Nintendo announced The Legend of Zelda for its Wii U console in January 2013, and we couldn’t be more excited. Three years on, in the series’ 30th anniversary, we’re still waiting for the game to come out, with no release date in sight.
Nintendo had planned to release The Legend of Zelda for Wii U in 2015, but it didn’t happen. In fact, there’s still no word on when it will launch, aside from Nintendo ‘confirming’ it will now be in 2016.
Perhaps that’s why Nintendo took their time releasing Twilight Princess HD for the Wii U, both out of reverence for the original but also as a way to intrigue a new generation with what many consider to be the quintessential Zelda experience.
The plot remains the same: Link, a fair-haired elfin teen, enjoys a tranquil life of swordplay and simple farming until monsters raid his village and kidnap some children.
An unexpected trip through a strange portal later and Link finds himself in the Realm of Twilight, trapped in a new form with an unusual ally, and then the real adventure begins.
The first thing anyone who remembers the original title will notice are the advanced graphics; for all its wonder, the GameCube version of Twilight Princess was pretty rough around the edges, and the Wii port wasn’t a whole lot better.
While “HD” is technically true in this incarnation, those looking for a complete overhaul of the graphics will be left wanting.
This is a fine looking game but the developers didn’t go nuts adding in detail and content just because they could have.
Still, what is here is simple, refreshing and feels just as a Zelda game should, so no complaints from this player in that regard.
Controls are obviously the next big change and on this front it’s a bit more of a mixed bag.
I last played Twilight Princess with a Wiimote and Nunchuk a decade ago, so giving it another whirl with the Wii U Gamepad was very much like learning the game all over again.
The game does a fine job tuning you to the new arrangement, however. Much of Link’s time at the beginning of the game is spent completing mundane chores around Ordon Village as a kind of extended gameplay tutorial.
The utility of having your mini-map and inventory management right on the Gamepad screen is most welcome as well, a couple less menus to constantly have up on your screen. And Off TV play is a boon for anyone in a busy house or shared media space.
Like Wind Waker, Twilight Princess HD includes a “Hero Mode”,which doubles the damage Link takes and eliminates the all-too-common heart drops that many vanquished monsters seem to leave behind.
Considering that much of the game is not a challenge to begin with, I’d actually suggest veterans of the series start in this mode to make things more interesting.
Also in this version is the Ghost Lantern, a new item which allows tracking down elusive Poe spirits to be a far less tedious task.
A relatively small addition, but I recall what a chore this side quest was in the original, so tip of the hat on this one.
The last big change in this HD version is the include of Amiibo support. I’ve never been bullish on Amiibo myself as I consider them to be a little “pay to win”-ish, but I’m likely in the minority in this case.
Twilight Princess HD supports all Zelda Amiibo from other Nintendo games. Link and Toon Link quickly replenish your arrows, while Zelda and Shiek allow you to restore lost hearts with a tap.
Ganondorf‘s Amiibo doubles the damage you take, which comically allows you to endure quadruple (!!) damage in the game if you use this within Hero Mode, undoubtedly a tempting challenge for hardcore gamers.
The special Wolf Link/Midna Amiibo that comes with the packaged HD bundle allows access to a special new Cave of Shadows challenge area; completing this quest confers a special bonus to your wallet that I won’t spoil here.
My sons were but a glint in my eye when Twilight Princess was first released, so it was special being able to replay this epic with together with them in an updated form on the Wii U.
This HD remaster won’t turn everyone’s head with its looks but for fans of the original or anyone looking to experience a truly painstakingly crafted title, this game is totally rupees in the bank.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Nintendo Wii U
Tantalus Media / Nintendo
Rated T, MSRP $79.99, amiibo included
Upside: Updated graphics are nice, small new features appreciated. Controls work well, still a tremendous gaming experience.
Downside: HD not as HD as some might expect, challenge level somewhat low. Amiibo support cheapens the gaming experience.
Bottom line: Once a masterpiece, always a masterpiece.