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The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is the last Zelda game to have come out on the GameCube, and the first one to have come out on the Wii. This game is commonly regarded as having been the one that fulfilled many Zelda fans’ desires for a more realistic Zelda game, like one that was seen in the SpaceWorld 2000 GameCube Tech Demo. This is the first Zelda title to be rated T by ESRB and 12+ by Pegi; it’s also notable as being the first Zelda to release in the US before Japan, making it a launch title on the Wii along with Wii Sports in the United States.

Story

Tell me… Do you ever feel a strange sadness as dusk falls?

The Darkened Land

Link has humble beginnings as a ranch worker (also referred to as a wrangler) in his hometown of Ordon Village, which resides on the Ordona Province of Hyrule. Strange beasts begin to appear in the forest outside of the village just before Link is tasked to make a trip to Hyrule Castle; he is to present a gift of a crafted Sword and Wooden Shield to the royal family. Talo, one of Link’s main motivations for fighting, is taken by the Bokoblins while playing with a Forest Monkey, and is taken to the entrance of the Forest Temple. With his wooden sword in hand, Link goes to save Talo, saving the caged monkey in the process.

The next day, Link himself is attacked by the Bulblins and their leader King Bulblin, falling unconscious in the Spirit Spring near Ordon Village. Both Colin and Ilia, two of Link’s close friends and part of his main motivation for fighting, were taking by King Bulblin while he was unconscious. When coming to, he follows the pathway into the forest, where he sees a large black wall blocking the path. As he approaches the wall, there are symbols that begin to appear on it; when he gets close to the wall, a large hand reaches out, grabbing him by the throat and pulling him through.

Link is now in an entirely different looking world; he doubles over in pain as the Triforce symbol on his hand glows, and his body is changed into that of a wolf. As Wolf Link, he is captured and held prisoner within the boundaries of Hyrule Castle, which has been covered in a blanket of twilight that spread over Hyrule. In his prison cell, Link encounters Midna, a rogue shadow Imp with strange powers. She aids in his escape and helps him better explore the castle in his wolf form. In the tallest tower, he and Midna find a cloaked young woman; she explains to Link how Hyrule came to be shrouded in Twilight, revealing her identity as Princess Zelda.

Fused Shadows

Link has now been given a quest to save Hyrule, being deemed a hero chosen by the gods. He must restore light to all of the lands in Hyrule and collect artifacts called the Fused Shadows in order to gain enough strength to defeat the one who rules the twilight, the Shadow King known as Zant.

The first place Link heads to in search of a Fused Shadow is his home in Ordona Province. There, he ventures to his hometown of Ordon Village. Still in his wolf form, the people of the town see him as a monster, much like the ones that had taken the children that he would play with. He steals the sword and Ordon Shield that were to be gifts to use once he has regained his natural form. When he comes to the Spirit Spring, he forest spirit Faron tasks Link to gather the Tears of Light and restore the light to Ordona Province; once he does this, he is changed back into a human. Light comes back over the land, and Link heads into the Forest Temple. He ventures through here to find that all of the forest monkeys have been imprisoned. He frees them and they help him reach the chamber of the Twilit Parasite, Diababa. After defeating the creature, the hero obtains his first Fused Shadow. Midna takes it for safe-keeping and the two head off to their next destination.

In the Eldin Province, Link enters another blanket of Twilight to gather more Tears of Light. Once light has been restored to the land, he happily reunites with the children of Ordon Village that had been taken by monsters; however, Ilia is still missing. He learns that the Gorons have been acting strange as of late, barring the path up the mountain to the mines. Link heads up Death Mountain after acquiring the Iron Boots, and heads into the Eldin Mines. He fights his way through the mines to have to fight the leader of the Goron people himself; he’s been possessed and changed by the Fused Shadow he guards; he has become the Twilit Igniter Fyrus. Once Link defeats him, the leader of the Goron people returns to his old self; the hero and Midna take the Fused Shadow and move along.

