There’s no question that The Legend of Zelda is a blockbuster franchise amongst gamers, period. When questioned which is the all-time best adventure that Link has ever been on, however, opinions vary rather drastically. Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and even A Link to the Past all stand as favorites amongst the masses, but very few will point to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess as the de facto experience. Despite this, Nintendo has seen it fit to issue a high-definition remaster of the title for its Wii U console.
It’s evident to many why Twilight Princess HD has become a reality, as it is one of the easier games to reintroduce players to on the Wii U platform. Even so, this hasn’t diminished the appeal of the game in the least, as a middle-of-the-road Zelda title is still a great game and one that’s direly needed on Nintendo’s soon-to-be-defunct home hardware. Of course, those that have played the original on GameCube or Wii are likely wondering just what the main selling feature is for those tempted to return to the twilight-shrouded version of Hyrule, and rest assured that there are several.
Primarily, the game looks pretty great running on the upgraded hardware. While the consoles in which the original title released on managed to do a decent job capturing the essence of what is arguably one of the more visually stimulating and adult-looking games ever released under the Zelda banner, the Wii U pushes it that much further. The glow of the in-game environment as is becomes consumed by twilight in contrast to its untainted bright-and-happy appearance is a much more polarizing affair this time around, and, as a result, it works quite well with the narrative that pertains to this all-consuming darkness.
Despite the visual upgrade, it’s obvious that the game wasn’t developed from the ground up on the new hardware. Certain elements of Twilight Princess‘ original design and models give away that much. Essentially, fans will be left with a better looking version of a very familiar adventure, but one that looks and plays eerily similar at times. While the added shine isn’t as apparent as something along the lines of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, it is still the immediately noticeable appeal of this high-def port.
Gameplay-wise, the title plays with much more fluidity and ease this time around, and that’s largely thanks to the Wii U GamePad. Accessing items is as swift and easy as grabbing and dragging them to certain spots in order to assign them to corresponding tactile buttons. Meanwhile, the motion controls have transitioned incredibly well to the gyroscopic capabilities of the tablet-like remote, and aiming items like the bow or slingshot are as easy as they are accurate. Some may be quick to dismiss these as a gimmick for the platform, but they truly do feel like a natural extension of the previously existing layout.
If there’s one drawback to be had, however, it’s that those that choose to digitally download the game will not be able to access the one brand new feature that’s being added to the title – the Cave of Shadows. This is essentially a challenge dungeon that tasks players with clearing 40 floors of enemies as the wolf version of Link, which is a neat (read: incredibly challenging) addition for fans. Sadly, this content can only be enjoyed by those that have the Wolf Link amiibo, which is available as a pack-in with all physical copies of Twilight Princess HD. Still, as previously touched upon, that immediately locks the content away for fans that may have planned or even pre-loaded the digital edition of the title on their Wii U consoles.
Despite this, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD manages to be another well-done port from Nintendo. The visuals have received a nice upgrade, the gameplay has been tweaked to better function on the Wii U, and the characters and dialogue are all just as memorable as longtime fans remember them to be. The extra coat of paint may not dry properly on all facets of the project, thanks to the amiibo-based paywall that will block some users from the new dungeon, but it’s a nice stop-gap that will easily tide fans over amidst the wait for the brand new The Legend of Zelda game arriving for Wii U later this year.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD arrives exclusively for the Nintendo Wii U on March 4, 2016.