The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for GameCube
Writing about Princess Zelda of Hyrule feels like writing about Princess Grace of Monaco. She is such a beloved icon with such a laudable biography that inspires the most profound respect. Twilight Princess has been the latest incursion on her fascinating chronicles and the chapter expected to spread a shadow over them all. Eventually, it ended up spreading only the faint light of a sunset. But it was an undeniable beautiful sunset.
This game was meant to close a phase before the third era of the Zelda series, as creator Shigeru Miyamoto implied when he promised a completely different approach for upcoming episodes. Funnily enough, it also opened the gate as the first next-generation Zelda game involving a long delay for GameCube in order to be ready as the mainstay of Wii at its launch. Ironically, Twilight Princess is not the matchless masterpiece that many fans expected. It’s not even the best Zelda of its era. It hasn’t got the clever dungeon design of Ocarina of Time, it hasn’t got the depth in relationships between characters of Majora’s Mask and it hasn’t got the beautiful cartoon environments of Wind Waker. Even so, it’s still one of the best games available for GameCube… and certainly the best thing at launch for Wii.
But Twilight Princess will always be a GameCube game for me. It was born as the response to the complaints about Wind Waker’s cute graphic design. It was also the outcome of the new mature fantasy trends started out by The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. And the truth is that darkness fits perfectly for Zelda. Even considering that I was in love with the delightful Hayao Miyazaki look of Wind Waker.
Twilight Princess is the first Zelda game to feature an adult Link for the whole length of the story. He is the hero of the adventure and the other characters know it from the beginning. As a villager from the province of Ordon, Link learns about a terrible curse that has plunged the vast land of Hyrule over the cloak of a permanent sunset. He travels to Princess Zelda’s castle and becomes prisoner of a magical spell that turns him into a wolf while being in the lugubrious territories that had fallen over the Twilight. He then meets the only one who can help Zelda and the people from Hyrule: a wicked and mysterious creature named Midna.
From the point of view of storytelling, Twilight Princess offers one of the greatest narrations in the series. Dialogues and cutscene animations are also above the norm. And the character of Midna itself is so powerful and fascinating that she deserves an animated film all for herself. However, it’s not the story what has made Zelda popular. The principal challenge of Twilight Princess will be to overcome the jigsaws of the nine dungeons that can be found along the adventure. Although Link’s duties outside the enemy lairs are not as varied as in previous titles, Twilight Princess features some of the best puzzles ever seen since the worshiped Ocarina of Time. There are new gadgets that diversify the tasks in each temple and the wolf’s special abilities definitely help to see the game as something actually different from N64’s legend. Still, a deeper universe would have been perfect for a game with an introduction as promising as this one.
The fearful hype has been so great over this game that it’s easy to find its faults. What proves its brilliance is precisely the fact of realising that we are in front of a fantastic game when we are playing it, even while noticing the lacks and absences. Many people will probably conclude that Twilight Princess is an amazing adventure just after experiencing the first duel against the goblin riders, around the first quarter of the game. Others will simply know it for sure since the first time that Midna shows her magnificence, when the introductory mission is not even finished.
After all, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess may not have been the game that would dethrone Ocarina of Time, but it has widely succeed as a poetic and beautiful farewell for a system called GameCube and an entire generation of consoles.