Link’s travels take him next to the Lanayru Province. He has to banish another blanket of Twilight and defeat a larger version of the dark bug spirits he’s been killing to return light to this province. Once he does, he heads back to Hyrule Castle Town, where Ilia is found with a young Zora boy. Ilia has no recollection of Link, much to his dismay. He escorts her and the boy on a cart led by Telma from Castle Town to Kakariko Village. He is gifted with the Zora Tunic by the spirit of Ralis’s mother, Ruton. He then heads into Lakebed Temple. Once again, he battle through the temple to the end, overcoming the beast known as the Twilit Aquatic, Morpheel. With all three Fused Shadows in hand, Link and Midna head back to finally take down Zant.

Mirror of Twilight

After collecting the Fused Shadows, Link and Midna are confronted by Zant at the Spirit Spring of Lanayru, who severely injures Midna and embeds a crystal in Link’s head, causing his to be stuck in his wolf form. They run to meet up with Zelda, who transfers her soul and powers to Midna’s body, bringing her back from the brink of death; Hyrule’s Princess does this at her own expense, disappearing as a result. With a restored companion, Link travels to the Sacred Grove to retrieve the Master Sword, breaking his curse as a wolf, and allowing the embedded crystal to be used to transform between his two forms at will.

With his new ability, Link and Midna search for the Mirror of Twilight, an item needed to open a gateway to the Twilight Realm, the home of Zant. After fighting to and through a place known as the Arbiter’s Grounds in the Gerudo Desert (and taking down the resurrected Twilit Fossil Stallord,) Link and Midna come to find that Zant had shattered the Mirror into four shards, with only one shard being at the Grounds. In addition to this, the Sages reveal that they had sentenced Ganondorf to death within the Arbiter’s Grounds, going as far as to impale him with the Sword of the Sages. However, Ganondorf survived this ‘incident’ because he already received the Triforce of Power. He then used his goddess-gifted powers to kill the Sage of Water and break free of his bonds, pulling the sword from his chest and leaving behind a glowing wound that never heals.

With the last of the Sages’ power, they activated the Mirror of Twilight and banished Ganondorf into the Twilight Realm; he simply waited for a way out. He soon found hope of escape in Zant, who revered Ganondorf as a god and became his primary flunky, enacting the evil king’s will. Using a misguided Zant, Ganondorf found a way to seek his revenge on Hyrule. The Sages task Link and Midna with the repair of the Mirror of Twilight and also the defeat of Ganondorf. The duo then travel across Hyrule in search of the missing fragments.

The next destination is known as the Snowpeak Ruins, home to Yeto and Yeta. Link finds his way to Yeto by catching a Reekfish, using a Coral Earring gifted to him by Prince Ralis. Yeto invites Link to his home, where he finds that they have locked a Mirror Shard in the third floor of their house, and poor Yeta has been very sick ever since. She tries to guide him to where they hid it, albeit unsuccessfully, and Link eventually works his way through their home to retrieve it. He actually has to fight Yeta herself, whom becomes possessed by the darkness within the Mirror Shard, becoming the Twilit Ice Mass, Blizzeta. Once she is defeated, she is happily reunited with Yeto, and Link and Midna move on to collect the next shard.

That shard is hidden within the Faron Province, in the fabled Temple of Time. Link has to fly a Golden Cucco lent to him by Rusl. He heads back to the Sacred Grove and after following the Skull Kid through again, he plants the Master Sword back in Pedestal of Time to unlock the temple’s entrance. The hero fights through challenge after challenge and finally confronts the Twilit Arachnid Armogohma.

With three shards in hand, Link receives a letter telling him that Ilia may have had a breakthrough with her memory and to come to Kakariko Village. From there, he engages in a series of events and a trading sequence to not only help her recover her memory, but to help the Dominion Rod recover its power in the present time. He helps to rebuild a cannon to end up in the City in the Sky, confronting the Twilight Dragon, Argorok, and finally obtaining the final shard.

