Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD: completed!

At least my thoughts have been consistent.  The top tweet is eleven years after the bottom.

Having bought Twilight Princess alongside my Wii on launch day in December 2006, but then being captivated by other games (and with a general desire to not play the game until Kieron and John were going to do so as well), I didn't get around to actually playing it until 2011, after I finally gave up on my friends' lackadaisical attitude to Zelda gaming.  As I was more active here at the time, you can read several posts about my progress then, where I completed the forest temple, was whisked away to the twilight, had trouble with controlling Wolf Link, met Midna, and scouted for the three parts of the Fused Shadow.  I seemingly got as far as the temple at the bottom of Lake Hylia, including defeating the boss, before giving up.

Giving up? I don't think it was a conscious decision. Instead, Mario Kart 7 was released, I was also playing a Layton game, and other stuff just seemed to grab me instead. I always intended to go back, but I never did.

Skip forward a decade, and I realise that I bought a copy of Twilight Princess HD for the Wii U when it was cheap somewhere, I have no big story game on the go, and I quite fancy crossing this off my list - particularly because I was bought Skyward Sword HD for the Switch for my birthday and I'd like to play that sometime.  So, rather than resurrecting my old save and complaining about being lost, I unwrap the new game and start it.

After a few hours I remember why I lost interest in the early days of my first playthrough. It's just a little dull to start with, meeting people around the village, fishing, running down narrow corridors between areas. There is some interest when children are captured ...

... but the muted (brown, C64-like) colour palette does its best to dissuade this interest. And then you get to the twilight, which (as my tweets above show) I found pretty difficult to progress through.

And yet I did.

I remembered very little about my original playthrough other than chasing monkeys through a forest and the aesthetic.  I suspect that this is largely due to the relatively generic nature of the world; the art direction isn't as recognisable as Breath of the Wild, for example.  It wasn't until I was many hours in that I started to remember my routes through places; but those many hours became more and more exciting as I progressed.  It was clear to me that the story of Midna and the story of Zelda were somehow intertwined, but it wasn't until I met up with the scary-floating-faces crew that things became clear.

Midna is probably the best thing about the game, and having her constant companionship and annoyances throughout the story meant that the end was quite affecting.  Having traversed through Hyrule, back and forth to collect hearts and rupees and equipment and whatnot, there was a definite shift in the endgame once you travel to the skies and then to meet Ganon.  On the way there's a few non-surprises ...

And then once you get to Ganon, it's a pretty standard big boss Zelda game fight, with a few tricks with Midna and Zelda and unexpected but expected changes.  You know you're coming to the final fight when you come across a room full of chests.

Midna doesn't like Ganondorf, by the way.

And then the end of the game.  I think I've mentioned before about the final blow in the Wind Waker, and how no other Zelda game has quite met it - but this came close.  After taunting and attacking and generally making those I cared about suffer, it was nice to make Ganondorf wear a new brooch.

It isn't the best Zelda game.  It's not even the best Zelda game on the Gamecube.  But it is a Zelda game, in the classical form, and the dungeons are well designed, and the characters are (mostly) distinctive and fun, and the puzzles and equipment is intuitive and challenging, and the story is a bit rubbish but you want to see the end of it, and the enemies are enjoyable to fight, and ... it's good.  Overall it went on a little too long, even if the story did take some interesting twists and turns, and the oppressive nature is a huge barrier to enjoyment.  But it's good.

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