanted to see wat would happen next. the most amazing thing is that we have the same dream i would want to make games and i love how it feels after u finish beating one of these games that u dont even want it to end u just want to keep on going on to another adventure. i really hope both of our dreams come true and maybe u never no but meet each other. now that the new skyward sword is coming out i just cant wait to buy it and get started on a whole new adventure with link. MOST AMAZING ARTICLE I HAVE EVER READ AND MOST AMAZING GAME I HAVE EVER PLAYED. The Legend of Zelda will live on in me for the rest of my life.

  • this is such an amzing article cuz i have so much passion for the entire zelda series that i started playing the series when i was 4 and loved even that i didnt understand i never stopped playing it cuz i always wanted to see wat would happen next. the most amazing thing is that we have the same dream i would want to make games and i love how it feels after u finish beating one of these games that u dont even want it to end u just want to keep on going on to another adventure. i really hope both of our dreams come true and maybe u never no but meet each other. now that the new skyward sword is coming out i just cant wait to buy it and get started on a whole new adventure with link. MOST AMAZING ARTICLE I HAVE EVER READ AND MOST AMAZING GAME I HAVE EVER PLAYED. The Legend of Zelda will live on in me for the rest of my life.

  • mockingbird8

    Twilight Princess is my favorite game of all time( sorry, OoT) and the first time I beat it, I tried really hard not to cry( I got to the part where midna breaks the mirror and couldn't take it anymore). It was the first (and only) time I ever watched all the credits in a game, and I keep forgetting to do it again. This was a truly great game.

  • Artimus-Maora

    I'm glad that someone else out there loves Twilight Princess like this, too. =) I never really liked Midna much, but the ending DID make me sad. I never actually knew Link was riding AWAY from Ordon at the end… Adds a new spin on the ending that I never saw… Excellent article.

  • Zeli1412

    would it be cool if they make a direct sequel after tp?
    remember that Link returns the Master Sword to the Pedestal of Time, and returns to Ordon Village, but later he rides away with Epona from there, equipped with just his shield. At the very end, the Throne Room of the Hyrule Castle is seen, revealing that the Castle was rebuilt. This may indicate Link is going there, but this is unconfirmed.

  • DreamerJ

    I totally agree. Twilight Princess is my favorite Zelda game and the ending was, though sad, beautiful.

  • Sage Enchantress

    It's nice to know that someone actually feels sad about it, too. Every time I see the "The End," I suppress, especially when I think about OoT (since it was the first Zelda game I played).TP was also beautiful. The artwork, the music, plot, everything was flawless. But the only problem was that TP had me get a feeling of sadness even before I saw the ending. It had a sense of melancholy. Almost as much as MM. But still Zelda NEVER fails us in anything. It is truly a legend. Hence, that is why we all become sad at the end.

  • Isabela

    Actually, Link was leaving Ordon Village, not returning XD
    Review the clip! I also thought he was coming back, but it wasn't :/

  • I thought the ending for Twilight Princess sucked. Ganondorf was left standing with a sword in his stomach. Hasn't he pulled one out before? That needed extra closure. As well, Midna revives seemingly only to end the game, says some dumb lines, and then fade to black without closure. The closure, sadness, and emotional state doesn't happen until the middle of the credits. But shouldn't have have happened before the credits even started? Even then, since Midna was kind of a Jerk, I didn't feel much grief giving up the Twilight mirror.

    Mostly, it was the fact that Ganondorf seemed to come out of nowhere, Zelda's body reappeared as if it was never gone, even though we saw it disappear, and the final battle was horribly drawn out. Many characters did not get adequate characterization for this ending to be as emotional and tear jerking as you lead people to believe.

    Looks like Link, Zelda, and Midna are all left to live their long happy lives. There was a lot gone wrong with Twilight Princess. To me, it's not the best like a whole lot of people think.

  • The first Zelda game I ever finished was Minish Cap. I got it when was very young, it was the first video game I owned. I din't finish it until I was twelve, six or seven years after I got it. Ending it felt so… weird. Bittersweet, as you said, but different still. I had deliberately avoided finishing it because I didn't want it to end. I'd get to the final boss battle, quit, and start anew. And as long I didn't end the game, it never got old. It was like a friend of mine, and when I finally decided to finish it, it felt like that friend was leaving. I still play it sometimes, but the childhood magic is gone. All that there is is a bit of nostalgia and a hint of the sense of adventure I got from it that first time. The same happened in a sense with Wind Waker. I have recently picked up Twilight Princess again and plan on finishing it, as well. But Ending either of those did not (and will not) have the same effect as Minish Cap.

  • My tinnitus has been killing me over the last few days, I can’t sleep, I’m not nice to be around and keep getting angry with my husband. I’ve discovered a new online group which seems to have a few good tips which helped.