Final Confrontation

Link and Midna restore the mirror and use it to enter the Twilight Realm, traveling through the Palace of Twilight and defeating Zant. Midna is enraged to find out that defeating Zant didn’t break the curse that put her in her imp form in the first place. They then return to Hyrule and use the regained Fused Shadows to break the seal around Hyrule Castle. Link fights his way through the castle, fighting and overcoming a possessed Zelda, then Ganondorf’s beast form Ganon. The castle around them begins to collapse, and Midna sacrifices herself to allow Link and Zelda to escape. Ganondorf emerges from the rubble, confronting Link, and the hero ultimately defeats him in an epic battle on horseback. Link has the help of Zelda in this fight, who is able to stun the evil king with the fabled Light Arrows.

The defeat of Ganondorf breaks the curse on Midna, restoring her to her true form. She then returns to her people in the Twilight Realm and also shatters the Mirror of Twilight, destroying the only known gateway between the realms of light and shadow. Link returns the Master Sword to the pedestal of Time, and the children of Ordon Village return home. Much later, Fado is seen calling up to Link from the bottom of his house, but no one was seen coming out. Link is then seen riding away with Epona, while his friend Ilia watches him leave his hometown. At the very end of the credits, Hyrule Castle’s Throne Room is seen, revealing that the castle was rebuilt.

Wolf Form

Whenever Link enters the zones of Hyrule that are covered in Twilight, he is forced into this wolf form. This is not a separate place like the Dark World of A Link to the Past or Lorule from A Link Between Worlds. This is instead a festering darkness spreading across the land, with a negative effect on whomever it touches.

As a wolf, Link is unable to use his items or equipment. He is forced to resort to tactics like digging, biting, dashing, and howling, among others. With the help of Midna, he is also able to warp through portals to cross large distances instantly, as well as creating an energy field that is used to defeat multiple foes at once. Link is able to talk to animals when in wolf form as if they are people. His sense of smell is greatly improved, allowing him to follow trails left by certain characters in the game; similarly, Link is able to see other things that are invisible to the naked eye.

During the first half of the game, Link is a wolf only when he enters a portion of Hyrule that has fallen under a blanket of Twilight; once he is there, he is unable to change back to his human form until the Twilight has been banished from this area. He purges these places of Twilight by reviving the Light Spirits, after collecting their Tears of Light. Eventually, Link is able to shapeshift between forms freely, after he attains a Shadow Crystal and the Master Sword.

Wii/GameCube Differences

The most notable difference between the two versions of this game is that the Wii version is a mirror of the GameCube version; East is West, and locations are on opposite sides of the map, if you compared the two side by side. This is to accommodate the majority of people being right-handed, while Link is often left-handed.

The Wii version uses a point-and-select feature of the Wii Remote as a cursor on-screen that takes the shape of a fairy; this is used for accessing menus are for various tools like the Clawshot, Fishing Rod, and Hero’s Bow. The Nunchuk attachment has an analog stick that is used for movement. In order to swing Link’s sword, the player must make a slashing motion with the Wii Remote. A jab with the tilt-sensitive Nunchuk lets Link perform a special move called the Shield Attack, and shaking the Nunchuk side to side will allow Link to perform his famous Spin Attack. To use items on the Wii version, the player must equip them to the left, right, and down positions of the D-pad. When one of these items is selected, it is moved to the B button for easier use.

On the GameCube, the Y and X buttons are used for Link’s add-on weapons such as the Bombs and the Clawshot. The B button is used for Link’s sword attacks. Tapping it simply once does the normal standard slash, while pressing it multiple times chains those slashes together into combos. Holding B allows Link to perform a Spin Attack. L is the lock on button, allowing Link to target other people. To use items, you simply press X or Y and Link will pull the item out.

Items and Abilities

In both versions of Twilight Princess, Link learns more moves than in any other Zelda game to date. Link also has a similar move set between his human and wolf form. For example, when an enemy has been knocked to the ground, Link can finish them off by plunging his sword into their chest (or in wolf form, ripping out a Poe’s Soul.) As Link progresses on his quest, he can learn various Hidden Skills, which improve his repertoire of sword attacks, and sometimes allow Link to expose and exploit enemy weaknesses. With these abilities come some disadvantages; as mentioned before, Wolf Link is not able to use any items or open any doors with handles. Some of the Hidden Skills that can be learned leave Link vulnerable to attack while they are being performed as well.

