Nintendo has made a habit of remaking Legend of Zelda games over the last several years. Last year we received the long-awaited Majora’s Mask 3D, and a few weeks ago we got our hands on Twilight Princess HD. Believe it or not, Twilight Princess will turn 10 years old this year. In that time, a lot has been said about what the game did right and what the game did very wrong.
I have played through the original release of Twilight Princess on both the GameCube and Wii multiple times. I agree with many of the negative comments that have come out about the game over the years, but despite those gripes, I still have fun replaying the game. It was a solid game in 2006, and I think the game has aged well. Truthfully, I don’t believe Twilight Princess needed an HD remake at all.
However, while the improvements made in this HD remake may not justify a purchase for every fan of the original, the improvements do make Twilight Princess HD the best version of the game available.
A noticeable visual upgrade
This is definitely the smallest improvement we have seen in a recent Legend of Zelda remake.
When Twilight Princess HD was announced, a lot of reactions to the graphics were negative. Twilight Princess is not an ugly game, and at a glance Twilight Princess HD appears to do very little to make it better. A lot of people, myself included, could not really see the difference in the new screenshots and trailers until the original game and the updated game were placed side by side.
This is not the case when you play the actual game.
While playing Twilight Princess HD, the game looks noticeably better than the original. However, it is definitely the smallest improvement we have seen in a recent Legend of Zelda remake. The other three recent remakes — Ocarina of Time 3D, The Wind Waker HD and Majora’s Mask 3D — all have significantly improved graphics throughout the games. Twilight Princess HD has noticeable improvements, but I would not describe them as significant.
There are certainly some areas of the game that have had their models improved, but the vast majority of the game is simply running at a higher resolution. It is disappointing that the game does not have a complete visual overhaul, but the graphics are still beautiful and do not detract from the overall experience.
The best and the worst of Zelda
Twilight Princess has always been a divisive game. Every game has pros and cons, but Twilight Princess often seems to take this concept to the extreme. It does some things extremely well, but also does some things extremely poorly. If you ask a Zelda fan what they dislike about Twilight Princess, you’re very likely to hear the same comments over and over again: the beginning is too long, hunting down evil bugs is not fun, the escort mission is infuriating, and a certain villain should not be in the game. Ask the same fan what they love, and you will also hear the same elements being praised: Dungeon design (especially Arbiter’s Grounds) and the character Midna.
Unfortunately, very little has been done to remedy the biggest complaints. However, it was always unlikely that they would change the story, add new dungeons, or otherwise significantly alter the content of the game. On the other hand, they have made small tweaks to make some portions of the game more manageable. The most noteworthy changes are the reduced number of Shadow Insects to defeat, and the addition of the button on the Wii U GamePad that allows you to instantly switch between the humanoid and wolf forms.
The bug hunting portions of the game are significantly more streamlined than they are on the Gamecube and Wii releases.
On paper, the reduced number of insects seems minor, but in the game it actually makes a very large difference. Some of the most out-of-the-way or irritating insects have been removed. The bug hunting portions of the game are significantly more streamlined than they are on the GameCube and Wii releases.
There are other minor updates, but most players will not notice them. Unfortunately some of the more frustrating segments — like the escort mission with the birds that bomb the carriage — remain unchanged.
One of the largest collection side-quests in the game has also become a bit easier. In Twilight Princess there are 60 Poe Souls to collect throughout the overworld and dungeons. Their locations have not changed, but now you will receive the Ghost Lantern after finding 20 Poe Souls. The Ghost Lantern is a special item that will light up when a Poe is in the area. It’s not a huge help, but it can make it a bit easier to track your progress.
Miiverse and Amiibo
Some of the more notable changes in Twilight Princess HD are the Amiibo functionality and the addition of Miiverse stamps.
It has been reported many times that the Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Sheik, and Toon Link figures from the Super Smash Bros. Amiibo series have various effects on gameplay. Some replenish arrows and others replenish hearts. Using Ganondorf makes the game more difficult. These are nice additions, but most players won’t bother; except perhaps with Ganondorf if you seek a challenge. The more noteworthy Amiibo functionality is the new Amiibo figure, Wolf Link.
Using the Wolf Link Amiibo unlocks a new area called the Cave of Shadows. This entirely optional area is a timed challenge mode that has you fight waves of enemies only as Wolf Link.
More floors of the cave are unlocked as you proceed through the game, but I was frustrated to learn that I could not play through the cave one time from start to finish after reaching the end of the main quest. Instead, I was forced to play through the first section only, leave the cave, and then return to play the first and second sections, leave again, and so on. It quickly became tiring.
Ultimately, the Cave of Shadows is not a significant new addition. You aren’t really missing out if you don’t play it. However, it is a great showcase of Wolf Link’s abilities. The main quest really doesn’t force you to use Wolf Link very often (despite how frustrating and long those bug hunting sequences might seem). Most players will never see Wolf Link’s full potential just playing through the main quest, but the Cave of Shadows puts it all on display.
The Miiverse stamps are alternate rewards instead of entirely new content.
Miiverse stamps are the other big new addition. The stamps include character faces with various expressions, and the entire Hylian alphabet used in Twilight Princess. There are 50 Miiverse stamps, and they add yet another collectible to a game already full of them. This is made only a little bit less exciting because you will find most of the stamps in the process of finding all of the existing collectibles. Some of them are given as additional rewards for your progress (like finding a certain number of Golden Bugs), but most of them are simply found in treasure chests. Many treasure chests that used to contain Rupees now contain Miiverse stamps instead. So, the Miiverse stamps are alternate rewards instead of entirely new content. Still, they are an extra incentive to explore every nook and cranny of Hyrule (and the Twilight Realm, of course).
The definitive version, but the weakest remake
If you have not had the opportunity to play Twilight Princess before now then this is the best time to give it a try.
Twilight Princess HD is easily the definitive version of Twilight Princess. If you have not had the opportunity to play Twilight Princess before now then this is the best time to give it a try. The improvements aren’t as impressive as the additions to the other recent remakes, but many player complaints with the original have been addressed.
On the other hand, if you’ve already played the original game, the new content is really not significant enough to warrant a replay, unless of course you’re a super fan who replays Zelda games frequently. The Amiibo and Miiverse stamps are fun additions, but don’t add any significant content to the game.
Whether or not Twilight Princess HD is worth the investment for returning players depends largely on your interest in Zelda as a whole, but Twilight Princess is among the best Legend of Zelda games and definitely worth playing for the first time on Wii U.