The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Nostalgia was once thought to be an illness in need of a cure. Nowadays it’s a commodity most of us buy into. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess knows this only too well, and right from the first scene, it delivers a melancholic tale that’s up there with the best the series has to offer. Yes, even including the weird black sheep of the family, Majora’s Mask.
Originally released in 2006, Twilight Princess suffered something of a double ignominy. Ostensibly a GameCube title, its limited release on the ailing platform ensured few played it the way it was intended, while its Wii ‘upgrade’ may have had a massive install base, but most were content to swing their Wiimotes to the rhythm of Wii Sports.
Along with the fairly recent update of 2002's series installment The Wind Waker, Nintendo have worked similar magic with this HD remaster of Twilight Princess. All character models and sets have been reinvigorated by two generational hardware leaps and although it wouldn’t pass as a current release, and doesn’t have the timeless cell-shading visuals of Wind Waker, this latest update looks damn fine where it counts.
Of course, not everyone was as enamoured with Wind Waker and so Twilight Princess has always enjoyed a little more ‘cred’ on the Zelda streets. It’s a darker, grittier take on 2009's Link fan film The Hero of Time, one that was in keeping with the big films around its release; Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Twilight Princess played it safer for sure, but with hindsight it’s a nice bit of world-building that still holds up today.
That’s just as true for TP’s take on the ‘other world’. 1991’s Link to the Past familiarised players with the ‘dark world’ and Ocarina of Time played a similar trick but with time rather than space. Here TP introduces the Twilight Realm, a hideous underworld where Link himself is transformed into a snarling wolf-like creature in order to traverse it. It’s another wonderful curveball for the series and one that’s deployed at just the right moment in this particular tale.
Twilight Princess isn’t a straight up port of the GameCube and Wii original though. There are notable improvements, chiefly the clear up of the main screen thanks to the Wii U Pad, which now holds the bulk of the heads-up display. There’s also a little less of the onerous trekking of the original, with some of the more repetitive quests whittled down to what matters. Some will bemoan this inauthenticity whilst most will either welcome it or barely even notice.
Unlike Wind Waker though, it’s not all plain sailing with this remaster. Timeless the Twilight Realm is not, and some of the vast expanses and textures can feel a little lifeless despite the otherwise stellar HD work on show. Furthermore, even with tweaking here and there, it can sometimes feel like there’s a bit of padding going on. Wind Waker was more upfront with this, via its vast ocean high jinks, something players either loved or hated. Twilight Princess is a little more covert in stretching its running time, but it’s there nonetheless.
In short, whilst Wind Waker has risen in esteem over the years, Twilight Princess has gone from being the greatest Zelda adventure to ‘merely’ a great Zelda adventure. Make no mistakes, it is certainly still that, and worth every penny of this remaster for fans of the series, even if you still own the original. Its minor blemishes are to be expected a decade down the line but in fact Twilight Princess looks and plays better than you’ll likely remember it. Nostalgia, it seems, is still what it used to be.