Making a returning appearance from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask is Epona, and the ability to ride a horse. She is used as the main form of transportation for Link, aside from the various warp points that are opened as Link progresses around Hyrule. A new feature of this game is combat on horseback; Link is able to swing his sword at enemies whilst mounted. This comes with its own disadvantages as well; Link is now able to be knocked off of Epona’s back while riding, if damage is taken. The first hit taken will knock Link sideways, and if he is hit again before getting back in the saddle, he gets thrown to the ground.

Development

Twilight Princess was first revealed at E3 2004 when Nintendo showed a teaser of their new Zelda game to a small group, resulting in an uproar from viewers. When the Zelda community found out, many fans were very excited; they were excited to see the series taking a more mature turn. The game’s announcement received a much warmer welcome, especially in comparison to the exaggerated, cel-shaded style of The Wind Waker. After ten months of no further information from Nintendo, a new trailer was revealed at the Game Developers Conference in March of 2005 to an eager audience.

At the Nintendo E3 conference in May of the same year, it was announced that the game was anticipated to release in October of 2006, and would be launching on both the Wii and GameCube simultaneously. It was later announced that in order to adapt to the majority of players being right-handed, the Wii version would be mirrored so that Link could be right-handed as well. In September of 2006, Twilight Princess was revealed to be a launch title for Wii, and the GameCube version’s delay until December of the same year. In Japan, the Wii and GameCube versions had a simultaneous launch in early December, though the latter was only available for online purchase.

This Zelda title is one of many with a synthetic soundtrack; this allows more dynamic background music, but with a trade off in quality. The fact that a synthetic track was chosen over an orchestration is very commonly a point of criticism for this game. Koji Kondo, the lead composer of the game’s soundtrack, had stated that he would really like to push for an orchestrated soundtrack. In fact, there was a version of the game’s Hyrule Field theme with a live orchestra that was recorded before the game’s release. It was probably intended for use in the final product, but ended up being used only in the game’s pre-release demos and promotional material.

Reception

Twilight Princess was a commercial success and became a best-seller, with 5.82 million copies on the Wii sold as of 2011, and 1.32 million for the GameCube sold. Without taking the GameCube sales into consideration, it is the third best-selling Zelda game to date, after Ocarina of Time and the original The Legend of Zelda. Considering both GameCube and Wii sales, the game is the second best-selling title in the series.

The game received universal acclaim from reviewers and journalists, getting a 94% approval rating on Metacritic, and a similar score on GameRankings. The game was praised for its return to Ocarina of Time’s roots, and received mixed reviews on the length of the game; some people praised how much could be done, others stated that all of the sidequests felt like mere padding. The game was criticized by most players for the ease of the boss fights. Overall, the game was very well received, loved by both fans and critics alike.

Trivia

1. This is the very first Zelda game where the Octorok is absent as an enemy.
2. Unlike in Ocarina of Time, Epona is accessible very early in the game and remains accessible throughout, and unlike in Majora’s Mask, where Link loses her in the opening sequence.
3. In his wolf form, Link can talk to animals, and some even recognize Link, despite his difference in appearance.
4. Twilight Princess has the second-highest number of Pieces of Heart with a total of 45, due to the fact that this is the only game in the series where it requires five Pieces of Heart to complete a Heart Container.
5. If one has a save file from Twilight Princess, an emblem of Hyrule is unlocked as a bumper sticker for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
6. One feature that was left out of the final version of the game was the Magic Meter, which was present in many games prior to Twilight Princess. There is unused text within the game that hints that Link would have needed magic to transform to his wolf form. There is still a screenshot on the back of the game’s box featuring a Magic Meter.
7. This is the only Zelda game that was available on two consoles when it was released.

Screenshots

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